Democracy and Energy Security BC Style

The door just closed even further on securing BC’s energy future. With little public attention the BC Utilities Commission ruled that there need not be a public hearing to discuss the proposed takeover of Terasen (formerly BC gas) by US-based Kinder Morgan.

What used to be a publicly-owned company is now up for sale and because of laws changed by the BC Liberals the public may have little opportunity to analyze or discuss the long-term impacts on our communities, workers and energy supply.

But all is not lost.  In fact the Utilities Commission (BCUC) left the door open a bit by saying that if the public requested such hearings in written submission they may reconsider.

The BCUC decision to not require hearings is short sighted. These days energy security-the ability of a nation, province or community to be able to count on stable, affordable and non-polluting energy supplies-is integral to democracy. 

In an age where “peak oil” is here or coming soon, where geopolitical maneuvering is integrally linked to competition for energy resources, decisions made in BC and western Canada have profound impacts here and abroad.

BC is quickly becoming a hotspot in the global competition for fossil fuels, with the takeover of Terasen, Enbridge’s proposed Gateway pipeline to move tar sand crude to BC coast then on to China and California, the Alaskan Hwy pipeline, and proposed Liquefied Natural Gas tanker terminals in Kitimat and Prince Rupert.  

All of these have geopolitical implications.

  • The takeover of Terasen will put BC gas consumers at the mercy of a U.S. company that has less then stellar record with consumers and for pipeline safety.
  • The proposed Enbridge pipeline will put BC squarely in the crosshair of the growing competition between the U.S. and China for the world’s remaining oil. It also raises concerns about First Nations title and impacts on the offshore moratorium and the bilateral agreement with the U.S. for a Tanker Exclusion Zone.
  • The Alaskan Hwy pipeline is proposed to transport crude from controversial drilling within the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), The LNG terminal proposed for BC’s coast will be used to provide an ongoing fix for the U.S. addiction to fossil fuels.
  • The bomb-like tankers are being proposed for towns to the north and south of U.S. borders so the inevitable spills, environmental damage and security issues can be dealt with by someone else while the benefits flow south.

British Columbians deserve better than the laissez faire treatment the Liberal government in Ottawa and Victoria have been giving them. We need leaders that will stand up for Canadians’ long term public interests, not act as cronies to any corporate energy huckster who will make a sizeable donation.

We need leaders that will ensure that British Columbia energy consumers aren’t subject to the predatory practices of U.S. oil and gas giants. We need to demand leadership.

But in the meantime there is something we British Columbia can do-we can write to the BC Utilities Commission and demand public hearings into the proposed Terasen sale.

Please write to the address below and demand public hearings on Terasen:

Robert Hobbs, Chair & CEO
B.C. Utilities Commission
Box 250, 900 Howe Street
Sixth Floor
Vancouver, B.C.
V6Z 2N3

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