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Politics and LNG doubt

Last Updated Oct 4, 2016 at 1:03 pm PDT

An LNG pipeline (Source: lngcanada.ca)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — According to a couple political scientists, seeing a large Liquefied Natural Gas project near Prince Rupert become a reality will be difficult for whomever is elected to the BC legislature this spring.

Richard Johnston, a professor of political science with the University of British Columbia, says the campaign that helped propel the Christy Clark Liberals to power may need alterations.

“The strategy of using LNG as the growth engine for the province is probably going to fail.”

Johnston calls the recent conditional federal approval of the Petronas Pacific Northwest LNG project a “paper victory” for the BC Liberals.

“Where the rubber really hits the road is that it probably opens the door to [the] Kinder Morgan [pipeline]. That’s a tougher call for Christy Clark but if she wants to allow Kinder Morgan to happen she can at least say that BC has got something in return.”

Johnston says in BC, when election campaigns tout development over alternatives, like environmentalism, development tends to win.

Kathryn Harrison, a professor of political science at UBC, notes the BC Liberals ran for election on the promise of billions of dollars coming to provincial coffers but any development ahead will depend on Petronas following through.

“When there was all the enthusiasm about LNG development in BC, there was a much larger gap between North American prices for natural gas and Asian prices.”

Harrison says that gap has narrowed.

“We’re late in the game. Prices have fallen. It’s not at all clear that this project is a good investment.”

Johnston adds often when governments make long-term carbon pricing commitments and environmental regulatory commitments, their successors regret it.