A cold, hard look at LNG

South Cowichan Echo News

FEBRUARY 2017 South Cowichan, British Columbia, Canada VOLUME 3, NUMBER 3 

Four years after winning an election based largely on her promises that the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) industry would be the salvation of B.C.’s economy, Christy Clark continues to tout the benefits of this industry.

will you see the costs of these subsidies? On your steadily rising hydro bills.

We don’t need to believe this story anymore. In fact, we must reject it.

But that’s not all. The citizens of B.C. were denied half of the tax revenue from this site when the Liberals and NDP voted last summer to give the LNG industry a 50 per cent tax break. (BC Green MLA Andrew Weaver voted against the tax break, and the Greens are calling for a moratorium on fracking in B.C.)

The economics of LNG are bad for B.C. Currently, the price to sell LNG on the global market is significantly lower than the price to produce LNG in B.C., where production costs are some of the highest in the world, due to the high costs of fracking in remote areas of the province.

As it stands right now, the production costs in B.C. are about 50 per cent higher than the price being paid on the open market, and global prices are still dropping – it doesn’t take an economist to recognize that’s a bad investment.

Woodfibre also gets 18 months with no carbon taxes, lowered natural gas royalties and accelerated capital costs write-offs. The LNG industry also gets $200 million in drilling credits each year.

Worse yet, it’s the citizens of B.C. who will end up paying through subsidies and tax giveaways to the industry.

Consider Woodfibre LNG, near Squamish, recently approved by the BC Liberal government and cautiously supported by the BC NDP. Woodfibre is owned by Sukanto Tanoto, a Singapore businessman who has been found guilty of tax evasion.

All in all, it’s a pretty sweet deal for Woodfibre, funded by the citizens of B.C. It’s hard to imagine when the revenues could possibly start flowing back to B.C., particularly given the reality that so many countries are taking significant steps away from fossil fuels.

Christy Clark wants us to believe that this type of LNG facility will be good for B.C., but it’s pretty hard to make the math work. There may, one day, be 100 permanent jobs, but at what cost? Clark has given Woodfibre a giant electrical subsidy, offering to sell them hydro electricity at $53.60/megawatt hour.

Solar, wind and geothermal are the energy sources of the future, and countries around the world are recognizing not only our moral imperative to transition away from fossil fuels, but also the significant economic and environmental benefits of doing so. By investing in these industries, we create jobs in our own communities, and we create long-term solutions to our energy challenges, and we move to far less polluting forms of energy production.

This is significantly lower than the projected cost of producing electricity at Site C, which would be somewhere between $83 and $100/megawatt hour.

We can no longer pretend that 20th century models for energy production are viable. It’s time that we launch B.C. into the 21st century with a sustainable energy revolution.

Who would make up the difference? The citizens of B.C., who are already on the hook for the $9 billion plus bill for Site C, the biggest megaproject in our history. To add insult to injury, we will cover, with our taxes, the $30- $50/megawatt hour deficit for the electricity going to Woodfibre. And where

Sonia Furstenau is the CVRD area director for Shawnigan Lake, and BC Green party candidate for the Cowichan Valley. 

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