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Four More Whoppers about LNG in British Columbia

Four More Whoppers about LNG in British Columbia

The real facts behind Christy Clark’s rosy claims.


BC Premier Christy Clark: a million-dollar website to drum up LNG jobs, but not a single job yet.

The B.C. budget claims the province is making money from shale gas. But last month The Tyee showed the province is pouring more cash into the industry than it is getting back.

In fact the only time the B.C. government made any money from shale gas was during a land lease boom nearly a dozen years ago. Ever since then, revenues have dwindled to next to nothing due to low royalties and taxpayer-funded subsidies to the ailing shale gas industry.

Dig deeper, and four more claims made by the B.C. government turn out to be liquefied natural gas whoppers as well.

New information on employment numbers, shale gas reserves, transmission lines and the LNG promise of economic prosperity show that stretching the truth remains a persistent trend in the Christy Clark administration.

Whopper #1: Vastly less gas to sell than claimed

Let’s begin with the government claim that British Columbia “has more than an estimated 2,900 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of marketable shale gas reserves,” or more methane in the ground than the entire United States.

Hughes pointed out in a report for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that the BC Oil and Gas Commission estimated that B.C. only had 376 tcf of marketable shale resources. (Hughes added 40 tcf to this number for good measure, for a total of 416 tcf, to account for possible resources in developing plays.)

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Three Wacky Accounting Numbers for LNG and Shale Gas

Three Wacky Accounting Numbers for LNG and Shale Gas

Close read of BC’s budget shows realities of this subsidized industry boondoggle.

Three things don’t add up in the British Columbia budget when it comes to declining revenues from the battered shale gas industry and its non-existent cousin, the province’s liquefied natural gas fantasy.

The first concerns revenue. Premier Christy Clark promised in 2013 that profits from the LNG industry would pour like manna into a $100-billion provincial prosperity fund.

In the months before the election that year, the government persuaded citizens that a complex, high-cost and foreign-owned industry, tied to a volatile greenhouse gas, could somehow make the province debt-free and bless it with Alberta-like prosperity.

Twenty LNG proponents all lined up at the government trough, expecting low royalties and taxes. But not one of the 20 proponents has committed to go ahead with a LNG project, because the economic justification has vanished in a sea of volatility. Many are folding, such as the Douglas Channel LNG project, because of what industry calls “unfavourable market conditions.”

New LNG terminals in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Angola have created an oversupply while demand is falling in key markets like Japan, South Korea and China due to economic stagnation. Prices for LNG are expected to remain in the tank for years or become as volatile as oil.

No matter. Faced with her pet industry’s dire prospects, Premier Clark took $100 million, about what the province will bring in through higher Medical Services Plan premiums, and boldly placed those hard-won tax dollars into B.C.’s newly created LNG prosperity fund.

Clark is trying to preserve the illusion of a revenue stream that doesn’t exist. In so doing, her government has out-Orwelled Orwell with some very creative explanations.

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United States On Path to Becoming Major Exporter of Natural Gas Despite Climate Impacts

United States On Path to Becoming Major Exporter of Natural Gas Despite Climate Impacts

The first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) was scheduled for export from Cheniere Energy’s new export terminal in Cameron Parish, in January, but the company reportedly delayed its plans by up to two months due to faulty wiring.

Following the announcement of the export delay, Cheniere Energy sought $2.6 billion to refinance its adjacent LNG import terminal in Cameron Parish which was impacted by extreme fluctuations in the price of oil and gas. The company built the import facility before the U.S. fracking boom took hold, and was therefore saddled with unnecessary import infrastructure in the new age of abundance of domestic gas availability and the prospect of U.S. exports.

Cheniere’s $20 billion, multiphase terminal is one of four LNG terminals in the lower 48 states that got the green light from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. And the existing Kenai LNG plant in Alaska, an export terminal operated by ConocoPhillips, was recently permitted to restart operations after closing down in 2013, when operations ceased due to a shortage of gas.

“The Chenier Energy project, as well as the over 40 proposed or approved LNG export facilities around the United States, are a serious threat to our climate,” Gulf Restoration Network organizer Johanna deGraffenreid told DeSmog. She criticized the massive export infrastructure investment craze for “promoting the use of fossil fuels on an international scale.”

A flare at Cheniere Energy Sabine Pass LNG facility. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

But rather than acknowledging the climate risk posed by further expansion of LNG export infrastructure, the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration are moving in the opposite direction.

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Emails: US Government Facilitated LNG Business Deals Before Terminals Got Required Federal Permits

Emails: US Government Facilitated LNG Business Deals Before Terminals Got Required Federal Permits

This release of the documents coincides with the imminent opening of the first ever LNG export terminal in the U.S. hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) era, owned by Cheniere.

The documents came via an open records request filed by DeSmog with the Port of Lake Charles. The request centered around the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) the Port signed with the Panama Canal Authority in January 2015.

Panama Canal, Lake Charles MOU

Image Credit: Port of Lake Charles

The records offer an inside glimpse of how — as the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) weigh environmental and energy policy concerns before handing out LNG export permits — other federal agencies have proceeded as if the permits are a fait accompli.

They also further raise the specter that, as some have highlightedFERC and DOE merely serve as rubber-stamp regulatory agencies in service to powerful industrial interests. Further, they demonstrate how pivotal the proposed and nearly operationalPanama Canal expansion project is for the LNG shipping industry moving forward.

Missionary Work

While the LNG export company-heavy Port of Lake Charles signed an MOU with the Panama Canal Authority on January 6, 2015, the emails date back to February 13, 2014. The MOU mentions LNG a few times throughout the text.
Port of Lake Charles Panama Canal

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Three Fibs Premier Clark Uses to Sell LNG Dream

Three Fibs Premier Clark Uses to Sell LNG Dream

Sorry, it’s not clean. It won’t pay off. It’s not popular. Here’s why.

Why does Premier Clark keep saying LNG will bring a bonanza of jobs and revenues? Photo: Province of BC Flickr.

The more Christy Clark defends her dream of an LNG industry, the more she turns cold gas into hot air. The B.C. premier’s interview with Andrew MacLeod published last week in The Tyee is a case in point. As MacLeod pressed with many LNG-related questions, Clark resorted to three big, bloated fibs.

Fib #1: LNG is ‘clean’

While making our documentary Fractured Land about fracking in B.C., co-director Fiona Rayher and I journeyed to Cornell University to interview Dr. Robert Howarth. He is a global expert on the climate impacts of fracking.


On the massive, taxpayer-funded Site C dam project, our premier remains where she’s always been: all over the map.

First, she told us the power was needed for the enormously energy-intensive LNG industry.

Then she creatively interpretedthe Clean Energy Act to mean that LNG plants could power themselves by burning some of their own gas, saving them money. That would produce three times the greenhouse gas emissions as would electric power. It also means her previous justification for Site C is gone.

Even BC Hydro recently admittedto the BC Utilities Commission that without powering LNG, we wouldn’t need the electricity from Site C until at least 2029.

This dam is therefore an unnecessary taxpayer-funded boondoggle of at least $9 billion that would flood or disrupt30,000 acres of some of the best farmland left in Canada, while violating First Nations’ treaty rights. — D.G.

We told him our premier has affixed the label “Cleanest Fossil Fuel on the Planet” to B.C. LNG (derived almost entirely from a massive increase in fracking in the province’s northeast).


They’re Killing the Peace River Valley Now

They’re Killing the Peace River Valley Now

The $9 billion flaying, then drowning of a fertile zone has begun. We still don’t know why.

Random Acts of Kindness comic panel
Photos by Garth Lenz.

Last month the B.C government commenced the destruction of the fertile Peace River Valley, awarding a civil works contract worth $1.5 billion as construction crews methodically denuded the landscape of trees.

Taxpayers will be on the hook for at least $7.5 billion more by the time the devastation is done. The question looming larger than ever is whether the Peace River Valley must be sacrificed at all.

A range of rising voices insist that every argument made by the government for rushing to build a new mega-dam on the Peace River fails to hold water.

The government-dubbed “Site C Clean Energy Project” will flood scores of kilometers of valley river bottom (much of it valuable Class 1 agricultural land) and eventually generate enough power, says the province, to light up the equivalent of 450,000 homes.

According to one press release, the dam “will provide British Columbia with the most affordable, reliable clean power for over 100 years.” Jessica McDonald, president and CEO of BC Hydro, explained that “Site C is essential to keeping the lights on while maintaining low rates for our customers.”

Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines added that, “It’s clear that to keep rates low, we must choose the option of building Site C.”

Critics also say the high-risk dam, which could eventually cost $13-billion, won’t lower rates for citizens but raise them.

They also explain that hydroelectric dams are not climate friendly or “clean” by any scientific measure.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Australia’s Mega LNG Projects are in Serious Trouble

Australia’s Mega LNG Projects are in Serious Trouble

In the US, natural gas is dirt cheap. The price peaked in 2008 and has since collapsed. It remains below the cost of production, even today. Two natural gas drillers have recently buckled and declared bankruptcy.

In the international markets, natural gas is traded as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). There was a time, after Japan shut down its nuclear power plants in the wake of Fukushima, when prices, particularly for delivery in Japan and Korea, soared. And during this environment, a number of countries invested heavily into building LNG export terminals that convert natural gas into LNG.

In the US, this has been the story of Cheniere Energy, a company that has barely any sales. It’s mostly famous for always losing a lot of money and then raising even more money. It’s stock has soared from less than $2 a share in 2009 to over $80 a share late last year and earlier this year, giving it a ludicrous market capitalization of nearly $20 billion. And it has a breath-taking $18 billion in debt. But the dream is deflating, and it closed at $52.40 today.

It’s deflating because it’s a dream, and dreams always deflate sooner or later. And because prices in the rest of the world have collapsed as well.

And because in the US, current low prices are sending producers into bankruptcy. This works for a while, until it doesn’t. At some point – when the money runs out – they stop drilling. And they can’t restart until prices rise significantly. Rising gas prices in the US and dropping LNG prices in the international market crimps any possibilities for Cheniere’s math to work out.

Australia is in the same boat, but to an extent that dwarves US efforts. Here’s Mark Hansen in Australia to shed light on just how ugly the LNG debacle is getting down under.


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Global Demand Picture For Natural Gas Looks Increasingly Sour

Global Demand Picture For Natural Gas Looks Increasingly Sour

Bearish moods seemed to have permanently settled in energy markets. The first and most obvious victim of the nosediving oil prices has been natural gas.

Once seen invincible, liquefied natural gas (LNG) growth could now be racing to the edge of a cliff. Falling natural gas prices and fears about slowing demand in European and Asia all point to the return of a buyers’ market. Meanwhile, as crude prices fall, the oil-indexed European and Asian LNG contracts are plummeting in value, making upcoming LNG projects unsustainable. The pessimistic scenario seems to be reinforced by slumping demand in Asia, where the majority of new and existing LNG volumes were heading.

Last week Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power Company hooked its Sendai-1 nuclear power plant to the grid and expects to ramp up its generation to 95 percent in the following months. Other plants are soon to follow. Analysts predict that Japan could bring back to life 11.5 GW of nuclear generation capacity by 2017, cutting the natural gas demand by around 11 million tonnes of LNG, or 12 percent of the country’s gas imports.

Up until recently, Japan’s incredible demand for imported energy kept a floor beneath LNG prices. Japan imported a record 120 bcm of gas in 2014 or close to 36 percent of world’s total LNG exports. Not surprisingly JCC (Japanese Crude Cocktail) LNG oil-indexed prices remained above the $15/MMBtu mark for most of 2014.

However, the situation has changed dramatically since the winter of 2015. With Brent losing more than half of its value, gas prices in Asia have plummeted to around $8/MMBtu, or less than half of peak prices seen just a few years ago. The situation could get worse as Japan is expected to scale back imports, and China is seeing a fall in consumption signaled by this month’s decision by PetroChina to skip a planned LNG delivery and shift it for later during the winter season.


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LNG Project Would Affect ‘Grand Central Station’ for Salmon, Researchers Say

LNG Project Would Affect ‘Grand Central Station’ for Salmon, Researchers Say

Science letter asks gov, industry to acknowledge ‘full impacts’ of BC project.

The proposed Pacific Northwest LNG project and related pipelines located at the mouth of the Skeena River in northern British Columbia would affect more than 40 different salmon populations harvested in at least 10 First Nation territories, according to a letter published in Science.

That is twice the number of First Nations groups that industry proponents identified as needing to be consulted about the impacts of the project, add the researchers who signed the letter.

Pacific Northwest LNG is an international consortium led by Malaysia oil giant Petronas. If approved by an ongoing federal environment assessment, its $11-billion liquefied natural gas terminal would be built on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.

The waters surrounding the proposed project are critical for the rearing of millions of wild B.C. salmon — an estuary that Allen Gottesfeld of the Skeena Fisheries Commission calls “the Grand Central Station for salmon.”

The letter, penned by fisheries biologists, First Nations leaders from throughout the Skeena River watershed, and Simon Fraser University professor Jonathan Moore, cites research that shows “industrialized estuaries depress salmon survival.”

Moore, an aquatic ecologist, explained that the purpose of the letter was to get the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) to properly consider the new data on the importance of the estuary for one of the world’s great salmon watersheds.

“This little local spot supports all of these fish from all around,” said Moore. As a consequence, he said, the LNG terminal could “affect populations of salmon 10 kilometres away or 400 km away in the headwaters. What happens in the ‘Central Station’ affects the whole transportation system for salmon.”

In addition to presenting new biological data, the letter asks that government and industry acknowledge the full impacts of the project on salmon, the watershed, and aboriginal communities that depend on both.



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Enviro Assessment Review for Proposed $1.7-Billion LNG Plant Resumes

Enviro Assessment Review for Proposed $1.7-Billion LNG Plant Resumes

Woodfibre LNG approved to continue process after 40-day delay.

The B.C. government-led environmental assessment review for a proposed liquefied natural gas plant in Howe Sound has resumed.

The 180-day process was paused June 30, after the Squamish Nation issued a 25-point ultimatum to address concerns about potential air, land and water pollution and spills at Woodfibre LNG, the proposed $1.7-billion LNG plant and terminal at a former pulp and paper mill near Squamish.

Michelle Carr, assistant deputy minister of Environmental Assessment Operations, wrote Aug. 10 to Byng Giraud, Woodfibre LNG’s vice-president of corporate relations, to approve the restart of the process, which came to a halt with 12 days remaining.

“The time limit was suspended on day 168 of the 180-day review period in order to allow the proponent additional time to complete a review of Squamish Nation’s proposed conditions and to submit a report to [the government] that fulfills the Section 13 requirements with respect to Squamish Nation’s aboriginal interests,” Carr wrote, referring to the proponent’s required report on public and aboriginal consultation activities.

In a news release, Woodfibre LNG said it has accepted all the Squamish Nation’s conditions “and is committed to reaching a formal agreement.”

“At the same time, Woodfibre LNG Ltd. also has been working to fulfill the requirements of the provincial and federal environmental assessment processes,” said Giraud. “We believe we have now fulfilled these requirements and can restart the environmental review period.”


What an agreement between Woodfibre LNG and the Squamish Nation would look like is not immediately known. If all environmental concerns were resolved, the Squamish Nation’s 25th and final condition would be a revenue-sharing agreement.

On July 27, Squamish Nation Council decided to postpone a vote on the facility until “sometime this fall” because negotiations continue with Woodfibre LNG, FortisBC and the B.C. government.


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Is Natural Gas As Clean As We Think?

Is Natural Gas As Clean As We Think?

This week U.S. President Barack Obama took aim at the American coal industry as part of a comprehensive climate change plan to limit air emissions from what many consider the country’s worst polluter.

Under the plan, states will have until 2030 to cut CO2 levels by a third from what they were in 2005. Outside the United States, Europe is using less coal, the Canadian province of Ontario shut down its coal-fired power generation (albeit in favor of more expensive renewables), and the World Bank last week rejected the notion that coal can cure poverty.

Even coal-hungry China has banned coal-fired power plants in Beijing, finally cowing to health and environmental concerns in the smog-choked capital.

Having turned their backs on coal, many countries are looking to natural gas as an alternative power source. China is plunging headlong into building liquefied natural gas import terminals, and countries are lining up to export it, including Australia, Russia and the United States, which in 2014 approved its fourth LNG export terminal, Dominion Cove Point in Maryland.

Related: Global Oil Supply More Fragile Than You Think

British Columbia’s governing Liberal Party has staked its political future on developing LNG terminals to receive natural gas from the Canadian province’s northeast region, telling voters in the last election it would use revenues from LNG production to wipe out the provincial debt.

Part of the sales job was to characterize natural gas as a clean fuel whose use will actually help decrease global fossil fuel emissions, since nations that switch to it are typically moving from dirty coal-fired power to clean LNG.

But is natural gas really as pristine as its proponents claim?

Not according to a new report released by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in June. The report estimated the amount of gas that is leaked, vented or flared from natural gas and oil production on U.S. federal and tribal lands. It found that 65 billion cubic feet was released in 2013 – the equivalent of the greenhouse gases produced by 5.6 million cars. In New Mexico, a methane “hot spot,” was detected by NASA satellites and in one drilling-heavy part of Wyoming a town measured air pollution readings that rivaled Los Angeles.


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Petronas’s Silence on BC LNG Act Sends Disquieting Signal

Petronas’s Silence on BC LNG Act Sends Disquieting Signal

Busy passing project terms, BC forgot to check on events abroad.

As the British Columbia legislature passed its “historic” Liquefied Natural Gas Project Agreements Act on July 21 after a lively eight-day debate, the most important player for which the special summer session of Parliament was convened kept an aloof — and worrying — silence.

Petronas, the Malaysian state energy firm with a 62 per cent stake in a consortium proposing to build a US$36-billion LNG project near Prince Rupert, did not offer a public thank you or congratulatory statement to the B.C. government of Premier Christy Clark for its efforts and hard-earned legislative victory.

The Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW) consortium’s other shareholders, Sinopec (10 per cent), Indian Oil Corp (10 per cent), Japan Petroleum Exploration (10 per cent), China Huadian (five per cent) and PetroleumBrunei (three per cent), have been equally quiet.

It was left to PNW to issue a brief statement that the act — followed by the July 23 ratification of 25-year agreement terms covering royalty, income tax credits and carbon emissions — “brings us one step closer to building Canada’s first world-scale LNG facility.”

“The remaining condition of our final investment decision, environmental approval from the government of Canada, is being worked on diligently with First Nations, stakeholders and government representatives.”

Petronas’s silence is significant as B.C.’s elaborate undertaking to create, debate and pass the LNG act had been made in direct response to the company’s high-profile complaints and threats to call off the project if it did not receive legal certainty and the offer of generous investment terms. Petronas did not reply to a request for comment on B.C.’s new act.


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Will ‘Corner Office Syndrome’ Be The Downfall Of Canada’s Oilfield Services?

Will ‘Corner Office Syndrome’ Be The Downfall Of Canada’s Oilfield Services?

No sector of the economy should be considering the urge to merge more than Canada’s beleaguered oilfield services (OFS) business. The signals are powerful: overcapacity in virtually every product and service line; prices down to slimmest of margins; bankers are unhappy and getting twitchy; shareholders are morose and OFS operators have to do something because doing nothing is no longer an option.

The short- and medium-term outlook is not promising. Oil prices are going down, not up. The recent nuclear deal with Iran will continue to overhang well-supplied world crude markets into next year. Even if oil rose sharply tomorrow, Alberta would still suffer from heightened uncertainty until the royalty issue is clarified.

New oil sands projects are dead. LNG is paralyzed by price, cost and global market turmoil. E&P companies looking to drill are demanding the lowest prices possible. Bankers who have been patient for months cannot kick the forbearance letter can down the road forever.

Because of a collapse in business, along with oil prices, oilfield service managers have been cutting costs since late last year. Workers have been laid off by thetens of thousands. Capital spending and maintenance programs have been slashed or postponed. Discretionary expenditures like travel and entertainment have been cancelled. Pay cuts have been instituted. Dividends reduced or eliminated. Principal payments postponed where possible.

Related: Toxic Waste Sullies Solar’s Squeaky Clean Image

The last major expense not yet addressed in any meaningful way is a measurable reduction in administrative (non-revenue generating) costs per dollar of revenue. This is the CEO, COO, CFO, VP marketing, HR manager, safety officer and corporate head office. Reduced expenses for field service locations and product and service delivery. Increased purchasing power in other words.

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BC’s Gas Export Hopes Face ‘Scandal that Ate Malaysia’

BC’s Gas Export Hopes Face ‘Scandal that Ate Malaysia’

Asian nation’s PM, key to $36 billion LNG bid by Petronas, in corruption probe.

The prime minister of Malaysia, who is central to British Columbia’s liquefied natural gas development ambitions, is the subject of a major financial corruption scandal rocking his country.

Earlier this month The Wall Street Journal, citing documents from government probes, reported that investigators suspected that almost $700 million in cash had been wired through state agencies, banks, and companies linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The company is a state-owned development vehicle chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who also serves as the country’s treasury minister.

Investigators believe the $700 million eventually found its way into Najib’s personal accounts and served as a slush fund for the last election. Malaysia has few rules on campaign donations or election spending.

Najib is the top authority overseeing Malaysia’s state-owned oil company Petronas, whose massive potential investment in B.C. liquefied natural gas (LNG) was greenlit by the provincial legislature earlier this month.

Now, The Australian and other news sources are saying reports of corruption have paralyzed the Malaysian government. “The scandal that ate Malaysia” is how U.S. business news agency Bloomberg is dubbing the financial brouhaha.


The debacle threatens to undermine the nation’s economy, according to an expert writing for East Asia Forum: “Malaysia’s international credibility is on the line, as is its currency, access to foreign capital and future economic prosperity.”

To date a task force investigating the 1MDB allegations has already frozen half a dozen bank accounts in Malaysia.

Petronas key to Clark’s LNG ambitions

In May of 2014, Premier Christy Clarksat for a photograph with Najib, central to any deal she sought with Petronas. The meeting was part of an eight-day trip to Malaysia and Hong Kong to promote LNG development after Clark made election campaign promises that LNG would create 100,000 jobs and erase the province’s debt.


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Nine LNG Questions for British Columbians to Ask Their Politicians

Nine LNG Questions for British Columbians to Ask Their Politicians

Pressing queries in light of high-stakes Petronas agreement just passed.

The British Columbia legislature has just ratified a long-term agreement to lower royalties and taxes for a $38-billion liquefied natural gas project proposed by Malaysia’s state-owned oil company, Petronas.

Pacific Northwest LNG, a consortium that includes Petronas and Chinese refining giant Sinopec, intends to build an export terminal on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert. The Lax Kw’alaams have opposed the project as a threat to salmon and the Skeena River.

The unprecedented agreement, which critics havecharacterized as a crass economic giveaway, guarantees Malaysia’s state-owned company low royalties and low taxes for LNG over a historic 25 years.

Martyn Brown, former chief of staff to B.C. premier Gordon Campbell and a top strategic advisor to three provincial party leaders, has described the agreement as “environmentally reckless, fiscally foolhardy and socially irresponsible.”

The deal effectively makes it difficult for future governments to set LNG-specific carbon taxes or to impose new environmental rules aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. It locks in tax credits for 25 years. And it offers no job guarantees for British Columbians.

In addition to the terms of the agreement, politicians and citizens should now be asking nine critical questions about any LNG development in the province.


1. Have LNG projects become uneconomic?

Many LNG analysts now think the world is oversupplied with the product and that price volatility warrants project deferrals, especially for high-cost proposals in North America. Othersreckon that capital for major projects is rapidly drying up. Carbon Tracker, a non-profit group of financial analysts concerned about climate change, justreported that investors will likely mothball tens of billions of dollars in LNG investment because “there is a finite amount of fossil fuels that can be burnt over the next few decades if we are to prevent dangerous levels of climate change.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…



Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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