Oil addiction, Subsidies and BC's 2007 Budget

“Every form ofaddiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine oridealism..”

  – CarlJung (1875 – 1961)

Everyone knows you can’t trustan addict. Over the last few weeks British Columbians learned that addicts willpromise anything, but seldom deliver.

The Gordon Campbell governmentis addicted to oil and gas revenue. The $2.5 billion they project for 2007provides the surplus they plan to spend like oil dependant junkies in the runup to the next election. And like an addict, despite the best intentions, hewill do anything for their fix.

Just last week in the thronespeech Gordon Campbell rocked our world by committing BC to “reduce greenhousegas emissions by at least 33 per cent below current levels by 2020.” Like aparent hoping beyond hope our fossil fuel addicted son had finally gone coldturkey, we celebrated.

But the recently announcedbudget reminds us that addictions are hard to break and mere promises, howeversincerely uttered, are seldom kept without treatment.

British Columbian’s looked tothe 2007 budget to determine whether Mr. Campbell’s could reduce the dose ofoil and gas in our budget. Like a prodigal son he disappointed us.

Mr. Campbell’s decision toincrease subsidies for carbon-intensive oil and gas exploration and drillingraises serious questions about the sincerity of his carbon emissions promises. Giveawaysto corporations for fossil fuel drilling increased by $74 million, 40% abovelast year’s record subsidy level.

In a Vancouver Sun opinion piecereleased the same day as the budget, Mr. Campbell said, “global warming is realand is a challenge to which we must respond… we also all share a responsibilityfor working together to try to reduce the factors contributing to thosechanges.” 

Mr Campbell isn’t doing hispart. Compare the numbers:  Climatechange gets $4 million, oil and gas corporations (setting records for profits)get $263 million or 6500 percent more. And these inflated subsidy levels areprojected to continue through 2010.

Which one do you think is thepriority?

And there was bad news forcommunities opposing coalbed methane drilling. Subsidies for unconventional gasincreased by $64 million or 230 percent. Since the government has been unableto get any community to accept commercial coalbed methane, I guess they figuredthey needed to sweeten the pot for coalbed methane operators.

This is supported by the Ministry of Energy, Mines andPetroleum Resources (MEMPR) service plan which says, it is “…focussing on supporting activity inunderdeveloped areas and unconventional gas.”

MEMPR also indicates it plans to “…Introduce new, targetedroyalty and incentive programs to stimulate development of oil and gas resourceopportunities…”

What a difference a week makes.In the throne speech on February 13, 2007 Mr. Campbell said, “The science isclear. It leaves no room for procrastination. Global warming is real.” Rememberan addict’s promise…

The budget shows that if you area rich oil or gas company booking record profits, you get your goodies today.And the government gets a big dose of cash despite the impacts on climate. Ifyou need money to address the biggest issue facing our society today, theclimate crisis, wait till next year or the year after.

So much for last weeks promises.I guess it is up to all of us to help Mr. Campbell and the BC Liberals get overtheir addiction to oil revenues.

Average British Columbians put climate change on GordonCampbell’s radar. After the disappointing budget it looks like we will have toratchet up the pressure to keep it there.

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