Wilderness Committee Slams BC Throne Speech

Vancouver, BC – The Wilderness Committee is raising concerns regarding inconsistencies and misinformation in the BC throne speech for 2009.

Tuesday’s throne speech was a disappointing example of rhetoric over reality. The government is pushing forward a number of environmentally harmful initiatives all the while trying to pass them off as green. It’s green-washing, plain and simple,” said Gwen Barlee, Policy Director for the Wilderness Committee. “Hazardous waste incinerators, private hydro projects, and coal mining – our government is trying to sell these projects to British Columbians as real action on climate change. It’s disappointing and surprising – especially moving ahead with environmentally damaging and poorly planned private power projects.”

A major concern raised by the Wilderness Committee is the provincial governments stated support for so called waste-to-energy incinerators. At least seven waste incinerators are currently proposed in BC, including a hazardous waste facility in pristine Christina Lake. “A truly green energy plan has nothing to do with burning garbage for power,” said Healthy Communities Campaigner Ben West. “These incinerators are neither sustainable nor an energy solution. They release potentially cancer-causing toxins into the atmosphere and result in a net loss of energy,” said West.

The electrification of Highway 37 is also being highlighted by the Wilderness Committee as a clear case of environmental hypocrisy. This plan involves potentially using private hydro projects to help power coal and other mining operations. “The government is using green rhetoric to hide the fact they are subsidizing projects along Highway 37 like the Mt. Klappan coal mine. That one mine alone could add 10.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, equal to nearly 1/6th of our total emissions in BC,” said Barlee.

The Wilderness Committee is encouraged to see the creation of a task force to look into endangered species legislation and look forward to working with the government on that initiative. Other promising initiatives include plans to further safeguard our environment from cosmetic chemical pesticides. “We are glad that the provincial government is listening to what the people are demanding in regards to protecting species at risk and banning cosmetic pesticides. Both proposals are hugely popular with the people of BC,” said Barlee.

But the Wilderness Committee remained critical of the throne speech overall. “The people of BC clearly want real environmental action to address the serious challenges we face, but unfortunately instead we heard the BC government making misleading claims about policies that are in truth a step backward on energy, toxins and climate change,” said West. “We need real action, not more government spin.”

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