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andrew.weaver.mla@leg.bc.ca

12901420_10156872999880347_2134289371661152378_oToday in the legislature I rose to speak at second reading to Bill 19: Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Amendment Act, 2016. Bill 19 is the latest in the ongoing litany of BC Liberal giveaways in a desperate attempt to land a single LNG final investment decision despite that fact that there is a global glut of natural gas on the market. In addition, BC is years behind other jurisdictions which either have vastly larger reserves or infrastructure already in place. The supposed market that BC LNG is targetted, China, already has over contracted supply for the foreseeable future. China is a net seller (not buyer) of LNG.

What’s more, fully 71% of British Columbians do not support horizontal fracking, the source our our gas.

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This Bill will allow new entrants in the LNG industry to have “flexible options” for their initial operations. The first 18 months of a new operations existence will “allow for time for testing and other initial activities that may affect emissions and production levels.” The bill also opens up the BC Carbon registry to non-regulated operations (companies and municipalities).

Below are the text and video of my speech.


Text of Speech


A. Weaver: Thank you for allowing me to rise and speak in opposition to Bill 19, the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Amendment Act. I’d like to start off, first, by acknowledging that in British Columbia there used to be a lot of leadership on the climate file. I do acknowledge what the Minister of Health said in his particular role in that leadership over the years to come.

The carbon tax is lauded internationally as one of the most effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, British Columbia has been singled out as a leader in that regard. Again, that is for the initiatives of the past administration, not the present administration, so it’s a bit rich for the present administration to claim credit for the introduction of measures by a previous administration that have led to British Columbia being lauded for its efforts in climate change mitigation, which have had a real effect, a measurable effect in terms of reducing per-capita emissions until very recently.

It is at that time that this government decided to switch direction, to switch priorities and to move down the direction of trying to encompass an LNG industry. At the same time, the government stopped the increase in the carbon tax, which sent a signal to the market that we’re no longer moving in that direction any longer. And at the same time again, it started to introduce loopholes to allow certain aspects of the market to no longer be subject to the carbon tax.

I do also want to recognize the issue of climate…. The present Minister of Environment put together what I will describe as a blue-ribbon panel that came out with a very, very fine set of recommendations prior to Christmas. Those are bold recommendations that, actually, I think many people would agree would be leading if this government were adopt them.

Honestly, I don’t know how they can adopt them in light of the fact that we have the former Minister of Agriculture putting out petitions, calling people to actually fight against his own government during the actual consultation period where we’re supposed to be listening to the public, not listening to rogue MLAs telling the public that they shouldn’t support the government’s efforts in terms of listening to the public on carbon pricing. I wonder whether the government can follow these recommendations, because they are so very bold and so very inconsistent with the approach the government is taking with respect to LNG.

Back when the first version of this bill, the original Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act, was brought in, I suggested an unusual amendment that was amending the title to something like the greenhouse gas industrial reporting and increase act. The reason why, of course, I did that at that time was that it was a very clear movement away from a direction government had towards greenhouse gas reduction.

This included the repealing of the cap-and-trade regulation. It included a move towards emission intensity targets, as opposed to real reduction. Here, in what I’ve historically called a generational sellout to the LNG industry and then a multigenerational sellout, we see that we haven’t quite gone far enough on our sellout, so we’re going to weaken the rules still more.

Now, back in February 2008, I sat on the floor of this Legislature when the government started down the direction of actually taking climate change seriously. I watched them introduce not one, not two, but a whole pile of policies and regulations that acted like knobs, buttons and switches that would allow government to actually send a signal to the market and move a little bit here and there to start to take emissions down, and they were coming down.

Then along came 2012, when the government recognized that it was not doing so well in the eyes of the public, and it needed a different vision. Everybody thought that the government was going to fall, so they needed to offer British Columbians a vision of hope and prosperity. What was that hope and prosperity? It wasn’t continued leadership on the climate front. It was that we’ll all be wealthy, we’ll all be able to drive Maseratis in our home, because we’re all going to come and benefit from this wonderful opportunity called LNG.

Now, I’ve been saying the same thing now for not one year, not two years, not three years, but over three years. The market did not, does not and will not support an LNG industry in B.C. then, now or any time soon. The reason why is because there is a glut on the market. Right now, landed LNG in Asia in 2019-2020 is trading at $4 and change. China, whose supply gap we were building our LNG to meet, is actually a seller in the market. Why? Because they have contracted excess supply over what they need for years to come.

What do we do? We watch BP move on, and we watch Shell slow down, even though we’ve signed long-term contracts to provide them fixed-cost, cheap electrical power through the construction of Site C. Given that that’s fallen apart, we desperately seek an energy market in Alberta and a plea to the federal government that they add infrastructure funds to get our energy there. But the government said no federally, as did the Alberta government.

We continue down, and we watch so-called LNG plant after so-called LNG plant move away until now we hear only about four that may be. We’re starting to get really shaky firms involved. We’re not talking about the multinationals, the globally traded, highly responsible corporate citizens of today. Some might argue about the level of corporate citizenship. The reality is we’re talking about big players, but players based in nations like Malaysia, places like Indonesia, where the owners are mired in scandals. Yet we’re getting into business and negotiating with them in a position where we have no negotiating power, in a position of desperation. We really think that this is for the benefit of British Columbians? No.

There is no market now for our LNG. Australia already has got so much LNG that they can’t keep up. They don’t have a market for it. Australia and the United States. The first shipping of LNG out of the ports in the Gulf of Mexico has occurred.

The U.S. government recently told a proposed Oregon establishment of an LNG facility: “No, you’re not going ahead, because there’s no market for LNG, and you can’t make the economic case to build an LNG facility on the U.S. west coast.” But in B.C., what do we do? We continue on down this path, this path of folly.

India has just announced that it will look to have all cars on the road be electric within 15 years. What signal is that sending to the market? What market signal is that sending? It’s saying that the new technology of tomorrow is the clean technology that’s emerging.

The minister who spoke previously talked about the opportunity of assisting others in reducing their greenhouse gases.

I agree this is an opportunity British Columbia should be meeting, but we’re meeting it the wrong way. We cannot compete by digging gas out of the ground and trying to sell it to markets that don’t exist. What we should be doing in British Columbia is investing in our strengths that no one else has.

We have three such strengths that no one else in the world has. Without a doubt, we are the best, most beautiful place in the world to live. [Applause.] Thank you for that. That’s assuming that we don’t have too much more of that government to actually destroy it. No more claps there. We are the most beautiful place to live. The second thing we have that no one else has is: we have access to renewable water, we have access to renewable fibre, and we have access to renewable energy like nobody else in the world. The third thing we have is a highly educated, highly skilled workforce that is able to be there for business that wants to actually come to B.C.

Why do I say we should be focusing on those three things? Because we can attract and retain business here in British Columbia. Because of the quality of life we can offer the workers who are there. Highly skilled, highly mobile workers can go anywhere in the world. If you can offer them the best place in the world to live, they’ll stay here.

This is what we should be doing to help those other jurisdictions get off their dependence on fossil fuels — investing in our clean-tech sector and exporting that technology worldwide. We could be leaders there, and we used to be leaders in this area under the previous administration when that started to take off.

Now we see it collapsing. We see the Canadian Wind Energy Association pack up their bags and move to Alberta. We see the Canadian Geothermal Association throw up their hands and say: “We give up. B.C. is the only jurisdiction on the Pacific Rim with no geothermal energy. We give up.” What are we doing? We’re doubling down on natural gas.

Talk to the people around Fort Nelson. Ask them how this is playing out for them. Ask them how this double down focus on natural gas is playing out for them when all the drills shut down and move on because there’s no market for natural gas.

There are some people in the Fort St. John region still taking natural gas out of the ground and then putting some of it back in because there’s no market for it. Fortunately, there are some liquids that are still in some desire there. Instead of doubling down, we should be diversifying our economy there.

This bill is about giving any proponent, in yet another desperate attempt to land an LNG industry here, 18 months in which they can actually not really have to worry too much about their greenhouse gas emissions.

Let me talk to you a little bit about some of those emissions. In the 2014 B.C. Reporting Regulation — that’s the emissions report summary table — from fugitive emissions and venting of methane, a full 2.15 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent is released a year. That’s in the form of methane. About 0.1 billion tonnes come from fugitive methane emissions and 1.3 million tonnes from venting CH4. That 1.3 million tonnes is deliberate venting, not venting that happens through leaks. That’s the fugitive emissions.

What we’re saying here is: we’re going to continue to be climate leaders, but we have 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 a year. That’s an underestimation, very conservative. Some of these are kind of best estimates. We’re going to say another 18 months where you don’t have to worry about it. We have legislated targets that we’re supposed to reduce emissions in B.C. by 33 percent by the year 2020. Those are legal legislated targets.

This government needs to stand up. I know it won’t do it, but it needs to stand up now, not after the next election but now, and actually repeal that legislation, repeal the legislation that says we will meet 33 percent below by 2020. Because we can’t. We simply can’t. The government has missed the boat. Even its own Climate Action Team has told them they have missed the boat.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give up, but it certainly means we shouldn’t double down on an industry that is from the 20th century and try to chase this pot of gold at the end of the rainbow by giving away as much as we can, reducing regulation after regulation, desperation after desperation. Here, just the latest one is giving business another 18 months to actually really do nothing and worry about greenhouse gases down the road.

What we should be debating here in this Legislature…. It’s not about further giveaway. It’s about repealing the Petronas development agreement. That legislation is bad legislation for British Columbia, bad legislation for this generation, bad legislation for the next generation and bad legislation overall, because it sets a maximum bar, a really bad maximum bar that we’re actually saying you can do LNG industry here in B.C. It’s a giveaway, a generational sellout to meet irresponsible promises made during this past election campaign.

We’re supposed to have a couple of LNG facilities up and running right now. What do we have? A lot of smoke, a lot of rhetoric and the Minister of Natural Gas hopefully eating humble pie, or crow, at some point, as he told me I would be doing this time, when I’m still not.

Interjection.

A. Weaver: Why would I hope for him to eat…? No. The economy in B.C. will grow, but the economy in B.C. is not going to grow through natural gas. It will not grow through natural gas. We’re dreaming.

Look at Australia, which tried this kind of desperate attempt — a natural gas giveaway. It didn’t help them much. Ask the Australians what they think about the price of natural gas that they’re paying right now there today. Ask them how much it cost them in terms of the social cost, the environmental costs. I don’t think you’d find Australians rah-rahing to the same extent as this government seems to be doing here.

On October 23, 2014, when I spoke against the implementation of the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act for the first time, I argued that just one LNG plant would emit 12 million tonnes of carbon pollution into the atmosphere. I argued against the bill at that time because it would place us into the somewhat laughable category of not actually reducing our emissions but only our emissions intensity, a change that we’ve seen in other jurisdictions which actually increased the overall magnitude of emissions.

As I said at the time, essentially what we did is we took a card from the Harper playbook, and we said: “We’re going to play this emissions intensity card.” This is yet another example of why I repeatedly point out that today’s B.C. Liberals, as they like to call themselves, are nothing more than yesterday’s Harper Tories.

I argued against the bill because the climate system does not care about the intensity. It does not care about cleverly worded policies or trick loopholes. It cares about actual reductions of emissions. Now, I recognize that some over there on the other side of this are in a delusional sense that we’ll ship LNG, and the world will be saved because China will buy it and switch off coal, despite the fact that China is already contracted with oversupply for years to come and are sellers on the market.

It’s not going to happen, and just because you wish it so does not mean it will be so.

Interjection.

A. Weaver: I missed that from the Minister of Health. Sorry. I love the banter back with the Minister of Health. I actually thought he did a very fine speech just before I got up to stand — and when he said that we’re going to disagree on this. Indeed, we do disagree on that. The point that we’re disagreeing upon I would say is rather fundamental in terms of disagreement.

I would argue that it is reckless economics to invest in yesterday’s technology, to double down on a stock that’s falling, to buy Nortel at $50 and say: “Look, everybody. I’ve got Nortel stock, and I only paid $50 a share.”

I would say that the proper way to approach the economy would be to view the new opportunity, that new dollar stock in a sector that’s about to go crazy — the biomedical sector — buying the stocks young and watching them grow. But we’re not. We’re buying the Nortel stock and missing out  those biomedical stocks. We’re missing out Apple at $10. Instead, we’re buying Nortel at $50 — with respect to those involved in both Apple and Nortel.

Back in October, I spoke against the bill because there was simply no way we could meet the legislated targets, our 2020 and 2050 targets, with the LNG plants that were being proposed.

I honestly believe this government should stand up and look British Columbians in the face and be truthful to them, because you cannot meet our 2020 target. You cannot meet our 2050 target with an LNG industry. It just can’t happen.

When are they going to stand up and say that it can’t happen? I would have far more respect for this government if they actually were honest with British Columbians and said: “We have decided to give up on our climate leadership, because we’re going to go all in on LNG.”

I know the former minister, or the member for Peace River North, would be happy about that. I suspect half of this end of the Legislature — the members from the Fraser Valley hither and wither — would also be very supportive of that. It’s honest. It’s truthful. But the government doesn’t do this.

The government is trying to have it both ways. We’re going to be leaders in climate, and we’re going to be leaders in LNG. I don’t know who you’re kidding, but you’re not fooling anyone outside of the British Columbia borders. You may be kidding yourselves, but nobody takes that seriously.

It does a disservice to British Columbians. It does a disservice to us in the international eye. While United Nations members might pull in the Premier to special meetings and give British Columbia praise for what it has done, let’s be very clear, that is praise for what it has done — not what it is doing, but what it has done.

There is an opportunity before this government. There is an election in 2017. There is a Climate Action Team that has made very bold recommendations. Let’s see if this government will listen to those recommendations. Let’s see if this government will tell the member for Peace River North that: “You know, we don’t like the direction.”

I mean, this petition has been going out for days. There was like 900 people. I could phone up 900 friends and get a petition signed. Clearly, not a very strong petition that this member for Peace River North was doing, despite the fact he got a fair amount of media coverage on it.

What does that tell this government? If he can only get 900 signatures in the heart of natural gas territory, it’s telling me that there is no support for the LNG industry, horizontal fracking and everything that’s going.

British Columbians want us to move to the new economy of tomorrow, not more generational sellout; not more give out a loophole here, a loophole there; not more tax breaks for the LNG industry that’s not going to happen. And not more: “Let’s find even shadier characters we can get into bed with to set up an LNG facility.”

No. British Columbians want leadership from this government in tomorrow’s economy — the economy that brings the tech sector together with the resource sector; the economy that focusses in on our strengths, not on someone else’s strengths; and the economy that builds hope for all British Columbians, not just those today, but those tomorrow and the generations after that.

I have been saddened to watch this government over the last three years on this file. I’ve watched them go from promises of wealth and prosperity, to struggling to give away a resource, to desperation to land one LNG facility, which is where we stand now. One LNG facility. Just one.

We don’t care who it is. Despot dictator in some country somewhere in the world — you want an LNG facility, we’ll roll out the red carpet for you. That’s what this government is so desperate to do, and that’s a shame, because this government was a climate leader. This government had a diversified economy building. This government is watching that diversified economy move on.

It lauds its balanced budget, but that budget is moving. It’s being balanced now not on a healthy, diversified economy, but on a Scottsdale-like, Arizona-based economy fuelled by investment by afar in a highly speculative housing market that only ends in one place, and that is an economic crash.

I do not want to say I told you so. For the last couple of years, I’ve been pointing out that this affordability crisis is not going to end well — that we should be investing in the tech sector, bringing the tech sector together with the resource sector, diversifying economy.

Now, the government lauds balanced budgets, thinks the B.C. citizens are not really looking this through carefully, but the reality is this balanced budget is very, very shaky. We have no revenues from LNG. Where are the revenues from natural gas? Ten years ago, there were healthy revenues from natural gas. Now they’re pretty dodgy. It is really dodgy, in fact.

So, what are we doing? We’re incentivising building. Can you see it happening here? Scottsdale economy. For those of you who don’t know where Scottsdale is, type in “Arizona, Scottsdale,” and you’ve got it there. Watch what happened there. This is what’s happening in B.C.

What happened there? Of course, it was a massive housing crash in Scottsdale. People lost their homes. They lost their shirts. Their mortgages were worth multiples over their housing values. That was because this was a bubble market.

It saddens me when I see the Canadian Wind Energy Association leave British Columbia. We should be, actually, using our existing dams and bringing intermittent sources of power together with these dams to actually stable the base demand.

It saddens me when a $1 billion investment of U.S. money walks from British Columbia, walks from Vancouver Island — a partnership between five First Nations, TimberWest and EDP Renewables to put wind capacity on Vancouver Island close to the requirement for electricity, reducing substantive transmission loss. It’s an intermittent source that partners First Nations with private land, TimberWest land, with EDP Renewables and brings foreign money — a $1 billion investment — into B.C. It saddens me when they walk.

Why do they walk? Because: “We don’t need you anymore because we’ve got Site C.” We’ve got Site C why? Because we irresponsibly, as part of our platform of giving away our resources, signed long-term contracts with Shell to provide them fixed power to actually liquefy their natural gas using electric compression from electricity that we did not have.

What we should be doing right now is saying, “Okay, Shell, we can’t make that because we’re not going to move forward with Site C,” not having silly announcements about turbine contracts being given. “We’re not moving forward with Site C right now because it’s killing our clean tech sector. We know you’re not going to come here anyway, so this contract really doesn’t make much sense.”

But they’re not. It’s still LNG — yet another bill to give it away. Right now we probably won’t be coming to a fall session. We have so little agenda on this session. But if we do, I’m sure it’ll be another emergency because there’s yet another giveaway.

I’d love to be sitting in the Petronas board room right now, thinking: “Heck, let’s go negotiate some more with British Columbia. They don’t know what they’re doing. Come on over here, B.C. I know you’ve got an election in May. We just need one more giveaway before the election.”

If I were in Petronas, I’d know I have you just completely. The expression I was going to say was probably not appropriate in this Legislature. But I would say: “Look, I’m not going to sign anything now. I’d be mad to sign anything now, because I know there’s an election in 2017, and you’re desperate” — the government. They’re desperate. “I’ll come back in the fall and say: ‘I’ll make a final investment decision, maybe — maybe if you do this, that and the other.'”

The government will say: “Emergency session. We need to do this, that and the other, because it’s for the best interests of British Columbians. And we’re going to put our trusted Minister of Natural Gas negotiating on behalf of all of us for future generations, in the best interests of those future generations.”

It is a sad day in British Columbia that we continue to debate this bill. With that, quite clearly, I will be voting in opposition to this bill. I certainly will be joining my colleagues on this side of the House in voting in opposition to that bill, resoundingly so, as this government has lost credibility on the natural gas front, and it continues to actually give away a resource that, frankly, is not in the best interests of British Columbians.


Video of Speech


 

One Comment

  1. Matt Blackmon-
    April 8, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    What a tragic joke in signing Bill-19 which gives LNG companies what amounts to a free pass on a large amount of GHG emissions as well as other concessions especially when we consider that China, the final destination for BC LNG, has now become a net seller due to an oversupplied market!

    We need to start working to insure that One-Frack-Mind Christy Clark is ousted in May 2017!