B.C. legislature recalled to debate $36B Petronas LNG plant
by Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
The move sets up a battle between the ruling liberals and opposition NDP over protection from future tax increases
VICTORIA—British Columbia’s politicians are being recalled for a summer sitting to debate legislation designed to pave the way for a $36-billion liquefied natural gas plant on the north coast near Prince Rupert.
Liberal House Leader Mike de Jong said Tuesday the legislative session will start July 13 and members will debate one bill, the discussion of which could last more than a week.
The bill will ratify a project-development agreement between B.C. and Pacific NorthWest LNG, a joint venture largely backed by Malaysian state energy-giant Petronas, and enable future agreements on other potential LNG deals.
“The corporate ratification process is complete with Pacific NorthWest LNG and their member companies, including Petronas, and we are now intending to introduce our legislation and that will occur on July 13,” de Jong said.
However, the summer session could see a showdown between the Liberals and the Opposition New Democrats over potential economic benefits and fair public returns on resources.
The Liberals are expected to accuse the NDP of attempting to challenge a project worth $36 billion, while the NDP will levy accusations of selling out taxpayers to a corporate giant.
Premier Christy Clark said last month when the legislature adjourned after more than four months of budget debate that progress on the massive $9-billion Site C hydroelectric dam and the Petronas LNG agreement were the government’s greatest achievements of the spring sitting.
The Petronas project, if it proceeds, will become the largest capital investment in B.C.’s history.
There are at least 18 separate LNG project proposals in B.C., and Clark has often said exporting LNG to Asian markets represents a trillion-dollar economic opportunity that could create 100,000 jobs.
The Opposition New Democrats have signalled the LNG law could be in for a rough ride, even though the NDP supported earlier LNG income-tax legislation.
The NDP said last month the Liberals are prepared to give Pacific NorthWest LNG protection from future tax increases for more than two decades.