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BC gives gas industry violators gentle treatment

How closely does British Columbia’s Oil and Gas Commission police the province's thousands of natural gas production, collection and distribution sites? Let's put it this way: you should be so lucky with traffic tickets.

The Commission's annual report claims that the 6,474 inspections it conducted in 2010 found less than 0.3 per cent of industry operators (fewer than 20 sites) were failing to abide by the rules.

What it doesn't say (but the Auditor General did), is that this failure rate includes only outfits that received a grace period to get into line with the rules, and then failed a second inspection.

The Commission doesn't release the real failure rate. But it does disclose how much the industry has paid in fines for violations over the years: a grand total of $84,000 in all since 2007 (according to figures provided by the Commission).

To put that in perspective, the industry poured $1.3 billion in resource revenues into the provincial coffers last year. Enough to warrant a little friendly leeway from the gas-field cops?

[Editor’s note: For more on the working partnership between gas companies and government, check out Tyee contributor Chris Wood's in-depth feature in the current issue of The Walrus.]

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