Pipeline review changes won't stall B.C.'s LNG 'dream': Clark
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, February 7, 2016 11:00AM EST
Recent changes to the Canadian pipeline review process won't slow down British Columbia's liquefied natural gas push, according to Premier Christy Clark.
After meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, Clark said the province is "comfortable" with the revamped review process, and that it is pleased the new conditions won't cause delays for LNG.
The revised process, which was announced at the end of January, will require pipeline reviews to include consultation with First Nations and consider future greenhouse gasses.
To accommodate for the extra requirements, the federal government pushed back the decision deadlines for the TransMountain and Energy East pipelines, which are currently under review. But the changes won't affect the timeline for LNG, Clark told CTV's Question Period.
"There's some substantive change, but the most important thing for us is that there won't be delays," she said. "(The federal government is) really enthusiastic about making our LNG dream in British Columbia come to life."
B.C. is currently trying to build a system to transport natural gas from the province's northeast to the Pacific Coast, where it can then be shipped to Asia.
The province hopes to have three LNG plants in operation by 2020.
Clark says the project is a potential economic windfall for her province. According to her government's website, five LNG plants could contribute an estimated $1 trillion to B.C.'s GDP.
But critics say the project poses environmental risks.
"The potential carbon pollution from the LNG facilities and associated shale gas extraction and processing would make B.C.'s climate targets unachievable," a Pembina Institute assessment says. "And (LNG) would make it exceedingly difficult for Canada to meet its national 2020 target."
In addition to concerns about emissions, some environmental and First Nations groups also say LNG development could threaten unique ecosystems, including a crucial salmon habitat in the province's northwest.
In response, the B.C. government is promoting LNG as the "cleanest burning fossil fuel," and a friendlier alternative to the coal which is burned overseas.
"There are 150 coal plants on the books today in China that are going to be built," Clark said. "The only way we're going to stop the next 150 is if China gets the cleanest fossil fuel on the planet. And that's natural gas from British Columbia."
TransMountain pipeline still 'possible'
While Clark's government has championed LNG, it's shown more reluctance towards the proposed TransMountain pipeline expansion, which would carry oil from the Alberta oil sands to the B.C. coast.
The project has met heavy opposition from some First Nations groups, environmentalists, and municipal leaders in British Columbia.
But Clark says there's still a chance it could be built. "I think it's possible," she said.
The B.C. government has set out five conditions for proposed heavy oil pipelines. The conditions include plans for "world leading" spill responses and prevention, legal requirements for indigenous and treaty rights, and that B.C. receives a "fair share" of the pipeline's economic benefits.
Clark said Kinder Morgan has yet to satisfy those conditions for its TransMountain proposal—but that there is still time to do so.
"We don't support the project now because they haven't met (the conditions) yet, but when they do we're going to have a different conversation," she said. "My intention was never to say 'We want these conditions to be so impossible to meet that we're really saying no.'"
With files from The Canadian Press