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

March 27, 2017


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


Media contact:
Caitlyn Vernon
Campaigns Director
Sierra Club BC

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.

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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

Federal Approval of Petronas: A betrayal of salmon and climate

October 3, 2016

For months, we have been asking whether Prime Minister Trudeau would side with B.C.’s wild salmon and a liveable climate, or with foreign multinationals who just see B.C. as a place to exploit for profit.

Sadly, his choice became clear last week, with the federal government’s announcement that it has approved the Petronas fracked gas plant at Lelu Island.

This is terrible news for salmon populations on the Skeena River. The plant is slated to be built right next to the river’s estuary, a nursery for hundreds of millions of juvenile salmon. Canada’s second largest salmon run may have just had its death warrant signed by the federal government.

The approval of Petronas is also very bad news for the climate. The Petronas fracked gas plant is a carbon bomb that will make it impossible for B.C. to meet its already weak climate targets. This plant alone would be responsible for an astonishing 11.5 to 14.0 megatonnes of climate pollution per year, equivalent to five times the official reported emissions for all of B.C. As the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has noted, the climate impacts of the plant would be “high in magnitude, continuous, irreversible and global in extent.”

Simply put, expanding the extraction of fracked gas is incompatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2⁰C.

Canadians who voted for action on climate change want real commitments and real action, not just empty promises of sunny ways. Placing conditions on the approval won’t add up to concrete action against climate change. Instead, the conditions are a rubber stamp on new fossil fuel infrastructure that feigns a rigorous approval process.

It has been almost one year since Canadians elected a government with a mandate to take real action on climate change, but it is increasingly difficult to distinguish the Trudeau government’s climate change action from those of the Harper government. The federal government has now adopted the woefully inadequate Harper-era emissions targets—a slap in the face to all Canadians who wanted to see bold action.

We need to safeguard our environment while pushing our economy into transition toward a post-carbon future of green jobs. Now is the time for transition to renewables, not the time for building more climate-polluting projects.

This decision is not the end of the story. Petronas says it will review the project to see if it’s financially viable before deciding whether or not to proceed. And First Nations are considering legal challenges.

Sierra Club BC will continue to highlight the dangers posed by Petronas, its incompatibility with decreasing global demand for fossil fuels, and the benefits of the alternatives. We’ll also continue to push for both the federal and provincial governments to include a rigorous climate test in all future environmental assessments, so this kind of climate-killing approval can never happen in the future. In the process, we will help build the case for Petronas to walk away.

Please donate today to help us continue our work on climate solutions.

Statement: Today’s Petronas approval a betrayal of salmon and climate


September 27, 2016

Sierra Club BC released the following statement from campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon in response to the announcement by the federal government that it has approved the Petronas fracked gas plant:

“Today is a terrible day for anyone who cares about salmon and the future of our climate.

“The math is simple: we can’t keep expanding fossil fuel extraction and expect to pass on a livable world to our children and generations yet unborn.

“Canada’s second largest salmon run, on the Skeena River, may have had its death warrant signed today, through a reckless disregard for the dangers the Petronas fracked gas plant poses to hundreds of millions of juvenile salmon in the Skeena estuary.

“The Trudeau government’s lofty rhetoric on climate has been proven nothing more than sunny ways talking points.

“Actions speak louder than words. This government’s actions have betrayed its own promises and all the Canadians who voted for action on climate change.

“The Petronas fracked gas plant will make it impossible for B.C. to meet its weak climate targets.

“190 conditions don’t change the math: it’s not possible to be a climate leader and build new fossil fuel infrastructure like the Petronas fracked gas plant.

“As the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has noted, the climate impacts would be ‘high in magnitude, continuous, irreversible and global in extent.’

“The harsh reality is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish the Trudeau government’s actions on climate from those of the Harper government.

“Harper-era emissions targets—pathetically inadequate as they were—have now been formally adopted by the Trudeau government. Now Petronas has been given the green light, with every indication that Kinder Morgan may be approved next.

“Canadians were looking to Trudeau to take bold action to safeguard our environment and push our economy into transition toward a post-carbon, green-jobs future. Now is the time for transition to renewables, not the time for building new, climate polluting projects.

“Today’s announcement is a betrayal of the promise of change upon which this government was elected. And it is a shameful betrayal of our future and of future generations.”



Tim Pearson
Director of Communications

Petronas, fracking and Site C: the connection

The links between Petronas, fracking and Site C are becoming clear—and the news is troubling for taxpayers and our climate. British Columbians will be subsidizing the fracking industry through the construction of the Site C megadam.

Good news for Skeena salmon threatened by Petronas. Or is it?

In August, federal fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc announced a renewed commitment to acting on the Cohen Commission’s recommendations, as well as the government’s 2005 Wild Salmon Policy. He also confirmed that Ottawa will restore protections to salmon habitat that were removed by the previous government.

On the surface, this sounds like good news for B.C.’s wild salmon, including the Skeena population that is threatened by the Petronas liquefied fracked gas plant proposal.

But is it?

The devil is in the details—and LeBlanc confirmed this by revealing the government would take time to consult on how it would restore protections to habitat. It could be years before the resulting legislative and regulatory changes come into effect. And who knows how strong the protections will end up being?

The Wild Salmon Policy alone should provide ample reasons to reject Petronas. The policy dictates that:

  • Conservation of salmon and their habitat must be the highest priority in resource management;
  • Decision-making is to be an open and inclusive process that honours Canada’s obligations to First Nations;
  • Fisheries are to be managed sustainably so that future generations of British Columbians can continue to harvest salmon;
  • And human activities are to be regulated to avoid harms to fish habitat and maintain ecosystem integrity.

In any sane world, Ottawa’s Wild Salmon Policy would make the Petronas proposal a non-starter.

The plant would be right in the Skeena River estuary, which acts as a nursery for up to a billion young salmon during their migration to sea. There is an extremely high risk that destroying this critical habitat would collapse the Skeena population and the $110 million Skeena salmon economy.

Few coastal areas in B.C. are more critical to the survival of the Skeena’s salmon than the Flora Bank eelgrass beds. Situated right off Lelu Island, where the Petronas plant would be built, Flora Bank offers rare and critical habitat for more than 40 populations of salmon and other species such as halibut.

Lelu Island was already assessed and rejected as a development site in 1975 because this habitat is too important to risk.

First Nations throughout the watershed have already gathered together in opposition to the plant by signing the Lelu Island Declaration.

It’s always been clear that the right thing to do is to reject Petronas. If the federal government’s commitment to protecting wild salmon is real, it has no choice but to say no.

Prime Minister Trudeau’s watershed moment is coming in the coming weeks. He will need to choose: the profits of a foreign multinational versus B.C.’s iconic wild Pacific salmon, the economy they support and the future livability of our climate.

Featured image by Al Harvey.

Site C betrayal: Federal government sides against First Nations, science, endangered species, food security

Appalling decision signals Ottawa supports B.C.’s plans to electrify LNG industry


July 29, 2016

VICTORIA—The federal government’s approval of construction permits for the $9 billion Site C megaproject is a cowardly betrayal, says Sierra Club BC.

“The federal government’s decision is an affront to First Nations and to the scientific work that proves Site C is the most destructive project ever reviewed in Canadian history,” said Sierra Club BC’s Peace Valley campaigner Ana Simeon. “Prime Minister Trudeau has said honouring First Nations rights is a ‘sacred obligation’ not an inconvenience. But this decision is a profanity that clearly views those rights as nothing more than an inconvenience to be swept aside.

“The same goes for science: yesterday’s decision continues the previous government’s appalling practice of suppressing and ignoring inconvenient findings. This is a cowardly decision and a betrayal of the principles the federal government has claimed it wants to restore to Ottawa: respect for First Nations rights and science-based decision making.”

The B.C. government will shortly reveal its climate plan, which is expected to announce plans to electrify any LNG plants that are built. This will make Site C a climate disaster, enabling the export of massive emissions to Asia.

“We all share the same atmosphere and whether LNG is burned here or overseas it will have the same catastrophic effects on our climate,” said Simeon. “Ottawa will soon announce its decision whether or not to approve the Petronas plant in Prince Rupert. It’s another watershed moment for Trudeau. In combination, greenlighting Site C and Petronas would be a crime against our climate and against Canada’s second largest salmon run.

“This is not the end of the fight. Sierra Club BC will pursue all possible peaceful, legal avenues to stop Site C and with our allies and common sense British Columbians we will prevail against this abomination.”




Media contact:
Ana Simeon
Peace Valley Campaigner, Sierra Club BC

Will Trudeau reject Petronas?

In May Sierra Club BC launched a letter writing campaign encouraging Prime Minister Trudeau to reject the Petronas liquefied fracked gas terminal at Lelu Island. Over 11,000 supporters took the time to write to the Prime Minister to make it clear that he must say no to the project.

At the peak of this campaign, his office was receiving 1200 letters a day from concerned citizens. More than 350 people followed up their letters with a phone call to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to let her know the many reasons we don’t want the liquefied fracked gas plant built:

  • It threatens to destroy Canada’s second largest salmon run.
  • It runs the risk of wiping out the wild salmon economy of northern B.C. that is worth more than $110 million per year.
  • It would be responsible for greenhouse gas emissions five times the official reported emissions for all of B.C.

Prime Minister Trudeau is going to decide whether to approve the Petronas project in the fall. This is Trudeau’s watershed moment and the first real test of his commitment to climate action. Will he side with the salmon and a liveable climate? Or will he side with foreign multinationals who just see B.C. as a place to exploit for profit?

Before he makes that decision we have to leave him in no doubt that British Columbians are firmly opposed to the fracked gas terminal at Lelu Island.

We have plans to push that point home hard, but we need your help now to reach out to more British Columbians.  Your donation will help us to encourage more and more people to raise their voices and speak out every day until the decision comes down. We must not give up!

Please donate today.

Your gift of $200 helps us reach 3000 new people, $125 reaches 1000 new people, $35 reaches 100 new people.

If you haven’t sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, please take action today.

The horrifying reality of building liquefied fracked gas plants in B.C.

All the scientific evidence shows that building liquefied fracked gas plants—what the industry brands as “natural” gas—will spread a destructive web of pipelines, plants, fracking sites, compressor stations, and work camps across British Columbia.

Fracked Landscape - Photo by Simon Fraser University - University Communications

Fracked Landscape – Photo by Simon Fraser University – University Communications

Consider the proposal by Malaysian multinational Petronas to build a plant near Prince Rupert. It would threaten to wipe out Canada’s second largest salmon run, would be disastrous for our climate, and would trample over First Nations opposition.

Located at the mouth of the Skeena River, this plant would be catastrophic for Canada’s second largest salmon run. Up to a billion juvenile salmon depend on the eel grass beds of Flora Bank as they migrate from the freshwater of the Skeena to the salt water of the Pacific. Destroying this critical habitat would mean the end of the salmon and the thousands of northern jobs that depend on the $110 million wild salmon economy.

B.C.’s official greenhouse gas emissions total 64 million tonnes per year. The Petronas liquefied fracked gas plant would be a carbon bomb, responsible for an astonishing 265 million tonnes per year. One plant: five times the emissions from every vehicle, building, and factory in B.C.! It would make it impossible for B.C. to meet its current (inadequate) emissions targets.

Now think about the impact if five of the 20 proposed plants were built.

Other environmental impacts from an expanded industry include groundwater contamination, forest fragmentation, fracking-induced earthquakes, and increased marine traffic.

And let’s not forget that these plants are built to operate for 30, 40 or 50 years. With the Paris climate agreements, the world will increasingly turn its back on fossil fuels. As former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney has pointed out, fossil fuel deposits such as methane and the tarsands threaten to become stranded assets and the massive infrastructure investments needed to get them to market become worthless relics, taking jobs and potentially whole communities with them.

Coho Spawning on the Salmon River

Coho Spawning on the Salmon River. Photo by Bureau of Land Managment Oregon and Washington

These plants are simply bad economics. British Columbia should be putting its resources toward renewable energy and transitioning to a post-carbon economy. 

Any day now Prime Minister Trudeau will decide whether to approve or reject the Petronas proposal. It’s his watershed moment and the first big test of the climate promises that helped get him elected.

There’s still time to influence his decision. Sign the petition demanding that he say no to Petronas, and yes to wild salmon, sustainable jobs, respect for First Nations and a livable climate.

Say no to LNG on Lelu Island

It’s not too late to tell the federal government that a livable climate, wild salmon, and respecting First Nations are more important than Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG proposal!

The public comment period for the environmental assessment of Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG terminal on Lelu Island closed on March 11. It received an astounding 30,000 comments, many from Sierra Club BC supporters. Shortly after the the comment period closed, Minister McKenna delayed her decision on the proposed LNG plant until June 2016, which means we have more time to let the federal government know that this project is a climate disaster waiting to happen.

The communities of B.C. are rejecting this project for many reasons:

  • When built, this terminal will be one of the single highest emitters of greenhouse gases in Canada (Climate Test fail!)
  • Under B.C.’s 2030 emissions targets, this project would produce 29-35% of the province’s allowable emissions – and for our 2050 targets, it would represent 88-108%!
  • Lelu Island and the nearby Flora Bank, at the mouth of the Skeena River, are crucial salmon habitat.
  • The area is a rearing habitat for 88 per cent of all Skeena salmon. Building an LNG terminal there could cause the collapse of Canada’s second largest wild salmon run.

Have your say on the climate polluting, ecosystem threatening, unwelcome project today!

Featured image by Tavish Campbell