"We cannot create this new industry in British Columbia, by adding value to natural gas, without the power that would come from Site C. It's an essential part of the plan in the long-term, to make sure that we're putting British Columbians to work."
She adds the province's power needs are going to grow substantially, so "we're going to need the power from Site C and we're also going to need the power from lots of independent power producers from across the province: wind energy, run of river, you name it." In saying so, she also criticized B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix for supporting LNG development and not supporting Site C, saying he "can't have it both ways."
Clark says she is completely comfortable with the science behind fracking, and its possible associated health risks, and believes Northeast B.C. has the safest shale gas industry in the world. As she says, it can always get better, and the province has been pushing new practices, like publishing ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing on an online database.
"That will do two things: first, it will push companies to be even cleaner and greener all the time… I think it will drive innovation because we're open about it; but second, I think it builds confidence in what we do."
She points to instances where fracking has been done very badly elsewhere, like the U.S., and wants people to see what's been done in B.C. to set an example. The hope is that oil and gas companies will take it upon themselves to get the word out about how safe practices are in the province.
"We set the highest bar anywhere in the world for fracking, and people need to see what we're doing and need to understand it so they can too."
Despite natural gas being considered the cleanest burning fossil fuel, the proposed LNG plants will be powered primarily by hydro. Clark says that's because they will be the only ones in the world powered principally by renewable sources, which natural gas is not.
Development of the LNG industry in B.C. is expected to create 1,000 to 2,000 permanent jobs as well as 9,000 during construction. Unlike much of the province, unemployment in the northeast is incredibly low, and measures will have to be taken to get workers to fill those jobs. Clark says part of tackling that problem is hosting regional workforce round tables, including one in Dawson Creek tomorrow, to figure out what the needs of the economy are going to be over the next 10 to 20 years, and match up education and training systems to meet those needs.
"We train a lot of people to do things for which there aren't jobs. Well, we should really be redirecting that money to train people in areas where there are jobs and where there's stiff competition for workers."
Clark also assures the north that the government will provide support as the area experiences substantial growth from this development. Development of LNG is expected to produce about $20 billion in new private sector investment and if given the go ahead, Site C is expected to create 35,000 direct and in-direct jobs.