Oil, gas oversight lacking

A new report says British Columbia's Oil and Gas Commission isn't taking action that would protect the environment in the public interest, favouring instead the companies it is intended to police.

Author Ben Parfitt accuses the Crown corporation of serving the interests of the industry and a provincial government that promotes fossil fuel developments ahead of the public interest.

The report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives highlights times when Parfitt says the commission hasn't penalized companies to the fullest extent for the construction of unlicensed dams and violations of rules to protect endangered species.

The commission and provincial government did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

Parfitt says there will be a significant ramp up in oil and gas industry activities once liquefied natural gas plants are built on the B.C. coast, which will lead to an increase in drilling and fracking.

The report says a new arm's length agency should be created to oversee regulatory compliance and enforcement, and a single water authority should be reinstated to regulate all water users in the province.

It says the provincial government should also remove the commission's powers to change regulations and compel it to release all information deemed to be in the public interest.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is a think tank that does not take corporate donations. It describes itself as a source of progressive policy ideas and says its values are rooted in social justice and environmental sustainability.

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