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It’s time politicians level with British Columbians about LNG

Over the last month there has been a flurry of media interest concerning whether or not British Columbia can meet it’s legislated and promised greenhouse gas reduction targets while simultaneously developing an LNG industry. The short answer is no, it’s impossible. In what follows I outline why this is so. I also outline why this is a defining issue for my continued support of this minority government.

1. British Columbia’s legislated greenhouse gas reduction targets

In 2007, at a time when British Columbia was emerging as an international leader in the quest to reduce greenhouse gases, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act was passed. This act committed British Columbia to:

  1. reduce emissions by 2020 to at least 33% less than the level of those emissions in 2007;
  2. reduce emissions by 2050 to at least 80% less than the level of those emissions in 2007;

It further tasked the government with developing interim targets for 2012 and 2016.

Later that year the government set up a Climate Action Team whose mandate included, among other things, advising what these interim targets should be. The resulting report recommended:

    1. By 2012, the growth in emissions must be reversed and emissions must begin to decline significantly, to between five and seven per cent below 2007 levels;
    2. By 2016, the decline in emissions needs to accelerate. In order to ensure that B.C.’s 2020 target can be reached, emissions should fall to between 15 and 18 per cent below 2007 levels by 2016.

In November 2008, upon completion of the Climate Action Team’s report, the government announced that it would establish a greenhouse gas reduction target of 16% below 2007 levels by 2012 and 18%  by 2016. And at the same time, a suite of policy measures were implemented. As can be seen in the figure below, annually-averaged British Columbia emissions began to reduce.

On November 3, 2010 Gordon Campbell resigned as premier which initiated a search for a new Leader of the BC Liberal Party. Christy Clark won the subsequent BC leadership race and was sworn in as premier on March 14, 2011. After an unsuccessful attempt to win a seat in the Point Grey riding during the May 2013 provincial election, now Premier Christy Clark was eventually elected in a July 10, 2013  Kelowna West byelection.

Why this political history is important is that the change in leadership immediately signaled a change in direction for British Columbia. Almost immediately, the new Christy Clark government started to dismantle the climate policies put in place by her predecessor. One of her very first pronouncements was that natural gas would now be defined as “clean” thereby signalling the beginning of the BC Liberals’ reckless quest to capture a pot of LNG gold at the end of an ever-moving rainbow.

This pronouncement became law on July 24, 2012 as British Columbia’s Clean Energy Act was modified to exclude natural gas used to power LNG facilities. As early as June 2012, journalists were already asking how on British Columbia could venture into the LNG export industry while at the same time meeting its legislated greenhouse gas reduction targets. The political spin began.

2. Why I agreed to run as a BC Green Party candidate in the 2013 provincial election

It was during this same post-Campbell period that I was heavily involved in the writing of Chapter 12: Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility of the soon to be released Working Group I contribution to the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The last thing on my mind was contemplation of a possible move to BC politics.

Several times during 2012 the then Leader of the BC Green Party, Jane Sterk, approached me about running for office in the 2013 provincial election. It wasn’t until September of that year, the 4th time I was asked, that I final agreed to do so.

Over the years I have given hundreds of public lectures on the science of global warming. I also developed a course at the University of Victoria entitled EOS 365: Climate and Society.

In my last lecture of that course, or towards the end of my public lectures, I typically provide a summary. I use the image to the right to boil the entire issue of global warming down to one question:

Do we, the present generation, owe anything to future generations in terms of the quality of the environment that we leave behind?

Science can’t answer that question. But science tell us why this is ultimately the question that needs to be asked.

The figure, taken from the 4th Assessment report of the IPCC shows six panels with three in each column. The first column shows projected change in annually-averaged surface air temperature (as averaged over many climate models) over the decade 2020-2029 relative to the 1980-1990 average.  The second column shows the same thing over the decade 2090-2099 relative to the 1980-1990 average. The three rows show the results when the climate models are forced by human-produced greenhouse gas emissions that follow three distinct trajectories (B1, A1B, A2).

The first (B1) has carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions which peak mid century then decline to below 1990 levels by the end of the century (see figure to the left taken from the IPCC 3rd Assessmnet Report). The CO2 emissions used in the second row (A1B) grow significantly until mid century and then decline slightly thereafter. The third scenario (A2) reveals CO2 emissions that grow throughout the 21st century. Each of these scenarios were developed using assumptions of future population growth, economic growth, energy usage and numerous other socioeconomic factors.

Since 2000, after which CO2 emissions were estimated in the figure above, humans have been following the higher trajectories. In 2017 emissions from industrial activities and changes in land use were 10.0 GtC (Gigatonnes of Carbon) and 1.1 GtC, respectively, for a total of 11.1 GtC.

The results shown in the six paneled-figure above tell us that the amount of warming over the next century is very sensitive to our future emissions of greenhouse gases. But they also tell us that policy decisions made today will have little effect on the warming over next several decades. The climate change we have in store for the next 20-30 years is pretty much in the cards  because of past policy decisions. That’s because of something I like to call socioeconomic inertia (we don’t build a coal-fired power plant today just to tear it down tomorrow — our built infrastructure has a turnover time associated with it).

It’s no wonder that our political leaders are having such a difficult time introducing the policies needed to ensure a reduction in greenhouse gases. Politicians are typically elected for short terms. Every four years or so there is a new election.

Let’s suppose that there is a health care crisis in a particular city. A politician may get elected on the grounds that he or she will deal with this crisis. A hospital might get built. During the next election campaign the politician can point to the hospital and say to his or her constituents: “Look. I listened to you. We built a hospital to deal with your local health-care problem”. That politician may get reelected. Now let’s suppose you are a politician who introduces a regulation limiting greenhouse gases. Or you might add a tax or levy to greenhouse gas emissions. The effects of this policy would not be realized during your political career. In fact, they may not be realized in your entire lifetime. They would start to have an effect in the lifetime of the next generation. That’s hardly something you can point to in the next election campaign. There is no immediate benefit.

So if indeed we believe that we have any responsibility for the well-being of future generations in terms of the quality of the environment that we leave behind, we have no choice but to immediately start to implement the policy measures required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Waiting to act will mean waiting until its too late. There’s a very simple analogy that illustrates why.

Suppose you put a pot of cold water on a stove and turn the element to high. The water won’t boil right away. It takes time for the water to heat up. If suddenly it gets too hot, and you decide to turn the element down, it also won’t cool right away. That’s because of the large heat capacity of the water. The analogy to global warming is direct. The element on the stove corresponds to the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere whereas the pot of water represents the oceans which cover 71% of the Earth’s surface.

Students and members of the public in my classes and lectures would invariably ask: “What can I do to make a difference?”. I would respond that there are three things anyone and everyone can do:

  1. Use your purchasing power to send a signal to the market by buying products that when produced, delivered, or used, are low greenhouse-gas emitting.
  2. Exercise your right to vote and ensure you vote for someone who is willing to put in place the policy measures required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Education: tell everyone you know to do 1) and 2).

In my 3rd year Climate and Society class I would typically ask how many people voted in the last election. It wouldn’t be unusual to see only about 50% of the class put up their hands. I’d then ask why people chose not to vote and the answers included statements like: “my vote doesn’t matter” or “all politicians are the same, they just care about themselves and getting reelected.”

I’d show the figure to the right illustrating Canadian voter turnout as a function of time (now updated to include the 2015 general election). I’d talk about the fact that global warming is not really an issue that will affect seniors over the age of 65 (for reasons outlined above) and that 70-80% of this demographic typically vote. I’d suggest that it is important for those who will inherit the consequences of today’s decisions (or lack thereof) to participate in our democratic process to ensure that their interests (the long term consequences) are incorporated into decision-making. I’d suggest that if they didn’t like the names on the ballot then they should consider running themselves or encouraging someone to run that they can support.

Ultimately, when Jane Sterk approached me that 4th time in September 2012, I took a look in the mirror and told myself that I would be a hypocrite if I were not willing to follow the advice I was willing to offer others. And so I agreed to run as a matter of principle and on May 14, 2013 I was elected as a BC Green Party MLA representing the riding of Oak Bay Gordon Head. My journey from scientist to politician is the focus of the Robert Alstead’s feature documentary entitled Running on Climate.

3. British Columbia’s reckless efforts to land an LNG industry

By now, the results of the 2013 general election in British Columbia are but history. Campaigning on the promise of 100,000 jobs,  a $100 billion prosperity fund, a $1 trillion increase in GDP, thriving schools and hospitals, and the potential elimination of the PST, Christy Clark and the BC Liberals won a bigger majority government than they had going into that election.

While the BC NDP were campaigning for “Change for the better, one practical step at a time” (whatever that means), I was busy calling out the BC Liberal promises as nothing more than unsubstantiated hyperbole. In one of my first blog posts as a newly elected MLA, I penned an article entitled: Living the Pipe Dream: Basing BC’s Economy on Bubble Economics. This was based on some Powerpoint presentations I had given during the election campaign. In that article I stated:

It is simply a pipe dream to believe that by the end of this decade, the same natural gas price differential will exist between North America and Asia. It is also much cheaper to pipe natural gas directly from Russia to China than it is to liquefy it and ship it from North America. And as we have seen above, there is much, much more natural gas located in Russia. British Columbians deserve better.

I pointed out that the widening of the Isthmus of Panama was about to be completed and that the southern US, a historical importer of LNG, already had the infrastructure on the coast to become an exporter. They were set to meet any upcoming supply gaps in the Asian market. I pointed out that Australia had massive LNG projects about to come online. I pointed out that Russia, with about 20 times all of Canada’s shale gas reserves, had entered into multi-decade contracts to deliver natural gas to China. And Russia’s natural gas reserves are largely conventional and so much cheaper to extract.  More recently, I pointed out that Iran, containing the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, just had sanctions lifted. But that didn’t stop the BC Liberals from desperately trying to deliver the impossible.

In the fall of 2016, the BC Liberals brought in Bill 6, the Liquefied Natural Gas Income Tax Act. I described it as a “generational sellout” that was incomplete and full of loopholes. I noted that in a desperate attempt to fulfill outrageous election promises, the BC Government did what it could to give away our natural resources with little, if any, hope of receiving LNG tax revenue for many, many years to come. Every single member of the legislature apart from me voted in support of the bill at second reading (see the image to the right).

During the committee stage for the bill after 2nd reading, I identified a number of potential loopholes that could be exploited by LNG companies to further reduce the already meager amount of tax that they would pay to BC. And then, at third reading, I moved an amendment that would have sent Bill 6 to the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills, so that British Columbians could get answers to unresolved questions about the government’s LNG promises. The bill would have benefitted from a more thoughtful analysis by the Select Standing Committee. Third parties could be brought in for consultation, including the public, including First Nations and including the companies involved.

When it came to the vote, only independent MLA Vicky Huntington (Delta South) stood with me in the chamber in calling for more time. The official opposition and the government voted together. It was truly remarkable to witness the opposition collectively stand in favour of this bill. So many of them had offered scathing condemnations of it during second reading. In my view they were still gun shy as being perceived as “the party of no” and against resource development.

Clearly the LNG Income Tax Act wasn’t generous enough and the pot had to be sweetened further with the introduction of the 109 page LNG Income Tax Amendment Act (Bill 26) a few months later. While this bill closed a few glaring loopholes I had identified in Bill 6, Bill 26 introduced what I considered to be an unacceptable revision that granted the minister the power to use regulation to allow corporations involved in the LNG industry to use their natural gas tax credit to pay an 8 percent corporate tax instead of 11 percent. Back in the fall, when I put an amendment to send this to committee, I specifically stated in speaking to that amendment that one of the reasons this had to go to committee was because “I would have wished to explore, in particular the one-half percent natural gas tax credit.”

But it doesn’t end there. The BC Liberals still could not land a positive investment decision for a major LNG facility. And so, the legislature was called back for an unusual summer session to pass Bill 30: Liquified natural gas project agreements act. As I noted earlier when I addressed the bill at second reading, in a ever more desperate attempt to fulfill outrageous election promises, the BC Liberals did what they could to give away our natural resources with little, if any, hope of receiving LNG tax revenue for many, many years to come.

I offered a Reasoned Amendment to this bill. In speaking to the amendment I looked across the aisle to the MLAs opposite. I asked them to ask themselves one question. How do they think history will judge them? I argued that the generation of tomorrow will look back and will say: “This generation sold us out.” They will look back at this government’s decisions here to pass this bill with disdain, with shock, with disbelief and ask why?

By this time the BC NDP realized just how outrageous the sellout was becoming and they joined me in supporting my amendment and voting against the bill at second reading.

What we should do: Bill 30 should be repealed.

Bill 30 set the stage for the BC Government to approve the Project Development Agreement that it had already signed with Pacific Northwest LNG on May 20, 2015. One of the key conditions of the deal, however, was that Petronas had to make a final investment decision on Pacific Northwest LNG by June 2017. Petronas decided to kill the project instead.

In light of this, I recently asked the new Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources if the long-term royalty agreement would be terminated as it was the government’s legal right to do so. In my view it literally gave away our resource and now it is being viewed as a starting point for negotiations with other companies who want to lower the bar still further. The Minister responded that she would have more information later. I await such information.

What we should do: This expired long term royalty agreement should be terminated.

If you thought the LNG deals couldn’t get any richer, you are in for a surprise. British Columbia has had in place a deep-well royalty program since 2003. It was designed to enable the provincial government to share the costs of drilling in B.C.’s deep gas basins. But recently it transformed into a massive subsidy to incentivize horizontal drilling, including shallow wells and hydraulic fracturing. There should be no surprise that British Columbia now earns very little in royalties from its natural gas royalties (see figure to the left taken from an article written by Marc Lee in PolicyNote.ca). Worse still is that there are more than $3.2 billion in unclaimed royalty credits than can be applied against future royalties.

What we should do: The deep-well royalty program should be terminated.

There is more. In Bill 19: Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Amendment Act, 2016, the BC Liberals repealed existing Cap and Trade enabling legislation and allowed new entrants in the LNG industry to have “flexible options” for their initial operations. The first 18 months of a new operation’s existence would “allow for time for testing and other initial activities that may affect emissions and production levels.” The bill also opened up the BC Carbon registry to non-regulated operations (companies and municipalities). The BC NDP and I voted together in opposition to this Bill.

What we should do: Cap and Trade enabling legislation for heavy emitters should be reintroduced.

Unfortunately, the BC Liberals committed even more to LNG proponents. As former Premier Christy Clark stated in the November 2014 announcement of an agreement between BC Hydro and LNG Canada “This agreement is an important step forward towards getting the LNG industry up and running”. Initially the agreement promised to provide power to LNG facilities at a rate of 8.3¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh), before applicable taxes. This rate subsequently dropped to 5.4¢ per kWh (the same as the industrial rate used by other heavy consumers) in the late fall of 2016.

But here’s the problem. In order for BC Hydro to deliver into these contracts, it would need new power. This is where Site C comes in. Site C, when completed, would produce 5,100 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per year.

If you pick up your bi-monthly BC Hydro bill you will see that residential customers presently pay a Tier 1 rate of 8.3¢ per kWh for the first 1350 kiloWatts of electricity and a Tier 2 rate of 12.9¢ per kWh for everything in excess of that. Site C, is now projected to cost $10.7 billion (and rising). With BC hydro’s growing debt, one thing we can be certain of is that these rates will increase. In essence, what the BC Liberals started (and the BC NDP continued) was a massive ratepayer electric subsidy of a nonexistent LNG industry. You and I will pay more than twice what LNG proponents have to pay while at the same time taking on billions of dollars of ratepayer supported debt. If this sounds like a bad deal, it gets worse.

As early as October 2103, I pointed out that it no longer made any fiscal sense to proceed with Site C. Not only was its cost escalating, but the cost of renewables was plummeting. In the last eight years alone, costs for wind power declined by 66 percent. And the costs are predicted to continue to fall. Bloomberg, for example, predicts that onshore wind costs will fall by 47 percent by 2040 and offshore costs will fall by 71 percent. In fact, Alberta just announced it is proceeding with the development of 4000 megawatts of wind energy at a cost of only 3.7¢ per kilowatt hour, well below what Site C will end up costing.

Solar energy tells a similar story. Costs have decreased by 68 percent since 2009, and they’re projected to decrease by a further 27 percent in the next five years. We have a window of opportunity now to harness renewables and build power that puts us on the cutting edge of innovation and provides local jobs and benefits. Furthermore, we are not using our existing dams efficiently and they could be used to level the load from these intermittent sources (and so act like rechargeable batteries).

Building Site C will cost much more than just its construction price tag. It will also cost us lost opportunities in terms of distributed, stable, high paying, long term jobs in renewable energy production.

What we should do: Site C should not proceed.

I reiterate, the reality is that there is a global glut in natural gas supply and despite what some might claim, oil and gas activities play a very minor role in BC’s economy. As I mentioned earlier, the royalties and net revenue from the natural gas sector in British Columbia have plummeted in recent years (see also figure below). In fact in 2016, British Columbia actually lost $383 million from exploration and development of our resource. That’s because the tax credits earned exceeded the sum of the income received from net royalties and rights tenders combined. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, British Columbia earned total revenue of only $3.7 million, a 99.9% drop from 2010 (BC earned 1000 times more revenue in 2010 from natural gas than we did in the last fiscal year).

Figure: Net royalties earned (after claiming tax credits) [red]; net increase of unclaimed tax credits [orange]; net revenue from tendering the rights to natural gas [green]; the sum of these three (i.e. the net revenue to the province from our natural gas resource) [blue]. The scale is in billions of dollars. Each year represents the fiscal year ending March 31 of that year. Thanks to Norman Farrell for providing me the data that he collated from BC Public Accounts, BC Budget and Fiscal Plans, and the Auditor General’s Information Bulletin 1 (May 2011).

What we should do: Stop doubling down on the economy of yesterday and instead focus on our strategic strengths as we diversify for the economy of tomorrow (see section 5).

4. Meeting our 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets – the line in the sand

During the 2017 election campaign the BC NDP campaigned on a promise to introduce measures to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our province. In particular, they promised:

Our plan commits to achieve BC’s legislated 2050 greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 80 percent below 2007 levels and will set a new legislated 2030 reduction target of 40 per cent below 2007 levels.

The BC Liberals had no plan. Obviously the BC Green plan for climate leadership was far reaching.

While the details of their plan were scant, there is no doubt that the BC NDP commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2007 levels by 2030 was the defining issue for me when it came to determining who we would support in a minority government. And so, embedded within the confidence and supply agreement that we signed with the BC NDP is this:

a. Climate Action

i. Implement an increase of the carbon tax by $5 per tonne per year, beginning April 1, 2018 and expand the tax to fugitive emissions and to slash-pile burning.
ii. Deliver rebate cheques to ensure a majority of British Columbians are better off financially than under the current carbon tax formula.
iii. Implement a climate action strategy to meet our targets.
The government has already announced that there will be an increase in the carbon tax by $5 per tonne per year, beginning April 1, 2018.

As evidenced in the figure at the top of this post, British Columbia emitted 64.7 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) in 2007. By 2030, the BC NDP have committed to reducing emissions to 38.8 megatonnes CO2e and by 2050 this number drops to 12.9 megatonnes. As of today, British Columbia has no plan to reach either of these targets. So how does the addition of a major LNG facility muddy our ability to meet these targets?

Pembina Institute undertook a careful analysis of the emissions that would arise if the LNG Canada proposal in Kitimat would go ahead. Recall from the earlier discussion that in the race to the bottom, British Columbia continues to give away the farm in a desperate attempt to land this facility. Pembina conservatively calculated that when upstream (fugitive emissions from natural gas extraction) were included, the completed LNG Canada plant would add an additional 8.6 megatonnes CO2e by 2030 and 9.6 megatonnes CO2e by 2050.

Let’s look at these numbers a slightly different way. In 2015 British Columbia reported 63.3 megatonnes CO2e in emissions. If we add the emissions associated with the LNG Canada proposal, we would need to reduce emissions from 71.9 megatonnes CO2e to 38.8 megatonnes CO2e by 2030 and from 72.9 megatonnes CO2e to 12.9 megatonnes CO2e by 2050. That’s a 46% and 82% reduction, respectively.

We know that LNG Canada emissions would be in addition to existing emissions. LNG Canada would not build the new facility today just so that they can tear it down tomorrow. We can safely assume it would be producing emissions throughout the period from 2030-2050. This means that for all other aspects of the British Columbia economy, emissions would have to drop from 63.3 megatonnes CO2e in 2015 to 30.2 megatonnes CO2e in 2030 and to just 3.3 megatonnes CO2e in 2050. That’s a drop of 52% and 95%, respectively.

If the LNG Canada proposal goes ahead, then every aspect of our economy will have to collectively cut emissions by more than half in twelve years and by 95% by 2050. This is simply not feasible given socioeconomic inertia in our build infrastructure. I’ll expand on this more in a forthcoming post where i explore British Columbia’s sector specific emissions in more detail.

Some will argue that British Columbia should get credit for any potential emissions reductions that would occur if China, for example, were to use our natural gas and transition away from coal. The problem with this argument is two-fold.

1) International reporting mechanisms do not allow one nation to get credit for such fuel switching in another nation. China gets credit for their domestic emissions reductions, not British Columbia. British Columbia cannot simply rewrite international reporting rules developed through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In addition, it’s not even clear whether or not such fuel switching would occur.

2) More importantly, there is no evidence to suggest that when a lifecycle analysis is considered, replacing coal in China with LNG that originated in BC would actually reduce emissions.

Here’s why.

Methane has a global warming potential that is 84 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20 year horizon. This means that on a molecule per molecule basis, methane is 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in its warming ability. It’s 28 times more powerful over a 100 year time frame. And so, it’s important to ensure that the effects of methane are accounted for in a lifecycle analysis.

Unfortunately, it is well known that there are pervasive problems with the estimating and reporting of fugitive emissions in British Columbia. For example, a recent St. Francis Xavier study suggested that BC’s actual fugitive emissions were upwards of 2.5 times higher than what was being officially reported. A particularly policy-relevant and recently published study also highlights troubles and lack of consistency with subnational estimating and reporting of fugitive emissions. In fact, uncertainties are so high that in yet another insightful analysis, that estimated which nations it was best to ship BC LNG to in order to get the best bang for the buck in terms of GHG emissions, it specifically stated:

It is critical to note that the significance of the results does not lie with the ultimate magnitude of the values, where uncertainties remain due to the evolving nature of upstream fugitive emissions measurements. Instead, the important conclusion is the potential for variability in carbon intensity of LNG across countries.

That is, while the relative merits of shipping to one country over another was quantified, the authors recognized that uncertainties in fugitive emissions precluded a conclusion as to whether the lifecycle analysis led to a net greenhouse gas benefit. In particular they noted,

Results include two Canadian studies, both of which report total life cycle greenhouse gas emissions notably lower than those reported by the others, ranking the lowest and second lowest values in the collected data.

and

The Canadian datasets would benefit from disaggregating emissions, such that areas in need of research and improvement can be identified.”

5. In Summary: A vision for the future

Over the course of this essay, I hope that I’ve been able to explain why my continued support of the BC NDP in this minority government is conditional on them implementing a realistic and achievable plan to meet the 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets. I initially got into politics for the reasons articulated above. I could no longer look my family, friends, students and colleagues in the face knowing that I let future generations be sold out when I had the chance to stop it from happening. This is a principled decision for me and the reason why I refer to it as a line in the sand.

It is not possible to on the one hand claim you have a plan to meet our targets and then on the other hand start promoting the expansion of LNG. It’s a bit like Mr. Trudeau’s recent doublespeak where he says that we need to triple the capacity of the Kinder Morgan pipeline in order to meet our climate commitments. That is, we need to increase emissions to reduce emissions!

In section 3, I outlined the numerous ways the BC Government can take steps to stop the generational sellout embodied in the great LNG giveaway. I will continue to work to push them in this regard.

In the shadows of the massive challenges that we face, our province needs a new direction.

A new direction that offers a realistic and achievable vision grounded in hope and real change.

A new direction that places the interests of the people of British Columbia first and foremost in decision-making. And it’s not only today’s British Columbians that we must think about, it’s also the next generation who are not part of today’s decision-making process.

A new direction that will build our economy on the unique competitive advantages British Columbia possesses, not chase the economy of yesteryear by mirroring the failed strategies of struggling economies.

A new direction that will act boldly and deliberately to transition us to 21st century economy that is diversified and sustainable.

A new direction that doesn’t wait for public opinion — but rather builds it.

We have a unique opportunity in British Columbia to be at the cutting edge in the development of a 21st century economy.

Our high quality of life and beautiful natural environment attract some of the best and brightest from around the globe —we are a destination of choice. Our high school students are consistently top ranked — with the OECD specifying BC as one of the smartest academic jurisdictions in the world. And we have incredible potential to a create clean, renewable energy sector to sustain our growing economy. When we speak about developing a 21st century economy — one that is innovative, resilient, diverse, and sustainable — these are unique strengths we should be leveraging.

A 21st century economy is sustainable — environmentally, socially and financially. We should be investing in up-and-coming sectors like the clean tech sector, and creative economy that create well-paying, stable long-term, local jobs and that grow our economy without sacrificing our environment.

We should be using our strategic advantage as a destination of choice to attract industry to BC in highly mobile sectors that have difficulty retaining employees in a competitive marketplace. We should be using our boundless renewable energy resources to attract industry, including the manufacturing sector, that wants to brand itself as sustainable over its entire business cycle, just like Washington and Oregon have done.

We should be setting up seed funding mechanisms to allow the BC-based creative economy sector to leverage venture capital from other jurisdictions to our province. Too often the only leveraging that is done is the shutting down of BC-based offices and opening of offices in the Silicon Valley.

We should fundamentally change the mandate of BC Hydro. BC Hydro should no longer be the builder of new power capacity. Rather, it should be the broker of power deals, transmitter of electricity, and leveler of power load through improving British Columbia power storage capacity. Let industry risk their capital, not taxpayer capital, and let the market respond to demands of cheap power.

Similarly, by steadily increasing emissions pricing, we can send a signal to the market that incentivizes innovation and the transition to a low carbon economy. The funding could be transferred to municipalities across the province so that they might have the resources to deal with their aging infrastructure and growing transportation barriers.

By investing in the replacement of aging infrastructure in communities throughout the province we stimulate local economies and create jobs. By moving to this polluter-pays model of revenue generation for municipalities, we reduce the burden on regressive property taxes. Done right, this model would lead to municipalities actually reducing property taxes, thereby benefitting home owners, fixed-income seniors, landlords and their tenants.

Yes, we should be investing in trade skills, as described, for example, under the B.C. jobs plan. But we should also be investing further in education for 21st century industries like biotech, high tech and clean tech. It’s critical that we bring the typically urban-based tech and rural-based resource sectors together. Innovation in technology will lead to more efficient and clever ways of operating in the mining and forestry industries.

Natural gas has an important role to play. But, we should use it to build our domestic market and explore options around using it to power local transport. BC businesses such as Westport Innovations and Vedder Transport have already positioned British Columbia as an innovative global leader in this area.

We should be investing in innovation in the aquaculture industry, like the land-based technologies used by the Namgis First Nation on Vancouver Island who raise Atlantic salmon without compromising wild stocks.

In forestry we send record amounts of unprocessed logs overseas. Now is the time to retool mills to foster a value-added second growth forestry industry.

These are just a few ideas that could help us move to the cutting edge in 21st the century economy.

Fundamental to all of these ideas is the need to ensure that economic opportunities are done in partnership with First Nations. And that means working with First Nations through all stages of resource project development – from conception to completion.

I am truly excited about the prospects that lie ahead in this minority government. British Columbia has so much to offer and we can and shall be a leader in the new economy. And the recent announcement of the appointment of Dr. Alan Winter as the new Innovation Commissioner is an exciting step in this direction.

Extremely disheartening decision by BC NDP to proceed with fiscally reckless Site C project

Today the BC NDP announced that they would proceed with the construction of Site C. Their justification for moving forward is distracting, irrelevant and unacceptable. Ultimately, the BC NDP made a choice. They chose to eliminate the tolls on the Port Mann and Gold Ears bridges instead of cancelling Site C.

Back in August I pointed out how wrong it was to eliminate the tolls on these bridges. One of the key reasons was that the outstanding debt of $4.7 billion (Port Mann – $3.6 billion; Golden Ears – is $1.1 billion) would have to be moved from self-supporting debt to taxpayer-supported debt. Increasing taxpayer supported debt is worrying. The Province’s borrowing rates are largely determined by our credit rating, overall taxpayer supported debt load and the ratio of provincial revenue to provincial debt. Increasing this debt load risks the potential of downgrading our credit rating which in term would increase borrowing rates on the entire provincial debt. Back in August, the BC NDP simply announced that they would eliminate tolls without checking with credit rating agencies and without concern for the rising provincial debt. It turns out that there was room to increase debt by $4 billion without triggering a downgrade.

Yet today, they evoke concerns about increasing provincial debt as the reason why Site C must move forward. Had they not so crassly eliminated the tolls in a desperate attempt to grab votes, Site C could have been cancelled today.

What’s even worse is that today the BC NDP announced that the cost of Site C has now risen to $10.7 billion. Back in 2010 when Site C was advanced to stage 3 of the approval process, its price tag  was somewhere between $5 billion and $6.6 billion. In 2011 the price tag increased to $7.9 billion. Two years later it was $8.3 billion and then this past year the price tag grew to $8.9 billion, accompanying a year-long delay in the construction schedule. The BCUC report published on November 1 concluded that the costs for Site C woulld be $10 billion. In fact, the B.C. Utilities Commission said this: “Given the nature of this type of project and what has occurred to date, total cost for the project may be in excess of $10 billion, and there are significant risks that could lead to further budget overruns.” The cost, they found, could end up being $12 billion — and this only two years into a nine-year project.

I have been pointing out the fiscal folly of building Site C since October 2013 and I’ve documented the many, many interventions I’ve made on the subject on this site. Our efforts culminated in us sending a letter to the BC Government last week outlining the case against Site C.

I know that there are many, many British Columbians who are devastated by today’s decision. What bothers me more than anything is that I know of quite a number of NDP MLAs who campaigned on stopping Site C. For example, the agriculture minister, Lana Popham, earlier this year told a Victoria audience:

“we would send this to the BCUC immediately, we would speed up the BCUC process, make it sixty days, and we would have that decision. There is no way that this project would pass.”

“in my view, we’re nine seats away from being able to stop Site C.

Michelle Mungall, the Minister for Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources told a group of Site C protesters that her government would stop Site C and implement their Power BC plan instead. John Horgan, our premier proudly held up a “Site C sucks” sign when he visited the Peace Valley prior to the last election.

When in opposition, George Heyman (now the minister of environment) was noted as saying “the dam project is wrong on every count because of its negative impact on agriculture, the environment, First Nations, clean energy commitments, economics, and the promise of jobs”. Many other NDP MLAs have spoken out against Site C or attended the annual Paddle for the Peace in celebration of the beautiful Peace Valley and in opposition to Site C.

Below I reproduce the press release we issued following the BC NDP announcement.


Media Release


Andrew Weaver responds to Government’s decision to continue with Site C
For immediate release
December 11th, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Today Andrew Weaver responded to the NDP government’s decision to proceed with the construction of Site C.

“Our caucus is extremely disheartened by this decision. It is fiscally reckless to continue with Site C and my colleagues and I did everything we could to make this clear to the government.

“This government promised to be better than the B.C. Liberals. On this issue, the NDP government’s approach has turned out to be no different whatsoever.

“Since the beginning I have been concerned this would end up being a political decision. Today’s announcement reflects a sad reality for B.C., and British Columbians deserve better. They deserve a vision grounded in bold ideas that will enable our province to be a leader in the 21st century economy, not more empty campaign promises and political calculation.

“The government’s argument that cancelling Site C is too risky due to debt is incredibly cynical. This is a question of priorities. They had no problem adding billions onto the public debt to cancel the tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges, transferring those costs to people outside of the Lower Mainland to pick up votes in a couple of swing ridings.

“Today, Site C is no longer simply a B.C. Liberal boondoggle – it has now become the B.C. NDP’s project. They are accountable to British Columbians for the impact this project will have on our future.

“We have seen what is happening to ratepayers in Newfoundland because of Muskrat Falls, a similar project, where rates are set to almost double. I am deeply concerned that similar impacts are now in store for B.C. ratepayers.

“The lost economic opportunities from continuing with Site C are profound. Our caucus has met with dozens of local governments, First Nations and B.C. companies with viable alternative energy projects. As countries across the world embrace small scale distributed renewable energy, this decision keeps B.C. locked in the past and risks foregoing enormous opportunities.”

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Media contact
Sarah Miller, Acting Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | sarah.miller@leg.bc.ca

Making the case for cancelling Site C in an open letter to government

Over the last few weeks Sonia Furstenau, Adam Olsen and I have tried to provide as much evidence as possible to make the case for cancelling the fiscally-reckless Site C megaproject. In fact, since I first raised the fiscal folly of moving forward with Site C in 2013, the case has become much, much stronger culminating in the British Columbia Utilities Commission report released on November 1, 2017.

In question period I’ve contrasted the escalating costs of Site C to the diminishing costs of renewables and noted the parallels with the controversial Muskrat Falls megaproject in Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve pointed out that Site C was approved as a ratepayer funded subsidy to a non existent LNG industry. I’ve asked why the Columbia River Entitlement and distributed renewable projects have not been explored. And my BC Green colleagues have asked many more questions as well.

With the rising of the legislature last Thursday and ahead of an imminent decision regarding the fate of Site C, my caucus colleagues and I felt it was important to summarize our case against the project in an open letter that we sent to Premier Horgan. Below I reproduce a text of that letter.


Text of Open Letter


December 1, 2017
Premier John Horgan
Office of the Premier
Parliament Buildings, B.C. Legislature
Victoria, B.C.
V8V 1X4

cc: Hon. Michelle Mungall
Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
Dear Premier Horgan,

As we near cabinet’s decision on Site C, we write to you today to urge you to stop construction of the Site C dam.

Our Confidence and Supply Agreement committed government to sending Site C to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC), BC’s independent regulatory agency, for an independent review of the project. In undertaking this review, the BCUC marshalled significant evidence and undertook an analysis of the implications of pursuing completion, suspension, and termination scenarios; the implications for ratepayers of different scenarios; and the potential for a portfolio of alternative sources of energy to meet demand.

The resulting report was comprehensive and provided a strong, evidence-based rationale for cancelling Site C. This rationale is founded in a number of key findings presented in the report, including:

  1. Site C is already over budget, and is beset by considerable risks of further costly overruns and delays;
  2. An alternative portfolio can meet future demand requirements, at the same or lower prices than Site C.

The BC Green Caucus believes that the findings of the report more than make the case that the best course of action for government is to cancel the project, remediate the land and begin the work of developing a 21st century energy system based on options presented in the alternative portfolio.

This argument is laid out in greater detail below.

Costs and risks of Site C

The estimated cost of Site C has escalated throughout its lifespan. Just last month, when the river diversion deadline was missed, the cost increased again from $8.3 to $8.9 billion, accompanying a year-long delay to the construction schedule.

It was therefore unsurprising to see the BCUC Panel determine that Site C will be behind schedule and substantially over budget. In the BCUC Panel’s words, “given the nature of this type of project and what has occurred to date, total costs for the project may be in excess of $10 billion and there are significant risks that could lead to further budget overruns”. The Panel found that these remaining risks include unresolved tension cracks and disputes with contractors. As such, the Panel found that it is unlikely that Site C will be completed on schedule by 2024, and even that construction costs could escalate even further beyond $10 billion.

This cost escalation is significant, and will have substantial impacts on British Columbia ratepayers. Given that we are only 2 years into what is supposed to be a 9-year construction project, we are gravely concerned about the impact on British Columbians of further expected delays and cost overruns.

As cabinet makes its decision, we hope they will also heed the lessons learned from another large-scale dam under construction, Muskrat Falls, in Newfoundland and Labrador. When the Muskrat Falls Project was sanctioned, it was estimated to cost $6.2 billion plus financing. The costs have since ballooned to more than $12 billion. The impact of this cost increase on rates in Newfoundland is profound. Nalcor Hydro now estimates that costs from the Muskrat Falls dam will result in rates almost doubling.

The lessons from this project are significant and relevant. Just last week the Newfoundland and Labrador government initiated a public inquiry into what happened with Muskrat Falls. Richard LeBlanc, the provincial Supreme Court judge leading the independent inquiry, has said “while we cannot undo the past we can learn from it”. While it may have been too late for their government to cancel their project, it is not too late for BC. We hope this government heeds his words and chooses a different path.

The potential of alternatives to meet demand

As part of its review, the BCUC was also mandated to analyze the ability of an alternative portfolio of commercially feasible projects and demand-side initiatives to provide similar energy benefits to Site C, including their potential to meet demand and their costs to ratepayers.

The Panel found that not only could an alternative portfolio of conservation, wind energy, and geothermal energy meet demand and provide similar benefits to ratepayers as Site C, but that it could do so with an equal or lower unit energy cost.

In addition to recognizing the current viability of alternative energy in BC, the Panel found that disruptive trends in technology pose one of the most significant risks to continuing with Site C. Evidence from around the world substantiates the Panel’s warning about technological trends. Prices for wind, solar, and

geothermal energy have plummeted year by year. The pace and scope of technological advance have exceeded even the most optimistic predictions.

Instead of locking ourselves into the path of the Site C Dam, we should seize this opportunity to build clean, distributed power that puts us on the cutting edge of innovation, and provides jobs and benefits to local communities.

In addition, though beyond the scope of the BCUC review, it is critically important that government also consider the impacts that this project has on First Nations, particularly in light of our collective commitment to implementing UNDRIP. Government must also consider the project’s impact on the environment of the Peace River valley. Through pursuing an alternative energy portfolio instead of Site C, BC can partner with First Nations, industry and local communities to build clean, distributed power across BC. These alternatives will employ more people than Site C and provide local jobs and benefits to local communities.

In the face of these developments, it would be irresponsible for government to continue down the path of Site C. We do not require Site C to meet our future energy needs – alternative sources of energy are more than able to meet demand, and they will enable us to adapt to changing needs, as they provide flexible sources of energy. In contrast, Site C locks us into an energy future that could impose significant burdens on future ratepayers, and we would be forced to sell any surplus power at a loss.

Final considerations

Laid out in front of this government is a choice. The previous government chose to forgo evidence and due diligence, and pushed forward irresponsibly with a project that it is clear should never have been started. What the BCUC report tells us is that it is not too late to correct this mistake.

However, the choice facing your government is not simply about which option will save ratepayers the most money. It’s a choice about what type of province we want to build. All around the world jurisdictions are embracing a modern, 21st century approach to energy policy. Pursuing this future would see the creation of a distributed, integrated power grid where the economic and employment benefits are shared by communities throughout the province.

Site C puts this future further out of reach, doubling down on the energy projects of the last century and undermining our ability to embrace the future.

We hope, as cabinet considers this decision, that they properly weigh this information contained within the BCUC report. Your government made the right decision in agreeing to commission an independent review before we crossed the point of no return. You need now to be guided by the evidence that this report puts forward.

This government has an opportunity to undo the mistakes of the last administration and chart a new, modern path for energy policy in BC. We hope you will seize this opportunity.

 

Sincerely,

Andrew Weaver
Leader, B.C. Green Party
MLA, Oak Bay-Gordon head

Sonia Furstenau
MLA, Cowichan Valley

Adam Olsen
MLA, Saanich North & the Islands

The Letter


Media Release


B.C. Greens make the case for cancelling Site C in open letter to government
For immediate release
December 1, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – B.C. Green MLAs Andrew Weaver, Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen sent an open letter today to Premier Horgan and Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Michelle Mungall making the case for cancelling Site C.

The B.C. Greens have been opposed to Site C since costs begun to escalate well past its initial budget, while the global cost of alternative energy has continued to fall.

The letter is attached.

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Media contact
Sarah Miller, Acting Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | sarah.miller@leg.bc.ca

Contrasting the escalating costs of Site C to the diminishing costs of renewables

Today in the legislature I rose in Question Period to ask the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources about the escalating costs of Site C relative to the diminishing costs of renewables.

In the days ahead, the BC cabinet will make a decision on whether or not to proceed with the construction of Site C.  It’s critical that cabinet make its decision based on the best available evidence. It’s clear to me that Site C is about to emerge as BC’s very own Muskrat Falls. A public inquiry in Newfoundland and Labrador will begin this January to determine why that hydro megaproject is so many billions of dollars over budget and so far behind schedule. It will also examine why the project was exempt from oversight by the Public Utilities Board much as the Site C project was approved without oversight from the British Columbia Utilities Commission.

Below I reproduce the video and text of the exchange. It is clear to me that the BC Liberals were feeling very uncomfortable with the line of questioning as their heckling was so loud and ongoing that I had to stop several times.


Video of Exchange



Question


A. Weaver: I see the members on the opposite side here are somewhat troubled about question period and are a little feisty today.

I’d like to take us back, hon. Speaker. I’d like to take us back to the previous decade, when Site C was advanced to stage 3 of the approval process. Its price tag then was somewhere between $5 billion and $6.6 billion. Let’s now fast-forward to 2011. The price tag now was $7.9 billion. Two years later, now in 2013, the price tag was $8.3 billion. Then the price tag grew to $8.9 billion, accompanying a year-long delay in the construction schedule.

Now the B.C. Utilities Commission says this directly: “Given the nature of this type of project and what has occurred to date, total cost for the project may be in excess of $10 billion, and there are significant risks that could lead to further budget overruns.” The cost, they found, could end up being $12 billion — and this only two years into a nine-year project.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

A. Weaver: My question through you, hon. Speaker — if I’m allowed to actually ask it over the heckling from opposite — is this. It’s to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. Will the minister stop the Site C project…?

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

The question, please.

A. Weaver: I’ll try again.

Will the minister stop Site C before it gets any worse and protect British Columbians from a project that already shows signs of having costs that will spiral completely out of control?


Answer


Hon. M. Mungall: Thank you to the member for the question. I find the question very interesting because I think it highlights exactly why this project should have gone to the B.C. Utilities Commission right from the very get-go. The fact that the official opposition, when they were in government, chose not to do that — I’ve said it before, and let me say it again — was the wrong choice.

This government has righted that wrong. We have finally gone to the B.C. Utilities Commission, and we were able to get answers to the questions that British Columbians had, questions that I’m sure that the Leader of the Third Party had as well. This government is taking all of that information into consideration as we deliberate on this very important issue for British Columbians, and we’ll be working and making a decision in the best interests of British Columbians.


Supplementary Question


A. Weaver: Thank you to the minister for the response. In contrast to the grim picture of ballooning Site C construction costs, let’s now take a look at the renewable energy sector. Wind, solar and geothermal power have become cheaper and scaled up faster than anyone predicted. The cost of wind power has decreased by 90 percent since the 1980s. In the last eight years alone….

Interjections.

A. Weaver: I know that members opposite don’t like to hear data, but if you could let me actually get it through, we’d be actually all benefiting from this.

In the last eight years alone, costs for wind power declined by 66 percent. And the costs are predicted to continue to fall. Bloomberg, for example, predicts that onshore wind costs will fall by 47 percent by 2040 and offshore costs will fall by 71 percent.

Now I get that they’re feisty opposite, hon. Speaker, because they don’t like the real data. They’re just living in an ideological world of mysterious data.

Solar energy tells a similar story.

Mr. Speaker: Member, the question, please.

A. Weaver: Thanks. If I could actually ask the question….

Solar energy tells a similar story. Costs have decreased by 68 percent since 2009, and they’re projected to decrease by a further 27 percent in the next five years. We have a window of opportunity now to harness renewables and build power that puts us on the cutting edge of innovation and provides local jobs and benefits.

Mr. Speaker: Member, the question please.

A. Weaver: My question — if I can get it above this background of raucous Liberal members — to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, is this: are you prepared to forgo this generational opportunity to harness renewables by continuing in the B.C. Liberal footsteps with building a doomed megaproject?


Answer


Hon. M. Mungall: It’s clear that members opposite sure are feisty today. I’m glad that the member did get his question in.

He will note that part of my mandate letter is to build that road map into the future in terms of B.C.’s energy policy, looking specifically at our opportunities — our tremendous opportunities — at renewables.

But for today, we have to address this issue of Site C. No decision has been made, but we are in the decision-making process, and we take it very seriously. This is a very important decision for British Columbians well into the future, and that’s why we have ensured that we’re doing our due diligence by starting with the B.C. Utilities Commission.

We’re looking at the information that they brought forward as well as the incredible amount of information that has come out over the years about Site C, and we will be making a decision that works for British Columbians today and into future generations.


Site C and LNG in BC: Standing up for the ratepayer

Today in the Legislature I rose in Question Period to question the Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources about the need for Site C in light of a nonexistent LNG industry. I further questioned whether or not she would defend the interests of British Columbians and ensure a fair price for our natural gas assets by evoking a cancellation provision with the Progress Energy royalty agreement (as Petronas has not made a positive final investment decision).

In addition, in April, 2015 when Bill 23, The Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act was introduced by the BC Liberals, the BC NDP and I spoke out about profoundly troubling changes to the way Royalty Agreements are managed under the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act. Under these changes, the Minister was granted the power to enter into secret agreements with oil and gas companies without the approval of Cabinet. I felt it was important important to see whether the Minister would agree to not undertake such agreements.

Below I reproduce the video and text of the exchange as well as a copy of our accompanying press release.


Video of Exchange



Question


A. Weaver: I think I’m living in some kind of a fantasy world here in question period today. It’s quite remarkable.

To entice LNG projects to British Columbia in 2014, the previous government promised proponents electricity rates of 8.3 cents per kilowatt hour, but that wasn’t good enough. So two years later, they dropped the rate to 5.4 cents per kilowatt hour.

Now, we know the actual cost of power from Site C, if the government continues with this project. It will be over ten cents a kilowatt hour, while residential customers today are paying 8.6 cents at tier 1 and 12.9 cents per kilowatt hour at tier 2.

Not only are residential customers paying nearly twice what hypothetical LNG companies would pay, they’re also financing Site C to provide electricity to a nonexistent industry through a business model that will lose about five cents for every kilowatt hour of energy produced. That’s B.C. Liberal economics for you. Fortunately, for the members of that party, they have one leadership candidate who hasn’t run on their abysmal economic record.

My question to the Minister of Energy, Mines…

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members, we shall hear the question, please.

A. Weaver: My question to the Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources is this. Will government admit that the only reason to continue with the construction of Site C is to provide ratepayer-subsidized power to a nonexistent LNG industry?


Answer


Hon. M. Mungall: Thank you to the member for the question. He is aware of the process that is undergoing right now. We’ve just completed the B.C. Utilities Commission review of Site C. That report was delivered just a week ago, and this government has announced that we are now moving into our analysis, and then we’ll be doing proper deliberations.

Next week myself and the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation are actually going to be formally consulting with Indigenous communities and First Nations leaders who are directly impacted by Site C. Saying anything at present about future decision-making would likely prejudge that, and I’m just not going to be doing that.


Supplementary Question


A. Weaver: The previous government did everything industry asked them to make their LNG dreams a reality. “Jump.” “How high? How often? Where to? How many times?” They wanted to deliver unicorns to each and every one of our backyards, and when they couldn’t squeeze water from a stone, they tried desperately to squeeze even harder.

They even changed the natural gas royalty legislation so that the minister could negotiate sweetheart deals in secret. They signed a deal with Progress Energy.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

A. Weaver: They signed a deal with Progress Energy and its partners that would have locked in low royalty rates for years and cost B.C. millions. But that contract had an escape valve. One of its conditions was a positive final investment on Pacific Northwest LNG by June of 2017. Yet Petronas decided to kill the project.

My question to the Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources is this. When will the government stand up for the people of B.C., demand a fair price for our natural gas assets and terminate the long-term royalty agreement with Progress Energy? And will the minister confirm, for the record, that this government will not negotiate royalty agreements in secret with any other gas companies?


Answer


Hon. M. Mungall: I think there’s no doubt that anybody on this side of the House would agree with the member that the previous government made large promises and absolutely failed to deliver on those promises. I think we’ve canvassed a few of those: the jobs with LNG, the LNG prosperity fund, the “Debt-free B.C.” Families first, as well.

That being said, moving forward, we have committed to work with industry but also to make sure that our regulatory oversight bodies are doing their due diligence, as well, and that they have the resources to do so. On this side of the House, we want to make sure that government is working for all British Columbians and that we’re all together building a better B.C.


Media Release


November 8, 2017
For immediate release
Site C, Hydro finances demonstrate need to reverse trend of failed Liberal economic management: Weaver

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, is calling for an overhaul of BC’s approach to the energy file. Weaver says that the politicization of energy has got in the way of sound fiscal management and evidence-based policies that would protect ratepayers and allow BC to become a leader in alternative energy.

“Energy has been treated like a political tool in this province, depriving British Columbians of the leadership and sound fiscal management they deserve from their government,” said Weaver.

“Today, the NDP announced that they are freezing Hydro rates. B.C. Hydro is in a dire financial position due to the utter failure of the B.C. Liberals to responsibly manage our finances. They raided B.C. Hydro of more than half a billion dollars in dividends last year alone. ICBC is facing a similar financial mess for the same reason.

“Since the Liberals used LNG as a Hail Mary pass to clinch the 2013 election, they have been hell-bent on developing an industry that was never going to materialize. Due to Liberal enticements to LNG companies, British Columbians pay nearly twice as much as hypothetical LNG companies for their Hydro.

“Site C is yet another piece of this disturbing puzzle – it is billions of dollars over budget and was pushed through without proper oversight by BCUC to satisfy the LNG pipedream. BCUC, an independent body whose purpose is to protect ratepayers, was blocked from doing its job because of the Liberals’ blind pursuit to get to yes at any cost.

“The NDP is at a crossroads. They can continue down this path of reckless Liberal fiscal management, or they can keep their promise to be better. While I’m glad they’re reviewing BC Hydro, there are concrete steps they can take to reverse the trend of energy policy being used as a political tool. They can and should cancel the Long Term Royalty Agreement with Progress Energy, who, by the way, is responsible for the two largest unregulated dams in North Eastern BC. They can, and should stop the pilfering of BC Hydro by requiring dividends that, if not stopped, will amount to $2.8 billion by 2020.

“We cannot keep making political decisions while saddling future generations with debt. If the NDP truly want to make life more affordable, freezing hydro rates without developing an energy strategy – which will simply saddle our children with these costs – is not the solution. We have a generational opportunity to use this minority government to chart a new path for BC, one that takes us away from the BC Liberals fiscal mismanagement. It will require us to think big and to take bold action, but that is exactly what British Columbians deserve from their leaders.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca