Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Mary Ann Lewis and Don Roberts

Liberals skirting oil and gas issue, group charges

Until Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver and his party say no to oil and gas development, Yukoners Concerned is standing with the NDP, says a founding member of the organization.

By Chuck Tobin on August 5, 2016

Until Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver and his party say no to oil and gas development, Yukoners Concerned is standing with the NDP, says a founding member of the organization.

Don Roberts and two other representatives of Yukoners Concerned about Oil and Gas Exploration/Development held a news conference Thursday afternoon at the totem pole on the Whitehorse waterfront.

Several supporters, including at least three NDP candidates for the upcoming territorial election, were on hand as Roberts, Rick Griffiths and Mary Ann Lewis called upon Yukoners to demand a solid position from the Liberals heading into the election.

At a recent meeting of the three representatives of Yukoners Concerned, Silver and Liberal candidate John Streicker, the Liberals indicated they support oil and gas development, particularly in northern Yukon, Roberts said.

He said they were not clear, however, about their position on oil and gas exploration and development in the Whitehorse Trough.

The Yukon Party government moratorium on exploration in the Whitehorse Trough will expire with the dissolution of the legislature and this government, he said.

Roberts said the Liberals have not indicated their position about oil and gas development in the Liard Basin. Nor have they been firm on their position regarding the use of hydraulic fracturing, he said.

It’s imperative Yukoners demand clarity from Liberal candidates as they go door-to-door campaigning, as the Liberals can be “wishy-washy,” Roberts charged.

“They tell you one thing and they do another.”

Roberts said he knows how they think because he used to be a Liberal himself.

Eighty per cent of the Yukon’s oil and gas resources are locked in shale formations, requiring hydraulic fracturing to extract them, he said.

Roberts said it’s clear Yukoners have said no to fracking.

The Yukon Liberals are out of step with the wishes of Yukoners, he insisted.

Roberts said supporting oil and gas development requires huge government subsidies and investment in infrastructure to support the industry.

It’s money that should be invested in green, renewable alternative sources of energy, not increasing the territory’s greenhouse gas emissions, he insisted.

Lewis said 98 per cent of the world’s scientists agree that moving away from dependency on fossil fuels is imperative if there’s any hope of stopping climate change, preventing that ominous two-degree warming of the planet.

Evidence suggests Earth has already warmed by more than one degree. Living in the territory, Yukoners know the average temperature in the North has already surpassed the two-degree threshold, she said.

“So why are we in the Yukon looking at opening up the Yukon for exploring for oil and gas?” Lewis asked. “What are we thinking?”

Lewis said scientists agree if there is any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change, 70 to 80 per cent of the known oil and gas resources must stay in the ground.

The NDP, said Griffiths, has promised a ban on fracking and a move to renewable energy sooner rather than later.

“We demand a party that will lead us to renewable energy,” he said.

“We know there is more jobs in renewable energy if we choose to go there. All the information is there.”

Roberts said the wind turbine on Haeckel Hill was among the first of its kind in the country when it was installed in the early 1990s.

Where, he wondered, is wind now? He suggested the Yukon has remained stagnant with renewable energy initiatives ever since, while the rest of the country is making great strides in embracing renewable energy.

He pointed out the community of Dawson Creek, B.C. has enough wind energy right now to supply half of its needs.

Yukoners need to push the Liberals for a commitment to move toward renewable energy, not more oil and gas development, suggested Roberts.

He served as a territorial cabinet minister in the short-lived Liberal government under Pat Duncan from 2000 to 2002.

He and fellow MLAs Wayne Jim and Mike McLarnon left the party mid-term. The defections helped precipitate the implosion of Duncan’s government and 14 years of successive Yukon Party majority governments.

See related story.

Comments (8)

Up 30 Down 4

Moose on Aug 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Hey Werner, until we stop using fossil fuels altogether....we will need to get them from somewhere. That is a fact....so please explain where you think our fuel should come from until then....Saudi Arabia or here at home? Despite what the NDP says, our transportation systems (like jets) can't run on solar power and unicorn farts.

Up 12 Down 32

Werner Rhein on Aug 7, 2016 at 11:56 am

Where do all you climate change deniers and oil & gas developers got your information from about this issue? Did you go to school with Sarah Palin and Donald Trump?
Don't you look out the window and see what's happening?
Don't you realize we just can't go on like we did the last 100+ years.
John and Sandy putting numbers up, what if these $80B would be invested into alternative renewable energy?
I can tell you what would be happening, it would create between 5 to 15 times the jobs, local jobs, clean jobs. Jobs which would create a local tax base to the largest extent.
I strongly recommend that you people get informed with real information and knowledge and not just what you see in the commercials during the breaks in the gladiator games and from environmental criminals.

Up 33 Down 1

Mark Sanders on Aug 6, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Thanks to this group for bringing these issues forward.
Personally, I say no to fracking but oil and gas has some potential in the territory. We will still be using oil and gas for many years so why not produce it locally and tax it heavily for our benefit.

Up 16 Down 16

John and Sandy both do not support fracking on Aug 6, 2016 at 11:43 am

so that means no oil and gas development in the Yukon period.
That will mean 40 years before a complete change can be developed.
That is equal to $8 billion dollars and 70,000 jobs for Alberta and BC.
They like talking wind but have no clue how to do.
Let's look at $55 million dollar project the City of Whitehorse liberals are leading it into $90 million dollars now.
No seniors housing, which the medical community states we need badly.

Up 10 Down 12

Mike on Aug 5, 2016 at 8:53 pm

So if the temperature outside in the Yukon has increased 2 degrees already, how can you blame something suck as oil and gas, when it's not an issue? Also please research that it is the earths core temperature not the air temp that climate change is based on before you argue this!!

Up 21 Down 25

Jack Colby on Aug 5, 2016 at 8:26 pm


Where's your "Red Book" ?
You'd better be telling us exactly what you plan do do if you want our votes.

We don't need another 4 years of Drugstore Darrell.

Up 23 Down 10

Gordon W. on Aug 5, 2016 at 7:44 pm

Well this guy has got all the gall in the world for calling some other political people of integrity "wishy washy". "It’s imperative Yukoners demand clarity from Liberal candidates as they go door-to-door campaigning, as the Liberals can be “wishy-washy,” Roberts charged.

“They tell you one thing and they do another.”

This has got to be the height of hypocrisy. This man has no pride.
As far as drilling and fracking I say leave her in the ground as the planet needs cooling worse than the Yukon needs speculative Oil and Gas wells.
The Yukon Party has failed inexorably in their attempt to hit some kind of economic home run. Poor decision after poor decision has us with the second worst economic record in Canada and I don't think the NDP are in any position as always to fix this.
I still can't believe the words coming from this court jester's mouth. Retire again already!

Up 37 Down 9

ProScience Greenie on Aug 5, 2016 at 7:43 pm

More fearful exaggerations from Don Roberts and crew. Straight up bad science.
We can be green but no reason to be sleazy about it.

More and better mental health funding in the Yukon please.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.