As drought grips British Columbia, why is energy minister prioritizing water/electricity for LNG?

Mar 14, 2024 | 42-5, Blog, Governance, Legislature, Question Period, Video | 2 comments

The BC NDP government has their priorities wrong. While drought grips British Columbia the provincial government is prioritizing electricity and water for the fracking industry.

In order for our province to meet CleanBC climate action targets requires electrification. Drought is causing tremendous challenges for our hydro electric production. At the same time the BC NDP are ramping up the nascent LNG and fracking industries. It’s inexplicable!

[Transcript]

POWER SUPPLY PRIORITIES AND IMPACT OF DROUGHT

A. Olsen:

Hydropower is central to meeting our CleanBC targets, but the electricity source is threatened by drought. Last year, dams were at historic lows due to sustained periods of drought, and B.C. was importing 20 percent of our electricity.

From what we’ve heard, the delay of flooding Site C wasn’t because of bear dens, but it was because of drought. There isn’t enough water. Relying on hydro to meet our net zero emissions objectives is risky in a fast-changing climate. Conserving energy for British Columbians should be this government’s top priority, not powering LNG facilities.

To the Minister of Energy, why is she prioritizing limited electricity for nascent fracked gas industry in a climate emergency?

Hon. J. Osborne:

Of course, we’ve just heard a series of questions around the fact that our communities and people are facing climate challenges unlike at any time before. People are concerned, they want to take action, and they want to do the right thing.

Drought has impacted B.C. Hydro’s reservoirs, but over the past 15 years B.C. Hydro has been a net importer half of the time and a net exporter of energy the other half of the time. It’s incredibly important that we build the resilience of this system. We’re so fortunate to have a backbone of a resilient hydroelectric system that we will be diversifying by adding in renewables, with a call for power this spring to see more energy added to the grid to help people make the switch — the switch to electric vehicles, the switch to electric heat pumps, electrifying industry, bringing down our emissions.

We’re going to stay focused on that work with B.C. Hydro, seeing the Utilities Commission just approve their 20-year integrated resource plan and knowing that we’re planning for the future, planning for climate change, building up a resilient system to support people.

WATER USE FOR NATURAL GAS FRACKING

A. Olsen:

Drought also impacts fracking in the northeast. The B.C. Energy regulator has warned that the Premier’s fracking buddies…. There’s going to be a limited water supply this summer.

Frackers use billions of litres of water each year — $5.2 billion in 2021, to be exact. If they’re not hijacking it from creeks and streams, they’re paying pennies for it. While the Premier publicly hallucinates about a net-zero LNG industry, that’s just the greenhouse gas emissions and not the only environmental issue. More LNG means more fracking and tens of billions of more litres of fresh water.

[10:50 a.m.]

We are truly a company town, diverting limited water to increase corporate profits, while the Climate Readiness Minister pleads with British Columbians to take shorter showers and the Parliamentary Secretary on Watersheds is desperately trying to save dying salmon.

Friends, we have a water crisis in this government’s grip with Phantasmagoria….

Interjection.

The Speaker: Members. Shhh.

A. Olsen: …with phantasmagoria. My question is to the Energy Minister.

When is she — and her colleagues, concerned about a livable planet — going to stand up to this madness?

Hon. J. Osborne:

Well, once again the member raise some very serious issues around drought and the steps that our government is taking to help prepare for what could be a very difficult summer. The B.C. Energy Regulator has already issued notice to gas operations in the northeast to reduce or, in some cases, eliminate their water use. Industry takes this very seriously, and they’re taking the action that’s necessary.

My colleague the Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, of course, is leading the work on planning for the future, undertaking water licensing decisions and making decisions together with First Nations communities and industry, so that we can accommodate the changes that we’re seeing.

We’re going to continue to do this. We’re going to continue to put people first, supporting them with affordable hydro rates, supporting them with affordability altogether in their lives and making good decisions, because we know that people want to take action on climate. They want to see responsible industry. That’s what’s taking place here. We’re going to stay focused on it.

2 Comments

  1. Peter Pare

    Excellent questions. Weak responses! Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Andy Sinats

    Is there enough water to flood Site C this year? For the sake of the downstream effects on the drying out of the Athabasca Delta, the reservoir should never be filled.

    Reply

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