Sources inside the Quebec government say premier Legault will announce a permanent ban on all exploration and exploitation of fossil fuel in Quebec.
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 the 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.
However, the politics of social acceptability led to regulations by the Couillard Government only a few weeks before an election. Industry players have asked for a judicial review of these regulations to confirm the legality of the Couillard regulations, which has not yet happened.
With concerns about climate and the upcoming Glasgow COP 26, the focus has returned to emissions and energy transition. The Legault Government canceled 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.
In addition, it seemed clear that liquified natural gas produced with Quebec’s hydroelectricity would have been cleaner than foreign competition. Meanwhile, billions of dollars of projects for LNG are proceeding due to large demand in Europe and Asia for natural gas to replace coal electricity.
The Montreal Economic Institute found in its 2020 report that importing oil and gas for 54% of Quebec’s energy needs was not economically logical. They also noted 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 changed noticeably since 2010.
Questerre Energy just announced a project to study carbon capture and storage in Quebec. The company previously announced plans to produce natural gas in Quebec with zero emissions. The company is promoting the idea that carbon tech can reduce the emissions from consumption to close to zero and create a circular economy in energy.
Throughout his career, Quebec’s premier François Legault always advocated for the exploitation of natural resources and hydrocarbons in Quebec to generate wealth in the province.
However, since his election in 2018, the premier has drastically changed his tune, siding with Quebec’s radical green socialist party Quebec Solidaire on most energy issues.