Quebec government announces permanent ban on oil and gas exploitation 

On October 19, 2021, the Legault government announced it would permanently ban oil and gas exploitation and exploration on its territory. 

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The ban was announced during the parliamentary session’s opening speech in Quebec’s national assembly. 

The rumour had been circulating for weeks. Westphalian Times reported the government’s intentions on October 13, 2021. 

Legault’s party, the Coalition Avenir Quebec was elected in 2018 as a center-right coalition. However, throughout its mandate, Legault’s party has strayed to the left. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, the Quebec government stood out as one of the most authoritarian provincial governments in Canada, imposing a nightly mandatory curfew for several months. 

This latest decision to ban oil and gas exploitation reinforces the shift to the left seen in the Legault government. 

Independent reports have shown the province is home to massive reserves of natural gas, a low-impact source of energy commonly hailed as the key to the energy transition.  

At a time where natural gas prices are skyrocketing and global supply cannot meet demand, experts say the decision strays away from common sense. 

The Quebec reserves could bring billions in tax revenues for the government and bring much-needed private-sector jobs to a stagnating economy. 

Since François Legault’s election in 2018, the government has created no new private jobs. In fact, the province has lost a net figure of 1,600 private jobs in those three years. 

Meanwhile, public sector jobs grew 13% under Legault. 

The controversy in the United States over hydraulic fracturing of rock over 2 kilometres deep in the earth resulted in the Charest Government creating a temporary moratorium on exploring or developing oil and gas in 2010. 

The Strategic Environmental Evaluation that followed concluded the technology was safe and a new energy policy and law were enacted that included natural gas as part of the Quebec energy transition.

With concerns about climate and the upcoming Glasgow COP 26, the focus has returned to emissions and energy transition. The Legault Government cancelled the LNG-Saguenay project a few months ago, stating incorrectly that there was no proof that liquified natural gas would reduce the use of coal and global emissions. 

This is contrary to the approach taken in the United States and in the rest of Canada where replacing coal with natural gas has dramatically reduced emissions.  

Liquified natural gas produced with Quebec’s low-emissions hydroelectricity would have been cleaner than foreign competition. As billions of dollars of projects for LNG are proceeding due to large demand in Europe and Asia for natural gas to replace coal electricity, Quebec will be sitting on the sidelines. 

The Montreal Economic Institute in its 2020 report found that importing oil and gas for 54% of Quebec’s energy needs was not economically logical. 

The report also found that by importing, Quebec was hiding its true emissions. Quebec uses oil and gas for 54% of its energy needs today, a figure which has not noticeably changed since 2010.   

At this time, the government has not specified when the ban will begin.

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