Corporate tax-protection act passes, paving way for B.C.’s first LNG project

Malaysian energy giant Petronas, which controls Pacific NorthWest LNG, has yet to make its final investment decision on the proposed US$36 billion project on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.

Lelu Island photo by Robin Rowland/Canadian Press
Lelu Island, site of the proposed US$36-billion Pacific Northwest LNG project near Prince Rupert. Photo by Robin Rowland/Canadian Press

What was supposed to be a short, celebratory legislative session for a multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas deal eroded for Premier Christy Clark’s government amid a horrific child abuse case and a long-running scandal involving her government’s firing of eight health researchers.

But in the end, lawmakers wrapped up the legislative session late Tuesday by passing the Liquefied Natural Gas Project Agreements Act.

The government recalled the legislature earlier this month for the extraordinary summer session to pass a single law to pave the way for what could be the province’s first LNG plant. It passed with 43 Liberals voting yes, while 27 New Democrats and Green Party member Andrew Weaver opposed the bill.

On Tuesday, Clark called the 25-year agreement with Pacific Northwest LNG, a joint venture company backed by Malaysian energy giant Petronas, a historic milestone. The company has yet to make its final investment decision on the proposed US$36 billion project located on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.

“People will look back on this debate … and see who stood where on what,” Clark said. “Who had the long sight, the foresight, the vision to build something, to undertake something people said wouldn’t be possible.”

Port Edward Mayor Dave MacDonald danced a jig at the front steps of the legislature during a ceremony marking the progress of the proposed LNG project near his tiny north coast community.

The legislation protects Pacific Northwest LNG from targeted tax increases for 25 years and the project would be the largest private investment in B.C. history, creating 4,500 construction jobs and generating $9 billion in revenues in its first decade of operation.

Clark blasted the NDP for its decision to vote against the LNG law.

“The No Jobs Party argued from the very beginning that it would never happen,” she said. “Every step of the way they said it was going to fail now.”

Horgan said the deal is good for Petronas but not for British Columbians who are locked into a long deal.

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