Skip to main content

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is accusing Premier John Horgan’s government of “hypocrisy” when it comes to energy development, as British Columbia offers incentives to spur the construction of liquefied natural gas export facilities while trying to thwart the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline expansion.

Ms. Notley said Friday she fully supports Canada building LNG export facilities, as the move could support natural gas producers in both British Columbia and Alberta.

“What we don’t support is environmental hypocrisy,” she told reporters in Calgary on Friday.

Ms. Notley said if the B.C. government wisely believes in a “balanced” approach to energy development – with recognition that environmental policy must go hand-in-hand with a solid economic plan and keeping people employed – it doesn’t square with its actions to date on Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd.’s Trans Mountain expansion project.

“The problem is they wrap themselves in a much more rigid, rigorous, uncompromising, and win-lose environmental cloak when it comes to their approach to the Kinder Morgan pipeline. And you can’t have it both ways.”

She said the NDP-led B.C. government cannot deny the pipeline project on the basis of being “grand protectors of the environment” because it’s not what they’re prepared to do “when it comes to their own economic interests.” She pointed to Mr. Horgan’s willingness to limit the rules around the application of B.C.’s carbon tax for LNG exporters.

On Thursday, Mr. Horgan announced various concessions ahead of a final investment decision by LNG Canada on whether to build a terminal in Kitimat to ship super-cooled Canadian gas to overseas markets. The $40-billion Shell Canada Ltd.-led LNG project also counts South Korea’s Kogas, Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. and PetroChina Co. Ltd. as investors.

Under B.C.’s new LNG plan, projects will see relief from provincial sales taxes, subject to repayment in the form of an equivalent operational payment. They will offer exemptions on carbon tax increases but would be subject to new greenhouse gas emission standards, and pay general industrial electricity rates consistent with other industrial users in B.C. The framework will repeal an LNG income tax introduced under the BC Liberals.

“While we think it’s great that there’s been a conversion on the road to Damascus on this issue by the Premier of British Columbia,” Ms. Notley said, “we would suggest that the concerns that they raise against Kinder Morgan being completed lack a great deal more credibility today than they did yesterday morning.”

Ms. Notley’s criticism of Mr. Horgan’s government is part of what has become an especially chilly relationship between the two provinces, with B.C. joining in legal actions against the Trans Mountain project and at one point introducing a proposed environmental regulation Alberta said could impede the flow of oil.

Mr. Horgan’s government has said it wants to protect B.C. coasts from increased tanker traffic and the potential of a bitumen spill. Ms. Notley’s NDP government argues B.C. is standing in the way of both her province’s ability to export and the federal approval of the pipeline. B.C.’s environment ministry declined to comment on Friday.

Alberta politicians are being careful to point out they fully support B.C’s push to get an LNG export facility built. The development of terminals on B.C.’s coast potentially benefits Alberta natural gas producers, and many companies focused on natural gas production in B.C. are headquartered in downtown Calgary.

Natural gas also produces significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than the burning of any type of oil. But many environmentalists are concerned about the effects of fracking – the work done to get the gas out of the ground – and methane emissions lost in the production and transportation of natural gas.

With a report from Ian Bailey