Monday, October 01, 2018

BC's fledgling LNG industry should not count it's chickens

Although the Northern Gateway oil pipeline to the west coast has foundered, and the TransMountain pipeline has floundered even if not foundered, pretty much everyone seems to be on board for the LNG Canada-TransCanada Corp Coastal Gaslink pipeline, which is a mainstay of LNG Canada's huge $40 billion liquefied natural gas project.
LNG Canada is really nothing to do with Canada, being a consortium of overseas developers including Royal Dutch Shell, Personas, Mitsubishi, PetroChina and Kogas. But the project - to ship liquefied natural gas from northeastern BC to a processing plant in Kitimat on the BC coast, for export to the huge Asian market - seems stangely bereft of the kind of vociferous controversy that has dogged TransMountain and other major resource developments on the left coast. And it's not clear to me quite why.
Development of BC's huge LNG potential appear to be completely at odds with the province's stated carbon reduction goals, and it is still not clear how the NDP government, which is fixated on the potential employment and taxation opportunities of the project, is to get the Green Party (on which it relies for its minority government status) on side. For their part, the Greens say that they will vote against LNG development, but that they will not make it a no confidence issue that might bring the coalition and the government down, a peculiar piece of brinkmanship that seems destined to fail. BC's fledgling LNG sector is an environmental challenge it has yet to come to terms with, although an advisory council has been set up to address the issues. The province's main environmental justification for developing LNG is to wean overseas countries off even more damaging reliance on coal, although the argument seems a little contrived and disingenuous, and some studies have argued that it does not hold water anyway. A new environmental challenge to the project has just been brought, even as Kitimat seems to be gearing up for the development as a fait accompli.
This might be a case of "don't count your chickens". And that might not be a bad thing.

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