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As Horgan government launches review of oil and gas royalties, advocates call on MLAs to stop funding fracking

VICTORIA/LEKWUNGEN TERRITORY — Just seven per cent of British Columbians support increased taxpayer subsidies for oil and gas companies, according to an Insights West poll conducted for Dogwood released today.

The Horgan government has more than doubled financial support for fracking and pipeline construction in B.C. since it came to power, including tax breaks, royalty credits and direct project funding.

Fewer than 1 in 4 British Columbians (18%) are aware of this escalation in subsidies, the poll found. In general, 27 per cent agree B.C. should offer financial support to oil and gas companies, while 58 per cent are opposed. The rest are unsure.

“Given the importance of climate change to British Columbians, it’s not a surprise that the majority of residents are opposed to providing financial support to oil and gas companies here in our province,” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “It’s an issue that relatively few residents are aware of, and most would rather see eliminated once they’ve heard of it.”

In 2020 - 21, the government gave out $1.3 billion in fossil fuel subsidies, and analysis of the provincial budget shows this amount is projected to grow to $1.8 billion by 2023-2024.

Only 7 per cent of British Columbians agree that the government should further increase oil and gas subsidies. 62 per cent would like to see subsidies reduced or eliminated altogether, according to the poll.

The Horgan government is expected to launch a review of oil and gas royalties in the coming weeks. As MLAs returned for the fall session of the Legislature beginning in Victoria today, they were greeted by a “Stop Funding Fracking” banner hanging between two mock gas rigs on the lawn of the legislature.

The rally brought together experts and advocates from across the province to outline the impacts of the fracking and LNG industry on human health, Indigenous communities, climate change and the B.C. economy.

“B.C.’s taxpayer-funded fracked gas industry is a ticking carbon bomb,” said Alexandra Woodsworth, campaigns manager at Dogwood. “The vast majority of British Columbians are not on board with the government’s plan to pump more and more public money into the industry fuelling the climate crisis, and would rather see their tax dollars spent on priorities like affordable housing and clean energy instead. John Horgan needs to scrap handouts to oil and gas companies as a basic first step towards taking the climate emergency seriously.”

Delee Nikal, Indigenous rights & MMIWG2S advocate said: “We are at a time in which we continually hear words like ‘reconciliation’ and ‘Nation to Nation.’ But the message from the government is loud and clear as they continue to support extractive projects being pushed through Unceded territories.”

Nikal continued: “Our wealth is based on our water, traditional foods and medicines and cultural sites, and much of that has been stolen from us or destroyed in the name of industry and the colonial capitalist system. Our people continue to be put at disproportionately higher risk of harm, directly at the hands of the oil and gas industry —  from sexual violence by transient workers in man camps, to other health impacts from fracking and pipeline leaks. It is time to hold the colonial government accountable for the harms done and those they continue to perpetuate.”

Dr. Melissa Lem, president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment said: “From land, water and air pollution in northeastern British Columbia that harms local families, to the leaked methane along the supply chain that heats our planet, fracking has devastating consequences for public health. The mass casualties we saw during the heat dome this summer must be a wake-up call—to protect health and save lives, our dependence on fossil fuels must end. Continued investment in fracked gas is the wrong choice for a healthy future.”

Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said: “British Columbians deserve answers from their government about why it continues to allow natural gas companies to pay such egregiously low royalty fees. Thanks to our government’s generous and unwarranted subsidies, future royalty payments will be billions of dollars less than they otherwise would be. The subsidies simply must end as part of a coordinated plan to wind down an industry that is seriously increasing greenhouse gas emissions here and abroad.”

Poll results are based on an online study conducted by Insights West for Dogwood from September 22 to 26, 2021 among a sample of 826 residents across BC. The margin of error with the total sample—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

 

For more information:

Alexandra Woodsworth, campaigns manager, Dogwood
778-316-5558 / alexandra@dogwoodbc.ca

Steve Mossop, president, Insights West
778-891-4762 / stevemossop@insightswest.com