Far from the promise of economic prosperity and jobs that British Columbia Premier Christy Clark laid out during the last provincial election in 2013, the pursuit of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry has been a costly bust that has only survived this long thanks to generous provincial subsidies, Pembina Institute analyst Maximilian Kniewasser argues in an opinion piece on iPolitics [subs req’d].
On the campaign trail four years ago, Clark promised that “LNG development would deliver 100,000 jobs, a $100-billion Prosperity Fund, and over $1 trillion in economic activity,” Kniewasser recalls, on the eve of tomorrow’s hotly-contested provincial election. Instead, “in order to attract LNG investment, the provincial government has provided myriad incentives, exemptions, and direct transfers to the natural gas industry.”
Pembina is particularly concerned about provincial concessions that “shield the emissions-intensive industry from current and potential future increases in carbon costs,” he notes. “These measures lessen the incentive to reduce carbon pollution—as the world increasingly demands that polluters pay for their emissions. Furthermore, such incentives use scarce public dollars to support the fossil fuel sector at a time when government should be removing barriers to clean innovation and investing in green jobs.”
Kniewasser inventories the carbon tax exemptions, compliance cost rebates, electricity price breaks, upstream electricity infrastructure spending, and 25-year project development incentive to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project that Clark’s government put in place, just to keep the conversation with LNG companies alive. Of the 19 projects that were once on the table, only three have advanced to a significant degree. But even those will make it “impossible to meet B.C.’s legislated 2050 climate target of 13 Mt CO2e for the whole economy,” he writes.
“Instead of spending public dollars to bolster the carbon-intensive fossil fuel sector, the provincial government should be putting resources into revving up the clean growth economy,” Kniewasser writes. “After all, a prosperous future for B.C. depends on investments in the industries of tomorrow—not yesterday.”