I find myself spending more time than I would like on Resource Works, the invention of The BC Business Council, that blindly supports approval of Woodfibre LNG in Squamish.
To follow on last week’s column, where we learned that Resource Works’ website contained the names of two “partners” which stoutly deny they’d ever been such.
Well, I have another for you, this week.
BCIT’s name used without knowledge
I was alarmed to read that the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) was also listed as a partner. What, I asked myself, was this much-admired academic institution doing in the middle of this dispute in our communities?
Well, it turned out to be a hell of a good question because they advised me that they were not a partner, never have been, and had demanded that this entry be eradicated. I note that this has since happened and that their president, Kathy Kinloch, is no longer on RW’s Board of Directors (though, as of this writing, she is still listed as such on RW’s website).
I wondered, with more of these revelations to come, what RW would do now?
Well, get this for shysterism non pareil!
In the past week they have changed “Partners” to “Partners & Sponsorships”, noting, “We’re proud to work with a diverse range of partners, and to help sponsor exciting initiatives”. Now, anyone RW declares that they support is automatically thrown in this new category and there is no way anyone reading the “About” section of their website can tell which is which – the obvious hope being that the company is taken to be a partner!
All RW need do if it wants to have a big name appear to support them is write a letter to said group telling them how much RW supports whatever it is they do!
My God, the BC Business Council, former attorneys-general Bud Smith and Geoff Plant and ex-Premier Dan Miller (each advisors or board members) have stooped to this sleazy slight-of-hand!
Come on Mr. Stewart Muir (Executive Director), I know that the complete truth is a difficult concept for a newspaperman, especially an editor, but give it a try and split that list in two so that the public can tell who is a partner and who is not. It will only hurt for a little bit!
A dishonest broker
My involvement with Resource Works started a couple of months ago when I read their Mission Statement. I could not believe that educated, rational, and honourable members of the business and a labour union communities could write tripe like this:
[quote]Resource Works is a non-profit society, open to participation by all British Columbians, to help bring fact-based information to the public discourse about the natural resource sector and its role in BC’s future.
We bring people together for a respectful, fact-based dialogue on responsible resource development in British Columbia.[/quote]
Noble sentiments if they were remotely true. In fact, RW, far from being some sort of honest broker, by any objective standard, uncritically supports Woodfibre LNG.
This is a free country, of course, and while I profoundly disagree with their position, I accept their right to present it – as long as it’s done honestly and candidly, words with which RW seems to have a great deal of difficulty.
First of all, in their presentation A Citizen’s Guide To LNG: Sea To Sky Country Edition, a booklet of 58 pages, they uncritically present the case for Woodfibre LNG using the company’s own propaganda as fact! Don’t take my word for it – read it for yourself.
RW’s discussion of “fracking” is confined to two short paragraphs and doesn’t deal with any of the many concerns scientists have raised whatsoever.
Faked interview takes the cake
Then we get into the faked interview with acknowledged LNG tanker safety expert Dr. Michael Hightower, making out that Dr. Hightower supported tanker traffic in Howe Sound whereas he’d never addressed Howe Sound. Moreover, the measurements he and Sandia Laboratories recommended made it clear that Howe Sound is utterly unsuitable for tanker traffic. (Alongside you’ll see these measurements, which are the law in the United States, applied to a chart of Howe Sound – giving you the true picture.)
Let’s move to the legal case brought by the Wilderness Committee and The Sierra Club against Encana as described by RW in this document thusly:
“When a ruling came down in late 2014 it showed that the regulatory processes in place, and industry compliance with them, are sound and well managed.
“In an overwhelming endorsement of current practices in water protection, justice Fitzpatrick concluded that when it comes to the regulation of industries water usage, British Columbia is in good shape with a ‘justifiable transparent and intelligible framework for the regulation of short term water use.'”
When I, a lawyer by trade, read this, I was suspicious. I couldn’t believe that Madam Justice Fitzpatrick would offer this effusive praise so I obtained a copy of the judgment, which you can easily do, and found that the judge not only said nothing of the sort but made it plain that she was only deciding whether or not section 8 of the Water Act was constitutional.
58 pages of barnyard droppings by an organization professing to be even-handed!
Woodfibre’s shady owner
As you may have noticed, in all the thousands of words published by RW, there’s not been one peep about the ownership of Woodfibre LNG. Wouldn’t you have expected voluminous praise of his acumen, experience, honourable reputation and, of course, commitment to the environment?
Little wonder this has not been forthcoming!
The owner, Sukanto Tanoto, is a crook* who has been found guilty of substantial tax evasion, paid over $200 million fine and is well-known around the world as having destroyed tropical jungles and having no regard for environmental concerns if there’s a buck to be made. I recommend you do some research on him.
The company itself is loaded with former Enron employees and its structure is such that it would be duck soup for a first-year law student to siphon off all taxes and royalties and send them off to Singapore where there’s no tax on LNG. I don’t say that will happen, just that it would be easy to do and Tanoto has done it before.
The obvious question: Why has Resource Works never addressed the question of the ownership of Woodfibre LNG? Do they endorse the sort of behaviour its owner has displayed? Are they not concerned that this company has never built an LNG plant before? Before advising the public that we should support this outfit, has RW done any “due diligence” whatsoever? If so, tell us about it.
In fact, one of the biggest unanswered questions by Resource Works and Premier Clark is why on earth would they invite lawbreakers into our communities when we have enough of our own?
A second major question is why Resource Works has never dealt with the issue of the width of Howe Sound, other than by childish misrepresentations?
The mantra of RW and executives of Woodfibre LNG is that LNG tanker traffic has a 50 year safety record, therefore we have nothing to worry about.
This is the sort of delicious half-truth that somehow numbs the mind when it should inspire skepticism. The fact is that this LNG Tanker record is for the high seas and not narrow passages like Howe Sound or the Fraser River!
In fact, narrow passages have inspired a good deal of study.
Let’s return to Dr. Hightower and the internationally respected Sandia Laboratories, which have set the standards that are law in the United States. Bear in mind that the US is a capitalistic society that doesn’t much like restrictive rules and regulations.
Sandia National Laboratories defines for the US Department of Energy three Hazard Zones (also called “Zones of Concern”) surrounding LNG carriers. The largest Zone is 2.2 miles/3,500 meters around the vessel, indicating that LNG ports and tankers must be located at least that distance from civilians. Some world-recognized LNG hazard experts, such as Dr. Jerry Havens (University of Arkansas; former Coast Guard LNG vapor hazard researcher), indicate that three miles or more is a more realistic Hazard Zone distance.
When Dr. Eoin Finn superimposed the measurements on a chart, it was clear that most of Howe Sound is within the Hazard Zone and above is a copy of that chart.
In short, by internationally accepted standards, there’s no way any LNG tankers would be permitted to proceed from Squamish to the ocean.
The question then becomes, why are Resource Works and their client Woodfibre LNG unwilling to address this question?
The only assumption a reasonable person can come to is because they can’t.
A question of credibility
My final question concerns credibility.
Why does Resource Works not tell the truth? Why do they consistently play word games? Why do they use little tricks as when suddenly caught out, changing “Partners” to the trick phrase “We are proud to work with a diverse range of partners and to help sponsor exciting initiatives” which, apart from all else, doesn’t distinguish between the two, so that the reader has no way of knowing which category the company falls into?
Why did they fake a TV interview and distort evidence?
Why did they take a judge’s remarks out of context? Why do they avoid discussion of fracking? Why do they not deal with the Eoin Finn chart which clearly shows that LNG tankers in Howe Sound are, from a safety point of view, completely out of the question?
Why don’t they talk about ownership and, indeed, management shortcomings? And the fact that Woodfibre LNG have never built an LNG plant before?
In sum, if they truly want, as they so piously state, to help bring fact-based information to the public discourse about the natural resource sector…why do they so carefully avoid dealing with any of the serious questions?
A fair conclusion is that they avoid these questions because the answers would destroy their ambition to visit an LNG plant on Howe Sound, which, in any civilized a jurisdiction, would be a park.
*Merriam Webster: a person who engages in fraudulent or criminal practices