Petronas pulls the plug on its massive plans to export BC's gas

Attracting job-creating investments to British Columbia requires putting out a welcome mat. It should come as no surprise when hostile messages are taken at face value, and investors head for the hills.

In scuttling its $36-billion plans for LNG in BC, Petronas chose its words carefully, blaming market conditions for the decision.

Yet the timing, just one week after the ascension of the NDP-Green alliance government, strongly suggests that Petronas was waiting for signals that its investment intentions were a welcome thing. 

Signals did come, but not the right ones. Project officials say there is now no absolutely no chance the decision will be reversed.

Perhaps the project backers, who need natural gas to improve their South Asian countries' environmental performance, had the naive hope that British Columbia leaders would understand the global climate change picture.

Instead, the new alliance promised a higher carbon tax, with expanded scope to now cover methane.

Also, the provincial government has clearly suggested that previously negotiated terms were not beneficial enough for BC, and that it would want to re-open arrangements that had been painstakingly put into place over the past six years.

There are a lot of losers here. Thousands of northern BC residents have seen their hopes and dreams dashed. First Nations who worked in good faith over the past several years to develop business agreements have now seen that work come to naught.

British Columbians, and Canadians generally, stood to gain through participation in a responsibly regulated, environmentally beneficial project that would have helped a number of participating project partners reduce their national greenhouse gas emissions.

On the road to this outcome, we have once again seen what happens when astute anti-development interests work to undermine our provincial and federal regulatory processes, overwhelm the news media with misinformation, and bend politicians to their will.

In the case of PNW LNG, northern residents did what they could do stand up for their economic future, but it looks once again like rural folks have been outplayed by urban elites with romantic views of how others should live.

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