FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Premier Christy Clark is in Ottawa this week pushing forward the narrative of B.C. having the top-ranked provincial economy in the country.
Among other things, she expects to discuss with her federal counterparts B.C.’s liquefied natural gas development potential.
Four of her cabinet ministers — including Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman and Environment Minister Mary Polak — are also in the nation’s capital as the B.C. Liberals seek some Trudeau government answers on the LNG file.
At the top of that list is the crucial federal cabinet decision, which will follow the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency decision, on the Pacific Northwest LNG project led by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas.
The regulator is expected to rule by the end of March on the consortium’s plans to build a multi-billion dollar terminal near Prince Rupert, and it will then be up to the cabinet to issue a final decision taking into consideration a wide range of factors—including climate change.
The Liberals outlined new federal measures last week for greater environmental scrutiny of proposed resource industry mega-projects, but it remains unclear how these new hurdles will impact the Petronas plans.
The development of a BC-LNG industry remains threatened by low energy prices, a looming global supply glut of the fuel, and opposition from environmental and First Nations critics.
However, Mr. Coleman claims to have federal assurance the CEAA review — which began nearly three years ago — won’t be delayed any further, but there’s still no indication how the agency will rule regarding claims of greenhouse-gas emissions from natural gas production wells here in Northeast B.C.
It should be noted however, BC Hydro has already installed new transmission lines in this region, to allow natural gas drilling operations to switch to electricity as their main power source, and according to Mr. Coleman — reduce carbon footprint.