Opinion

Has LNG Become Political LSD in BC?

Any government that thinks liquefied natural gas is a fix-all is clearly hallucinating.

By Bill Tieleman 18 Feb 2014 | TheTyee.ca

Bill Tieleman is a regular Tyee contributor who writes a column on B.C. politics every Tuesday in 24 Hours newspaper. E-mail him at weststar@telus.net or visit his blog.

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Premier Christy Clark is clearly suffering LNG-induced delusions.

"Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes / And she's gone / Lucy in the sky with diamonds" -- The Beatles, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"

How did LNG become the political equivalent of LSD in British Columbia?

Today's B.C. budget, like last week's throne speech, will mostly be about what a high time B.C. is going to have with liquefied natural gas solving all our problems, from debt to jobs.

But like LSD, or lysergic acid -- the drug made popular in the hippie 1960s -- LNG is not all groovy. It can be a thrill, or lead to a bad trip. And there are already signs that LNG, like LSD, can cause damaging side effects.

WebsiteDrugs.com says of LSD: "If taken in large enough doses, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations."

Premier Christy Clark is clearly suffering LNG-induced delusions, excitedly telling a business audience on Dec. 10 that "We have a chance to pay off our debt, a chance to create 100,000 new jobs, a chance to transform the face of our province."

Not so fast, premier. Geologist David Hughes spent 30 years with the Geological Survey of Canada, and he thinks you're hallucinating.

"The LNG export plans of the B.C. government are unlikely to be realized at the scale envisioned and must be seriously questioned," Hughes wrote for Watershed Sentinel, an environmental magazine.

"Arm-waving assertions by B.C. politicians of more than 950 tcf [trillion cubic feet] of recoverable resources are misleading, as they convey none of the geological and economic uncertainties in these estimates, nor the scale of the environmental and technical challenges in attempting to recover them," Hughes concluded, spoiling Clark's high.

Big energy bummer

The Canada West Foundation also urges caution on liquefied natural gas. In a report ominously titled "Managing Expectations," the foundation warns that "B.C. is coming late to the party" on LNG, and will face serious competition from Australia, the Middle East, Africa and the U.S.

"The opportunity for B.C. to supply Asian markets with LNG is solid, but not guaranteed," the report says, adding "China has lower cost or more strategic alternatives to LNG."

Last month in Australia, which is years ahead of B.C. in LNG development, Arrow Energy's major partners pulled out of a $10-billion LNG project, laying off 400 workers.

(You can take a quiz on LNG at a B.C. government website -- I was number 1,445 to do so and scored 80 per cent -- but the serious questions some experts raise about its viability aren't being discussed there.)

But LNG is like political LSD, and "under the influence of LSD, the ability to make sensible judgments and see common dangers is impaired."

LNG is a great asset, but it's not sensible for Clark to make incredible claims it will eliminate B.C.'s $56-billion-and-growing provincial debt or create 100,000 jobs.

"When I was growing up in Burnaby, shows like The Jetsons showed a fantastic vision of the future: two-day work weeks, robot servants, and flying cars," Clark wrote in an article last month about LNG.

Unfortunately, an LNG industry that solves all of B.C.'s problems in a few short years is just like the Jetsons -- imaginary.  [Tyee]

Read more: Energy, BC Politics

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