An FOI leaked through the Ministry of Natural Gas shows that three "working groups" from the fossil fuel industry (including Woodfibre LNG) were wordsmithing the province's Climate Leadership Plan, in Calgary.
"In sum, the BC government carried out secret meetings in another province with an industry that is a top contributor to the BC Liberal Party to shape policy that ought to constrain that very industry — as any meaningful climate policy must do in relation to the fossil fuel sector."
Decision making on climate change policy should happen in public, with stakeholder input, not behind closed doors. This is a shocking example of institutional corruption, and it's important to connect the dots between political donations and political favours.
Woodfibre LNG & FortisBC donated more than $335,773 to BC Liberals since 2013
Woodfibre LNG has donated $201,434 to the BC Liberals in the last four years, and a Globe and Mail investigation revealed that $70,000 of those donations were allegedly made illegally by Woodfibre LNG's staff. FortisBC (the proponent of the associated gas pipeline) has donated an additional $152,289, which brings us to a grand total of $335,773.
Big money buys big access... and a rubber stamp for your environmental assessment?
The donations from Woodfibre LNG ramped up while the project was undergoing its environmental assessment. This calls into question the integrity of BC's environmental assessment process, and raises real concerns that Woodfibre LNG has bought a rubber stamp approval for their project.
Conflict of interest? BC Liberals had a mandate to develop an LNG export industry
The BC Minister of Natural Gas Development, Rich Coleman, who was responsible for reviewing the environmental and social impacts of Woodfibre LNG also had a mandate to develop an LNG export industry. But we were assured that there was no conflict of interest.
Statement by Minister Coleman: "With The BC Jobs Plan, the Province has committed to having our first LNG plant up and running by 2015, with a total of three LNG facilities operating by 2020."
Mandate from Premier Clark to Minister Coleman in 2015: "Work with proponents to confirm Final Investment Decisions have been reached for at least three LNG projects and their associated pipelines in support of having these projects in-service by 2020."
Public consultation is meaningless
We generated the most public comment submissions for any environmental assessment, twice, for the Woodfibre LNG project with more than 1,300 comments submitted. For comparison, a much larger LNG export facility proposed in Louisiana garnered 6 public comments.
Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, every community around Howe Sound has expressed opposition to the Woodfibre LNG project.
More than 15,000 people around Howe Sound have signed a declaration calling on the Provincial and Federal governments to reject the Woodfibre LNG project and its associated pipelines and tankers.
Despite our best efforts and input from PhD and MSc scientists (and LNG engineers!) documenting that Woodfibre LNG threatens the recovery of Howe Sound, and poses a safety risk for people living in communities around Howe Sound, the project was approved.
It really does seem that "...public consultation is meant to merely survey public opinion and “give the appearance that government has created meaningful opportunities for citizen input into policy decisions.”
Why we boycotted the most recent public comment period
Nearly 1,600 people boycotted the most recent public comment period for an amendment to Woodfibre LNG's environmental assessment, calling for a full enquiry to be launched into Woodfibre LNG's environmental assessment approval to determine whether there is a reasonable apprehension of bias by the BC Environmental Assessment Agency, Minister Rich Coleman, and Minister Mary Polak.
What other political favours does $335,773 in donations buy?
Political favours are pretty cheap when you think of the return on investment for Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC. Such as:
- After LNG prices plummeted 70%, the BC Liberals slashed the LNG export royalty rate from 7% to 3.5%, and only after capital expenditures are written off. With taxes charged on profits, BC bears all the risk and no reward as profits may never be realized.
- eDrive subsidy granted in November 2016 reduced the previous LNG electricity price of around $84/MWh to $54/MWh, below the cost that BC Hydro can produce the power. This means that BC Hydro customers will need to pay an additional $34-43.5 million every year to subsidize Woodfibre LNG's power.
- BC Liberals eliminated PST on clean electricity purchases (including LNG) on 23rd February 2017
These are just a few examples, there are more.
We are calling for a corruption inquiry in BC
We are joining Dogwood and others who have been calling for a Corruption Inquiry. We need to hold our politicians accountable. We need an independent investigation into the impact political donations have had on major decisions in our province. Woodfibre LNG is just one example of how big money has corrupted our political processes.
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Tracey Saxby, marine scientist, accidental activist, and volunteer Executive Director of My Sea To Sky
About My Sea to Sky
My Sea To Sky is a people-powered environmental organization that was founded in 2014 with the mission to protect Howe Sound for future generations. We are bound together by our love for this wild place we all call home, and share a vision for a just transition to a renewable-energy economy. We actively advocate against unsustainable industrial projects that threaten the recovery of Howe Sound by organizing educational events; coordinating research; building partnerships and respectful relationships; lifting up First Nations voices and culture; and facilitating public engagement with our municipal, provincial, and federal governments. We aim to inspire our community to become activists, and make it as simple as possible for people to take action at critical moments.