Today in the legislature during Question Period I rose to quiz the government on its irresponsible and misleading claims concerning our LNG potential. I’ve been pointing out the same thing for three years. An LNG industry in BC is not going to be an economic reality any time soon — the numbers just don’t add up. Yet during this time the BC Liberals have given us three years of hot air and broken promises. Franky, the LNG Emperor has no clothes and it’s time that British Columbians are told the truth.
As I pointed out two weeks ago, Goldman Sachs has forecast a 13 percent drop in LNG prices in 2017 and a further 23 percent drop by 2018. And the U.S. starts shipping LNG in January of 2016. The forecast spot price in Japan is $6.13 in 2016, compared to $7.49 now. Goldman Sachs has projected a $5.19 spot price for landed LNG in Japan in 2017 and a $4.75 spot price in Japan for 2018. It’s looking more and more like British Columbianas will have to literally pay people to take our gas.
During Question Period, I posed two questions to the Minister of Natural Gas Development. Frankly, in my view, his answers were shocking. But I will let you be the judge.
As a direct response to the absurd responses I received, immediately after question period I stood and moved that the house proceed to an emergency debate pursuant to Standing Order 35 on a plan for B.C.’s economy in light of the monumental failure of this government’s plan for LNG and the urgent need to transition to a low-carbon economy. I am grateful for the support of the BC NDP in my attempt to stimulate such a debate. The government argued such a debate was not needed and in the end, the speaker ruled on the side of the government.
Below I reproduce the Question Period exchange. I also provide the video and text of the discussions as to whether or not we should have the emergency debate.
A. Weaver: In the lead-up to the last election, British Columbians were sold a bill of goods by this government. The promise of 100,000 jobs, a $100 billion prosperity fund, a $1 trillion hit to GDP, a debt-free B.C. and on and on.
This government has spent the last three years touting B.C.’s imminent LNG industrial boom. They sent a signal to the market that if industry wanted to do business in B.C., it had better have something to do with LNG.
We were summoned for an urgent summer session of the Legislature to debate the project development agreement for Petronas’ LNG proposal, yet the months continue to pass. The global market supply of gas gets bigger and bigger. Company after company move on to other jurisdictions, and this government remains silent about a plan B.
My question to the minister is this: given the monumental failure of this government’s plans for LNG, what is plan B for the B.C. economy?
Hon. R. Coleman: I’ve only got two minutes?
Madame Speaker: Please proceed.
Hon. R. Coleman: The only monumental failure in this House is that member’s inability to understand how important natural gas could be to the GHGs in the world sent from British Columbia.
Let’s give the member a little recap. We have a conditional FID. We have a project development agreement and one major project in Prince Rupert. We have environmental assessment certificates on three or four additional projects. We have 20 proposals in British Columbia for LNG, opportunities in B.C. Just yesterday, hon. Member, I was at Tilbury where they’re actually building a tank and expanding the Tilbury operation for Fortis for LNG to go into places like Hawaii. At the same time….
I know the member has an issue with First Nations having opportunities and changing their lives and the opportunity of a generation about LNG. But just yesterday the Tsawwassen First Nation announced that they’re going to do a referendum on accepting a proposal from a company, Mitsui, to put an LNG plant on their property in Tsawwassen for the future of their community.
We have 28 pipeline benefit agreements across the north for communities of First Nations, who will see an opportunity for trades, opportunities and a change in the lives of their young people, an opportunity for jobs.
We are moving forward with LNG. I know it drives the member crazy but that’s the way it is, hon. Member.
A. Weaver: Well, I think we should change the name of the ministry to the ministry of gas and hot air, based on that speech.
In just two short weeks, leaders from around the world will descend on Paris to attend the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations framework convention on climate change. Next week the Premier will attend a first ministers meeting in Ottawa to come up with a national strategy prior to Paris.
Yet our government’s promise of wealth and prosperity from a hypothetical LNG industry is entirely inconsistent with a B.C. — let alone a national — strategy to reduce green house gas emissions. What will the government do today to invest in B.C.’s economy in light of the monumental failure of its LNG plans and the urgent need to transform to a low-carbon economy consistent with international efforts?
Hon. R. Coleman: Maybe the member ought to do a little bit of research. I know he thinks he’s an expert on this, but maybe he should go to China and see just how bad the air is and know that the cleanest-burning fossil fuel in the world can actually change the lives and health outcomes for hundreds of millions of people.
If he did, he would recognize that the world needs a transition fuel to reduce pollution, reduce GHGs in the atmosphere, take the particulates out of the air, give people better health outcomes. At the same time, while doing that, help the economy in British Columbia to improve the lives Asia, by bringing LNG from British Columbia to Asia to help them deal with a significant problem — at the same time, getting the maximum benefit from a resource that British Columbians have every right to get the benefit from.
A. Weaver: Again, I rise pursuant to Standing Order 35. As advised in Standing Order 35, I gave the Chair advance notice, and I’ve provided a written statement of the matter proposed to the Clerk.
By leave, I move that the House do now adjourn to discuss a matter of urgent public importance — namely, a debate concerning an economic backup plan for British Columbia given the complete collapse of this government’s all-in strategy on LNG and the urgent need to transition to a low-carbon economy.
This government spent the last three years touting B.C.’s imminent LNG industrial boom. They sent a signal to the market that if you wanted to do business here in B.C., it had to be something to do with LNG. Clearly, not the signal that many sectors wanted to hear.
From the answers in question period, it’s clear that government has no plan B. It’s clear that they have no climate strategy. Frankly, it’s clear that they’re rudderless.
As legislators, we have a duty to the people of British Columbia to urgently turn our attention towards a debate for plan B for B.C.’s economy prior to next week’s first ministers’ meeting in Ottawa and the upcoming UNFCCC meeting in Paris.
As section 35 demands, there is no other time in this session to debate such a plan for B.C.’s economy in light of the monumental failure of this government’s plan for LNG and the urgent need to transition to a low-carbon economy.
Hon. M. de Jong: I’m also obliged to the member for having not only provided the Chair but having provided me with advanced copy of his comments, which I should say bear a striking similarity to his comments in question period. That is not altogether insignificant, because one of the issues….
I must say that I am sorely tempted, given the nature of the subject advanced, to suggest that the House accommodate the member. But I am obliged to point out that the rules governing the application of Standing Order 35 are very strict and very specific, and that is for good reason.
The urgency of debate and the opportunity for debate. The member has just indirectly alluded, on this particular issue, to the opportunity that has existed in this chamber to make submissions on this very point. He did so mere moments ago in his participation in question period.
His remarks provided me with the opportunity to go back and review what he had to say earlier in this chamber, in September, in a debate that took place around energy matters, and again, I applaud him for his consistency, and I point out that I remain unconvinced about his approach and his arguments.
Nonetheless, the more important feature is that there has been ample opportunity. It is the urgency of debate, not the urgency of the matter itself. For that reason alone, I would suggest that the member in his submission to the Chair has failed to make the case for invoking section 35.
M. Farnworth: Just following on the Government House Leader’s comments, I know when this issue was raised back earlier in the summer session, the official opposition indicated that it would be supportive of a debate around the climate change and the conference in Paris.
That still remains our position. So if it was the Speaker’s view that, in fact, the motion moved by the member from Oak Bay, we would be supportive of the ability to have that debate.