Premier Christy Clark and officials of B.C.’s largest liquefied natural gas project are moving ahead with legal restrictions that the NDP says may tie the hands of future governments to change tax and royalty revenue from the industry.
Petronas-led Pacific Northwest LNG and the B.C. government signed agreements Wednesday to ship LNG from the port of Prince Rupert to Asia. They include rules for a long-term royalty agreement that Clark said provides the stability and certainty the company needs to make a $36 billion investment.
Legislation yet to be passed would put limits on increases to B.C.’s carbon tax, LNG income tax and natural gas tax credits available to investors.
NDP leader John Horgan said the agreements appear to give the investors what they need, but lack job guarantees and assurances that if the natural gas price improves, B.C. taxpayers will receive an adequate share of the resources they own.
“My biggest concern is that we’re tying the hands of future governments because a desperate government made commitments that they over-promised on and now they want to get a deal at any cost,” Horgan said.
Pacific Northwest LNG president Michael Culbert said he is pleased that the province has agreed to legislate a project development agreement, if Petronas and its investment partners agree to the terms later this year.
Pacific Northwest LNG hit a roadblock in recent weeks with a vote by the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation to reject the port site at Lelu Island, despite revenue sharing totalling more than $1 billion over 40 years of LNG shipments.
Culbert said answers to the community’s questions about changes to the project to protect Flora Bank, a shallow bed used by young salmon, were presented to the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency the day before Lax Kw’alaams members began voting.
Clark said there have been agreements reached with 14 of 19 aboriginal communities along the pipeline route, and she is confident that differences can be worked out with the rest, including the Lax Kw’alaams.