Special treatment for special friends

Andrew MacLeod of The Tyee is reporting that BC Government officials aim to exempt natural gas producers from requirements they contribute to an industry fund that would pay to clean up toxic spills.

The gas sector would be exempt through a system that redefined what substances would be described as toxic.“…’This takes [natural gas] off the table for these elements (and possibly coal – need some work on coal),’ [Jim] Hofweber wrote in the message to Fazil Mihlar, the assistant deputy minister for oil and strategic initiatives in the ministry of Natural Gas Development, and Jim Standen, an assistant deputy minister in the Environment ministry.

…B.C. operators of natural gas pipelines and compressor facilities would still need to respond to spills and report them, but they would be excused from paying into the proposed fund that would be used to clean up spills…

When political history of this era is finally revealed, people may learn of circumstances that led to Liberals becoming indentured servants of natural gas producers. Clearly, they are not trying to maximize returns to the public. MacLeod reported,

In 2012, companies produced 3.5-billion cubic feet [per day] of natural gas in B.C., making the province the second largest producer in Canada, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers…

Finance ministry records show natural gas royalties were $169 million for the 12 months ended March 2013. However, during that period, the liability for recorded credits that producers will deduct from future royalties increased by $160 million. Had government followed Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the net revenue from gas royalties would have been reported as $9 million for the year.

At US$5 per million Btu, the value of the year’s gas production was about $6.5 billion. The return by way of royalties amounts to about one-tenth of one per cent and the size of gas industry employment ranks low in BC’s job market. So les amitiés particulières are not explained by public financial benefits.

We know that ADM Fazil Mihlar and others in the resource ministries are proponents of neoliberalism and libertarianism. In The Guardian, George Monbiot examined American writer Matt Bruenig’s description of attitudes toward property rights attached to those political philosophies:

Those who have acquired [property] should be free to use it as they wish, without social restraints or obligations to other people. Their property rights are absolute and cannot be intruded upon by the state or by anyone else. Any interference with, or damage to, the value of their property without their consent – even by taxation – is an unwarranted infringement.

In British Columbia, regulators who don’t believe in regulation are at the tables negotiating with the oil and gas industry. With ideologues like Fazil Mihlar, their fundamental attitudes would have government earning no royalties at all. Indeed, that is a work in progress, with additional benefits such as unregulated fracking and below-cost electricity being made available as well.

One hundred years ago, the platform of America’s Progressive Party stated,

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.

More than 20 years ago, after meltdown of the Bennett coalition, power brokers from the business community selected Gordon Campbell to lead the Liberals to power. The party was directed and financed by special interests; its mandate was to make policies that were friendly, not to business but to big business. When Christy Clark was appointed Liberal leader, with support of fixers like Gwyn Morgan and Patrick Kinsella, the rewards to large enterprises accelerated.

Conniving to transfer environmental risks of gas production to the public from the companies that control 99.9% of the revenues is just part of the loyalty BC Liberals feel toward their sponsors.

Most readers will be aware there is one other possible explanation for incomprehensible rewards flowing to gas producers in BC. Addressing that possibility would require a team of forensic accountants and police investigators and access to records of foreign banks.


13 replies »

  1. .. you've just identified and described a 'captured government' .. often described as a 'sellout' ..
    If anyone can't see the Clark 'Liberal' collusion with the federal 'Harper Conservative' faction/fiction in favor of Energy Partners.. including Communist China.. well uh.. they'd be blind.

    On Remembrance Day.. let's be sure to point out how absurd these posing and faux 'governments' are versus what Canadian soldiers, naval and airforce members died for.. or were wounded for .. it was hardly for Foreign International Energy Conglomerates..


  2. “Addressing that possibility would require a team of forensic accountants and police investigators.”

    And lawyers. Lots 'n' lots of lawyers.


  3. Voting for the BC Liberals is akin to voting for the Nazi's in 1920's Germany; as both were catering to the wishes and desires of big business. One can equate the likes of SNC Lavilin with Krupp or Kinder Morgan with I.G. Farben.

    History repeats itself, mainly because we don't teach history ant more.


  4. I note from the Mop and Pail that Coleman and DeJong have been summoned to Petronas head office in Kuala Lumpur to be given new instructions as to how they will be allowed to tax the LNG producers. Are we totally bereft of shame or scruple?


  5. Even though I have voted for both the provincial liberals under campbell and the federal conservatives under harper both times it was because of scandals both real and lied about. But I always wondered why people would vote for neoliberal parties as a rule and I have come to realize that staunch conservatives American and Canadian are mostly of a greedy selfish nature and the underlying principle they adhere to is , if I vote for the tax slashing business minded con/neoliberal party when I get rich they wont take my money. We live in a society in BC that is content to constantly grab the poopy end of the stick. Turn and apologize to your children and grandchildren please.


  6. Have they forgotten that much natural gas is produced by fracking, which results in water full of toxic chemicals?

    What if there is a spill of this toxic waste water, or aquifer contamination?


  7. And time, lots 'n lots of time. Like the RCMP's Dziekanski homicide fiasco, which still has meters turning for lawyers who've been pulling on the public teat for seven years plus.


  8. Let's face it. The 1% with all of their ever increasing wealth and power have won. They own the media, they own the politicians, they own the resources, they own the banks, they own Wall St. and Bay St., they own the guns, the tanks, the planes, they have what they have always had only now it is just more obvious and the rest of us are up shit creek without a paddle.

    The only solution is revolution but even after that they will resurface to the top as they always do and we will just go through the same old shit over again and again and again.


  9. Ah, and you see @ron wilton, what the gun registry was all about. There were those who were saying the gun registry was misguided because it is the criminals with guns who kill people, and rob banks, and commit other crimes and they don't bother to register their guns so how is the registry effective?
    In fact the gun registry was targeted at the law-abiding citizens so that their weapons would be on record when the time came for the revolution you speak of.
    And now we have the current discussion that more security and surveillance measures are needed because of the “threat to democracy” What a pile of bull. it's to protect those in the towers. And let's not forget the “coming to a computer near you” move to regulate use of the internet and find subversion in even discussing the matters discussed in an “open” society.


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