British Columbia is giving away C$1 billion per year in fossil fuel subsidies, including generous incentives for LNG Canada’s new $40-billion liquefied natural gas megaproject, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) and Citizens’ Climate Lobby B.C. assert in a release issued earlier this week.
“This unprecedented and ill-advised investment in fossil fuel infrastructure is a dangerous step in the wrong direction,” said CAPE board member Dr. Melissa Lem. “After two consecutive years of record-breaking forest fires in B.C., and a summer of deadly heat waves in Quebec, Canadians are in desperate need of climate action.”
“Continuing to give tax breaks for production and consumption of fossil fuels does not make sense in the midst of a climate crisis. The annual $1 billion in subsidies in B.C. almost completely offsets the $1.2 billion in carbon tax revenues, and hugely outweighs the few million spent on clean energy,” added CCL B.C.’s Judy O’Leary. “This revenue could be used to help fund our much-needed transition to a clean energy economy.”
The release says CAPE board members Drs. Warren Bell and Larry Barzelai travelled through northern B.C. this fall to learn about the region’s fracking industry and its health effects. They saw “farmland inundated with fracking wells, flare towers, processing plants, and pipelines. The Site C dam is being rushed to completion to power the LNG industry, and massive preparations for building the multi-billion-dollar LNG Canada plant in Kitimat are under way, because the fossil fuel sector is riding high on our taxpayers’ money,” Bell said. “Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gives humanity little over a decade to avoid catastrophic global warming—fuelled in large part by burning fossil fuels.”
In a separate announcement, the Sierra Club of British Columbia is suing the provincial environment ministry—headed by its own former executive director, George Heyman—for exempting two fracking dams in the northern B.C. natural gas fields from environmental regulation. “It seems like the government was really playing catch-up,” said Sierra Club lawyer Olivia French.
The project operator, Progress Energy, “acted with a bit of disregard for B.C.’s laws—one of those typical, ‘Ask for forgiveness, not for permission’ sort of positions,” French added. Now, the conservation group is calling on B.C. to revoke the exemptions.
The province hasn’t filed a statement of defence in the case, and Heyman said officials were looking into the two dams.
“It’s very clear under the existing Environmental Assessment Act that proceeding with a project without undergoing an assessment is against the Act,” he said. “Four months ago, we referred the results of our investigation to Crown counsel, and it’s now in their hands.”