News / Vancouver

Green MLA Andrew Weaver calls natural gas plan a 'pipe dream' at UBCM

The province's only Green MLA used his address at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver to launch an offensive against the government's plans for natural gas production.

The Green Party was only given a five-minute window to address the meeting of municipal politicians. Liberal Leader Christy Clark had an hour to outline her policy planks, while outgoing Opposition Leader Adrian Dix was given 20 minutes.

Weaver mostly dispensed with the pleasantries, briefly discussing his background as a scientist before lambasting the the Liberals' desire to ramp up liquified natural gas (LNG) extraction and exportation.

"Will B.C.’s hypothetical, risky adventure into LNG actually benefit your communities in the long-term? I think not," he told the audience. "And I think talk of B.C. becoming a major LNG exporter is nothing more than a pipe dream."

Weaver noted other countries, including Russia, Australia and the United States are better positioned to sell natural gas to to buyers like China.

"Russia has about 20 times as much natural gas as all of Canada combined and recently signed long term export agreements with China. Russia can transport its gas to China via pipeline and does not need to undergo the costly process of liquefying the gas for tanker transport," Weaver said.

As he has in the past, Weaver touted the clean energy sector as an alternative to fossil fuels. However, this time, he catered his pitch to his audience.

"This is a sector that creates stable, high paying, jobs in communities throughout British Columbia, not just in one or two locations," he said. "And stable, local jobs give rise to vibrant, resilient municipalities."

Weaver did deviate from his message briefly, to suggest the province could be doing more to finance municipalities.

"Is continuing to burden homeowners with property tax increases year after year really the best approach?" he asked. "Or, could provincial and municipal governments instead work together to create a more progressive financing system that promotes, instead of impedes, the type of fundamental economic activity that we all value, such as buying a home."

While Weaver was addressing the UBCM, his office issued a press release calling for a moratorium on the transport of diluted bitumen on the B.C. coast.

So-called "dilbit" is petroleum that has been diluted to allow it to be transported via pipeline. According to Weaver, five tankers of the material pass through Vancouver harbour every month, a number that could rise dramatically if the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in Burnaby goes ahead.

"While the government has made a strong case against dilbit exports from the Northern Gateway pipeline, it has failed to address the very real threat that existing dilbit tanker traffic from the Trans Mountain facility in Burnaby already poses to the BC coast," read Weaver's statement.

"A dilbit spill in Vancouver harbour would have profound and long-lasting consequences."

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