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BC NDP Must Come Clean on its Full Energy Policy


The NDP are getting a free ride – at least they certainly are on the energy file.

I must ask again: Why are they not condemning the proposed twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to Vancouver? All the arguments that prevail against the Enbridge line apply to Kinder Morgan, so to say that you’re waiting for the Kinder Morgan applicationto be filed is a flimsy excuse which waters down their general position on energy.

Speaking of a program, just what is the NDP energy policy? We’d better find out soon or it will be too late.

Some questions.

The NDP is wholly supportive of multiple liquified natural gas (LNG) plants in Kitimat, so far as can be told without any real consultation with the public on either the plant itself or the pipeline that would cross the same  mountains and forests that Enbridge does.

My feeling is that the NDP don’t want to appear to be against everything. Yet the party was much opposed to an LNG plant on Texada Island a few years ago, mainly on dangers it posed. There are not too many examples of plant failure in the past but when they do have one, the destruction of property and human life is extensive.

I don’t say that this project ought to be banned – I just ask when the public process took place. When was the public, including First Nations, consulted on both the need for such a plant and, if passed, what were the technical and environmental concerns, and, again, where was the public process?

John Horgan, the NDP Energy Critic, seems to favour, without reservations, the obtaining of natural gas through the process now called “fracking”, which is a technique whereby natural gas, trapped in shale beds within the earth’s crust is “mined” by forcing it out by the use of huge quantities of water and chemicals. British Columbia has lots of this natural gas and there’s a sort of “gold rush” mentality amongst those who want to get into the act.

There are huge environmental questions, not least of which is the chemical-laden water getting into the domestic water supply and ecosystems. Moreover, where is the water being taken from?

There are also very real worries for the security of the land under which the “fracking” takes place, namely earthquakes being caused by the controversial practice.

The concerns here are not just picky little matters brought up by traditional boo birds but very real worries.

There is a very big economic question involved: BC and Alberta are not the only places in the world where there are lots of potential fracking areas.

With a huge overabundance of natural gas available, can BC compete? Where are the markets? China, which itself has huge trapped natural gas resources?

Normally one might say, that’s the concern of the companies, not us.

But we know that’s not necessarily so, for corporations discount a good part of the downsides by expecting government bailouts if big trouble comes, for the same reason the US government bailed out the stockbrokers – the cost of not bailing out sinking corporate ships was higher than the subsidies. Moreover, the public is a shareholder in this resource and is receiving reduced dividends from it at these historically low market prices.

There is a further question that has been raised but not dealt with, either by the government or the opposition – why are we devoting energy from water resources, that belong to the public to create energy which then will be used by corporations to make new energy?

The nature of BC Hydro, since W.A.C. Bennett’s days, was to create cheap power for both the public and industry but not to be a partner in the industry, thus liable to losses concerned.

The proposed Site “C” Dam is not needed for domestic energy supply – as our resident economist Erik Andersen has amply demonstrated – but day by day looks more like a scheme to subsidize the untested abilities of fracking companies to do so without environmental damage, in questionable markets. And if not for fracking, then to subsidize comparably questionable new mining operations in northern BC – in any event, the power from Site “C” is patently not for the public that would be paying some $10 Billion to build it.

These are some of many questions being raised by everyone accept the Liberals, who are joined at the hip to industry, and the NDP who are not.

It’s bad enough to have a government of a gaggle of nincompoops, but without an Opposition to ask serious and penetrating questions because they fear the voters won’t like it is a potential tragedy which may well lead to an environmental and fiscal mess not only caused by an incompetent government but an incompetent Opposition as well.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

10 thoughts on “BC NDP Must Come Clean on its Full Energy Policy

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  3. Rod, Kinder Morgan is proposing a new line to run parallel to the existing one – which was updated to some degree a few years ago to increase its capacity from 200 to 300,000 barrels per day. The new line would have a capacity of at least 450,000-550,000 bpd. So in total we’d be looking an Enbridge-sized line running alongside a recently revamped old line. The result would be close to 400 suezmax oil tankers a year carrying Alberta bitumen through the Port of Vancouver and Salish Sea. Clearly, the ramifications of this proposal are staggering – which is why it merits at least as much attention as the Enbridge plan is receiving.

  4. I agree with Kelly above. I was very disheartened with Horgan’s unabashed support of fracking without considering the collateral damage the process causes. Has he seen the film where a farmers water was burning when it was lit with a lighter? I was shocked when he said he supported the process and the terminal without any explanation of why.

    If you want to support it, then it should go through the public process first so all the dangers are exposed by the fracking process. Then the rest of us can make up our minds.

  5. The Trans Mountain Pipeline is now 60 years old. I don’t know anyone, including Rafe Mair, who is suggesting it be removed.

    Yet surely it’s nearing the end of its service life, unless it receives a major overhaul. I am not an engineer but I simply don’t believe that these pipelines, unlike bridges or ships, can last indefinitely.

    The Chevron refinery in Burnaby is having trouble getting adequate oil supplies, yet the the amount being shipped offshore is increasing. Chevron can’t use the dilbit that’s an increasing share of the TMP throughput.

    So I think there’s a case for replacement without major expansion and a case for guaranteeing adequate supplies of conventional crude for local refining.

  6. It always comes down to “Follow The Money”. The wealth of unions and their private and public pension plans in Canada is purported to be over $1 trillion dollars.

    Global demand for natural gas will keep on rising steadily in the coming years while supply remains in the hands of a relatively small group of sovereign investors (national oil companies and SWFs), public and private pension funds. The latter represent more than 90% of limited partners (LPs) investing in energy-focused private equity and infrastructure funds, with Canadian institutions such as OMERS, CPP IB, Ontario Teachers’ (OTPP) and CDP Quebec playing a leading role amongst institutional investors in unlisted infrastructure.

    Unions are part of the NDP

  7. I’ve been wondering the same thing lately Rafe… (I posted earlier this week) : “Enbridge… KinderMorgan… LNG Pipeline… Site C Dam… Port Expansion… Death of the ALR…South Fraser Perimeter Highway… All one big happy ‘coincidence’? I DON’T THINK SO! ” … and I also wonder where our upcoming ‘wonderbody’ Adrian stands on these issues… And I’m an NDP’er… hmmmmmmm…?

  8. These are all good questions.

    However the opposition is the opposition and is obviously in the process of creating an election platform, one which if released now would be of little political benefit.

    Furthermore, much of the required infrastructure and legal and administrative work is occurring right now, with an unelected leader of a lame duck government.

    They have confidentiality agreements signed with the likes of Shell and petro china, and are currently entertaining an export license Shell has applied for that includes exporting 24 million tonnes a year of LNG for twenty four years!

    Moreover, the “equivalency agreement” signed in secret by this government includes three major gas infrastructure projects. So here, just like Enbridge, we as BC stakeholders have no legal say or any ability to properly influence these major multi billion dollar projects.

    So while it is all well and fine to pressure the opposition, it is equally important to demand the current government start standing up for our interests versus giving them all away in secret and bound by confidentiality agreements.

    Dix moved to revoke the EA, that forshadows a change in course, lets encourage more of that

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