Is the energy minister going to allow BC Hydro to cut corners on transmission lines?

Mar 7, 2024 | 42-5, Bills, Blog, Governance, Legislature, Video | 0 comments

BC Hydro needs to build massive new transmission lines to provide electricity to the BC NDPs LNG industry in order for them to create the illusion that the fossil fuel industry is “net-zero.”

In order to expedite the construction of the transmission lines BC Hydro doesn’t want to go through an environmental assessment but rather undertake their own “streamlined process.”

Their Site C dam cost more than twice as much, cost loaded onto BC Hydro ratepayers, now they are proposing to cut corners on their new ratepayer subsidy of the LNG industry. Will the BC NDP let them?

[Transcript]

A. Olsen:

There are very serious questions about leadership being asked here today, and I think that it’s important that we continue to question this government’s lack of leadership when it comes to climate action, specifically when it comes to the doublespeak around LNG and LNG proposals claiming net zero.

This government likes to pretend. We know that by powering LNG with electricity, they’re not going to create a better, safer world. But B.C. Hydro is already cutting corners when it comes to the transmission lines that are going to deliver the electricity to the promised LNG projects. According to confidential documents by government, obtained by The Narwhal, B.C. Hydro plans to replace the necessary environmental assessment for the north coast transmission line with a “streamlined process.” Tara Marsden, spokesperson for the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs, said that a streamlined process is quite scary, especially if it lacks transparency, takes shortcuts and doesn’t allow voices to be heard.

My question is to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Disinformation. What does the B.C. Hydro’s alternative streamlined process entail, and will the public have access to the process and the complete findings?

Hon. G. Heyman:

First of all, I want to point out to the member, and I thank the member for the question, the number of steps that our government has taken to address the question of emissions from LNG facilities, which includes a variety of measures that have been put in place through an output-based pricing system, carbon taxes through the CleanBC program for industry, and working actively on bringing forward the regulatory cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector, which we committed to as part of the new energy action framework.

The member is referring to an internal memo of B.C. Hydro in which they were considering whether to make application to the government for an exemption under the Environmental Assessment Act from an environmental assessment process. They have not made that application. If they make that application, there is a process to consider it before it finally comes for decision-making. During that process, it will be transparent that they have made the application. The basis of the application will be made transparent, should they make an application, which they have not done. The public will have the opportunity to review that fully and to make comment.

The Speaker:

House Leader of the Third Party, supplemental.

A. Olsen:

I remember, and maybe I can remind the minister, when the minister and his colleague, the Minister of Energy and Mines, were climate champions and not LNG propagandists.

You see, in my own territory, I’ve witnessed where the minister has not done an environmental assessment and instead created a process that doesn’t exist, called an “enhanced review process,” that doesn’t have any meat or anything. There’s no idea what that enhanced process looks like. So now we’ve got B.C. Hydro proposing a streamlined process. Pardon us for not having the confidence in this minister that we’re going to follow the laws that actually exist in this province and require environmental assessments.

B.C. Hydro worries that a delay from an environmental assessment will impact the ability to meet increased demand for electrification. And that increased demand is coming from the LNG projects that this government supports. B.C. Hydro hasn’t been able to build an $8 billion dam for less than $20 billion in Site C. Now they want to trample the public, Indigenous rights and the environment again. The proposed transmission line will affect property owners, farmland, waterways, at-risk species, all impediments to this fossil fuel industry.

[10:50 a.m.]

What is it about Premiers from Point Grey and their obsession with LNG?

To the Minister of Energy, will the minister succumb again to the pressure of the fossil fuel lobby or demand an environmental assessment as is the proper and lawful process in this province?

Hon. G. Heyman:

It is unfortunate that when we are dealing with questions of addressing permanent projects, as well as addressing the very serious climate targets and objectives this government has, that the member of the Third Party resorts to rhetoric that is both inflammatory and inaccurate.

There is no proposal from B.C. Hydro to me, to the environmental assessment office, or to our government for an exemption. Should that proposal come forward, it will be required to be considered under the act. It will be considered transparently.

We take environmental assessment seriously. When I receive applications such as the one the member referred to, which was to grant an environmental assessment when the project did not meet the tests laid out in the act, it received full consideration, transparent consideration, and, as part of that consideration, an enhanced major mines permitting process was put into place.

The member may claim that nobody knows what it is, but that is simply not true. It was transparent, just as any application should it come forward will be considered with full opportunity for public input.

The Speaker:

Thank you, Minister.

Hon. G. Heyman:

I will simply reiterate, hon. Speaker, B.C. Hydro may discuss whatever they want in corporate meetings, and memos may be released from freedom of information.

 ToThe Speaker:

Thank you.

Hon. G. Heyman:

That does not mean an application is in our hands.

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