General · 4th March 2010
George Heyman, Sierra Club BC
March 2, 2010
Victoria, BC—The B.C. budget contains some welcome measures for a clean, green economy but the overall balance tips heavily in favour of carbon-intensive industries such as oil and gas, Sierra Club BC said today.
“This budget gives small snacks to green initiatives compared to the full course meals that oil, gas and mining companies will get from public coffers,” said Sierra Club BC Executive Director George Heyman.
The $100 million slated for climate action and clean energy development, and $35 million to revive the popular LiveSmart program, pale in comparison to a projected $282 million in subsidies this year alone for the oil and gas sector, Heyman said. The budget also includes $274 million for the electrification of Highway 37, an initiative that will support carbon-intensive coal mining and other mining mega-projects, as well as $200 million to upgrade roads in B.C.’s northeast for the oil and gas sector.
“We appreciate that the government listened to British Columbians and reinstated LiveSmart funding to help with energy-efficient home retrofits, but judging from LiveSmart’s initial success we expect that money will disappear in less than one year instead of the three years for which it is intended,” said Heyman. “Expanding LiveSmart further would be a significant boost for B.C.’s economy and help reduce our carbon emissions, especially since homeowners will now have to swallow the cost of the new HST on labour for climate-friendly upgrades.”
While the environment ministry’s budget remains relatively unchanged after eight years of significant and harmful reductions, Heyman said he is concerned about a $655,000 cut to parks and protected areas, likely to lead to parks closures and further staff reductions.
Deep cuts to the Ministry of Forests and Range, including a 10 percent reduction of almost $30 million to forests and range management, are alarming, said Heyman. “It’s unclear what the full impact of those cuts will be, but we hope that the ministry’s important work on forests and climate change will continue. We are also very concerned that decreases in forest management staff will prevent B.C. from ensuring that new environmentally-friendly forms of forest management will be implemented and monitored in order to ensure a sustainable forest economy – while protecting our province’s ecosystems, jobs and communities.”