Monday, February 23, 2015

Hey Tom Fletcher, whose energy policy is nonsense?

The work of Tom Fletcher is a subject today and the article about agenda-driven journalism is drawing large readership. The Black Press writer offered a defence to one reader today. In it, he claimed I was offering selective quotes. He didn't saying I was inventing, just selecting. A previous exchange may cast further light on our respective positions. The following was first published in July 2014.

In the article "Unparalleled, indeed," I quoted from an item written in 2011 by Black Press proselytizer Tom Fletcher. In it, he
"lauded Gordon Campbell's "long-term strategy to export hydroelectric power" and he called John Horgan the champion of doomsayers. Fletcher wrote of "evidence that current NDP energy policy is nonsense."
Reader Merv Adey drew Fletcher's attention to this quote with:
Demonstrating, at the very least, poor arithmetic skills, Fletcher responded:

However, his was not a convincing answer since the International Energy Agency and the financial media had been reporting on a natural gas glut since 2008, three years before Fletcher tapped out his words. Besides, oversupply of electricity in the Pacific Northwest is not explained so simply. Respected energy expert Robert McCullough produced a report last winter that paints a more complete picture. It is a picture that suggests the policy that led to $55 billion worth of BC Hydro commitments for high cost private power was true nonsense in a world where electricity has been available from our neighbours for a fraction of what BC pays independent producers.
"He found there is regularly so much electricity available in the Bonneville Power Administration network that it can't sell it all.

"In fact, McCullough found, in the past two years, the market has been so oversupplied that Bonneville regularly paid customers to take electricity off its hands.

"There are a few reasons why energy prices have fallen so low. Two consecutive rainy years have put plenty of water behind the dams. Energy companies continue rapid development of wind farms, which have become more competitive in the cost of power..."
I reminded Fletcher of another of his inaccuracies, one from 2012 that demonstrated his lack of competence to report on provincial energy policy. He wrote,
"Natural gas replaced forest products some years ago as B.C.’s top commodity revenue stream, helping to keep the lights on in B.C. schools and hospitals."

Again demonstrating discomfort with calendars, the response of David Black's favourite pundit was a non sequitur:
Actually, Tom, it was two years ago you composed that misinformation and you've not corrected it since. And, aren't you one of those writers who likes to claim that BC was in the political and economic dark ages before May 2001? Heck, that was more than ten years ago. By the way, natural gas is not BC's top commodity revenue stream and here are the gas royalty numbers, drawn from Ministry of Finance documents,

Remember too that oil and gas rights sales had gone softer than a leaking balloon before Fletcher made the claim that gas was keeping the lights on in schools and hospitals. Of course, if Fletcher had his preference, lights would not be needed in public schools, but that's another story.

I don't often read Fletcher's work but I have seen enough to know he is a right-wing ideologue. Apparently, he's one who doesn't let fact get in the way of strongly held opinions that he wants to share with readers. I closed the Twitter conversation with this:

In preparing this, I looked at a number of items written by Tom Fletcher. I had forgotten his role in newspaper publisher David Black's campaign against the Nisga'a Final Agreement, a treaty initialed in 1998 and given legal effect by Parliament in 2000. Black was opposed, strongly opposed, to recognizing aboriginal rights and he ordered his entire newspaper group to give that message to readers. Many people thought that put editors in a position of conflict, perhaps forgetting that Black suggested any editors who were opposed could submit a letter to the editor for consideration.

Fletcher did not have difficulties with an instruction from the boss. In a letter to the Vancouver Sun, he said,
"What other editors and I were forbidden to do was to spend the owner's money and space to counteract his initiative on the treaty by commissioning contrary viewpoints. I have no trouble accepting that."
Of course, this presents a karmic situation. Some years ago, Black and his minions hated the very idea of negotiating treaties with First Nations. Today, they are big supporters of building Northern Gateway and other pipelines to transport fossil fuels across the BC wilderness.

What stands in the way? The consent of First Nations who, in the absence of treaties, have Supreme Court affirmed rights to control development in unceded territories.

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  1. I love that cartoon, Norm! I imagine Tom — or any of the ideologues he supports — being the one seated.

  2. Perhaps Mr. Fletcher is trying to earn a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize for FICTION!

  3. Hey Tom, What colour is your personal sparkle pony,black?

    1. Should be red cause BC is 63 billion dollars in the red.

  4. Let us not be too hard on Mr. Fletcher, in fact most of the main stream media were lauding the independent power producers and their highly destructive 'run of river' projects. In fact, most of the electorate tended to believe Campbell (he knew his base and pandered to it very well). but now the fiscal s*** has hit the proverbial fan.

    Power exports are diminishing and Hydro is forced to pay ruinous priced for independent power, most of which is owned by Campbell cronies.

    Campbell's tax cuts to the wealthy have come back to haunt BC and the 'average Joe' is tapped out paying exorbitant user fees which replaced almost non existent tax cuts, given to the peon class. The peon class is now feel very peed on and Premier Photo-op is under pressure to garner more tax money from the peons (bridge tolls, huge MSP payments., etc.) to pay for the missing tax dollars, lost to unbelievable mismanagement by the BC Liberals.

    Message to tom Fletcher and David Black; Get off the BC Liberal gravy-train as the Campbell/Photo-op express is about to hit a peon landslide and it would be best to be seen as at least neutral to the upcoming fiasco.

    Just look at the Compass Card, forced on to the taxpayers when Campbell best Friend, Ken Dobell, acting as a lobbyist for Cubit Industries, forced a very dated 'tap in/tap out' reader card system on to TransLink that still is not working and when it does work, will cost more to operate than fares lost to fare evasion.

    Tom, report on that or why the Canada line was $1 billion over original cost or the very poorly built SFPR?

    Next station, independent reporting!

  5. Can Mr. F link to any of his work that describes how government resource revenues have declined drastically during Liberal years even though prices have climbed for those same commodities. Has he provided anything like the factual detail provided here?

    I can't find any press gallery member who has reported a fraction of the information that would provide a complete picture of resource management in BC.

  6. We will look back fondly at those dark days in the nineties when provincial debt was under $30B. As I've written in At least Liberal inconsistency is consistent, the $63B claim for provincial debt is not even close to the real number.

    Much of the $100B owing in additional commitments is nothing more than debt owed the private sector for construction of assets needed or wanted by the public.

    The $55 B that BC Hydro must pay for private power has an unfortunate similarity to the Washington Public Power Supply System fiasco of some year back, when they abandoned partially constructed nuclear power plants because of high costs and potential environmental damage.. Difference is that taxpayers in Washington got stuck with a bill about one tenth the size of the one faced by BC taxpayers. Plus, we've got significant damage to lands and waterways that won't be repaired in the lifetimes of people reading this.

  7. WPPSS (Washington Public Power Supply System) was pronounced "WHOOPS" long before its grand nuclear dreams turned into epic failure. The BC Hydro and Power Authority (BCHPA) could use a better acronym.

  8. Any time I see his face/articles, I turn the page. Guy's a joke. Just another "stooge" protecting his own pay cheque.

    1. I have to agree. It's been a very long long time since I read one of his articles. Problem is that many smaller communities that have lost newspapers and rely on community papers ( Vernon Morning Star etc ) that are simply advertising flyers will include Fletcher's media releases from the Liberal party. Without those, the man has nothing and has clearly branded himself as a spokesperson for the Liberal party. Maybe he wants to replace Pamela Martin when she's sent out to pasture.

      Guy in Victoria

    2. Fletcher promotes the Liberal Party but he would would happily support any right wing pro-business coalition and direct invective toward their opponents.

      Sadly, many of BC's political journalists have learned there are rewards to be had for promoting the right ideas and interest groups. It's pretty hard to be anything but pro-business in media commentary if there are organizations willing to cough up $5,000 or more for a 45 minute speech. When the "stars" fill their pockets, how can other reporters be told it is unethical to take money from people affected by your coverage. (Notice that no one except Charlie Smith at the Georgia Straight and a few bloggers dare to discuss the ethics of journalists taking payments for friendly coverage.)

  9. tom fetch it for black, oh that guy. he writes a column for black press and its just a load of shit. facts and figures wrong, supports stuff which isn't going to work. They publish the comox valley record. they decided to have a new editor, who no longer publishes letters to the editor which are longer than 350 words. Guess that keeps people from writing letters which have facts, figures, useful information.

    No wonder people in this province don't have any information, however, as things become progressively worse, with higher fees and no increase in jobs or salaries, this province is going bust. If it weren't for those in the Comox Valley going to Alberta to work, I don't know where the money to keep the valley afloat would come from. If you believed black press and go fetch it tom we will have all the sparkle ponies we need in just another minute. It is all starting to remind me of Rupert Murdoch's influence on british politics and we all know what happened there, and is still going on. so what really is going on behind closed doors in this province.

  10. Is that, perchance-a-lot, a 'Double Merv!' I see at the top of the thread?


  11. Fletcher should follow Good's lead and What are the other two Liberal shills on "who cut the cheese" going to do now? BTW, for a few laughs check out Fartcatcher's screeds on Burnaby mayor Corrigan. Hilarious! Fletch is becoming unhinged on Burnaby's exposing of Kinder-Morgan. Keep up the good work,Norm.

  12. For your info: Well Royalty Calculation PDF (July 2014)

    Producers must pay a minimum royalty on wells if their net royalty payable is zero after deducting deep gas well credits from the gross royalty payable less producer cost of service (PCOS)

  13. I don't understand what is the line for malfeasance or misrepresentation in contracts written in the name of the province. Obviously sweet deals to your political bankers = Glen Clarks deck X 1 billion?

  14. I would like to see what the Producer Cost of Service definition is. In many cases if there is a more expensive way to do things the producers just haven't figured it out yet. Then factor in the FBI(friends and brothers-in-law) system of cost enhancement and maybe that is why they changed the name of the "Net Profit Royalty Credit" to Minimum, or maybe that one still exists too. When the producers get to do the major part of the counting the opportunity for inflated costs and leakage of resources can increase dramatically, much like they did back in the days of the federal government Petroleum Incentive Program grants. Lots of mi$$ing funds.



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