Squamish Chief Editor David Burke refers to Premier Clark’s latest lines of dialogue in the bitumen exports theatre.
“What she did, however, is send a strong message that a sellout may well be just around the next bend — before or after other hurdles are cleared.”
The story arc of this pipeline sham has been predictable from the start. It is drawing to a close and newspaper editor Burke understands, as does anyone with more perception than a brick.
Liberals claimed that BC would assist in west coast bitumen exports only when five conditions were met. In succinct form, those are
- Successful completion of the environmental review process.
- Ocean oil spill response capability in place.
- Land based spill response capability in place.
- Aboriginal consultations addressed.
- Economic benefits satisfactory to British Columbia.
The first three items are one and the same. The BC government had already ceded authority to review environmental elements to the federal government and the NEB serves industry, not the public so that outcome is assured.
The fourth is the only real hurdle faced by oil companies. First Nations communities resolutely oppose major expansions of pipelines moving dangerous goods across traditional territories. Canadian courts state that sham consultations are unacceptable; they must be meaningful. However, it is the Supreme Court of Canada, not BC Liberals, that put this condition in place.
The fifth requirement demanding economic benefits for British Columbia is inconsequential because what represents a fair share is vague and subjective. I’ve demonstrated here that BC Liberals have enduring ties to the resource industries and willingness to surrender public interests to friends in the private sector.
There is no reason to expect BC Liberals will make significant demands on the energy industry for Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan or any other project. In fact, the reverse is true and the energy industry is in line for huge subsidies. BC Hydro will spend about $10 B on the Site C dam and the Northwest Transmission Line. Of course, residential electricity rates will soar.
Remember that in fiscal year 2013, BC reported $169M in natural gas revenues. However, since the unrecorded liability to producers for drilling credits increased by $160M, the net gas royalty for the year was $9M. In the current fiscal plan, royalties expected in the next three years, net of credits owed producers is budgeted at $166M.
As the Squamish Chief editor states, a sellout of the public interest is underway. It is firmly established Liberal policy.