The Friday night trash dump is a well-known trick of governments looking to dispense with bad news as quietly as possible. Controversial announcements are made in the last hour of the last day of the week to avoid public scrutiny.
This year, the holiday season has served the same role, only on a much grander scale, with multiple environmental hearings and major resource project announcements occurring at the time of year citizens and media are least able to engage with them. The list is truly breathtaking – here are just a few of the presents we got in our stocking this December:
- The National Energy Board announced its conditional approval of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project
- The NEB also approved four massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) export licences in BC – comprising the gas equivalent of close to the entire bitumen output of the Alberta Tar Sands. The scale and ramifications of this one decision – from increased fracking to air pollution and climate impacts – cannot be overstated. They absolutely dwarf those of the Enbridge project.
- Texas-based Kinder Morgan chose the lead-up to Christmas to formally file a proposal to triple its oil pipeline capacity to Vancouver, turning the city into a massive oil port with over 400 tankers a year sailing through the Salish Sea.
- BC Hydro scheduled the public hearings for the $10 Billion Site C Dam over the holidays, and only in northern BC, deliberately limiting participation from the general public – even though they will pay dearly for the project if it proceeds. Making matters worse, Site C is not for the public – rather it is to help power the enormously energy-intensive, proposed LNG industry in BC.
- Port Metro Vancouver conducted its public comment period over the highly controversial, proposed Surrey Fraser Docks coal handling facility. The Port received some 3,500 submissions – all but 6 of them speaking against the plan – yet, it shows no real signs of listening to the public and experts, choosing instead to downplay the overwhelmingly negative response in its post-review comments last week.
The litany of such announcements and hearings makes it clear this is more than just a coincidence. It demonstrates a blatant disregard for the public interest in these hugely formative decisions for the future of our health, environment and economy.
If this bunch of Scrooges really believed in the value of their projects, they wouldn’t feel the need to hide them between office parties, holiday baking and eggnog with the family.