We had the pleasure of being able to ask MPP Bob Bailey a variety of questions about natural gas. Earlier in the week we shared part one, which featured Bailey’s Bill 97. Here is part two of our Q&A with the Member of Provincial Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton, in which he shares with us how he became interested in the energy sector, and his thoughts on what natural gas can do for Ontarians.
Q: How did you become interested in the subject of energy?
A: I grew up in Oil Springs, Ontario. The first commercial oil well in North America was established there in 1858, and before becoming MPP for Sarnia-Lambton I worked for more than 30 years in Sarnia-Lambton’s petrochemical industry, so I guess you could say I’ve been around the energy industry my whole life. Sarnia-Lambton usually doesn’t come to mind when people think of the major energy production centres in Canada but locally we produce 40% of all petrochemicals manufactured in the country. Not far from Sarnia is the Union Gas Dawn storage facility, the largest natural gas storage facility in Canada. We are an energy hub at the heart of the Great Lakes Region. It’s really impossible to live in Sarnia-Lambton without grasping the importance of energy production and the energy industry.
Q: What have other provinces done to spur the adoption of natural gas for industry?
A: B.C. and Alberta have worked to accommodate LNG vehicles on their important transportation corridors. Quebec has supported the private development of infrastructure and already has dedicated heavy duty natural gas vehicle fleets doing business in the province. I’d like to see that economic activity extended right along the Quebec City-Windsor corridor and to the west.
Q: What might it all mean for the Ontario jobs picture?
A: Business in Ontario is tough right now. Costs are rising and operating margins are getting tighter. There are a lot of factors that eat into a business’s profitability and ability to compete over the long run. Certainly transportation costs are one of those increasing business expenses. Natural gas as a transportation fuel represents a 30% cost savings for business compared to traditional fuels. It’s not the perfect solution for every business, but it will make a lot of sense for many companies out there. Natural Gas transportation fuels give companies looking for a competitive advantage a great tool, and a way to cut costs while growing their business and creating jobs right here in Ontario.
Q: What are your thoughts on how natural gas can help Ontarians in other sectors and applications?
A: I would like the see the industry grow. I’d like to see natural gas infrastructure expanded so that more residents and businesses in rural Ontario have access to such efficient and affordable energy resource. Increased access across Ontario could be a real boon for our agriculture sector. The agri-food industry in Ontario is big business, but not every farmer or producer has access to natural gas the way Ontario’s urban areas do. The affordability of natural gas could make a major difference for Ontario farmers and food producers, growing the industry and helping producers reach new and emerging markets.