The Minister of Natural Resources released the Government’s plan for energy transition in Quebec [Here’s the link]. Opponents were quick to criticize with throw away lines about how oil and gas has impacts. As if to say wind mills are impact free.
It is worth noting just what it took to get to this point.
- It started with a six month BAPE in 2011 that recommended a comprehensive study over one year.
- Four years of very much expanded study ensued. 134 independent studies made in Quebec by Quebec scientists.
- Then another six month BAPE to review the studies.
- Then a one-year public consultation on a new energy policy for Quebec.
- This followed by another year to introduce a new hydrocarbon law and an updated environmental law. Both with their own public consultation processes.
- Now as we wait for regulations we have a published plan to implement the policy.
When I repeat relentlessly that industry believes in a step by step approach now, you may have an idea of what that means. Seven years, and counting! Who said finding it is the hard part? The good news is I started young having drilled our first well in Quebec in 1989. I take heart that there are fewer steps left than have been taken.
Over these past seven years the United States took a different approach. They have not just changed the economy they also changed the environment and the world. The technology of modern gas extraction has been proven by the Americans not only to be very safe but also very green. Just ask the Governor of California who is a strong supporter of the environmental benefits of fracking.
The new Quebec plan makes sense. It seeks to address the Quebec hydrocarbon import problem, which is still the single biggest source of currency outflows from Quebec. And we can all agree that use of foreign hydrocarbons whether from Pennsylvania or Algeria is also not very green for our shared global environment.
It follows the policy that the public was part of forming. Unfortunately the plan does not have a very strong emphasis on the benefits of using local oil to reduce global environmental impacts. Climate policy should not increase energy poverty nor increase carbon leakage. This plan does a good job on these human principles but could do better if it included more local oil to reduce the Quebec hydrocarbon import problem.
Nonetheless, it does have a strong emphasis on conversion to natural gas and development of local natural gas. This is where the opponents chime in with their ridiculous refrain of criticizing the possible impacts but never ever mentioning the much studied and now well proven benefits.
As Jerry Brown said recently “the opponents don’t know what the hell they are talking about”.