Tuesday, March 4, 2014

BC's 2014 Budget Bets on Gas and Earns a Failing Grade on the Environment

On February 18th the government of B.C. released its 2014 budget and it was met with widespread disappointment from environmentally minded people across the country. Many Canadians looked to the province for national environmental leadership and strong advocacy of climate action. However, the latest budget appears to indicate that the province is ratcheting back its low carbon agenda and clean energy innovation leadership.

In the past the provincial government has invested in things like energy audits and efficiency for BC families as well as alternative fuels like hydrogen. The 2014 budget focuses on shale gas extraction and liquified natural gas (LNG). This investment comes at a time when revenue from natural gas is at near record lows, even though natural gas production is at an all-time high. On the upside the government committed to having "the cleanest LNG industry in the world." However, this budget seems to be banking on yesterdays fuels rather than developing the energy sources of tomorrow.

The budget does not contain much to address the employment problems in the province. Rather than invest in jobs of the future, the province has banked on LNG jobs that are not forthcoming. The tens of thousands of jobs promised from the LNG industry simply have not materialized and employment numbers have stagnated. The unemployment rate has risen to 6.8 percent and by the government's own admission it is expected to stay there until at least 2018.

The budget is all about short term political pandering and lacks the kind of leadership needed to prepare the province for a fossil fuel constrained world and a low carbon economic future. The absence of leadership is evident in the failure to make strategic investments in a more sustainable economy. The B.C. government also earns a failing grade on other environmental fronts as it has no forestry plan and no climate plan.

The BC Hydrogen Highway
Hydrogen Powered Vehicles and Infrastructure in the Province of BC
The Waste Hydrogen Utilization Project (IWHUP) in BC
World's First Small-Scale Hydrogen Liquefaction Plant to be Built in BC

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