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Six ways you can make a difference for the environment this election

April 2017

It’s official—the BC election period has begun.

From now until Election Day, the rules make it difficult for Sierra Club BC to draw attention to issues you care about like the Site C dam, Kinder Morgan tankers and protecting old-growth forests.

That’s why we need your help more than ever to amplify these critical election issues. Here are six ways you can make a difference for BC’s environment this election:

  1. If you haven’t already, join our Facebook community and follow us on Twitter. Checking our news feed is an amazingly simple way to keep track of the issues you care about most and share them with your own network. We’ll be keeping close tabs on the news for you, and we’re hoping you’ll share it like you’ve never shared before!
  2. Talk to your friends, family and neighbours. Encourage them to get informed on the issues in your riding. Share what you know about how the Site C dam will cause their hydro bills to skyrocket to provide subsidies to oil and gas corporations. Voting is more fun together – make a plan with friends to walk to the polls together or offer them a ride to the polling station if you can!
  3. Attend an all-candidates meeting in your riding. Ask your candidates where they stand on the Site C dam and Kinder Morgan’s tar sands pipeline and tankers proposal. Find our team at meetings in Victoria, Esquimalt, Sidney, Vancouver and Tri-Cities.
  4. Volunteer with us! Right now, we need canvassers on the ground and on the phone helping to get out the vote. Contact galen@sierraclub.bc.ca to join our team.
  5. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper on the issue you care about most. Whether it’s supporting clean water, good green jobs, a livable climate, or keeping big old trees standing, you are in the best position to influence your own community by taking a stand.
  6. And of course, don’t forget to vote on May 9 or in the advance polls! (Not sure if you’re registered? Sign up here)

Elections come and go. Politicians rise and fall. Communities are here to stay, as is the natural world we depend on. And no matter who is in power after May 9, Sierra Club BC will continue working hard to defend the places you love. We hope you’ll join us.

Report links steep increases in domestic hydro bills to province’s reckless handouts to LNG companies and Kinder Morgan

March 27, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VICTORIA—British Columbians will face alarming increases in hydro rates for decades to come because of the B.C. government’s reckless gamble on liquefied fracked gas and the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers project, says a new report from Sierra Club BC.

The report, Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes For Broke With Your Money, shows how BC government subsidies to the LNG industry, offered in an attempt to lure companies to BC despite adverse market conditions, come at great expense to BC taxpayers and BC Hydro ratepayers. Power subsidies to even just two or three of the proposed LNG plants could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year, on top of royalty and tax cuts, the cost of building the Site C dam, and energy subsidies to other industrial users like Kinder Morgan.

“Why is our government expecting British Columbians to pay a handout to international corporations each time we pay our hydro bill?” said Sierra Club BC campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon. “In their desperation to secure a deal, they are making terrible deals with serious consequences for all BC residents.”

The report points out that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, if built, would be powered with subsidized energy at a cost to ratepayers of at least $540 million over twenty years.

“When the BC government approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers they implied the $25-50 million per year from the company would somehow make up for long-term job losses and economic impacts of oil spills,” said Vernon. “What they failed to mention is that BC is giving $27 million per year to Kinder Morgan, in the form of subsidized energy.”

The handouts don’t stop there: the report questions the need for the multi-billion dollar Site C earth-fill dam project, which is intended to supply below-cost energy to fracking and LNG export facilities that may never get built, and will contribute to escalating hydro rates over the dam’s 70-year payback period.

“The BC government is building an expensive dam we don’t need in order to offer subsidies to fracking and LNG companies, with BC hydro ratepayers footing the bill for generations to come,” said Vernon.

Sierra Club BC’s report notes that alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal create more enduring employment while providing a more flexible and cost effective avenue for addressing BC’s future energy needs.

“Our government is single-mindedly pursuing LNG export against all odds and at any cost, but we can choose a different future for this province and our Hydro bills. We have better, cheaper and cleaner energy options, like solar and wind. It’s not too late to stop the Site C dam,” said Vernon.

“British Columbians need to make their voices heard on these issues in the upcoming election, because they are the ones who will be paying the price for these bad decisions.”

Report: Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes For Broke With Your Money

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Media contact:
Caitlyn Vernon
Campaigns Director
Sierra Club BC
250-896-3500
caitlyn@sierraclub.bc.ca

Hydro Bill Madness

Did you know that as a BC Hydro ratepayer you are subsidizing projects like the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers proposal and Petronas’ liquefied fracked gas plant at Lelu Island?

Wait, what? Why?

The BC government is offering handouts to the LNG industry in an attempt to lure companies to BC in adverse market conditions, and it’s us the taxpayers and hydro ratepayers who will be footing the bill. Watch this video to find out how your BC Hydro bill pays for handouts to international corporations.

This is a bad deal for BC. Not only would Kinder Morgan and Petronas destroy our climate and salmon habitat, not only would the $9-17 billion Site C dam flood some of the best agricultural land in BC and trample on First Nations treaty rights, but it’s you and me who are going to have to pay for it, for generations to come.

British Columbians need to know just how bad a deal we are being sold. Let’s get the word out.

Share this:

Facebooktwittermail Thanks to Corrina Keeling for producing this video!

These alarming increases in our hydro rates are because the BC government made a reckless gamble on liquefied fracked gas, against all odd and seemingly at any cost.

We’ve outlined how this is happening in a new report, Hydro Bill Madness: The BC Government Goes for Broke With Your Money.

The report shows the BC government is offering subsidies to LNG and fracking companies in the form of tax cuts, royalty credits, and below-cost power. Taxpayers and BC Hydro ratepayers could be left with the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

And because fracking and LNG require a lot of power, the BC government decided to build the Site C earth-fill dam, an expensive dam that is not needed for current electricity demands and that will contribute to escalating hydro rates for over 70 years.

It all adds up to a very big bill that British Columbians will have to pay, and it doesn’t end there. Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, if built, would be powered with subsidized energy at a cost to ratepayers of $27 million per year.

Each time you pay your hydro bill you’re giving a handout to international corporations.

It doesn’t need to be this way. Alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal create more enduring employment while providing a more flexible and cost effective avenue for addressing BC’s future energy needs.

We can choose a different future for our province and our hydro bills.

What can you do?

  • Share the video
  • Read and share the report
  • Ask your candidates where they stand on these issues and vote in the upcoming election on May 9.
  • Volunteer with Sierra Club BC to help more people learn about the environmental and economic impacts of LNG, fracking, Kinder Morgan and the Site C dam.
  • Donate to Sierra Club BC

Pull Together 2.0: The People vs. Kinder Morgan

Both our federal and provincial governments have given the green light to Texas-based oil company Kinder Morgan to build a tarsands pipeline and increase oil tanker traffic on the BC coast by 700%.

Despite what Premier Clark says, BC is a long way off from having “world-leading” spill response capacity – on water or on land. Accidents happen and there’s no known technology to clean up toxic diluted bitumen.

Our elected representatives are standing up for Big Oil, so it is up to the rest of us to stand up for BC and defend our communities and our climate.

A number of First Nations along the pipeline and tankers route have already filed court challenges.

It was indigenous-led legal challenges that brought an end to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal. First Nations can stop Kinder Morgan in the courts also. Let’s not stand by and watch them go it alone.

That’s why we’re relaunching Pull Together. In partnership with RAVEN Trust and the Force of Nature Alliance, we’re supporting the Tsleil-Waututh and Coldwater Nations who are in court to overturn the federal approval.

There are lots of ways you can help. During our last Pull Together campaign, there were smoothie sales and pub nights, dance performances and poetry readings. Over fifty musicians played at benefit concerts across the province.

Will you host a solidarity event in your community?

It doesn’t matter how big or small – whether you raise $100 or $1,000, your impact will be amplified by the contributions of others.

We can help get you started. Just fill out this form and we will be in touch to provide you with support.

When we pulled together to stop Enbridge, we were overwhelmed by your response. All across the province, people stepped up. People like you danced, marched, sang, paddled, stretched and ate together to support the First Nations fighting Enbridge in court. Together we raised over $600,000 for the legal costs, thanks to unprecedented solidarity between Indigenous leaders and thousands of Pull Together allies.

Not a penny of the money raised went to Sierra Club BC. This campaign is a risky one for us financially, however we feel so strongly that it’s the right thing to do that we are doing it again! We believe that standing in solidarity with First Nations requires the courage to take risks and step outside our comfort zone.

We hope you will join us. Your ongoing support is what lets us take this kind of risk. And your involvement in Pull Together is how together we will stop Kinder Morgan.

Pull Together is not just about raising money, it is about pulling together in the face of governments bent on forcing the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers on an unwilling province.

Photo by Michael Beach.

Pull Together is about building strong communities of resistance. Pull Together recognizes that when it comes to moving away from fossil fuel dependence, we are all in this together. With Trump pushing his fossil fuel agenda, it’s all the more important that we organize here in BC to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

By stopping Kinder Morgan, we can build the type of future we want in British Columbia—one that moves toward renewable, clean energy and green jobs. One in which our communities are safe from the threat of oil spills.

Together, we can do this. Ready, set, pull!

Sierra Club BC statement in response to approval of Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 11 2017

Sierra Club BC released the following statement from campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon in response to the Province approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal:

“Today’s decision is an abject failure to stand up for B.C.’s interests.

“Despite Premier Clark’s spin on it, the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers are a terrible deal for British Columbians.

“This is not a deal, this is a B.C. sell-out. This is a betrayal of the hardworking people and places of this resource-rich province.

“The 5 conditions have not been met.

“No glossy announcement changes the fact that even with the best technology, diluted bitumen simply can’t be cleaned up. Eighty-five per cent of the oil left in the water isn’t clean. Does Premier Clark think toxic jobs in oil spill response make this a good deal for B.C.?

“The Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers is all risk and no reward for British Columbians. After the jobs in construction have ended, this project would put at risk over 98,000 coast-dependent jobs.

“B.C. has been doubly betrayed, by both our federal and provincial government. It is now up to British Columbians to protect this coast and our climate.

“This pipeline won’t be built. Just as court challenges overturned approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, First Nations are already in court to stop this project, and more lawsuits are expected.

“The emissions from this pipeline will put us on track toward serious climate impacts for all our communities. Our climate doesn’t need this pipeline, and our economy doesn’t either. We could be supporting more jobs for B.C. workers by investing in clean energy instead.

“Today’s announcement benefits a Texas-based corporation that doesn’t have the interests of British Columbians at heart. Apparently our own government isn’t looking out for us either. We expected better.”

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Contact:
Tim Pearson
Director of Campaigns, Sierra Club BC
(250) 896-1556
tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

Why my brain injury makes me fight to save whales

When a serious concussion forced Sierra Club BC’s Campaigns Director to escape from noise, she realised she had more in common with the threatened orcas that she thought. And that knowledge makes her more determined than ever to stop Kinder Morgan’s pipeline. Hear Caitlyn’s story and please make your gift to protect BC’s orcas.

 

Kinder Morgan will not be built

By Caitlyn Vernon

December 2, 2016

We highly recommend reading our Enbridge blog first, taking some time to celebrate that awesome victory, and then reading on here for next steps.

If Prime Minister Trudeau thought cancelling one pipeline in B.C. provides the justification to approve another, he needs to give his head a shake. Make no mistake, Trudeau has picked a fight with British Columbia.

Even Conservative leader Rona Ambrose doesn’t think the Kinder Morgan pipeline will be built.
Legal challenges have already been filed. Municipalities and First Nations are vowing to do what it takes.

We know how to do this. We have faced an oil-loving Prime Minister before.

We stopped one pipeline, we will stop another one.

Trudeau has made B.C.—and especially the south coast—a sacrifice zone in a cynical political calculus. It has nothing to do with evidence, nothing to do with science and absolutely nothing to do with the interests of British Columbians. Trudeau’s decision was pure politics. He’s done the political math and he thinks he can weather the opposition. That means our job is to get bigger, to build the movement up even stronger and more diverse.

There is no doubt in my mind that we can do this. Just as B.C. communities and First Nations stood together to stop Enbridge, we will do the same with Kinder Morgan.

In the courts, at the polls, on the streets.

Will Kinder Morgan become Trudeau’s Clayoquot Sound? People are already training in civil disobedience, which has played a role throughout history in overthrowing injustice, from Martin Luther King to women getting the vote to Clayoquot Sound to Standing Rock. In a free and democratic society, that is a choice people have a right to make.

Here at Sierra Club BC that’s not a path we promote, as it would violate the rules of our charitable status. We acknowledge, however, the urgency around climate action and protecting endangered orca whales and respecting Indigenous rights that might lead people to choose this path.

Our role will be to support First Nations’ legal challenges, just as we did with Enbridge. Four legal challenges have already been filed by six nations, and more will come.

Fifty-nine First Nations in BC are opposed to Kinder Morgan, and over 100 nations across the continent have signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion.

Stay tuned for how you can get involved by organizing events to support the First Nations legal challenges.

There is a B.C. election coming up. Will our provincial government stand up for B.C. and refuse to issue permits for Kinder Morgan? We need to make this an election issue.

Premier Clark seems to think B.C.’s 5 conditions have just about been met. This is despite a flawed review process, significant First Nations opposition, and the reality that dilbit sinks and there is no known technology that can clean it up.

The approval of Kinder Morgan makes me angry, that we have to fight to hold the line when instead we so urgently need to be building the post-carbon economy. It also makes me more determined. And our victory over Enbridge gives me hope. Because we know how to win this fight.

Let’s take the lessons learned and the momentum we’ve gained from the Enbridge campaign and apply them to the task of stopping Kinder Morgan dead in its tracks. We’re getting stronger.

It won’t be easy, but I know we will come out victorious. Together.

Please chip in today to help us make this happen.

Feature image by Harold Hommel

Only Foolproof Way to Stop Spills is to Stop Tankers: B.C.’s five conditions still not met and never can be

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 7, 2016

Victoria, B.C.—Sierra Club BC released the following statement from campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon:

“We welcome today’s announcement of improved spill response, but it doesn’t make coastal communities any safer from the risks posed by a 700 per cent increase in tankers carrying diluted bitumen in southern B.C. waters.

“The fact is, the only foolproof way to stop oil spills and protect the coast is to keep tankers off the coast. And world-leading or not, nothing in this plan will help in the case of a major tanker spill.

“Recent failed and inadequate spill responses on B.C.’s coast highlight the urgent need for these measures to improve response for existing shipping traffic.

“But a bigger, fancier mop doesn’t reduce the chances of a spill.

“When it comes to diluted bitumen, a bigger, fancier mop doesn’t really change anything at all: these new measures don’t address the fact that there is no known technology that can clean up sunken bitumen.

“Industry considers 10-15 per cent of oil recovered to be a success. If “world-leading” means failing to recover 85 to 90 per cent of the oil, the results would be catastrophic.

“The new measures don’t decrease the risk of an oil spill. And they don’t protect the 98,000 coast-dependent jobs that would be put at risk by a spill.

“What we need is effective spill response, and for diluted bitumen that simply isn’t possible.

“The only real way to protect B.C. coastal communities from a massive oil spill is prevention.

“To protect the B.C. coast, the federal government needs to enact a permanent, legislated tanker ban for the north coast, and say no to the dangerous Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers proposal.”

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Contact:

Tim Pearson

Director of Communications, Sierra Club BC

(250) 896-1556

tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

Kinder Morgan panel report raises crucial questions for cabinet

By Caitlyn Vernon

November 3, 2016

Do you remember those hastily-arranged, poorly-organized meetings that the federal government set up in the dog days of August to get input on the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers proposal?

You know, the meetings in which an ad hoc ministerial panel was charged with the task of compensating for the enormous shortcomings of the National Energy Board’s process, conducted under the Harper government? The meetings at which 91.4 per cent of speakers opposed Kinder Morgan?

Well, the panel released its report this week, and it raises a series of crucial questions for the federal cabinet. Simply put, these questions make approval impossible.

The panel asked that Cabinet consider how building this pipeline can be reconciled with Canada’s climate change commitments. Spoiler alert: it can’t—you can’t build pipelines and be a climate leader. End of story.

#StopKM rally in Victoria

Rally at the summer meeting in Victoria. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

The panel also asked how cabinet could square approval with a federal commitment to reconciliation with First Nations. Again, you can’t, given the numerous First Nations who adamantly oppose this project.

The panel pointed out recent oil spills and the inadequacy of response and suggested that “the Government must decide whether the Trans Mountain Pipeline is a worthwhile risk.”

The panel asked how the federal cabinet can be confident of its decision given the flaws in the NEB process and public criticism of the ministerial panel’s own review. Good question.

The reality is that the report from the Ministerial Panel does not provide the basis for Cabinet approval of Kinder Morgan. We can only imagine how Prime Minister Trudeau, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, and Environment & Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna are scrambling to figure out how to spin this.

In fact, approving this project would be abandoning Canada’s commitment to real climate action, would impose a death sentence on the southern resident orca population and would invite ecological and economic disaster in the form of an inevitable tanker spill.

The Ministerial Panel report makes clear that there is no way to approve this pipeline without undermining commitments on climate and indigenous rights.

If cabinet takes the report’s questions seriously and bases its decision on the best available science, there is no way this pipeline will be built.

And yet rationality has been lacking lately. It’s distinctly possible that the federal government will announce approval in the next few weeks, just as it approved the Petronas fracked gas plant and the Site C megadam (which will power the fracking fields in the Peace), and just as it adopted the grossly inadequate emissions targets of the Harper government.

But stay tuned, because along with the 91.4% of people who voiced their opposition to the panel, we aren’t going anywhere. This is our home, and the fight is far from over.

Please donate today to help us keep up the fight.

Feature image by Gerry Gaydos.

Kinder Morgan report raises questions that make pipeline approval impossible

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 3, 2016

Victoria, B.C.—Sierra Club BC released the following statement from campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon.

“The report by the ministerial panel, released today by Natural Resources Canada, highlights the failures of the NEB process and raises a series of crucial questions for cabinet’s consideration.

“These questions make approval impossible.

“In answer to the panel’s question about climate change, the science is clear: building this pipeline would make it impossible to meet Canada’s climate commitments. You can’t build pipelines and be a climate leader.

“Regarding the panel’s question about how cabinet could square approval with a federal commitment to reconciliation with First Nations, the answer can be found in the numerous First Nations who firmly oppose this project.

“The panel also raises the question of how cabinet can be confident in an assessment based in a process full of flaws, both the NEB process and the ministerial panel meetings themselves.

“The panel asks—given recent spills and the inadequacy of spill response—whether this pipeline and tankers project is worth the risk.

“They also note the evidence presented to the NEB that the project would have significant impact on southern resident killer whales that are protected under the federal Species at Risk Act.

“This panel was no remedy for a flawed NEB process, and this report does not provide the basis for a federal cabinet approval.

“Approving this project would be abandoning our commitment to real climate action, imposing a death sentence on the southern resident orca population and inviting ecological and economic disaster in the form of an inevitable tanker spill.

“If cabinet takes these questions seriously and bases its decision on the best available science, there is no way this pipeline will be built.”

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See attached backgrounder for a summary of flaws in the ministerial panel processes.

 

Contact:

Tim Pearson

Director of Communications, Sierra Club BC

250-896-1556

tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

 

Backgrounder:

The problems that Sierra Club BC and other organizations have identified with the ministerial panel’s approach include the following:

Lack of clear mandate

  • Panel had no mandate to make recommendations based on their findings, and therefore no clarity for participants on how the government would use the information it compiled, how it would be compiled, or how it might impact Cabinet decision-making.

Inadequate outreach to key participants

  • Some local First Nations leaders and municipal officials only heard about the meetings through Facebook and other unofficial channels, while others were informed on short notice.
  • Meetings of “experts” were scheduled, but no outreach was made to experts who had concerns about the project. They were left to self-identify.

Panelist conflict of interest/perception of bias

  • Panel Chair Kim Baird had a past business relationship with the proponent, was a registered LNG lobbyist, and penned a pro-pipeline op-ed in a national newspaper while the panel process was underway.

Unreasonable, late stage interference in submissions process

  • Approximately 55,000 people submitted comments and letters, but 2 days before the comment deadline, the Panel sent letters to numerous individuals and citizens’ groups that said they would not consider repetitive letters initiated by third parties. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association found this “dismissal is an unreasonable interference in expression of freedom of individuals and their participation in a public consultation process.” After the BCCLA letter, the NEB reversed its decision, but the experience left participants with a continued sense of government bias against citizens opposed to the proposal.

Poor Meeting Organization

  • Meetings were announced on short notice in the middle of summer. The online process to register was cumbersome and a deterrent to participation.
  • Locations in many communities were difficult to access and no provisions were made to make access easier. Due to time and room capacity limitations, hundreds of attendees were not able to participate.
  • No translation was available for French-speaking participants until the last 2 days of meetings.
  • No official records (no stenographer or audio-video recordings) were taken and the Panel’s mandate was broad and poorly defined, amplifying concerns of process bias.

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