February 9, 2019
West Coast Environmental Law
200 - 2006 W 10th Ave. Vancouver, BC Canada, V6J 2B3 Coast Salish Territories
I am writing this letter in Calgary, Alberta on a day with an extreme cold warning because the ambient temperature is -27°C, with the wind chill it feels like -38°C. It’s far too cold for me to venture outside, so I decided to spend some time looking at your website, which is impressively attractive and easy to navigate – kudos. It appears that we agree on a few things, such as a desire to do away with diversionary tactics that sow division to undermine democracy and the core Canadian value of civil discourse.
I fancy myself a bit of an environmentalist having lived in Asia where I had to boil my water and wear a facemask while driving my scooter due to extreme pollution; I don’t want to have to do that again, so I care about what we do to the environment, both locally and globally. I believe there is value in being conscious consumers and doing our best to ensure government legislation encourages sustainable business practises; however, when organizations like yours spread misinformation or disinformation it does not encourage discussion to work towards collaborative solutions, as your website claims your group desires.
I value having different perspectives at the table to ensure that we come up with the best solutions, both when creating government policy and when implementing innovative solutions in the private sector. But publicity stunts such as the Climate Law in our Hands campaign encouraging municipalities to waste limited tax-payer dollars on frivolous lawsuits against fossil fuel companies that you know won’t stand up in court make your group and Canada look silly, divided and ineffective. These tactics are not going to help discourse. To outsiders, West Coast Environmental Law looks like a group of radicals who have a limited vision of reality and contempt for the law, all in the name of virtue-signaling and self-righteousness.
Don’t let hubris stand in the way of genuinely engaging in meaningful discussions with Canadian energy companies. I agree with you in that we need cooperation across borders, partisan lines and different sectors of society in order to combat the important issues of our day. I believe that if both sides come to the table with the intent to have respectful, collaborative, actionable discussions, we can create made-in-Canada solutions that will enhance our energy industry and ensure prosperity for the entire country for generations to come.
Canadian oil and gas companies can invest in renewables and become full scale energy companies, but they require strong balance sheets and investment to do so. Right now, renewable energy sources do not generate a lot of money, and they still require significant government subsidies. I work for a small oil and gas company in Calgary, Alberta, and the current attacks on our industry and misguided government policy have resulted in unsustainable pricing for our products making it difficult for my company to remain financially viable. We are not one of the large multi-nationals that make billions of dollars from operations around the globe, such as ExxonMobil or Chevron. If small Canadian oil and gas companies are barely hanging on, they cannot afford to invest in renewables, and that is a disservice to the entire country and the environmental movement.
I’m open to having a balanced, respectful discussion with your organization, so I look forward to hearing from you.