Blog: BC government still silent on LNG

Our open letter to BC Premier David Eby on Feb. 22, decrying his government’s lack of action on LNG development, drew neither an acknowledgment nor a reply.

So there’s still no clear answer as to what the government intends for LNG and, of immediate interest, whether his government is going to approve the proposed Cedar LNG project planned by the Haisla Nation with Pembina Pipeline.

There were no clues in the 2023-2024 budget speech in the legislature on Feb. 28.

Finance Minister Katrine Conroy told the legislature: “Mr. Speaker, when natural resources projects meet our high standards, we want shovels in the ground quickly. Any delays are just unnecessary barriers to growth. This year’s budget will help speed up the permitting process for natural resources.”

But there was no mention of LNG in the speech, and supporters of LNG noted that Minister Conroy noted that “key resource and infrastructure projects” she spoke of  ranged from “connectivity to electrification and hydrogen power.”

So there has still been no word on the future of LNG in BC, and no explanation of why approval of Cedar LNG, which under the current permitting process could have come as early as last Dec. 31, has not yet been decided upon. Or on similar delays in approvals for Woodfibre LNG.

Business in Vancouver looked at budget documents that accompanied the budget speech, and reported:

“Despite the fact a single large LNG project – LNG Canada – has been estimated to generate $23 billion in benefits to the government over its lifetime, the nascent LNG industry barely gets a mention in the provincial budget.

“The budget notes that anticipated increased export values in 2025-26 are partly attributable to LNG, otherwise anyone reading the budget could be forgiven for thinking B.C. has no LNG industry.

“Asked about that silence, Conroy said it’s not a budget issue, but a permitting issue, and reiterated the NDP’s policy on LNG, which is that LNG projects might be approved, but only if they pass the NDP government’s litmus test, which includes fitting within the CleanBC carbon budget.

“‘Any new LNG projects will have to follow our five policies that we brought in around LNG,’ Conroy said. ‘LNG Canada has done that.’”

Those policies are outlined in CleanBC, the provincial government’s “roadmap” to lower emissions by 40% by 2030.

That roadmap includes this: “All new large industrial facilities must have a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. New facilities will also have to show how they align with B.C.’s interim 2030 and 2040 targets.

“This means facilities will have to be designed to minimize emissions as much as possible. Where emissions can’t be reduced, companies will have to assess the use of new technologies such as carbon capture or consider the purchase of high-quality offsets from projects offering long-term carbon sequestration, such as through the use of negative emissions technologies.”

The roadmap also says the oil and gas sector will be “required to make a meaningful contribution to BC’s climate targets.” The target for the sector is a 33-38% reduction below 2007 levels. “Our new industrial climate program, to be released in 2023, will be designed to ensure the oil and gas sectoral target is met.”

And now the BC Energy Regulator is asking for input to update regulations that will lead to a “75 per cent reduction of methane emissions by 2030, relative to 2014 levels, and near elimination of methane emissions by 2035.”

We at the First Nations LNG Alliance remind the government that Cedar LNG includes these environmental strengths:

  • Powered by clean, renewable energy from BC Hydro
  • Floating design to minimize terrestrial effects
  • Use of air cooling to minimize effects on water use and quality
  • Location selected to avoid culturally important watercourse and sensitive habitats

We also remind the BC cabinet that the BC Environmental Assessment Office has ruled that Cedar LNG “would not have significant adverse effects on GHG emissions,” and “could have a positive impact on GHG emissions globally,” by replacing coal to produce power overseas.

A second Indigenous-led LNG-for-export project for BC, the Nisga’a Nation’s Ksi Lisims venture with Rockies LNG and Western LNG, offers this:

“The project is designed from the ground up to set a new environmental performance standard, including a proposed floating design which significantly reduces land and shoreline disturbance.

“In addition, the facility will have one of the lowest carbon intensities of any large-scale LNG export project in the world, utilizing several technologies to reduce carbon emissions, including using renewable hydropower from the BC grid.”

Both projects, too, offer benefits to members of First Nations — and not just to citizens of the Haisla and Nisga’a Nations.

Meanwhile, Woodfibre LNG promises “the cleanest LNG facility in the world” — and, importantly, with environmental approvals from the Squamish Nation.

Our open letter to the premier further reminded the BC government of its commitment under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the provincial Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, and the judicially recognized economic component of treaty and Aboriginal rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

We thus continue to call for and await favourable decisions from BC on LNG development.

(Posted here 08 March 2023)

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