We have the choice between trying to build an industry of uncertain benefit based on a finite resource that is guaranteed to increase our contribution to the climate crisis, or rebuilding an industry that could provide livelihoods on a potentially infinite basis, while preserving forest resources and mitigating climate change.
Why on Earth would we ever choose the former?
They may wonder why Liberals disregard forestry and divert attention to liquefied natural gas but this is simply politics of opportunism.
The 30-year timeline for Christy Clark’s LNG reverie means that present day politicians will be long gone before success or failure is determined. On the other hand, had they committed to rebuilding the forest industry, the results would soon be measurable through production, employment and sales statistics.
Given the paucity of capability within Liberal circles, success would be unlikely and accountability would be imminent. The alternative to real industry had to be an imaginary one. Liberals’ monumental pretense of $1 trillion in LNG business is like JFK’s more sincere promise in 1961 of
…achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.
Eight years and two presidents later, Neil Armstrong took one small step for man. Regardless of whether the landing ultimately succeeded or failed, Kennedy’s undertaking served its political purpose because it was made ten days before the President’s 1961 Vienna Summit meeting with Nikita Khrushchev.
In British Columbia, a heavily subsidized industry might stand opposite to the province’s long-term needs but the LNG and Prosperity Fund announcement served its political purpose. Clark made her declaration weeks before Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon signed 2013 writs of election.
I’ve demonstrated before that natural gas extraction has ceased to be a major contributor to the public treasury. In 2014, cash receipts from royalties and rights sales were less than monies spent by the Ministry of Natural Gas Development. Petroleum and natural gas rights brought in $383 million in the last calendar year and 2015 started slowly with the January tender gaining less than $2.3 million. Sales of rights are recorded as revenues over nine years so only a fraction of those sums offset ministry costs.
At some point, the LNG fantasy will be dealt with; like BC Hydro rates, not until after the 2017 election. Wednesday, Justine Hunter, the Globe and Mail’s Press Gallery stenographer, reported this:
Hydro rates were almost frozen in the lead-up to the 2013 provincial election by order of the cabinet. Months after the election, rates were again suppressed by the government. But the Crown corporation’s growing debt and its need to upgrade aging infrastructure would lead to significant rate hikes if the regulator was allowed to take charge now, Mr. Bennett said.
For a moment, forget the debt issue and the aging infrastructure. They are not incidental but the business plan that has new power providers paid more than the sale price of electricity makes real business people shudder. Ms. Hunter didn’t bother to explain that element.
Using a favourite word in Victoria, the LNG and electricity schemes are not sustainable. The ghost of Charles Ponzi survives in the BC Liberal caucus.