Back in 2007 Gordon Campbell’s government promised BC would have the best standards for coalbed methane in North America. Almost three years later an investigation by Dogwood Initiative has found this promise was broken. In all 24 issues of concern British Columbia offers landowners, communities, water and wildlife give less protection than other jurisdictions.
Two new reports from the Dogwood Initiative confirm provincial rules related to coalbed methane exploration, drilling and production do not live up to the standards set in other places to safeguard against the intense industrial development that accompanies coalbed methane.
Coalbed methane is an unconventional form of natural gas. The number of CBM proposals has skyrocketed since 2007 when the provincial government declared it to be a cornerstone of its Energy Plan. Significant controversy exists over CBM proposals in the Telkwa, Fernie, Princeton, Campbell River and the Sacred Headwaters areas.
Dogwood Initiative’s Best Practices for Coalbed Methane in BC report documents other jurisdictions more rigorous requirements for:
1. Protecting water quality;
2. Flaring gases;
3. Cumulative impacts;
4. Consultation and unbiased decision-making;
5. Royalties for public resources;
6. Reclamation of land damaged;
7. Lessening noise pollution;
8. Visual Impacts; and
9. Setback from houses and schools.
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BC’s broken promise is especially troubling given the government continues to provide massive subsidies ($539 million was budgeted in 2010 for royalty reductions and road and pipeline credits to the oil and gas industry) of taxpayers’ money effectively subsidizing fossil fuel developments like coalbed methane.
“If the government wants to overcome the widespread community opposition to coalbed methane they’re going to have to strengthen their rules,” commented Dogwood Initiative Executive Director Will Horter. “So far they have not met any of the best practices in North America.”
Dogwood Initiative’s related report, Citizens Guide for Coalbed Methane in BC, is designed to help people affected by proposed coalbed methane operations in their communities to understand the potential impacts and to help them participate more effectively in the approval processes to ensure their interests are protected.
Download the reports: