Op-Ed: LNG decision opens door

The proposal represents up to $36 billion in new investments, thousands of jobs and an unprecedented economic boon for B.C.’s future.

The following is an opinion-editorial written by Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman:

This week, the door opened for British Columbia’s natural gas industry to go global when the federal government provided approval for Pacific NorthWest LNG. The proposal represents up to $36 billion in new investments, thousands of jobs and an unprecedented economic boon for British Columbia’s future.

The advantages of building this new industry are substantial and it will help us build a stronger economy so we can afford the services British Columbians depend on, like health care, education and housing.

The benefits aren’t limited to our economy. Natural gas is the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel and shipping it to Asia provides our province with an opportunity to lower greenhouse gas emission on a global scale.

Those are facts. Pacific NorthWest LNG remains committed to building an LNG project that will benefit all of us and the stories you hear opposing the facility are generally misleading and often inaccurate.

The environment is, and always will be, protected. Pacific NorthWest LNG’s approval was granted with 190 legally binding conditions following years of collaboration, scientific research, and stringent environmental reviews. They protect marine life and limit greenhouse gas emissions.

They also complement the provincial government’s work to be a climate leader.

In fact, British Columbia is the first jurisdiction in Canada to impose a carbon tax and we are the only place, anywhere, with regulations to have the cleanest LNG facilities in the world. Our environment is a priority. These facts speak for themselves.

Perhaps most disheartening is the actions of critics purporting to speak on behalf of the people living in or near Prince Rupert where the project, once constructed, would reside. This is where the truth really gets lost.

Since becoming the Minister of Natural Gas Development, I have had the pleasure of visiting many small towns in northern B.C. People in these communities rely on the natural gas industry. They see the project as a great employment opportunity for future generations and look forward to the jobs that will be created for their young people.

The prospects of a stronger future are most evident in First Nations communities, where the next generation will get a chance to learn a trade, find employment and create a brighter future for their families.

The Lax Kw’alaams First Nations have voted to support ongoing collaboration. As well, the Metlakatla have voiced support for the project. The First Nations LNG Alliance has also publicly supported the government’s decision, showcasing how meaningful consultation and engagement has led to positive results when all parties are involved.

Of course there is more work to be done. LNG is still a long-term commitment. We understand Pacific NorthWest LNG will now take the time to assess the conditions that accompanied the federal approval and review every element of their proposal to determine the best path forward.

As we eagerly await the result of this process, the provincial government will continue to work with the proponent, the federal government, First Nations and other stakeholders to ensure Pacific NorthWest LNG has the opportunity to deliver on its full potential – to make a positive difference for the thousands of people who rely on the natural gas industry now and into the future.

Now, more than ever, we know Pacific NorthWest LNG can be an active, responsible player in British Columbia’s economy. The benefits are indisputable and far-reaching. For people in northern B.C., and specifically those who have been on the periphery of economic development for far too long, building Pacific NorthWest LNG opens the door to a new, stronger future.