Michelle Mungall is a rural MLA from the Kootenays who has experience in social issues. She now takes on a ministry that encompasses economic, First Nation and environmental issues across a vast land base in B.C.
Mungall, a three-term MLA from Nelson-Creston and former Nelson city councillor, takes on a tough portfolio as major industrial projects involved in mining and energy are high-profile and often controversial. In her first week in office, Pacific NorthWest LNG cancelled its $11.4-billion project, citing poor global markets.
The project was one of several leading proposed liquefied natural gas projects — none of which have been built — promoted by the former B.C. Liberal government. The Pacific NorthWest LNG project was opposed by environmentalists and some First Nations and scientists. Another potential controversy is brewing over Taseko’s proposed $1.1-billion Prosperity gold and copper mine in the Interior, twice rejected by the federal government and opposed by the Tsilhqot’in Nation. The company was granted an extensive drilling permit in early July, in the dying days of the B.C. Liberal government.
Q: What is the first priority for you?
A: One of the immediate issues is Site C (the hydro-electric power project already under construction) and having the B.C. Utilities Commission do a review. I began working on that the next day after being sworn in and we’ll be able to provide information to the public in short order. There are also some longer-term issues, for example, around opportunities in the renewable sector, which is very exciting.
Q: How might the renewable industry be fostered. Over the last decade it has waxed and waned in terms of bioenergy, building the technology side, and on things such as run-of-the river projects. Where might the NDP go on that front?
A: It’s early days. All I can tell you is I am very much looking forward to working with the sector and seeing what kind of roadmap to the future we can be building together.
For the rest of this interview: http://vancouversun.com/business/energy/energy-and-mines-minister-takes-on-tough-portfolio