Taxpayers liable for $1.2 billion in cleanup costs as corporations cry poor

I really should not have read the newspaper before breakfast this morning. Nothing curdles the milk in your Grapenuts like toxic corporate influence.

Turns out B.C.’s Ministry of Energy and Mines has been allowing mining companies to skip out on paying for site reclamation bonds–basically, the fund that should ensure companies are on the hook for cleaning up their toxic properties after mines close instead of dumping the liability on us taxpayers.

That’s right, mining companies owe us $1.2 billion, and the biggest deadbeats are Teck Resources Ltd. — B.C.’s biggest coal company — and Barrick Gold Corp.

Well, golly, guess who’s the biggest corporate donor to the governing party? Why, that would be Teck! In the last decade, the mining giant and its subsidiaries have given the BC Liberals $1,915,814. Barrick Gold chipped in for another $75,700.

Now here’s what got me really mad… The Mining Association of B.C. spokesperson responded by whining about what a hard time companies have been having lately, then urged the Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, to “consult with the industry before [making] any changes that could undermine its already precarious state.”

Lucky for those poor old mining companies, their good friend Bill was way ahead of them, saying he’d wait until next year to fix the system to allow “the industry to prepare for unwelcome news.”

Oh, and by the way, he’s also allowing Teck and many of the other deadbeat companies to not pay their Hydro bills right now. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a break on your bills?

So, let me get this straight. If you flout the rules and default on your required payments, we should feel sorry that you have to follow the rules and make the required payments so British Columbians don’t get stuck with your toxic mess after you’ve ruined our air, land and water, not to mention cooked the planet?

But I guess that’s the kind of treatment you get if you can (even in supposedly terrible economic times) fork over a bunch of cash to the ruling party. Must be nice.

If you’re like me and you’re tired of feeling this way most mornings when you read the paper, consider joining one of Dogwood’s organizing teams. When the system is this flooded with corporate influence, the only way to bail the ship is with a determined group of like-minded folks.

Organized people can beat organized money if we’re willing to invest the time and hard work. Join us!