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B.C. cabinet minister discusses energy issues with Nelson residents

Josie Osborne is also the minister responsible for low carbon innovation
Minister of Energy Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Josie Osborne (left) with Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson at a public discussion of energy issues in Nelson on March 22. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Josie Osborne, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, was in Nelson on March 22 for a public meeting about energy issues hosted by MLA Brittny Anderson.

At the meeting, Osborne did not make a presentation but took written-in-advance questions from members of the public who attended the meeting. Here’s a summary of some of the topics she addressed:

LNG and emissions

Osborne was asked why the province is developing new fossil fuel infrastructure for LNG when there are many other ways to produce energy.

Osborne said emissions from LNG projects will be capped and the industry will be temporary.

“This isn’t a long-term future. We know we have to switch to clean energy, which is why we set up a clean energy and major projects office to facilitate biofuels and possibly hydrogen.”

She said the government wants to incentivize the development of renewables while “minimizing the impact on industries that we know are changing.”

She said BC Hydro “will be issuing a call in the next few weeks for adding more renewables, wind, maybe solar, utility scale battery projects.”

The audience for a discussion with Josie Osborne and Brittny Anderson at Studio 88 in Nelson. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Another questioner said it appeared the province will not meet its climate targets because of LNG development, and he asked why the province could knowingly exceed its own targets.

There are different emissions targets for different sectors, she said, and for the oil and gas sector the target is a 33-to-38 per cent improvement. She did not elaborate on the time frame for this.

“We made a commitment a year ago … and details about that cap will be coming out very soon.”


One questioner stated there is increasing evidence that the amount of “fugitive emissions” of methane from industry and agriculture have long been seriously under-estimated. Osborne did not disagree with this, and the questioner asked if the government is going to begin counting methane releases more accurately.

Methane is 80 times more potent, over a 20-year period, than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

Osborne told the questioner that she is unable to answer the technical aspects of the question but someone from the ministry could get back to him.

“We do have some of the most robust methane standards for industry, here in British Columbia. But when it comes to our ability to detect and measure, that’s vitally important to be able to do that. We are learning more all the time about fugitive emissions.”


A questioner asked Osborne how elected officials insulate themselves from the the lobbying interests of the mining industry and the LNG industry.

“I think it’s really important to hear from all interests,” Osborne said. “And I really believe that industry … needs to be part of the solution. I don’t take the attitude that it’s us and them. I know that I need them to be with me, to work with communities, local governments, with First Nations, with NGOs, with everybody, to try to find solutions.”

She said the Mineral Tenure Act is being re-written now, and “we’re going to need everybody at the table to do that. So it’s a balancing act, always.”

B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Josie Osborne (left) discusses LNG, methane, and other energy issues with Nelson residents. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Another questioner stated that the Auditor General has said the mining industry is under-bonded, for both pollution and clean-up.

Mining companies in B.C. are required to post a bond that would pay for the costs in the event of pollution or cleanup.

Will the government, he asked, commit to bring bonding in line with the true costs of pollution of water and the landscapes in British Columbia?

Osborne said that in 2017 the level of bonding securities was at 40 per cent of the potential liabilities. Now they are at 90 per cent, and she added the government is working on further closing that gap.


One participant stated the effects of climate change are coming fast and wondered if the province’s transition to renewable energy is happening quickly enough. He asked if the process outlined by CleanBC could be accelerated.

CleanBC is the government’s plan to lower climate-changing emissions by 40 per cent by 2030.

Osborne said CleanBC needs to be updated and her ministry is working on an energy plan to support it. She said CleanBC is a climate plan, not an energy plan, and it does not specify what kinds of energy are used to fuel the transition to renewable energy.

She said the progress toward climate transition has to be “measured enough to not create disruption in society and not leave behind the most vulnerable,” adding that not everyone is privileged enough to drive an electric car.

The Zero Carbon Step Code

A questioner asked the government to accelerate the Zero Carbon Step Code to its highest level by next year.

The Zero Carbon Step Code measures the amount of carbon used to heat or cool a building. The code is set up in steps: moderate, strong, and zero carbon.

Osborne said the code is voluntary, and municipalities can decide whether, and at what speed, to take it on.

She said different cities and regions have different capacities to do this, and “it’s a bit of a tension and a balancing act.”

The same questioner asked that current subsidies to fossil fuel companies should instead be offered as rebates for people to retrofit their homes for more energy efficiency.

Osborne said the government has ended its deep-well royalty credit program, which she said was the government’s biggest subsidy to the oil and gas industry.


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Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
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