The voice for LNG in B.C. is getting louder and British Columbians who care about their communities are making it all happen. Tomorrow in Terrace, Fort St. John, and Fort Nelson, hundreds of grassroots activists will be rallying to show their support for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project.
The planned truck rally has spread to three separate events – just another indicator of the incredible momentum for “yes” that’s growing across the province.
Residents across the region, including workers, small business owners, and members of First Nations, have a message to send about what’s at stake if the project is not approved. The rest of BC and Canada needs to listen carefully.
The U.S. is currently the biggest customer of B.C. natural gas, allowing the local energy sector to employ workers, drive local business, and pay into local communities through taxes. But with the U.S.’s increasing self-sufficiency, that’s coming to an end, and soon. Without the means to export to other markets – ones who need a clean-burning fuel like LNG – everyone who lives in the northwest region risks massive uncertainty. Energy workers have already been losing jobs as U.S. exports scale back, and when access to growing global demand isn’t possible for energy producers, every other sector takes a hit.
Lucy Praught, a community consultant, says, “It’s important for people to understand we are ready to work. It’s been tough in northwestern B.C. for a while. We are ready to dust each other off and make it happen.” Turning those worries into opportunities is just what approval for Pacific Northwest LNG will do. It would create up to 4,500 jobs during construction, 330 long-term operational positions and roughly 300 local spin-off jobs.
Many participants want to keep families together and local communities, like Fort Nelson, strong. Life-long resident Kristi Leer, a single mom to two, and an organiser for the event, understands the value of the PNW project well. “I am scared Fort Nelson is going to disappear. I really enjoy this town. I was born and raised here. I want to keep that for my kids,” says Leer.
While the local economy is important, supporters are keenly aware jobs also depend on responsible stewardship of the environment. Chief Councillor Joe Bevan of the Kitselas First Nation is speaking at the rally in Terrace. He’s made it clear that his community supports LNG only “as long as proponents maintain strong environmental standards.” “Our position on LNG is based on due diligence - not just our own but the work done by other First Nations in the Northwest, the large majority of whom share our position."
As attendees at tomorrow’s three events come out and bring with them hope for their communities, British Columbians receive a chance to see what projects like Pacific NorthWest can represent and why approving them can mean opportunity and tremendous benefit for the people that need them.