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Doctors, nurses post billboards near B.C. ferry terminal to warn of harmful impacts of liquefied natural gas

Vancouver -

A group of B.C. doctors and nurses, who are concerned about the impacts of natural gas and fracking, have purchased billboard space to spread their message.

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment have put up billboards near the BC Ferries’ Tsawwassen terminal, drawing attention to the fact that the company powers five of its 35 ships on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“Natural gas has significant health impacts for those living close by the wells and for our global environment,” said Dr. Kevin Liang, a University of British Columbia family medicine resident and a member of the physicians for the environment society.

“(The concern) comes from seeing our patients being affected by climate change every single day – I’m a family medicine doctor in training, I'm a year away from being fully licensed, I'm already seeing the impacts of climate change, particularly this summer,” he said.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, is a technique used to extract natural gas from shale rock.

“During the extraction and transportation processes, fracking and its infrastructure also pollute the air, land and water in the Peace region, use vast quantities of freshwater, overtake B.C.’s valuable farmland and worsen the health of families, farmers and Indigenous peoples locally and downstream,” reads a joint statement from the associations.

Liquefied natural gas pumped from wells across northeast B.C. fuels gas stoves, home heating and some B.C. ferries, but it is an “outsized climate-change culprit,” the statement continues.

The billboards are part of an advocacy and education campaign called Unnatural Gas, which seeks a moratorium on fracking expansion, a just transition for workers, a ban on natural gas hookups for new buildings starting in 2023 and an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

In an emailed statement from BC Ferries, public affairs director Deborah Marshall said the company would not comment.

“We don’t have any comment on the billboard,” she wrote.

Industry proponents have argued that natural gas is an environmentally-friendly alternative to coal, and that extracting and exporting natural gas to Asia would lower greenhouse gas emissions. However, critics, environmentalists and policy experts have long disagreed.

“LNG is energy intensive to move, requiring about 20 per cent of the gas to be consumed in the liquefaction, transport and regasification process,” reads a 2015 report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“Coupled with life-cycle emissions of methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, BC LNG imports to China would exacerbate emissions over at least the next 50 years compared to building state-of-the-art coal plants,” it continues.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Angela Jung. Top Stories

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