cartoon of Premier John Horgan with lobbyists

BC Gas and Oil Lobbyists: Behind Victoria’s closed doors

The Wilderness Committee has just finished a survey that shows gas and oil company lobbyists are contacting the BC provincial Government two or three times a day. This is not new, they were also making overtures to the previous BC Liberal regime, but it does raise the question of whether they are shaping the policies that determine the future of all British Columbians. 

Photo credit: BC Legislature and the Inner Harbour at night by Zemistor via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Climate Campaigner Peter McCartney says 14 of 15 of the top fracking companies in the province are actually receiving more in drilling credits than they pay in taxes and royalties. 

“Since the last election, we knew that there were some big policy pieces coming out this year that would affect the gas industry.  I was interested to find out how often the industry was lobbying the provincial government. So we just looked back to the lobbyist registry and I kept a spreadsheet going of each time that gas companies, LNG consortium’s, and their industry associations met with the provincial government.  It turns out more than 750 times since the last election, so just over last year,” said McCartney.. 

He did not know how often the environmental movement has contacted the government, but thinks the Wilderness Committee may have contacted the government a couple dozen times since the last election. These meetings primarily arise when environmental groups “create a problem for them” and they want to know how to respond. 

McCartney explained that while gas industry lobbyists work through their behind-the-scenes connections, the environmental movement’s voice “comes from the thousands of people that support us.” 

Some of the policies that have come up since the NDP government was reelected: 

  • The government has brought in “the BC clean BC roadmap, which was really soft and left the door open for a brand new fossil fuel industry with fracking and LNG.”  
  • The courts sided with the Blueberry River First Nation, which means government will have to negotiate all new infrastructure in the region.  
  • The current royalty review will determine how much rent gas companies will pay to access the gas that is owned by the people of British Columbia.

What can the public do to ensure its voice is heard?

“The lobbyist registry is a really good tool. I think there needs to be public pressure for the government to stop meeting with fossil fuel lobbyists, their only purpose is to secure their own business model and climate action. Why would we be making climate policy with the worst polluters in the room? So we put together this little Twitter bot that tweets out every time one of these fossil fuels is meeting with the provincial government,” said McCarney.

“These meetings should be out in the open and accessible to all. Businesses and companies that operate in a community have an obligation to be a part of that community and make sure that local people are benefiting from the work that goes on but they shouldn’t be writing policy behind closed doors.”

Top image credit: Courtesy Wilderness Committee

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