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BC Premier gives ministers their marching orders

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 7/28/2017 12:00:00 PM

British Columbia (B.C.) Premier John Horgan has given his new Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman 100 days to renew the province’s Climate Leadership Team. The order is at the top of the list of specifics in Horgan’s mandate letter to Heyman.

Mandate letters were delivered to ministers on July 18, 2017 and publicly released six days later.

The Climate Leadership Team, formed by former Premier Christy Clark, delivered 32 recommendations to the government on November 27, 2015, but few of them could be found in the Climate Leadership Plan the government unveiled August 19, 2016.

Heyman won’t have to wait for the team to get up and running in order to deal with one of the key planks in the NDP’s environmental platform, however. The environment and finance ministers will implement a yearly $5 per tonne hike in B.C.’s carbon tax beginning April 1, 2018, and have been told to extend the tax to fugitive emissions and to slash-pile burning. That will be coupled with the development of new legislated carbon targets for 2030 and separate plans for sectoral reductions.

Other key action items included in the mandate letter to Heyman are revitalizing the environmental assessment process, enacting an endangered species law and, through the use of “every tool available,” addressing the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and what the Premier describes as “the threat of a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on our coast.”

The challenge of dealing with the Pacific NorthWest LNG (liquefied natural gas) project was made easier for Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall with the proponent’s decision on July 25, 2017 to kill the project. LNG remains on Mungall’s plate, however, with the caveat that projects must meet four conditions: jobs, a fair return to the province, respectful partnership with First Nations, and environmental protection.

As reported in “LNG in the balance” in the July 20, 2017 issue of EcoLog News, the window of opportunity for LNG development in B.C. is, at best, narrow and closing quickly.

Mungall is also charged with expanding energy-efficiency and conservation programs, boosting investments in clean energy and new energy technologies, freezing hydro rates and referring the Site C dam construction project to the B.C. Utilities Commission to review its economic viability.

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