Independent MLA Vicki Huntington told the Globe that the suppression of data looks like a cover-up from a government which wants nothing to stand in the way of its ambitions to secure a new liquefied natural gas industry.
“Northern British Columbians want to know whether the current regulation of the oil and gas industry does or does not protect their health,” MLA Huntington said. “The government has the information and has so far refused to release it.”
However, Health Minister Terry Lake says the report, which has been on his desk since last fall, is still being studied by several government departments, but he hopes to release the results “soon.”
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The government released a report in 2012, which compiled the concerns of northeast residents who believe health problems like asthma, bronchitis, and cancer are linked to the oil and gas activity in the area.
This follow-up report is meant to assess if there is a scientific basis for those concerns, and the government has also promised to review whether its current regulations around the industry could be improved to better manage human health risks.
MLA Huntington, who represents the Lower Mainland riding of Delta South, has been pushing for an investigation since she first met with concerned residents in the Peace region back in 2011.
She says her office filed a freedom of information application, and after waiting 86 days was told she could not have even the raw data of the new report, much less its conclusions, because the information could be harmful to the financial interest of a public body.