Energy

Self-interest transcends public interest

In 2016, a future NDP Cabinet Minister told me that cancelling Site C was unlikely. The person said, “Would you be prepared to eliminate 3,000 jobs?” In retrospect, I conclude the concern was less about lost employment than about who would lose the jobs.

To fight the 2017 election, BC NDP had depended on union funding worth millions of dollars. That affected policy determinations when the Horgan government was formed.

PowerBC, a proposal issued prior to NDP election success, had promised a number of benefits, including:

> good-paying jobs close to home, in every community in British Columbia,

> careers in clean energy and retrofit construction, maintenance, manufacturing, and high-tech engineers.

But job opportunities with small employers distributed throughout the province are not valued by large unions. They face high costs to organize and serve workers in small companies. Megaprojects with many employees in few locations are preferred. As a result, clean energy segments of the economy have less union representation than established sectors.

With knowledge of favours owed union backers that empowered it, John Horgan’s NDP government ended opposition to Site C within six months and gave BC Hydro a blank cheque to proceed. PowerBC was dumped in the round file.

It was a short-sighted decision. A new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) discusses global energy employment.

Clean energy employs over 50% of total energy workers, owing to the substantial growth of new projects coming online... Many clean energy segments rival the workforce in conventional energy segments. Low-carbon power generation, mainly solar and wind, employs 7.8 million, on par with oil supply...

The IEA’s seminal report, Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector (NZE Scenario), projects that the energy transition will create 14 million new jobs related to clean energy technologies and require the shift of around 5 million workers away from fossil fuel sectors...

New energy projects are the major driver of employment, with around 65% of energy workers employed to build and deploy new solar plants, wellheads, heat pumps, cars, and more.

If British Columbia’s government wanted to encourage high quality permanent employment, it would be promoting energy conservation and clean power sources instead of climate destroying projects and industries. Long-term human survival is at stake.

Could anthropogenic climate change result in worldwide societal collapse or even eventual human extinction? At present, this is a dangerously underexplored topic. Yet there are ample reasons to suspect that climate change could result in a global catastrophe. Analyzing the mechanisms for these extreme consequences could help galvanize action, improve resilience, and inform policy, including emergency responses. 

Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios

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Categories: Energy, Site C

13 replies »

  1. Well said Norman, and it means that the NDP didn’t do this continuation of Site C even for the Union bosses who contribute to them. But rather the NDP did this for themselves so that Union backing would help Horgan become the first NDP Premier to win a second election.

    I have to wonder if the business and union lobbyists have figured out a way to get around the campaign financing act, or whether the parties blew so much of their funding reserves in the last election that we could have a different outcome next time around.

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  2. If I may ask..But the project queued up 3,000 workers ready to go.
    Were they well informed of long term potential environmental damage?
    If so then their decision to proceed trumped environmental concerns.
    If not perhaps education can assist as a remedy for ignorance however combating self serving interests that now have banished the common good now and in the future is a tough hill to climb.

    Macleans magazine years ago used to rate post secondary education institutions across Canada based on faculty expertise of the various discipline a person may wish to pursue for a career. Biased perhaps but at least it provided some insight (sorry Norm) for those trying to determine were they might get the best learning opportunity for their chosen career path.

    Perhaps something similar in a different form should now be contemplated from an environmental impact of their choice for a career and begin that at a lower level in our education system. The choice of career would still be up to the individual to pursue but perhaps they would be better informed about the long term consequences of their choice. A smaller carbon foot print over their working career for example.

    I am not trying to beat up on pilots:)

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    • The decision to proceed didn’t trump environmental concerns, in the sense that the value of the considerations used to justify the decision were of a higher order than the environment. It is more like a bluff where a false impression was thrown up in the hope it would deter further discussion. The bluff was countered on several issues, financial, environmental, indigenous rights, need for the project and alternative means of achieving the goals. At that point both the Liberals and the NDP gathered up the cards and went home, saying something like ‘well tough’, it’s my game and I don’t want to play anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure many of the workers did know the enviornmental concerns. However, they needed a job. Working on dams in B.C. has always paid well. When push comes to shove, people will look after themselves and family first.
      After the pandemic was underway Site C workers had the choice of staying home or going to work but having to be there for 12 weeks at a stretch. Many decided to do the 12 weeks. Have a look at rents, housing prices, gas, food, etc. in the province.You need to work and you need to do it for the most money possible.
      I’m not in favour of Site C, but it did allow a lot of people to work and for some to finish their apprenticeships.

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  3. Norm
    This has nothing to do with the current topic but it relates to how poorly BC is taken care of by the powers that be.
    I know this is not your expertise but gasoline pricing in BC is totally out of wack. We are being raped. If you recall the government investigated a while back and found that there was a 13 cents per litre differential that could not be accounted for. What kind of an investigation was that? I worked in the industry and understand how pricing works. This year Alberta cut their prov tax due to inflation (13 cents) along with Ontario dropping prov tax by 5.7 cents. Gas price in Chilliwack 2 days ago was 163.4, today it is 189.9, a 16.2% increase. Gas price in Vancouver is 189.9 or less but Chilliwack does not have a transit tax of 18.5 cents with GST factored in 19.425 cents. Gas in Edmonton today is 122.9 and in Toronto it is a 134.9. There is a transportation cost but it is not 50 cents a litre. Every major city in each province is paying 30 cents less than what I am paying and their taxes are higher. I do not expect you to post this but something criminal is going on here.

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  4. Rob
    I understand your frustration. I am originally from Red Deer, AB
    but out in BC for a little while longer perhaps.
    I happen to have read a recent survey of gas prices across Canada
    with some pretty good variances. The average Canada wide
    was around 1.64/l give or take. The lowest price in Canada
    at the time of survey was……..Red Deer, AB at about 1.27/l

    I did not and still don’t how that could exist. Retailers do not
    give gas away and it would be tough to contribute that to a
    gas war. I don’t know if that disparity ever was questioned.

    If you have a possible explanation I sure would not mind
    you sharing your thoughts or perhaps you already have:)

    Cheers

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  5. bli 135 cdn/l reg pr/blaine 155 cdn/l reg currently.

    lets see 3000 jobs into 16 billion dollars = 5.333 m dollars each ?

    Almost 20 years of flat demand at 51-54 gwh range ?

    Burrard thermal had similar capacity to Site C and was free?

    BCHydro claimed 2 % a year for 20 years demand increase then dropped it to 1%?

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    • Always wondered why they stopped using Burrard thermal, it actually made sense to use it. We would have saved money.
      The province could have used the $16 billion to build hospitals, affordable government housing, trained more medical staff, schools, etc. They could then have let the contracts to union companies also.

      Never understood why the NDP went ahead with the dam, given not even mini wac wanted to have the dam built. Given his father W.A.C. had built the earlier dams it was interesting.

      However, as we look at the rolling black outs in California, perhaps the dam will make B.C. money by selling electricity to other areas. On the other hand, I always figured it wasn’t about the electricity, its about the water. The dam holds water, in vast amounts. Although the free trade agreements stipulate once Canada starts selling water to the U.S.A. they can’t stop, I suspect some don’t think we would ever run out of water in B.C. My money has always been on, this is about the sale of water at some future date. Given the droughts we are now experiencing, it will be interesting to see what happens. They run oil and gas pipelines from Canada to the U.S.A. and through the U.S.A. Running pipelines to carry water would not be difficult. Of course selling water to the Americans would make us money, it would also be the dumbest decision we have ever made concerning resources.

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  6. I seem to remember a Ken Dobell being allowed to walk into British Columbia’s (past) and (current) (then) Cabinet decision papers to look for some discrepancies that would help the Court to properly deliberate on a perceived corruption charge(s) by the then, BC Liberals (Gordon Campbell, Christy Clark). Can you just imagine if that duty was left in the hands of a bc legislative clerk eg. craig james. Oh wait a minute, he did have access to that information. Did he benefit from those past/current then, decisions without waiting for 15 years to pass?

    There is a sliding scale of 15 years of backlogged decisions made by previous Cabinet(s) to ensure that no one can make a killing on the stock markets etc……. pssst….. or insiders, like local supporters of a particular party eg. Socreds, BC Liberals, or GASP, the BC NDP, the Greens, would be well rewarded by their insider information.

    No matter how much is demanded, here, or by the Press/Public today regarding past decisions by the BC Cabinet(s), the politicians (MLAs) the current MLA cabinet are shackled from laying the blame, with proof (Cabinet Papers) on their predecessors in regard to eg. Site C dam. They just have to go with the flow, not exactly denying, not explaining either, the specifics. Its all rather bully on forward because the blame really belongs on the shoulders of eg. Premier Gordon Campbell

    Section 12 – Cabinet and local public body confidences

    https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/services-for-government/policies-procedures/foippa-manual/cabinet-local-public-body-confidences#Summary%20Cabinet

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  7. Norman, if your readers haven’t followed the link provided above ….. think about journalists, the man in the street, bloggers, being stymied on responses from Ministers (BC Liberals/BC NDP) regarding Site C as one example …. think about all the dodging, in person, that has been done over the course of many years, by many governments. Think about the severed responses to FOI requests. The Press knows of the restrictions, so to the politicians. The Public doesn’t, except if they read it here on your blog.

    Example:

    An applicant requests a copy of a letter from a deputy minister to the ministry’s assistant deputy ministers. The letter contains routine matters, except for a single sentence that says Treasury Board (a Cabinet committee) will be considering whether a planned program must be cancelled. The information contained in that one sentence must be severed because it would reveal the substance of deliberations of a Cabinet committee. The applicant would receive the remainder of the record (unless other exceptions apply).

    “That would reveal”
    “Reveal”
    Example of information revealed explicitly

    A note from the Secretary to the Executive Council to a minister, copy to a deputy minister, that informs the minister of the discussions that Cabinet had on a particular issue. This information, in itself, reveals the substance of Cabinet deliberations

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  8. The “Eye” has been effectively blocked from Dead Dog 98 after trying to correct some misinformation by a NDP Minister.

    The real issue has been lost in a fog of Orwellian “unnews”, and pure propaganda, with the mainstream media playing the part of Lord HA HA and Tokyo Rose.

    Now politicians are well aware of the mainstream media’s aversion to investigative journalism and bristle at the thought they they are nothing more than a mouthpiece, dealing drivel to the great unwashed.

    The latest example of drivel was on Global news at 6, “BREAKING NEWS” Horgan makes a farewell speech at the UBCM.

    Really? Really, really? Breaking news?

    So now the same news sources, without shame, before our late Queens funeral, echoed and continue to echo a poll which a majority of Canadians want to end the monarchy?

    I would love to see a poll on how much the population understands a constitution monarchy or even how it works? hell, I doubt a majority of Canadians even understand how our politcal system works!

    I hear over and over again, that Horgan’s minority government, with support of the Greens was illegal. Certainly wasn’t, but it is how our parliamentary system works, a majority, even if it is made up of several politcal parties, becomes government.

    Because of this lack of real investigative journalism, politcal corruption flourishes and grows. The Broadway land-rush comes to mind.

    As we sink more and more into the morass of a Brave New World, the only ones befitting are friends of the government, either unions, land developers/speculators; the trucking industry; SNC Lavalin and Bombardier; and a host of others.

    The rest of the great unwashed are left to pay the bill.

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  9. ‘a constitution monarchy’ Hmmm does that mean that there is a possibility that Canada will no longer be required to bend a knee to King Charles?

    Which, one day after that, Trump’s scattered brain idea of buying Greenland from Denmark, will be taken up anew with calls for Canada to become the 52nd State to be a united front across the Bering Sea.

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