Spills and pills – governments behaving badly

Fewer speed bumps are in the way for similar U.S. projects.

There is truly a mixed reaction to the decision by Petronas to cancel its long-stalled Pacific Northwest LNG project in Prince Rupert – but many are not ready to accept the explanation provided – it was solely due to poor global LNG market conditions.

My own view is, if the Americans and Australians can profitably operate in this market, it is a pity that Canadian federal and provincial government regulatory costs and review conditions forced this and other ambitious projects well past a reasonably competitive timeline to reach final investment decisions. Fewer speed bumps are in the way for similar U.S. projects.

Market conditions are certainly part of it, but B.C. is still sitting on trillions of cu. ft. of natural gas and facing a frustratingly limited capacity to deliver it, especially to export markets – other than through the U.S. producers at discounted prices, largely because the U.S. has, in the interim, become the third largest natural gas producer in the world, with well-defined export markets..

John Horgan made high profile energy projects like Pacific Northwest LNG, the Site C dam project and the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s crude oil pipeline to Burnaby, prominent targets for shutdown in his election campaign, as did Green Party leader, Andrew Weaver, leaving a strong impression the new government was anti-energy development.

There’s little doubt that the B.C. Liberals, despite their high-volume vocal support for LNG as a future prosperity and jobs generator, significantly bobbled the job by taking far too long to evolve a suitable royalty and taxation strategy.

Three or more years of various federal reviews exacerbated matters – along with environmental objections and First Nations consultation issues leading to various court actions. Now the government change in B.C. takes support for LNG to a somewhat lukewarm level.

Where this is going – well, that’s anybody’s guess. But how they will pay for their enormouly expensive social plans without a thriving resource economy remains anybody’s guess.

On another stumbling-along matter, the Donald Trump presidency in the United States is turning out to be an appalling experience for the country and for the media.

However, like the George Bush presidency, it has been a boon for the entertainment business and especially the comedic late night talk shows – and seemingly virtually every element on the Comedy Channel.

There’s even a new show called The President Show where a very effective look-alike impressionist takes Donald Trump’s antics to a new level of lunacy.

Comedians now compete for the honor of being the best Trump impressionist. You Tube has a host of Top Ten Trump videos. Veteran comedian, Jerry Seinfeld says “Let me say this about Donald Trump. I love Donald Trump, all comedians love Donald Trump. If God gave comedians the power to invent people, the first person we would invent is Donald Trump. … God’s gift to comedy”.

But I am not sure if any individual Trump policy has engendered so much humour (or outrage) as the president’s ban on transgender soldiers on the basis of healthcare costs – when it was revealed that the U.S. Military spends five times as much money for Viagara as for transgender medical costs.

The Pentagon spends about $48 million on erectile dysfunction medication annually, according to the Military Times newspaper. In contrast, the Rand Corporation think tank estimated gender transition-related health care costs would increase the military’s active duty health budget by $8.4 million per year at the most.

I thought, wow! I’m somewhat ambivalent about the transgender military personnel – but it is much harder to figure out who is taking $48 million worth of Viagara – come on!

But my curiosity was eased after the newspaper also reported that a total of $294 million had been spent on Viagra, Cialis and other such medications since 2011.

In fact, less than 10 per cent of the prescriptions were for active duty personnel, according to the Military Times.

But the vast majority went to other eligble recipients, including millions of military retirees and their family members. Approximately 10 million people are covered by the Pentagon’s healthcare system.

Just more statistics designed to make America grate again – no mis-spelling there.