In his November 30 article, “Where is B.C. headed on climate action?”, Marc Lee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives begins with a bit of history – November 2017 marks the 10 year anniversary of the passage of B.C.’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, followed by B.C.’s carbon tax, the first in North America, in 2008. His overview then discusses climate change policy since the Liberal government and its Climate Leadership Team (CLT) were replaced by the government of the New Democratic Party in Summer 2017. Specific issues raised: the new government may still be considering the development of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) on the north coast; an inadequate annual increase to the carbon tax of just $5 per tonne per year (instead of the $10 per tonne recommended by the CLT); the need for a public inquiry into fracking (as called for by the CCPA and 16 other organizations); and the need for leadership on more stringent regulation of methane emissions. The author concludes: “The BC government’s opposition to Kinder-Morgan’s TransMountain pipeline expansion is laudable. But there is much left to be done on climate action in BC… We need an action plan commensurate with the urgency posed by climate change and the aspirations of leadership claimed by BC politicians.”
Although Marc Lee has written about the controversial Site C Dam project previously, he doesn’t include it in this overview, although it is still very much a live issue. Following the Report of the Independent Review of the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) on November 1, the government indicated it would decide by December 31 whether to proceed with the project or not. On December 1, the B.C. Green Party, the government’s coalition partner, sent an Open Letter to the Premier, arguing for cancellation of Site C on the grounds that it is likely to continue to exceed budget, and that alternative sources of energy are now cheaper. Questions about the job creation forecasts used to justify the original decision have also been raised – most relying on the latest analysis from the University of British Columbia Water Governance Institute. Their latest full report was released on November 23; a 2-page Briefing Note also released argues that terminating Site C and pursuing the alternative scenario put forth by BCUC would create three times as many jobs as the construction and operation of Site C by 2054, albeit with short-term job losses. The longer term scenario forecasts jobs in site remediation, energy conservation, and alternative energy projects, including in the Peace River region. Commentary on the jobs debates has appeared in “Digging for The Truth on Site C Dam Job Numbers ” in DeSmog Canada (Nov. 16) and in “ A BC without Site C best bet for taxpayers ” an Opinion piece in The Tyee written by Jay Ritchlin of the David Suzuki Foundation, which labels the call for current construction jobs as “a red herring”.
Also in The Tyee: “ Construction Unions Pressing for Completion of Site C” (Nov. 24) , which takes a deep dive into a recent press conference of the Allied Hydro Council of BC, a bargaining agent for unions at previous large hydro projects, and an advocate of the Site C project. The detailed article, outlining ties between the Council and the NDP government, is by Sarah Cox, author of Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro (UBC Press, forthcoming Spring 2018). The Allied Hydro Council submission to the BCUC Inquiry is here .