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)

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.

BC legislatureClimate change

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Over 8000 BC Hydro customers have been affected by the power outage. (BC Hydro outage map)
Power outage affects 8000 BC Hydro customers in Prince Rupert area

BC Hydro has assigned crews to restore power

Josie Pottle rocks out to placing painted rocks by more than 14 different Prince Rupert childcare organization staff and tots for rock gardens around the city to mark May as Childcare Awareness month. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Childcare month is rocking it in Prince Rupert

More than 14 local childcare organizations participated in making rock gardens

Volunteers at the AFFNO drive-in movie theatre night at the Jim Ciccone Centre on May 8, directed traffic and braved the rain before the movies started. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
It was lights, camera, action for AFFNO’s drive-in movie night

Volunteers and moviegoers watched a double feature in both official languages

Pembina Prince Rupert Terminal has entered into a one-year agreement with Mitsui & Co. for the majority of its production for supply to the Asian markets, Pembina announced on May 6th. (Photo: Supplied
Prince Rupert Terminal highlighted in Pembina first quarter

Pembina announced one-year agreement with Mitsui & Co. to supply Asian market

Happy Mother’s Day on May 9th.
Millar Time

A mother’s moments

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in B.C.

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

Most Read