09/25/2012 07:54 EDT | Updated 11/25/2012 05:12 EST

Natural Gas Lobbyist Rush In British Columbia

According to lobbyist registry data, there are currently 57 lobbyists representing the natural gas industry to elected officials and government agencies in the province of British Columbia. This is a pretty astounding number when you consider that the provincial government only consists of 85 elected representatives.

British Columbia is where I grew up and it is a place of natural beauty; in fact the main city of Vancouver is commonly cited as one of the most liveable cities in the world. But with all that nature comes a lot of natural resources and there has been a huge rush to extract these resources under the current business-friendly government. ( Disclosure: I worked for this government for three years as a political advisor.)

So friendly in fact that last week, the B.C. government announced it would forgo more than $120 million in natural gas royalties in order to spur new investment in natural gas extraction.

Northern British Columbia has major gas deposits and with the relatively cheap extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, natural gas has seen a major rush of investment and extraction activity.  

Hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") is a very controversial extraction process that has been the focus of a lot of media attention over the last couple of years in Canada and the United States. Like the U.S., there is major investment in lobbying at the provincial government level in Canada to see that controversial issues like fracking do not get in the way of the natural gas boom. Elected officials and government agencies are inundated with coporate lobbyists who want to ensure that the gas industry is seen favorably. 

According to lobbyist registry information, there are currently 57 lobbyists being paid to represent the views of the natural gas industry to elected officials and government agencies in British Columbia:

  • Mark Reder works for the firm Fleishman-Hillard and is registered as working on behalf of gas pipeline giant Kinder Morgan to raise "awareness of Kinder Morgan's B.C. operations and their benefits with key govenment officials." 
  • Jay Hill, former Conservative Party of Canada member of parliament, is registered as working on Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) issues on behalf of the Alberta-based company Apache Canada
  • Michael Brooks is registered as working on behalf of Talisman Energy to, "educate officials as to key issues in the natural gas policy area and to Talisman's plans for, and contribution to, the province of British Columbia." Also under the same registry are lobbyists Eric Kristianson and Ross Curtis.
  • Marcella Munro, Bruce Young and Adam Johnson at Earnscliffe Strategy are working on behalf of natural gas company Spectra Energy to, "support the dialogue between Spectra and the BC Official Opposition regarding natural gas policy issues in the province."
  • Leah Murray is working on behalf of Progress Energy "to build relationships with government." The US-based Progress Energy was recently bought out by Duke Energy to form the large electrical utility in the United States. Progress also has natural gas interests in Alberta.
  • Former political advisor Chris Tupper at Global Public Affairsis working on behalf of Cenovus Energy to "coordinate meetings to discuss the role of Cenovus in BC's economy." Cenonvus Energy has a mixed energy portfolio with major shallow gas operations in Alberta. 
  • Pennwest Petroleum which has major natural gas operations in Northern B.C. lists CEO Murray Nunns, along with Greg Moffat, James Norris, Bob Shepard, James Walsh and Keith Luft as representing the company to elected officials and government officials in British Columbia.
  • Kevin Reinhart representing Nexen Inc. which has major gas holding in Northern British Columbia. Other lobbyists registered for Nexen are Ron Bailey, Don Dreisinger, Sandi Morrisseau, Wishart Robson, Sarah Schwann and Shad Watts. 
  • Peter Kaine working on behalf of Northcote Group of Investment Companieson Liquid Natural Gas exports.
  • Tony Kuehne, Levonne Louie and John Rushford working on behalf of the Fort Worth Texas based Quicksilver Resources.
  • Natural gas giant Encana has 28 in-house lobbyists registered to do work in British Columbia.

    They are: Allen Darcy, Christopher Bakker, Kevin Beneteau, Jennifer Blaney, Rod Crockford, Elliot Cudmore, Rickie Lee-Doyle, Richard Dunn, Kellen Foreman, Michael Forgo, Roy Fournier, Joanne Hansen, Brent Harrison, Jenifer Hedayat, Sarah Koskie, Brian Lieverse, David Lye, Michael McAllister, Noel Millions, Erin Peachey, Jonathan Remer, James Roberts, Sam Shaw, Kevin Smith, Lindsay Stephens, Scott Stonehouse, David Thorn and Jason Verhaest. 

  • Tamara Little of National Public Relations is registered for lobby work on behalf of natural gas company Progress Energy to "raise awareness about Progress Energy and build relationships with government."