CALGARY — The former U.S. secretary of energy in the Obama administration says there are no easy answers when it comes to winning public support for critical energy infrastructure projects.
American nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, who was energy secretary from 2013 to 2017, gave a speech in Calgary focusing on the need for innovation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while still ensuring a supply of energy needed to maintain the North American standard of living.
He says there's no "cookie-cutter solution" to overcome public opposition to projects such as the Energy East pipeline cancelled Thursday by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP).
Moniz says the key to winning social licence to build is listening to the community and educating it about the liabilities and benefits the project might offer.
He says the recent interest by China in improving its greenhouse gas emissions will have an indirect benefit for Canada in that it will drive a resurgence in world demand for liquefied natural gas.
He expects that will translate into at least four more new U.S. LNG export facilities in the next five years, some possibly sourcing Canadian gas, and could provide a market for a Canadian LNG industry.
Although about 20 LNG projects have been proposed for British Columbia, only one small project has been approved and two large projects have been cancelled or put on hold because of deteriorating global LNG prices.
"I do expect the LNG market to grow substantially. There is a little bit of an oversupply for a few years but longer term, I think it will be a big market," Muniz said.
"For Canada, well, obviously it's a question of getting product on the water, so there are routes through the United States but Canada has to figure out how to get it either west or east or south."
He says the boom in shale oil and gas production in the United States makes it important for Canada to diversify its energy customer base by finding more routes to ocean export points.
The Canadian Press