BC political economy and the challenge of shale gas: Negotiating a post-staples trajectory

Myles Carroll, Eleanor Stephenson, Karena Shaw


Shale gas, a type of natural gas extracted from shale rock deposits deep underground, is poised to become the latest in a long history of staples industries in the British Columbian economy. However, its development poses challenges for the future trajectory of BC’s economy and society. BC’s economy, values, and political imaginary have increasingly turned towards a post-staples trajectory based on economic diversification and a cultural shift towards environmental and cosmopolitan values. In considering what is at stake in the development of shale gas, we locate the industry in the historical context of BC’s economic, regulatory, and political transitions toward a post-staples society, and assess what political, environmental, and economic challenges arise from the disconnect between a staples industry and a post-staples society. We conclude that for shale gas development to be viable and profitable for BC’s economy, the industry must be regulated to ensure the benefits that accrue from shale gas development (in terms of revenue, sustainable employment, and stable northern development) further BC’s nascent post-staples trajectory of development.


Post-staples; shale gas; British Columbia; resource management

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125