The Canadian Gas Association (CGA) is an industry association representing and advancing the interests of Canada’s natural gas distribution sector. Its members consist of natural gas distribution and transmission companies, equipment manufacturers and other service providers.
As a critical force championing the interests of the natural gas transport industry in Canada, the CGA makes our list of the Top 50 as a major legitimator.
Head office: Ottawa, Ontario
Year established: 1907
Describing itself as“the voice of Canada’s natural gas distribution industry,”1 the CGA provides a space for natural gas producers and transporters to define issues of common importance and develop strategies for advancing their interests. In an effort to shape public opinion and discourse surrounding the natural gas sector, the association creates and circulates policy briefs, media releases, videos and research reports. It also reaches into policy planning by lobbying different levels of government.
The association promotes natural gas as a clean source of energy and as a “transition” or bridge fuel to the eventual development of renewables, advocating extensively for the creation of a liquified natural gas (LNG) export industry. Reports and videos promote the economic and environmental merits of natural gas, providing strategies to expand the industry, while also presenting energy market statistics on industry trends. From 2011 to 2013, the CGA participated in an extensive cross-country, multi-organization initiative—the Canadian Natural Gas Initiative—to encourage natural gas sectoral expansion and to counter concerns about social, health and environmental impacts of fracking. The CGA also produces a quarterly magazine called Energy, which features pro-fossil-fuel commentary on the economic and political context of the fossil fuel industry in Canada and abroad.
The CGA’s (and other industry proponents’) characterization of gas as a “clean energy source” has been contested by the scientific community. The bulk of the remaining recoverable gas in Canada is found in shale and tight gas plays, extracted via a combination of hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling.2 This extractive process is linked to drinking water contamination, water depletion and carcinogens threatening public health.3 Numerous studies have also found the emissions benefits of gas when compared even to coal to be marginal.4 Methane emissions from extracting gas are often particularly high, while other components of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of natural gas are significant (emissions from processing and transportation, liquefying and regasifying in the case of LNG, and then combusting the gas to supply heat, generate electricity or move vehicles).5 Furthermore, the use of natural gas for the extraction of other fossil fuels is of added concern, as natural gas is vented or burned off in considerable quantities in the course of extracting coal and liquid fossil fuels.
A growing public awareness of the negative environmental impacts of natural gas has led the industry to search for technological and scientific fixes to shrink its footprint, including minimizing methane emissions during extraction and processing and reducing the amount of energy used in transport. The CGA plays an active role in the search for technological advancement in this area. It created the Natural Gas Innovation Fund, which pools resources with corporations such as Enbridge to fund research and development on new natural gas technologies.6 The fund focuses on several areas of research, including carbon and methane capture and storage, gas cleanup technology and LNG refrigeration.
Industry efforts to minimize emissions associated with natural gas production are supported and funded by government, both provincially (in British Columbia and Alberta) and federally. Natural Resources Canada, Emissions Reduction Alberta, Alberta Innovates and the Province of British Columbia have recently partnered with the Natural Gas Innovation Fund and are helping to fund its initiatives, for example.7 While attempts to add environmental efficiencies to the gas industry may realize moderate reductions in emissions per unit of fuel produced, the effectiveness of this approach is limited. These initiatives are not intended to (or capable of) reducing dependence on hydrocarbons, and might instead serve to legitimize continued expansion of carbon extraction.
Learn more about the BC Oil and Gas Commission at LittleSis.org
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.