Communicating liquefied natural gas: Extractivist politics and discourse in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-02-18
Identifier: 
etd20755
Keywords: 
Natural gas
Shale gas
Fracking
Discourse coalition
Extractivism
British Columbia
Abstract: 

Shale gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing is a controversial issue in North America. In British Columbia (BC), the provincial government and its industry partners have made relentless efforts since late 2011 to develop an export-oriented liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry targeting Asia. However, the aggressive pursuit of extractivism underlying this policy initiative has stimulated continuous public debates. Drawing upon the growing body of scholarship addressing environmental communication and the energy humanities, this dissertation explores the intricate economic, political, and ideological struggles underlying BC LNG. It focuses on how the BC Liberal government and domestic fossil fuel advocates developed a ‘progressive extractivism’ storyline, which depicts LNG exports as an unprecedented and ethical economic opportunity deserving the political support of environmentally minded British Columbians. By contrast, the anti-LNG coalition formed by progressive civil organisations, Indigenous groups, and concerned citizens challenges the dominance of progressive extractivism by engaging in fierce discursive resistance. My analysis highlights two distinctive discursive strategies adopted by the anti-LNG coalition, namely (1) their recognition of the fragile economic basis of BC LNG and deployment of mainstream economic knowledge to highlight this vulnerability, as well as (2) their expansion of public debates beyond the ‘jobs versus the environment’ dichotomy by incorporating potent political issues such as democratic governance and many indigenous communities’ refusal to grant consent for LNG development. This dissertation further assesses the public circulation of pro- and anti-LNG storylines by examining their impacts on the news coverage of Pacific NorthWest (PNW) LNG, which was once considered BC LNG’s flagship proposal. In view of these empirical findings, this study ends by reflecting upon the internal contradictions of the Canadian political economy and capitalist social reproduction’s threatening push for extreme carbon.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Shane Gunster
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
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