Making the Connections

I own a small woodlot in Cumberland County; it's a small island of forest in a sea of clearcuts. Most of the clearcut land around me is owned by the Irving forestry interests or the Crown, and other parts are owned by non-resident and dis-interested folk who probably have never visited their woodlot more than once in their lives.

There are two big pressures on the forests in my neighbourhood: one is government policy, and the other is energy prices.

This blog explores the intersection of those two pressures.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Our Natural Gas Problem

Nova Scotia's offshore natural gas fields have turned out to be a curse rather than a blessing. The promise of great volumes of cheap natural gas nearby has led to the buildout of a significant gas infrastructure within the province, and now that the offshore gas is nearly gone we are left with lots of buildings and industrial boilers fitted to consume more natural gas than we have access to, which means that in the dead of winter the price of gas spikes - not really spikes; more like skyrockets. That's never a good thing.

When the Sable Offshore gas finds were developed in the late 1990's there were no local markets for gas, as there had never been pipelines into the Maritimes to deliver the gas. Natural gas is ubiquitous in many other parts of the country - when my wife built a new home in Burlington, Ontario in the late 1990's there were three utilities laid down on her street as the subdivision was developed - water and sewer, electricity, and natural gas. The gas was used for space heating and cooling, hot water and a gas fireplace, and it was incredibly cheap. I expect that gas was mostly from western Canada, brought to Ontario by pipeline.

Five years later Beth had a new house built in a suburb of Dartmouth; no natural gas was available so the furnace burned oil, the fireplace burned propane and there was no air conditioning. There is still no gas in that neighbourhood.