John Horgan's LNG follies—what's a B.C. climate voter to do?

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      Some of us are climate voters.

      When we go into the ballot box, there's one issue that's foremost on our minds—rising greenhouse gas emissions threatening an apocalyptic century to come. 

      Before the 2017 provincial election, I wrote a column about the dilemma facing people like us. It was called "What's a B.C. climate voter to do?"

      Looking back more than three years later, it comes across as somewhat naive.

      We all knew that the B.C. Liberals under Christy Clark didn't give a damn about frying future generations. And I wrote that.

      But here's where I was gullible. I believed that the NDP was serious about stopping the Site C dam.

      I should have realized that the desires of private-sector unions for a costly megaproject would trump sound public policy, even in an age of distributed, zero-marginal-cost renewable energy generation.

      That dam was important because—as resource analyst Ben Parfitt pointed out in the Narwhal—it can provide electricity for the LNG industry.

      "According to BC Hydro filings with the utilities commission it is only with the arrival of an LNG industry in the province that hydro consumption begins to outstrip domestic supply, and only then in about eight years," Parfitt wrote.

      On December 11, 2017, Premier John Horgan announced that his government will complete the $10.7-billion Site C dam in northeastern B.C.

      In the end, Premier John Horgan went even further than the B.C. Liberals in wooing the Shell Oil–led consortium with incentives to proceed with an LNG plant, which will be fuelled by fracked natural gas.

      It's been referred to as a carbon bomb by some of its critics. And for good reason.

      Yet Horgan continues to peddle Christy Clark's fiction that natural gas is somehow going to be a bridge fuel in Asia to reduce greenhouse gases by displacing coal. 

      Now, it appears that we may be on the eve of another provincial election. And climate voters are going to have to once again evaluate whether they think the NDP is worth supporting.

      I suspect that a fair number of well-informed climate voters already feel hoodwinked by what happened in 2017.

      And in some environmentally minded NDP constituencies—such as Vancouver-Fairview, Burnaby North, North Vancouver-Lonsdale, and Port Moody–Coquitlam—climate voters might be thinking about alternatives.

      This probably explains why some in the B.C. NDP are casting about for candidates with credibility on the climate file, such as former NDP MP Fin Donnelly, former Vancouver park commissioner Niki Sharma, and possibly even former NDP MP Nathan Cullen.

      But does it really matter who's in caucus after the election?

      Here's what I wrote in 2017:

      "Even if there are two or three dozen greenish or very green B.C. NDP MLAs elected, it's worth remembering that under our parliamentary system, the premier holds all the cards. He or she can hire and fire cabinet ministers, kick people out of caucus, and even determine who will be permitted to run for reelection."

      This premier has demonstrated that he thinks it's in the public interest to push through LNG projects, allow fracking to continue largely unabated, and legislate greenhouse-gas emission targets that don't kick in until 2030.

      In an act of political mastery, the NDP government managed to tame mainstream environmental groups into endorsing these faraway targets, notwithstanding the urgency of the situation.

      Always remember that John Horgan and his inner circle—not Fin Donnelly or Niki Sharma or Nathan Cullen or even current climate-friendly cabinet ministers like George Heyman and Lana Popham—will have the final say on LNG plants and B.C. Hydro megaprojects.

      The inner circle is filled with climate laggards, notwithstanding all the bells and whistles in the Clean B.C. plan. It's there on the public record.

      No wonder famed environmentalist David Suzuki worked himself into a frenzy in the last election campaign to try to help elect B.C. Green MLAs.

      The wise old man had probably seen this movie before.