Stewart "applauds" gas initiative
Canadian environment ministers hold private Inuvik talks

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Sep 18/98) - As Inuvik hosted Canada's territorial, provincial and federal environment ministers last week, bids were put out for tender to construct the transmission line for the Inuvik Gas Project.

And though all their meetings were closed to the public, Canadian Environment Minister Christine Stewart said she "applauds" people converting from more environmentally burdensome fossil fuels such as fuel oil to the cleaner-burning natural gas.

But she would not commit to any funding to encourage home-owners to pay the $1000 to $3000 cost of converting a fuel oil furnace to a natural gas furnace.

Specifically we're looking at (natural gas use) from a climate change perspective," she told the xxxDrum after a press conference at the Midnight Sun Arena.

"We will look at where should we be investing and what might be asked of us."

So far in 1998, the world has seen the highest average global temperatures since officials started keeping records.

And as Sachs Harbour residents cope with a previously unseen rate of permafrost melt, members of one Inuvik family are rebuilding their lives after their home's pilings gave way to thawed permafrost and the whole house collapsed.

"We applaud the use of natural gas and other ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Stewart said.

Aside from encouraging people to use cleaner-burning fuels, Stewart said as far as lessening greenhouse gas emissions go, her department is first focused on urban residents and how to get them out of their cars and on public transit.

Then, she said she is pushing to "improve regulations of outside other engines such as snow blowers."

Better home insulation is a third way Northerners, and other Canadians, can reduce ozone-depleting pollutants, the minister said before stressing the importance of education.

Meanwhile, Lyle Neis, general manager of Inuvik Gas, said if 85 per cent of buildings in Inuvik were heated with natural gas instead of fuel oil, the equivalent of about 12,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide would be kept from the Earth's atmosphere.

Neis said it would take about 3,000 football fields of forest to naturally purge that much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Bids are now being requested from private companies to build and construct the transmission line between Ikhil and Inuvik.

Bids are yet to go out for Northern contractors to provide support in areas such as pipeline right-of-way clearing, gravel hauling and winter road construction, according to O.D. Hansen, general manager for Northern projects at the Inuvialuit Petroleum Corporation.