B.C. government hoping to pass LNG legislation without support of the B.C. Greens

The B.C. government has introduced legislation that, if passed, would implement a natural gas tax credit for liquefied natural gas development.

But the legislation is strongly opposed by the NDP’s governing partners, the BC Green Party.

“British Columbians are counting on us to attract LNG investment that meets strict conditions: delivering jobs and financial benefits to B.C., creating economic partnerships with Indigenous peoples, and protecting our clean air, land and water,” Minister of Finance Carole James said.

“This legislation completes the process of creating a fiscal framework that invites investment while supporting those conditions.”

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The legislation will need the support of the BC Liberals to pass, with the Greens planning on voting against it.

The Liberals have been strong supporters of LNG, and the previous government was unable to secure final investment decisions for any of the major projects.

In October, LNG Canada officially decided to build an export facility in Kitimat. The joint venture, which includes energy industry players such as PETRONAS, Shell, PetroChina, KOGAS and the Mitsubishi Corporation, is expected to cost $40-billion.

The mega project would be the fastest route to Asia for gas from North America.

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If the legislation passes it would amend the Income Tax Act to implement a natural gas tax credit for LNG development in British Columbia, repeal the Liquefied Natural Gas Income Tax Act and repeal the Liquefied Natural Gas Project Agreements Act.

“Our government’s vision is to make life better for British Columbians in all regions of our province,” said James.

“Along with providing services people need, like affordable child care and interest-free student loans, that also means delivering new jobs and opportunities through resource development that is environmentally responsible.”

WATCH (aired January 9, 2019): Premier John Horgan on LNG Canada’s obligations with the pipeline

LNG Canada is the largest private-sector investment in B.C.’s history. It is expected to create 10,000 construction jobs and up to 950 permanent jobs in the Kitimat processing terminal.

Even though the project is touted as the cleanest of its kind in the world, it is still concerning to the Greens. The government says the project will fit within the greenhouse gas reduction targets of the government’s CleanBC climate action plan.

WATCH (aired October 2, 2018): Major $40B LNG project gets green light in northern BC

Green party leader Andrew Weaver says the legislation shows the government is officially pulling the province in two different directions in its fight against climate change.

“Continuing to push for LNG development is short-sighted and works directly against CleanBC objectives,” Weaver said.

“After years of criticizing the BC Liberals for their generous giveaway of our natural gas resources, the BC NDP have taken the giveaway to a whole new level. The legislation brought forward by this government is a generational sellout.”

WATCH (aired December 23, 2018): Green Party won’t ‘support giveaway for LNG Canada’

If the legislation is passed, effective Jan. 1, 2020 the new natural gas tax credit will be available to qualifying corporations. It is currently calculated at three per cent of the cost of natural gas. The tax credit can be used to reduce B.C.’s corporate income tax rate from 12 per cent to nine per cent.

Weaver says the government is “demonstrating hypocrisy” by supporting both LNG and CleanBC.

“We must adapt to the 21st century economy by investing in renewable energy infrastructure and transforming our province into a destination for innovative industries to thrive,” Weaver said.

“Truly implementing CleanBC provides one such path for a carbon-neutral economy, one in which British Columbians are free from fossil fuels not just as an energy source, but in their jobs and everyday lives.”

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The confidence and supply agreement between the Greens and the NDP did not have mention of LNG. Weaver and the Greens have always been opposed to any LNG mega projects.

“In minority governments, there are disagreements between partners. This is one of those. We will use our opportunities to speak to make our case to the 84 other legislators that LNG is the wrong path to pursue,” Weaver said.

“Unfortunately, with this legislation, we allow LNG Canada to make history for all the wrong reasons: it may be the single largest point source of carbon emissions in the country’s history. Is this what we really want our province to be known for?”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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