B.C. Election 2013 – The Parties’ Views About Natural Gas

April 16, 2013

Today, the writ dropped for British Columbia’s provincial election on May 14, 2013. Much has been written about predictions, polling and preferences of the respective parties but for now I would like to briefly turn to platforms and proposed policies in the energy sector.  Below is a quick snapshot of what the four political parties in B.C. think about natural gas. Information is based on articles, interviews and former policy announcements.

B.C. Liberal Party

The B.C. Liberals under Premier Christy Clark are extremely enthusiastic supporters of all things natural gas. Premier Clark repeatedly mentions the opportunities from LNG export as the next big step in B.C.’s economic development. She likens our natural gas resources to the Alberta oil deposits. Premier Clark insists that this is a once in a generational opportunity for the province and plans to develop a Legacy Fund with natural gas royalties and revenues that will eventually pay down the provincial debt.

The B.C. Liberals are supportive of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas and are working on creating the right conditions to encourage investment in the industry. On powering export facilities, the B.C. Liberals are supportive of using natural gas. In June 2012, they amended B.C.’s Clean Energy Act so that burning this natural gas as fuel would be considered clean energy under the legislation.

B.C. New Democratic Party

The B.C. NDP are cautiously optimistic about natural gas extraction and LNG export in the province. While they recognize that this is a major economic activity, the B.C. NDP maintain that any natural gas development must adhere to strict environmental standards.

In the past, some B.C. NDP members called for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until the completion of a full-scale public review on the process.  Since then, Energy Critic John Horgan has softened his stance on this. He maintains that the B.C. NDP will institute a comprehensive public review process on natural gas extraction in northeastern B.C., but no moratorium will be in place to stop current projects.

The B.C. NDP are not opposed to fueling LNG export facilities by burning natural gas, but believe that renewable energy should be encourage and utilized whenever possible. The B.C. NDP are clear that LNG facilities will not be subsidized by B.C. Hydro rate payers.

B.C. Conservative Party

The B.C. Conservatives under leader John Cummins are supportive of resource development, especially in regards to its economic prospects for northern B.C.. The B.C. Conservatives believe LNG export is worth pursuing but Cummins is concerned with the inability to predict long-term market prices for the commodity.  He notes that we are far behind Australia in the race to secure Asian markets and should also consider other resource exports.

B.C. Green Party

The B.C. Green Party, under leader Jane Sterk, is not supportive of the natural gas industry.  If elected into government, the Greens would put a moratorium on natural gas extraction until a comprehensive water use policy is in place. In the B.C. Green Party platform, they call for the province to eventually end our dependence on fossil fuels. They maintain that the entire province should be powered by clean and renewable energy.