After Troy Patterson’s petition against the Coastal GasLink pipeline’s construction gained over 23,000 signatures, the teen earned himself enough attention to get a meeting with B.C.’s environment minister.
The Greater Victoria area 15-year-old met virtually with George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy, for about 30 minutes earlier this month.
“I’m glad that somebody finally agreed to speak with me because I think it’s good for the government to be able to see young people’s perspective on this,” Patterson said. “It is our future, right.”
The conversation included Indigenous consent for the project and how it’s being built.
“I am, of course, nowhere near convinced that this will do more good than bad,” the Claremont Secondary student said.
Once completed, TC Energy’s 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline will transport natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to the LNG Canada export facility in Kitimat, where the company says it’ll be converted into liquefied natural gas and shipped to global markets.
One of Patterson’s main worries when he started the petition was the potential impact on wildlife if the pipeline increases tanker traffic off the province’s northern coast.
He was slightly relieved to that hear that three tugboats will help large tankers traverse tight channels on their way to Kitimat.
Heyman told Patterson that B.C. will still be able to meet its 2030 emissions reduction targets with the pipeline operational, but it’ll be by a slimmer margin than without it. Patterson said the government should be more proactive and pursue projects that drive emissions down and create jobs in the renewable sector to fuel the economy.
“The point is not, we have a target and we’re going to go as close to that target as possible,” he said. “Why do we protect grizzly bears, well it’s because we nearly drove them to extinction. Well how about we don’t nearly drive our environment to extinction – how about we protect it now.”
A ministry-provided response said liquefied natural gas “must fit within” B.C.’s climate targets and they’re focused on reducing emissions from LNG extraction, production and liquefication.
Patterson said he told Heyman he’s concerned that the province isn’t putting enough focus on training current oil and gas workers for jobs in sustainable industries.
“We are, in a sense, saying that in five years you’ll be unemployed, whereas if we start retraining them now, we can make sure that everybody has a job,” he said.
With the goal to one day see the Great Bear Rainforest, Patterson hopes the province will protect the area until he gets a chance.
“This is my future and this is our future,” Patterson said. “By preserving this stuff now, we are preserving it for generations to come.”
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