LETTER – Corporations should be held accountable for cleanup costs when projects go awry

Dear editor

In Brent Murphy’s May 19 letter to Black Press three words stick out. “The project is not likely to cause adverse environmental effect”

Those three words – “not likely to” – are the problem. If the “likely” ever happens, fish die, bears starve, and residents lose their natural wealth, environment, and their way of life.

Others downstream will lose their jobs, sometimes their homes, and their children’s education. Your own employees lose their jobs, and their pensions disappear. Finally, the taxpayer, because of weak laws and enforcement of environmental rules, has to pay for cleanup, while top executives and shareholders take the money and run. Ironically, your letter comes just after we learned that the B.C. taxpayer is on the hook for more than $1.2 billion in mine cleanup costs. Yes, it seems that most everybody including the animals has skin in the game if the “likely” happens. What about you?

Mr. R. Brent Murphy, your corporation wants to profit by digging one of the largest man-made pits on the planet, build one of the largest toxic containment systems, a lot of it at over 1400 metres, mine under glaciers, all at the headwaters of valuable and productive salmon habitat. This is potentially an extremely dangerous thing to do. But you, and your corporation, have no skin in the game, no risk. That is why we must bring in the law of ecocide as described by the late Polly Higgins, to hold chief executives and government ministers criminally liable for the harm they do to others, while creating a legal duty of care for life on Earth. If the “likely” happens, then it will be the top executives of the corporations and government officials who signed off on the projects who pay first; their homes and their assets, will be at risk. Mr. Murphy, unless you have skin in the game your letter is all air

Finally, we must change the law, to require resource extraction corporations, in the fields oil and gas, mining and logging, to set aside money for 100 per cent of the cleanup cost — before operations begin.

Fred Fern,


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