VICTORIA – B.C. Energy Minister Bill Bennett says the government won’t force oil and gas companies that plan to develop liquefied natural gas plants in the province to use electricity in their operations.

Bennett says the companies will have the choice to run the LNG plants that cool the gas to a liquid state with natural gas or electricity despite pollution and efficiency concerns about natural gas by environmental groups.

The minister says a report by Clean Energy Canada calling on the government to mandate electric-drive power at LNG plants is naive and could result in LNG companies deciding to locate outside of the province.

He says LNG firms have already indicated they will purchase large amounts of hydro electricity and some are considering powering their turbines with electricity.

The Clean Energy Canada report says electric-drive LNG plants could create up to 45 per cent more regional jobs and cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions by one third.

Clean energy spokeswoman Merran Smith says Bennett appears to reject a proven technical solution that will create 400 additional permanent jobs and less carbon pollution without threatening the LNG sector’s competitiveness.