British Columbia’s new NDP/Green coalition government was in damage control mode after the most ambitious of the province’s proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, the $36-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG, was cancelled Tuesday.
Both the province and the Malaysian company that proposed it blamed poor global LNG market conditions. The truth is that what should have been a magnificent new Canadian industry, building middle-class jobs from exporting Western Canada’s world-class Montney shale gas to reduce carbon pollution in Asia, has unraveled due in large part to government mishandling — plus fears it would have only accelerated under the new, anti-development provincial government.
The proof is that the LNG export industry is thriving in the United States under the same global market conditions, while B.C. has yet to see the construction of a single project out of 20 or so proposed since 2011. Dennis McConaghy, a former senior executive at energy company TransCanada Corp., called the decision “a tragedy for Canada … a real condemnation of this country and the utterly unproductive entities in it that simply make any development virtually impossible.”
With energy prices collapsing globally, and the business in B.C. having a tough time remaining viable, Pacific NorthWest LNG needed less, not more government costs and regulations to stay in the game.
Instead, the new provincial government jacked up its demands, including higher carbon taxes, a “fair” return for resources (read a bigger provincial take), partnerships with First Nations (read fatter benefits agreements), protection for “our air, land and water including living up to our climate change commitments,” as outlined in Premier John Horgan’s mandate letter to the new energy minister, Michelle Mungall.
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