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British Columbia's Premier Takes His Environmental Hypocrisy to Los Angeles

by Jennifer Jones Friday, Oct. 02, 2009 at 2:21 PM

The Premier of British Columbia is in California today for the Governors' summit on Climate Action, even though his record at home is one of environmental hypocrisy. Campbell has been pushing for coastal drilling for oil and gas, and campaigning to open up crude oil tanker traffic along the coastline of the Great Bear Rainforest.

While B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is in Los Angeles today speaking to the Governors’ Global Climate Summit, he has left behind a province littered with broken environmental promises and failed commitments, says New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming.

“I have to wonder what Gordon Campbell will say to a California audience, given that his government is killing new green jobs by cutting even the modest environmental initiatives introduced in his 2008 so-called green budget,” said Fleming.

Two weeks ago, Minister of State for Climate Action, John Yap told reporters that legislated greenhouse gas emission targets were simply 'guidelines,' and yesterday he told the Union of British Columbia Municipalities that climate change would be good for farmers in B.C.

“Evidently Mr. Yap, like the rest of his cabinet colleagues, is indifferent to the devastating effect that climate change will have on fish and wildlife in B.C.,” said Fleming.

Fleming noted that Yap’s comments were not surprising, given the B.C. Liberals’ renewed attempts to lift B.C.'s ban on coastal oil drilling.

“I wouldn't be shocked if the rest of the B.C. Liberal caucus was as cheerful about the effects of climate change as Mr.Yap. The B.C. Liberals’ climate action plan is completely undermined by their decision to scrap green programs and by their plans to open our sensitive coast to oil drilling,” said Fleming.

Yesterday the Premier sat on a panel talking about the role cities have to play in addressing climate change. Fleming noted how it is unfortunate that Governor Schwarzenegger didn’t invite someone more qualified to sit on the panel given the premier's abandonment of public transit and lack of support for improved livability in Metro Vancouver.

“Mr. Schwarzenegger certainly has nothing to learn from the B.C. Liberals’ mismanagement of Metro Vancouver’s transportation authority, which is short over 500 buses and unable to proceed with vital green capital projects like the promised Evergreen Line,” said Fleming. “And what jurisdiction would want to copy Mr. Campbell’s decision to eliminate incentives for families to retrofit their homes to become more energy efficient?”

The B.C. Liberals have a post-election record of environmental failures which includes:

• Eliminating LiveSmart BC, which encouraged homeowners to retrofit their homes and become more energy efficient. The Campbell government has also cut back on Scrap-It, an incentive program aimed at getting older, polluting cars of the roads, and replacing them with new, more efficient vehicles.

• Planning to bring in the HST, which will eliminate provincial tax exemptions on clean energy efficient products, Energy Star appliances and bicycles, raising the cost of making good environmental choices at home.

• Cutting the budget for environmental protection, parks and protected areas, stewardship, compliance and enforcement and the Climate Action Secretariat by between 10 and 62 per cent.

• Pushing for the federal government to lift the ban on coastal drilling for oil and gas.

• Supporting crude oil supertanker traffic along the coastline of the Great Bear Rainforest.

• Failing to bring in species at risk legislation to protect crucial habitat for species under threat of extinction.

• Ignoring the findings of the Special Legislative Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture while continuing to expand open net fish farms as wild salmon runs collapse. The committee strongly recommended a freeze on expansion of salmon farms and a transition to closed containment technology to protect wild salmon from exposure to sea lice, toxic chemicals and diseases.

• Forcing B.C. Hydro to buy private power that does not meet California standards for green energy.

• Cutting the provincial grant to a recovery program aimed at saving Canada's most endangered mammal, the Vancouver Island Marmot.

Carole James and the New Democrats are fighting for an environmental action plan that respects communities, offers families positive choices and commits to concrete action to protect species at risk.

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