When I was re-elected as an MP and became a member of the Official Opposition I made a few commitments publicly that were important to me. One of them was not just to oppose but also to propose ideas and solutions that can be of benefit to our region and elsewhere. Another commitment was to communicate Government policy as clearly as possible in spite of the fact that said policy may be strongly opposed by the opposition. This commitment is a very important one to me as one my frustrations having sat on the Government side of the house was how government policy was frequently intentionally misinterpreted and distorted by the opposition. I believe misstating Government policy does a disservice to all involved and is why I have make every effort to avoid doing so in my weekly reports. This all leads me to the Liberal Governments announcement yesterday to approve the Pacific Northwest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project.
Let me state for the record I commend the Liberal Government for making what is a difficult political decision that I am already hearing is very unpopular with many citizens who voted for the Liberals in the last election. A few points on this. The decision to approve the Pacific Northwest LNG project also comes with 190 conditions, many of them environmentally related, that must be met for the project to go forward. This is not unlike the approval for the Northern Gateway pipeline project that had 209 environmentally related conditions that must be met. (for more information view my June 19,2014 MP Report on this subject http://www.danalbas.com/mp-report/discussing-gateway ).
Aside from these conditions the Liberal Government has also noted that the Pacific Northwest LNG project will create significant economic opportunities for not just BC, but also for Canada. This project represents a total capital investment of $36 Billion and will create 4500 jobs during the construction process along with 630 direct and indirect permanent jobs after completion. Aside from these benefits the BC LNG project will contribute an estimated $2.5 billion in annual tax revenue to Government along with an increase of $3 billion per year to Canada’s GDP growth. These are important considerations given that increases in health transfer funding is now linked to GDP growth.
Having heard the many positive aspects of this project as opposition I must also share some of the concerns voiced from those who strongly oppose this development. As much as the Liberal Government likes to use the talking point that the environment and the economy go hand in hand the reality is they do not. This project will generate 4.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year not including an estimated 6.5 million to 8.7 million tonnes required for natural gas collection and transportation. As a result the project would become one of the largest GHG emitters in Canada and given that many climate experts already believe Canada will not meet the targets the Liberal Government has committed to in Paris is a concern frequently raised by opponents.
From my own perspective, one other aspect on this project that is often overlooked is the fact that relatively clean burning BC LNG can be used in countries such as China as an alternative to coal fired power plants. This not only significantly reduces GHG emissions on a global scale; it also greatly improves local air quality that is an important factor for human health in these regions. While all projects have environmental considerations on balance I believe the Liberal Government has made the right decision in approving Pacific Northwest LNG project. However I also believe the Liberal Government does a disservice by making commitments at the Paris climate conference that are at odds with our ability to meet them, not unlike what occurred when a former Liberal Government committed to the Kyoto agreement. I welcome your views on this or any subject before the House of Commons and can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament elect for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.