May 8, 2009

Mischief making by oil and gas industry


Ben Parfitt and I submitted the following letter to the Vancouver Sun yesterday. Hopefully it will run in the next couple days. Here it is:

Letter to the editor

Re. “Maintaining momentum in oil and gas,” May 7.

The oil and gas industry should stop its political mischief-making, and obfuscating the numbers about the industry’s contribution to BC’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The estimate that flaring, fugitive gas leaks and other waste gas sources account for approximately 13 per cent of BC’s GHGs is based on our research, derived from data from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. We stand by this research.

The industry’s David Collyer claims emissions from these sources account for between one and two per cent of BC’s GHG emissions, and cites the BC Oil and Gas Commission as his source. He is wrong. The Commission itself has made clear that this figure refers only to flaring, not the far more damaging (from a GHG perspective) venting and pipeline leaks.

Applying a royalty on this wasted gas, as the NDP proposes, is good public policy. Collyer notes that the BC Liberals are proposing to extend the carbon tax to some of these fugitive emissions. This would be an improvement to the tax, although the Liberals propose taxing only a portion of all flared gas.

Not only would financial penalties like royalties capture revenues for the public, but more importantly, they would create an incentive for the industry to quickly make the capital investments needed to capture these flared and fugitive emissions, and ensure this gas goes to market, rather than being let loose into the atmosphere.


Seth Klein and Ben Parfitt, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

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