The BC Government recently published an online quiz to “test the knowledge” of British Columbians on the coming LNG revolution.
It amounted to a propaganda exercise with the sole purpose of testing how well the BC Liberal LNG rhetoric has pierced the minds of the BC populace.
The infamous Harold Evans, longtime Editor of the Sunday Times of London and author of many books is quoted as saying:
[quote]Propaganda is persuading people to make up their minds while withholding the facts from them.[/quote]
We used to rely on the muckrakers of the “fourth estate” to inform us of the goings-on in government. However, today we neither elect governments who work in our best interest nor have media that informs – rather, the two work in concert to ensure we are well propagandized, as defined by Mr. Evans.
It used to be that resource companies handled their own communications, did their own advertising and managed the public affairs of their undertakings; today that job now involves governments and (E)NGOs (environmental non-governmental organization).
Our elected leaders in government and the self-appointed leaders in NGOs have abandoned positioning in the public interest and instead have become partners in the exploits of international capital, who provide perception and issue management on their behalf.
Therefor the following clarifications may help with understanding the BC LNG fundamentals from the citizen’s perspective, otherwise known as the owner of the resource and stewards of the land, air and water, versus those committed to providing perception and issue management -otherwise known as “social license.”
BC Liberal LNG myths and realities
CLAIM: LNG just evaporates if there is an accident transporting it, loading or shipping the product on the coast.
CLAIM: There is a race to develop BC LNG facilities.
FALSE: Every major industry report points out how LNG is a growth industry, one of the biggest on earth and is reaching its apex after over 50 years in existence. Demand is expected to escalate for at least 30 years as we see the transition to natural gas as transportation fuel take hold.
CLAIM: To win the race we need to hurry in order to satisfy our customers and serve domestic markets before our competition beats us.
FALSE: There is no other place in the world with our proven deposits at our stage of development (speculative) that also has the level of interest being expressed. The BC Liberals have been boosting natural gas exports for over three years, however the development model we are undertaking means we have no “customers”, only new potential owners. If this is a race, “BC” jumped out of the saddle before it started and handed over the reigns to foreign companies and SOEs, The LNG destination markets will only grow as will domestic consumption.
CLAIM: LNG will erase debt, lower taxes and fill a 100 Billion Dollar Prosperity Fund.
FALSE: The BC Liberals have accumulated more debt than any government in history. Christy Clark incurred more debt in just two years before the last election than the entire NDP “decade of decline.” And that is only debt they acknowledge. Unacknowledged debt that exists as of today, in both deferred and hidden public accounts, exceeds the expected revenues from LNG exports, given the terms and conditions her government has so far defined.
CLAIM: The BC Liberals continue to claim “we” will be the most competitive in the world by slashing royalty and tax regimes, while maintaining high subsidies, and becoming the lowest operating district on earth.
PARTIALLY TRUE: It is true that the BC Natural Gas Royalty Regime has often been cited as the lowest in North America and subsidies for the industry are often unparalleled, however it is unclear if this is true the world over. Qatar, the current world leader in the industry, is very difficult to compete with in this respect. This means that BC will have to continue to “give the gas away” in order to be competitive on the world stage – especially when considering our major deposits’ distance from tide water and the costs involved as a result. (On average a compressor station is required every 100 miles along a gas pipeline).
CLAIM: The BC Liberals have long claimed they intend to “lock down” all terms associated with the budding LNG industry by passing “sophisticated provincial legislation” they have repeatedly announced would be made available to the public, yet continue to be delay. (Indeed they claimed they cancelled the last sitting of the legislature to craft this sophisticated legislation, but to no avail.)
REALITY: No provincial government can legislate in perpetuity. It’s a fundamental tenet of democracy that subsequent elected governments not be limited in this capacity. The only existing experience we have with such draconian lawmaking exists within the parameters of trade agreements, which are treaties negotiated and ratified at the level of the Federal government. Expect BC’s LNG industry to be bound by upcoming trade agreements such as FIPPA and TPP, as these are the only means of “locking down” bargain basement taxation and regulatory regimes.
CLAIM: Natural Gas is a “clean” transition fuel.
MISLEADING: When processed natural gas liquids are burned, they are cleaner than some fossil fuel alternatives, however there is a lot of processing that occurs between the time it is removed from the earth and ultimately burned. Those processes release more climate changing emissions and poisons than the alternatives. There is also the issue of “fugitive”, or escaped methane emissions, which studies are now revealing to be far more widespread and climate-damaging than previously thought.
CLAIM: Natural Gas is a “clean energy” alternative to coal.
FALSE: While “natural gas” is often boosted as a clean energy alternative, studies show that the entire LNG lifecycle – from fracking, processing through squeezing, freezing and shipping, regasification and final consumption – CO2 emissions are worse than coal, certainly when fugitive emissions are accounted for. In fact, meeting the government’s target for 3 LNG plants by 2020 and 5 in total would make achieving its own climate targets utterly impossible.
CLAIM: “We are doing the world a favour,” because our natural gas will displace coal burning plants in China improving the environment and air quality.
FALSE: There is no actual evidence of this claim or any commitment of this sort. Coal exports to Asia are at record highs in both Canada and the US and China is already making deals to export LNG after having increased domestic production 5 fold just in the last year.
Part two will continue debunking major claims around the development model of BC LNG. Jobs, social impacts, fracking and the government’s soon-to-be-introduced “framework” for LNG development, which they have chose to provide in lieu of the promised terms and conditions required for the much-vaunted “Prosperity Fund”, will all be included.