Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The high price of privatized "green" power in BC - political intervention and its rewards for some environmental groups
PowerUp Canada's Tzeporah Berman presents BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell with an award for his "climate action leadership" in Copenhagen
The decision of some environmental groups to support the BC Liberal government of Premier Gordon Campbell before and during the May 2009 election has its rewards - for both sides.
At the Copenhagen global climate change summit Tuesday, Campbell was given a "climate action leadership" award by Tzeporah Berman, executive director of PowerUp Canada - a group that supports the privatized "green" power policies of the provincial government - and co-founder of Forest Ethics, on behalf of 10 environmental organizations.
Those groups are: the David Suzuki Foundation, the Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence, Equiterre, ForestEthics, the Green Energy Act Alliance, the Pembina Institute, PowerUp Canada, TckTckTck, and WWF-Canada.
Berman, along with a representative of the David Suzuki Foundation and a representative of the Pembina Institute, were all appointed by Campbell in November to his Green Energy Advisory Task Force.
That group, along with a new cabinet committee, will "ensure B.C. remains a leader in clean and renewable energy by developing resources, maximizing opportunities and establishing B.C.’s potential as the supplier of choice for clean power."
Left unsaid, of course, is that all "clean" power will be developed by the private sector because BC Hydro has been prohibited from undertaking any green power initiatives by government order since the BC Liberals took office.
The resulting "Liquid Gold" rush, excellently detailed in professor John Calvert's book of the same name, has made millions for "independent power producers" while all BC Hydro consumers subsidize their profits.
But no matter to the enviro groups.
No, they awarded British Columbia with the prize because: "BC is being recognized for climate leadership for legislating aggressive targets to reduce emissions, banning conventional coal-fired electricity, and implementing North America's first broad based revenue neutral carbon tax."
No matter either that the BC Liberals under Gordon Campbell have the worst environmental record in Canada.
No matter that fish farming expansion under the BC Liberals is destroying our precious wild salmon stock.
No matter that the IPPs run-of-river projects are fiercely opposed by other environmental groups like the Wilderness Committee and Save Our Rivers Society, First Nations and communities because they are ruining our BC waterways to create overpriced power primarily destined to be exported to the United States.
As the Wilderness Committee says in its campaign to save Bute Inlet: "Plutonic Power and US-based corporate giant General Electric want to build a private power megaproject that would involve building 17 dams and river diversions, more than 100 bridges, over 250 km of roads, and over 440 km of transmission lines. This project would be the largest private power project in British Columbia."
But apparently that's what it takes to be a climate change "leader".
No matter that Campbell is still pushing to begin offshore oil and gas exploration on the dangerous BC coast.
No matter that the unsupportable grizzly bear hunt continues despite the risk to the species.
No matter how much of the Agricultural Land Reserve is paved overby the BC Liberals.
No, all that matters is that these groups sold their names to get the carbon tax and a few seats on a committee to further privatize public power.
Welcome to Copenhagen, Mr. Premier - what can we do for you today?