Legislators, regulators and validators

I had a fascinating exchange with the CEO of the Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT) the other day. I’m investigating the structure of the Trust and some of the projects it has approved for “carbon offsets.” The whole concept of carbon offsets is questionable to begin with, some experts call it the worst kind of “voodoo economics” possible. When cash the strapped public sector is forced by government to give up $25 million every year (money that should be going to schools, hospitals, seniors’ facilities and other public programs) in order to buy these “offsets” I think it’s entirely appropriate to question where that money is going.

As most people should know by now the public money in the PCT is only available to the private sector. Luxury resorts and hotels, greenhouses, Lafarge and Encana have been the recipients of this public money so far. The CEO of the PCT has informed me that there will be another 25 projects announced before the end of June.

In investigating the Encana project that the Trust helped to fund, I came across what I believe are valid questions about whether Encana should have qualified for the trust’s money. Morally and ethically, I struggle with giving public money to a highly profitable company that is also the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in B.C. In fact, while the Trust is giving our tax money to Encana for “reducing” its carbon emissions by 84,000 tonnes over the past three years, Encana’s new processing plant in that same region starting emitting up to an additional 2.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

Aside from this ethical concern, however, I also had technical questions about whether Encana should have qualified for our tax money based on the stated standards of the trust and the regulations established by government. That’s when the CEO made a very interesting challenge to me. He quite forcefully and aggressively asked me if I was calling into question the two validators of the project (KMPG and an engineering firm) and the regulator of the industry (the Oil and Gas Commission). All three of these agencies had certified that the project qualified for our tax money and, therefore, according to the CEO I was supposed to be satisfied and, I guess, feel embarrassed that I was challenging such reputable entities.


My rebuttal to the CEO was to mention the Savings & Loan debacle in the U.S., Enron, the derivatives mess that caused the collapse of the U.S. economy, and the BP disaster. I could have gone on for a very long time listing situation after situation where regulators and validators told legislators everything was rosy when it most definitely was not. There is a long and sordid history of regulators and validators failing to protect the public interest with catastrophic results.

It is my duty to question regulators and third party validators. When legislators fail in this duty, history proves that the public interest is all too often not protected. So, yes, I am and will continue to question KPMG, engineers and the Oil & Gas Commission as well as the Pacific Carbon Trust about their use of public money and whether or not the projects this money supports meets the requirements of law, common sense, and some form of ethical standard.

In the case of Encana getting our tax money for a project that reduces emissions a tiny amount relative to their additional contribution to B.C.’s greenhouse gases, I’m still not convinced that project should have been certified to receive public money — the sign off of the regulators and validators notwithstanding.

Best regards,

Brian Kowalski

Outreach and Communications Coordinator

Bob Simpson, Independent MLA, Cariboo North




Just Posted

B.C. premier says Greyhound replacement news could come shortly

Province is working with the private sector to find a solution, says premier

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mix of sun and clouds

Environment Canada is calling for a chance of rain and risk of thunderstorms across the Okanagan tonight

Mellalieu running for Greens again in Central-Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

Robert Mellalieu ran for federal Green Party in 2015 election and provincial Greens in 2017

Short notice for Keremeos residents for Highway 3 paving

The Village of Keremeos is advising residents today because of the short notice

Premier releases details on Keremeos affordable housing project

The proposed project will be designed to include one-, two- and three-bedroom units

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

Native of Saint-Lambert, Que., set a record for longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

New river channel shuttle service in the South Okanagan

Company launches this Friday and offers services within City of Penticton limits

Okanagan RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

Trail Alliance to oversee Sicamous-to-Armstrong rail trail planning

Regional district relies on non-profit organization’s expertise on trail projects

Thieves steal two $40K chairs featuring gold serpents from Vancouver furniture store

Chairs believed to be the only two of its kind in Canada, police said

Okanagan businessowner challenges community to display Pride

“A huge reason why I made this challenge for other business was to offer LGBTQ+ community a safe place to eat, chat, shop, and get your haircut”

Okanagan bylaw officer best in B.C.

Al Harrison named Bylaw Officer of the Year at annual association conference

Poll: Rising gas prices force B.C. residents rethink summer road trips

63 per cent of respondents reported gas prices are impacting their day-to-day finances

Most Read