New framework for natural gas development in B.C.

John Horgan

AS part of a new approach to natural gas development, the British Columbia government is overhauling the policy framework for future projects, while ensuring those projects adhere to B.C.’s climate targets, Premier John Horgan announced on Thursday.

“Our new approach welcomes investment that puts our province’s people and future first, and rejects the old ways of resource development at any cost,” Horgan said. “Our obligation is to the people who call British Columbia home, and our job is to get the best deal for them and the generations that follow.”

Under the new approach, all projects should:

  • Guarantee a fair return for B.C.’s natural resources.
  • Guarantee jobs and training opportunities for British Columbians.
  • Respect and make partners of First Nations.
  • Protect B.C.’s air, land and water, including living up to the Province’s climate commitments.

These four conditions form the basis for government’s discussions with LNG Canada, which is moving toward a final investment decision on a project that, if approved, would be the largest private-sector investment in B.C. history. This project would see the construction of a natural gas pipeline from northeast B.C. to Kitimat, where a new terminal will process and ship LNG to Asian markets. It is expected to create up to 10,000 construction and up to 950 full time jobs in northern B.C.

“No premier or government can dismiss this kind of critical economic opportunity for the people of British Columbia,” Horgan said. “But neither will we turn our back on our commitment to climate targets, or our path to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”

At the centre of the discussions with LNG Canada is a revised fiscal framework that is designed to put natural gas development on a level playing field with other industrial sectors, accessing the same fiscal policies and working within the same overall B.C. framework to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.

The new framework, to which LNG Canada will be subject, provides:

  • Relief from provincial sales tax (PST), in line with the policy for manufacturing sectors, subject to repayment in the form of an equivalent operational payment.
  • New GHG emission standards under the Clean Growth Incentive Program, announced in Budget 2018.
  • General industrial electricity rates consistent with other industrial users in B.C.
  • Elimination of the LNG income tax that had required LNG-specific tax rates.

“The LNG Canada proposal has the potential to earn tens of billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs for British Columbians over the life of the project,” Horgan said. “It’s a private-sector investment that could benefit our province for decades to come, but not at any price – we need to make sure the values British Columbians believe in come first.”

The Premier said his government will also expect the LNG Canada project to fit within the goals of the Province’s climate-change plan and, specifically, its legislated GHG reduction targets.

“We committed, during the election campaign, to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 2007 levels by 2030, and by 80% by 2050. That remains our goal,” Horgan said.

“We cannot achieve the necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and do our part in protecting the global environment without a significant shift to a low carbon economy. The work for all of us – in government, business, labour and beyond – is only just beginning. And all resource development proposals must be considered within the context of our global commitment to protecting our air, land and water.”

With B.C.’s new fiscal framework provided to LNG Canada this week, it is anticipated the company will make a final investment decision sometime before the end of this year.

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