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Groups Challenge B.C.’s $1 Billion Per Year in Fossil Fuel Subsidies

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.”

3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "Groups Challenge B.C.’s $1 Billion Per Year in Fossil Fuel Subsidies"

#1 Comment By Richard Prest On November 8, 2018 @ 1:55 AM

There is no greater Tyranny then that which is perpetrated under the shield of Law and in the name of Justice, which is just what all the governments have been doing. Writing laws that legalizes their criminal actions and covering it up with this legal clause “The Public Interest Immunity”, which means, it’s none of our business and we do as we please.

#2 Comment By Thomas Chan On November 9, 2018 @ 8:11 AM

Importantly, this Energy Mix summary does not include the most critical concerns stated in the original source of this article (the media release from Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) BC and The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), ‘BC loses $1 billion a Year in Fossil Fuel Subsidies’ [PDF] — see associated links below):

“Doctors in the northeast [BC] report increased incidences of chronic lung disease and cancer in their patients. People in this region can’t drink water from their wells, can’t hunt because the animals are too diseased, and can’t eat the fish in their lakes because of their high mercury content. Studies in other jurisdictions have demonstrated increased incidences of stillbirths, birth defects and hospitalization of people who live near fracking wells. …

“This $1 billion [in annual subsidies] does not include the recent announcement of $5.3 billion in subsidies reported by The Narwhal for LNG Canada’s new Kitimat megaproject. Nor does it include higher health-care costs that result from the impact that fossil fuels are inflicting on the water we drink, the air we breathe and the disastrous effects on our climate in general.”

BC loses $1 billion a Year in Fossil Fuel Subsidies [PDF] — November 6 2018 — CCL-CAPE

LNG Canada project called a ‘tax giveaway’ as B.C. approves massive subsidies — Sarah Cox – October 3 2018 — The Narwhal

#3 Comment By Mitchell Beer On November 12, 2018 @ 10:02 AM

I’m glad you added that, Thomas, thanks. You’re using our material exactly the way we hope people will!

We don’t republish stories (and certainly not news releases) verbatim or in full. We summarize what we think will be most useful to readers who are usually trying to scan through our material quickly, then count on those readers to click through to the original source content if they want more. Or, in this case, if there’s a sense that we missed part of the story.

I would certainly encourage anyone who wants a deeper dive on this release to follow Thomas’ links!