Vehicles line up for B.C. Ferries sailing at Tsawwassen. Vancouver Island is entirely dependent on petroleum for transportation and tourism, including cruise ships as well as aircraft and ferries. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

While Victoria and other B.C. municipal councils are on board with an activist effort to demand compensation from global energy companies for their products’ effects of climate change, others are pushing back against what they see as an inappropriate use of local government and court resources.

In Fort St. John, the heart of B.C.’s oil and gas industry, Mayor Lori Ackerman and council plan to take a resolution to regional and provincial municipal associations this year, to oppose the lawsuit plan proposed across B.C. city halls in December.

One of the early supporters was Whistler council, which felt an immediate backlash when it adopted the lawsuit proposed by West Coast Environmental Law and the Georgia Strait Alliance. A resource industry conference in Whistler was cancelled, and an Alberta oil executive wrote an open letter to Whistler’s mayor pointing out that his tourist economy would collapse without road and airline access to the world-famous resort.

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb has also been outspoken, pointing out that most residents of his and other resource communities depend on oil and gas for their livelihood, to get to work and run machinery.

“Places with hardcore green councils, like Victoria, enthusiastically signed up for this financial shakedown campaign to appease their progressive voters,” Cobb wrote in a commentary in the Williams Lake Tribune. “This is in spite of benefiting from a large tourism sector totally reliant on fossil fuels to power their cruise ships, ferries, float planes and other modes of travel.”

RELATED: Williams Lake mayor says forest industry may be next

RELATED: 16 B.C. communities join call for climate compensation

The activist letter touts the effort as a cheap way to send a message to selected companies such as ExxonMobil and BP, which Cobb dismisses as “virtue signalling” that is likely to generate only legal and staff costs for B.C. communities. It calls on councils to follow the lead of San Francisco and Oakland, which sued Chevron and four other companies for the effects of global warming and sea level rise on their cities.

In a June 2018 ruling, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said he agrees with the scientific consensus of carbon dioxide emissions from fuel use affecting the climate, but responses are best left to the executive and legislative branches of government.

“Their causes are worldwide,” Alsup wrote. “The benefits of fossil fuels are worldwide.”

RELATED: San Francisco Examiner report on California decision

RELATED: B.C. NDP launches lawsuit against opioid makers

The concept has also been popular with the B.C. NDP government. Last fall, Attorney General David Eby moved ahead on a planned class-action lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies, to claim damages for opioid drug overdoses that followed widespread promotion of opioid pills like oxycodone.

Eby acknowledged that the pharmaceutical case is similar to a lawsuit against tobacco companies launched by the previous NDP government in 1997. That case still drags on more than 20 years later.

Central Saanich council made short work of the West Coast Environmental Law proposal. Mayor Ryan Windsor and two councillors voted for the letter to be referred to committee for further discussion, but the rest of council voted that down at their Dec. 10 meeting.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Parksville Beach Festival Society launches campaign for outdoor stage

Public invited to event May 25 to help with kickoff

Crime Report: Oceanside RCMP receive 328 complaints in one-week span

Vandalism and theft of a wheelchair among listed incidents

Controversial cell tower proposal in Coombs clears another hurdle

Committee indicates Rogers satisfactorily completed requirements

Parksville advocate to discuss harm-reduction measures for addicts

Morris, along with a panel of professionals, will be at the PCC on May 21

Oceanside RCMP member rides for childhood cancer research in Tour de Rock

Tim Kenning will cycle 1,000 kilometres in 22nd annual event

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

RCMP arrest violent offender on Vancouver Island

Campbell River police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

Two cats die in house fire in Nanaimo

Fire happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday on Fifth Street, one resident displaced

RDN looking into providing bus service 365 days a year

RDN transit committee to consider adding bus service on Christmas, New Year’s and Good Friday

One year after heartbreaking B.C. search, wife reflects on late husband

First anniversary of Ben Kilmer’s disappearance, and a search that galvanized Vancouver Island

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read