BC Liberal leader lobbied for a notorious American polluter, who ended up receiving an environmental hall pass from the province

By ThinkPol Staff

The recently-elected BC Liberal reader once lobbied on behalf of a US company notorious for pollution, and the province ended up granting the energy company a hall pass to set up a facility in British Columbia bypassing provincial environmental laws.

Andrew Wilkinson first signed up as lobbyist for the New Jersey-based Covanta Energy Corporation on January 30, 2008 ‒ just over two years after he left his post as a deputy minister in the BC Liberal Government on January 6, 2006 ‒ according to an article appearing in the Public Eye magazine[1]http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/002879.html.

On August 5, 2009, the BC Environment Assessment Office granted Covanta Energy Corporation an exemption from obtaining an environment assessment certificate for the proposed Gold River Power Project, documents obtained by ThinkPol show[2]https://thinkpol.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/28-bc-eao-2009-the-gold-river-power-project-order-under-section-101b-p-2.pdf.

“Major projects in B.C. are assessed for potentially significant adverse environmental, social, economic, health and heritage effects by the Environmental Assessment Office (the EAO), as required by the Environmental Assessment Act,” the Environment Assessment Office website states[3]http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/process.html. “The company building the project (the proponent) provides details on what they believe to be the potential adverse effects of the project, and how they mitigate those effects.”

But the Environment Assessment Office granted Covanta the exemption even though multiple US jurisdictions had fined the energy company over egregious breaches of environmental regulations, including serious cases of air pollution caused by the company releasing toxic levels lead, dioxin/furan, nickel and other compounds in the atmosphere[4]http://www.durhamenvironmentwatch.org/Covanta/Covanta%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf.

Despite Covanta’s track record of environmental law violations, the Environment Assessment Office concluded that the “proposed Project will not have significant adverse environmental, economic, social, heritage or health effects, taking into account practical means of preventing or reducing to an acceptable level, any potential adverse effects of the proposed Project.”

Interestingly, while Wilkinson started lobbying for Covanta starting January 30, 2008, he did not register himself with the BC Lobby registry until two and a half years later on June 4, 2010[5]

Wilkinson has a long history of representing questionable clients both as a lawyer and a lobbyist.

Wilkinson once acted for corrupt Chinese tycoon Ni Ritao’s company Sun Wave Forest Products, which breached an agreement to resurrect an abandoned pulp mill costing the City of Prince Rupert millions of dollars.

An SCMP investigation into case revealed that the businessman lied to a Vancouver court about his convictions for graft and forgery, falsely claiming he had been fully exonerated[6]http://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2055167/exclusive-corrupt-chinese-tycoon-ni-ritao-linked.

Wilkinson acted as a lawyer on the matter until March 27, 2012, when Bill Belsey, the then vice-president of the B.C. Liberal Party, took over the case[7]https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/new-bc-liberal-candidate-has-ties-to-shuttered-pulp-mill/article8798196/.

Wilkinson also once acted for multinational tobacco companies against British Columbia, as the province sought to recover billions of dollars spent out of the public health-care budget to treat people with smoking-related diseases such as emphysema and lung cancer[8]https://thinkpol.ca/2018/02/05/bc-liberal-leader-batted-big-tobacco-bc/.

[Photo Credit: Province of British Columbia]

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/002879.html
2. https://thinkpol.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/28-bc-eao-2009-the-gold-river-power-project-order-under-section-101b-p-2.pdf
3. http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/process.html
4. http://www.durhamenvironmentwatch.org/Covanta/Covanta%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
6. http://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2055167/exclusive-corrupt-chinese-tycoon-ni-ritao-linked
7. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/new-bc-liberal-candidate-has-ties-to-shuttered-pulp-mill/article8798196/
8. https://thinkpol.ca/2018/02/05/bc-liberal-leader-batted-big-tobacco-bc/