“We’re not interested in putting all of our eggs in a single basket.”
Premier Gallant says the moratorium won’t be lifted until these conditions are met:
- A social license in place;
- Clear and credible information about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on our health, environment and water, allowing us to develop country-leading regulatory regime with sufficient enforcement capabilities;
- A plan that mitigates the impacts on our public infrastructure and that addresses issues such as waste water disposal;
- A process in place to respect our obligations under the duty to consult with First Nations;
- A mechanism in place to ensure that benefits are maximized for New Brunswickers, including the development of a proper royalty structure.
If British Columbia followed the same policies, hydraulic fracturing in this province would end because not a single one of the conditions is in place. I don’t expect Liberals to adopt the plan because, truly, they decided to put all of our eggs in a single basket.
Fracking begets a surplus of natural gas and requires massive quantities of water. More produced gas would have no ready market so LNG is offered as the solution. But international markets are uncertain and creation of export capacity requires risky investments for transmission, liquefaction and transport. Beyond that, converting gas to liquid demands massive uninterruptible energy inputs. That requires construction of the Site C dam but its power will cost three times BC Hydro’s energy charge for large industrial users. High priced power would kill LNG deals so BC Hydro’s residential customers would have to pay price increases even higher than the 30% hikes they face before any new subsidies to business customers.
Even if the province finds money for capital and operating subsidies for processing and transport, there remains no certainty that delivery of much higher gas production can be achieved without negatively affecting the traditional territories of First Nations people. Given Supreme Court of Canada decisions recently, that could end the LNG initiative by itself.
Regardless, Liberals may be forced to admit that LNG plants, fueled with royalty-free gas, constructed with machinery sourced outside Canada and largely assembled by foreign crews, provide benefits to relatively few people. There is certainty though of rising costs of living for everyone, including much higher home heating bills because international pricing would drive up domestic gas prices. Even BC Ferries, which plans to convert from diesel, will be forced to impose fuel surcharges again to cover higher gas prices.
Other than industry claims and discredited statements of government that LNG will produce enormous wealth for British Columbians, there is no evidence that even modest benefits for the province exist. The time to shut down this fantasy is now. If this choice is delayed, it is another cost that will rise dramatically.