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Suppressed Audit Shows B.C. Fossils ‘Systematically’ Breaking Caribou Protection Plan


Oil and gas fracking companies operating near Fort Nelson, British Columbia failed to consistently follow provincial regulations designed to protect declining boreal caribou herds in the area according to a suppressed, four-year-old audit for the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, obtained by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

“This audit was submitted to the Oil and Gas Commission,” and “that was the last that anybody heard of it until we received a copy anonymously and started to look into the audit’s findings,” said CCPA resource policy analyst Ben Parfitt, even though the Fort Nelson First Nation had requested a copy of the results.

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The April, 2014 audit by biologist Dan Webster found that companies “systematically” violated a caribou recovery plan the province had put in place in 2011, after the federal government officially listed boreal caribou as a threatened species under the Species At Risk Act.

“They were building gas well pads that were far larger than the rules said they should be,” Parfitt told CBC’s Daybreak North show. “They were building long road corridors and pipeline corridors in straight lines that allowed wolves to very easily spot caribou. They did a number of things that violated the rules.” 

A BCOGC official said specific concerns with the audit prevented the Crown agency from finalizing it. Parfitt interpreted that as “a lack of zeal on the commission’s part to prosecute companies for violating those rules.”

From this point on, he said, “our hope would be that there would be a formal separation of the powers of permitting from enforcement,” he added. “The Oil and Gas Commission should continue doing what it has been doing since the outset, which is to review and issue permits. But the environmental policing, if you will, ought to be done by a stand-alone operation.”