The BAPE got the main thing right.
The BAPE gave environmentalists almost everything they wanted and industry just what it needed.
Environmentalists, of course, are happy to get what they wanted. Industry grumbles quietly, but as announced by our industry association, the BAPE at least gave us what we needed: a path forward. In my Gazette oped I asked that industry be allowed to finish the work we started more than ten years ago. The BAPE responded positively to that but gave not one inch more.
Conclusion: our campaign against a moratorium was a success, but our campaign to develop our Utica natural gas discovery has a lot of work left to do.
For nine months we have been locked in to a highly emotional and false conflict. Industry was saying it won’t move ahead until conditions are right and opponents were saying you can’t move ahead until conditions are right. It was a distinction with little difference. Yet it was a big enough difference to prevent a constructive dialogue.
The Canadian oil and gas industry is by far the best in the world at on-shore natural gas development. Our environmental record in Western Canada proves it. In spite of this we didn’t even come close to convincing Quebecers they could trust us. We were confident in a science- and fact-based environment we would at least convince the BAPE. Yet as just one example, the BAPE continues to call fugitive emissions a credibility problem for our industry, while at the same time citing the most strict regulations from Western Canada, which we comply with in Quebec.
The BAPE did make some obvious mistakes on economic matters. Other observers have jumped all over this and so I don’t need to add to my past blog on the issue. We should all realize we cannot fairly expect a 400-page report on an industry new to Quebec to be perfect.
It is clear to me after putting my heart into communication and transparency these past nine months, that industry needs a new approach in Quebec. We have spent too much time telling and not enough time listening. Quebec has a unique approach and our industry needs to listen.
The BAPE recommended that a multi-stakeholder committee be formed to review and approve pilot projects. This committee will be responsible to oversee the EES and can be a forum for constructive dialogue. We hope the committee members will be moderate and constructive people. If so, it will be a second and perhaps final chance for industry to gain the trust of Quebecers.
I came to Quebec more than ten years ago with the idea that natural gas would make Quebec a better and more prosperous place. I still believe that. I trust that small entrepreneurial companies like ours will be treated fairly during the EES. I believe that with a constructive approach, over the next two years we can prove our expertise to Quebecers, we can finalize our assessment of the Utica shale and the Quebec government can create its own expertise with our cooperation.
That’s why the BAPE got the main thing right and why I accept it and its criticisms, even those I disagree with.