Canada: Energy, environment & pipelines 2015

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14 December
Preparing for a coming storm: Climate deal success hinges on buy-in from ordinary people
‘We must act now,’ says renowned Canadian climate scientist [Alain Bourque]
“For scientists, the Paris conference is more of a political process or a decision-making process,” he told CBC News.
“The main objective really is to decrease greenhouse gases. Personally, I find that we probably rely too much on governments and treaties in order to do stuff.
“At the end of the day, I think it’s all the individuals that need to decrease greenhouse gases and do the job.”
10 December
COP21: Canada’s new goal for limiting global warming ‘perhaps a dream’
Target ambitious but not impossible, scientists say
(CBC) Canada’s new Liberal government has upped the ante on its promises to help slow global warming, joining other countries at the Paris climate talks that say a previously agreed upon global target falls short of protecting everyone’s interests.
Canada supports a long-term goal of limiting rising average temperatures to within 1.5 C of pre-industrial levels, although 2 C remains the official target. …
The Canadian government must commit to converting to 100 per cent renewable energy over the next 35 years to stay below the 1.5 C mark, says Gideon Forman, a climate change policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation. (For a 2 C target, there would be “a little more time,” he says.)
That means moving immediately to eliminate coal-fired power; ramp up investment in renewable energy like wind, solar or geothermal power; and rethink public transportation, he says.
Climate change is ‘largest science communication failure in history’
5 December
Why Northern Gateway is probably dead
With climbing costs as well as aboriginal and environmental opposition, the future of the pipeline is up in the air. Justine Hunter and Carrie Tait report
(Globe & Mail) After spending half a billion dollars in an effort to win the right to build a 1,100-kilometre pipeline to carry Alberta oil-sands bitumen to tidewater, Enbridge Inc. is understandably reluctant to tell its shareholders that the effort has been for naught. In fact, the company insists that the project is not dead.
But the commitment from the federal Liberals to impose an oil-tanker ban off of British Columbia’s north coast, in addition to promised tougher environmental assessments, already provides a draft of the project’s obituary.
Senior players in western Canada’s oil patch quietly wrote Northern Gateway off some time ago, but they are now comfortable publicly dismissing it.
1 December
Seven things Canada needs to accomplish in Paris
Johannah Bernstein and Désirée McGraw
(Globe & Mail) This week in Paris, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that “Canada is back.” If Canada is serious about a renewed commitment, it must raise its own level of climate-change ambition and work hard to mobilize support from other governments for a robust outcome in Paris.
The Trudeau government follows a dark and debilitating decade of Conservative obstructionism on the international climate stage as well as many years of insufficient action by previous Liberal governments.
Currently in Paris, the most pressing challenge is the fact that the voluntary pledges by over 180 countries don’t add up to a sufficient level of greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions to stay within the two-degree C threshold beyond which, scientists tell us, climate change becomes irreversible. The combined impact of the pledges depends on a bigger package of financing and technology transfer as well as measures to support adaptation, verification and compliance.
How these issues are resolved will determine whether the agreement adopted can keep humanity on the safe side of a world that is two degrees warmer. If Canada truly is back, then it must work to ensure that the following proposals on the table are adopted in Paris.
17 November
Cost of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion quietly rises to $6.8 billion
(National Observer) As capital costs increase, so do tolls shippers pay. If tolls exceed a certain limit, shippers can walk. As Mr. Anderson explained, “a toll to our customers in excess of $6.8 billion—that gives them the out.”
Don’t expect any of Trans Mountain’s shippers to say they want out at this point, even as they’re backing away from oil sands projects. They are under a legal obligation to speak well of the Trans Mountain’s expansion until its through the regulatory process. No matter what happens, shippers who have signed up must publicly support Trans Mountain in getting the regulatory approval it seeks. It’s in Clause 2.2 of the contract.
13 November
Trudeau orders oil tanker ban that could kill Northern Gateway
The prime minister’s directive asks transport minister Marc Garneau to:
“Formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s North Coast, working in collaboration with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to develop an approach.”

(National Observer) “This ban ends the dangerous Northern Gateway pipeline,” said ForestEthics campaigner Karen Mahon in Vancouver.
“Without tankers, crude oil has no place to go — and that means no pipelines, no oil trains moving tar sands to the northern BC coast.”
The controversial pipeline has been dogged for years by protests, opposition at federal pipeline hearings, and powerful Indigenous resistance.
… the moratorium’s wording so far suggests it will only apply to crude oil tankers —not Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tankers. The region is expecting a surge in hundreds of LNG tankers should terminals in Prince Rupert and Kitimat get green lighted.
The directives also instruct natural resources minister Jim Carr to “modernize the National Energy Board” with more regional views and new experts in fields such as environmental science, community development, and Indigenous traditional knowledge.
Minister Carr is also asked “to immediately review Canada’s environmental assessment processes to regain public trust” and to introduce new ones that will “restore robust oversight”, ensure decisions are based on “science, facts, and evidence, and serve the public’s interest” and “require project proponents to choose the best technologies available to reduce environmental impacts.”
7 November
Keystone XL Pipeline: How Stephen Harper’s Old Schoolmate Helped Kill It
(HuffPost) One of the great ironies of the interminable saga of Keystone XL is that its two great antagonists were unaware that they went to grade school together.
Bill McKibben is amused to hear pro-pipeline politicians in Canada deride opponents like him as foreign radicals. McKibben quipped in an interview: “I had exactly the same upbringing as Stephen Harper.”
The Vermont environmentalist spent his elementary-school years in Toronto, during his father’s posting as a business journalist. He never got to know the future prime minister, who was a year ahead at Northlea Elementary.
6 November
Obama administration rejects Keystone XL pipeline
Although the project is dead for now, Obama’s rejection will likely not be the last word for Keystone XL
(AP via Maclean’s) U.S. President Barack Obama has announced he has rejected TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline, capping a seven-year saga that became an environmental flashpoint in both Canada and the U.S.
Obama said the Keystone pipeline would “not serve the national interests” of the U.S., adding that the project had an overly inflated role in the political discourse between both countries.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was disappointed but understood the decision, Obama said.
“While he expressed his disappointment, given Canada’s position on this issue, we both agreed that our close friendship on a whole range of issues — including energy and climate change — should provide the basis for an even closer co-ordination between our countries going forward,” Obama said at the White House after meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.
The Net Impact of President Obama’s Keystone XL Decision
(Hudson Institute) For the new Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada, this is a lucky break. Now Prime Minister Trudeau can focus on making a bold Canadian commitment to act on climate change at the upcoming United Nations conference in Paris and shore up Canada’s environmental credentials for the next 12 months. Then, in 2017, he can say to the new U.S. president that Canada is no longer just part of the problem on climate change, but is part of the solution too, and this project deserves a second look. Even President Hilary Clinton might agree to that, and a Republican president certainly would.
3 November
How the University of Calgary’s Enbridge relationship became controversial
‘Most damningly it smacks of us being apologists for the fossil fuel industry,’ one academic warned
(CBC) Emails obtained from a freedom of information request suggest a pattern of corporate influence during the bungled attempt to establish a new research centre that cost the university top level academic talent and its Haskayne School of Business upwards of a million dollars in corporate sponsorship.
The story of the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability covers a short and troubled two-and-a-half years that ended in the fall of 2014.
2 November
How the University of Calgary’s Enbridge relationship became controversial
‘Most damningly it smacks of us being apologists for the fossil fuel industry,’ one academic warned
The story of the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability covers a short and troubled two-and-a-half years that ended in the fall of 2014.
In that time, documents obtained by the CBC reveal a university bending over backward to accommodate the apparent public relations ambitions of a corporate patron.
Along the way, concerns about academic independence, the role of university research and the credibility of the researchers were dismissed
22 October
Seven Priorities for the New Canadian Federal Government: The Environmental and Sustainability Agenda
Scott Vaughan, IISD President and CEO
A long list of priorities awaits the new Canadian government, topped by federal climate mitigation policies in the lead-up to the Paris climate change conference. While there will be no shortage of advice regarding the climate agenda, other pressing matters need Ottawa’s attention. Below are seven.
1. Economics and Environment: Ottawa’s antagonism to environmental protection became pointed when the 2009 Economic Action Plan suspended key federal environmental protection triggers, presumably because they were viewed as impeding economic growth.
15 October
How Canada’s Election Will Decide the Fate of the World
If voters oust Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, they’ll be voting for a whole new climate policy — and potentially tipping the scales of December’s Paris summit on global warming.
(Foreign Policy) For years, Canada and Australia have been the climate villains the world has loved to hate. They’ve been the ones giggling in the corner at each year’s round of climate talks, trashing renewable energy, boasting about their reserves of coal and oil sands, and giving the diplomatic middle finger to serious emissions cuts. This summer a panel led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan argued, “Australia and Canada appear to have withdrawn entirely from constructive international engagement on climate.” A story on the website Road to Paris by the journalist Leigh Phillips was even blunter: “They are what could be called the Bad Boys of climate change.”
But all that might be about to change.
5 October
Bioenergy is an Alberta-grown solution: Opinion
(Edmonton Journal) … the province’s bioenergy sector is a $2-billion industry, supporting more than 5,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, with an impact of more than $300 million on labour income and nearly $800 million on provincial GDP. Over the past decade, the total capital investment in bioenergy facilities exceeded $600 million.
Bioenergy production in Alberta includes the production of liquid transportation biofuels (ethanol, biodiesel or methanol), biogas (used to generate electricity), wood pellets (a heating fuel) and the use of forestry residues for combined heat and power generation.
If all of the bioenergy produced since 2007 had been used to displace a conventional energy equivalent, the sector would have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (across all energy types). The use of the amount of liquid biofuels produced in Alberta equates to taking 191,000 cars off the road, the use of the bio-electricity generated equates to powering 208,000 typical homes, and the use of bio-heat generated equates to heating more than 137,000 typical homes each year. Compared with traditional energy sources, bioenergy products emit 80 per cent less in greenhouse gases, while still providing the desired energy service.
We also investigated the economic impact of 25 of Alberta’s bioenergy companies. The capital investment of these companies exceeded $601 million, representing a 14:1 leverage on the province’s public investment of $43 million under the bioenergy plan. When you apply the Alberta Treasury Board’s economic multipliers to these figures, the bioenergy sector had a $787.9 million impact on GDP between 2007 and 2014.  In that same period, bioenergy production supported 5,281 person-years of employment.
4 September
A breakdown of pipeline projects in Canada
Over the next decade, Canadians could see the development of four pipeline projects totalling $34 billion in private investments and about 7,500 kilometres of infrastructure. Here’s a look at those projects, their status and cost.
proposed pipelines
Northern Gateway
Last year, the National Energy Board approved Enbridge’s proposed 1,150-kilometre, twin pipelines linking terminals in Bruderheim, Alta., to a port in Kitimat, B.C. One pipeline would import natural gas from Kitimat to Bruderheim, while the other one would send oil across the Pacific to Asian markets. Despite the $8-billion project’s approval, the NEB imposed 209 safety conditions on it and First Nations will contest the NEB ruling in federal court. At peak capacity, the pipeline will send 525,000 barrels of crude west every day and import 193,000 barrels of natural gas condensate daily. Construction is slated for 2018, though given the court battles and significant opposition from environmentalist protesters, delays are likely.
Energy East
TransCanada’s whopping 4,600-kilometre pipeline is expected to cost more than $12 billion. It will link the Alberta oil sands to terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick, passing through more than 150 traditional First Nations territories in the process. NEB hearings on the pipeline are expected to begin next year and given the sheer size of the structure, it’s likely to be a lengthy process. The pipeline will carry more than one million barrels of oil east every day. TransCanada has reached out to First Nations across the country ahead of the NEB process, and has signed 32 agreements with aboriginal groups to fund environmental studies on their behalf.
Keystone XL
TransCanada’s pipeline would begin in Hardisty, Alta., and run some 1,897 kilometres south to Steele City, Neb. The structure would route through the Bakken oil fields in Baker, Mont., where the light crude would be added to the oil sands bitumen from Alberta. Were it approved, the pipeline will transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day and cost $8 billion to build. The project has faced opposition from the Democratic Party in the U.S., where President Barack Obama has vetoed bills to approve construction of the pipeline.
Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
The project would see Kinder Morgan build a second 1,150-kilometre pipeline carrying oil from Edmonton to stations in Burnaby, B.C. The route is expected to mirror the current Trans Mountain and will carry 540,000 barrels of oil per day. Last month, the NEB released a draft proposal that would require Kinder Morgan to hold $1 billion in liability insurance coverage, offset greenhouse gas emissions related to construction of the pipeline and fulfill 143 other conditions to gain the board’s approval.
In the pipelines’ path: Canada’s First Nations lead resistance
1 September
Obama’s climate-change talk stands in stark contrast to Canadian party leaders
U.S.-led Arctic issues conference highlights absence of election climate debate
An international summit on Arctic issues that seems designed to burnish the green legacy of U.S. President Barack Obama is highlighting the absence of climate debate so far in Canada’s federal election.
Foreign ministers from eight countries met Monday in Anchorage, Alaska, at the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, where they discussed “challenges and opportunities” related to climate change in the ecologically and geo-politically sensitive region.
Canada, with the world’s longest Arctic coastline, had an official delegation in Anchorage headed by a senior civil servant rather than Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson. …
Opposition parties have been railing against the environmental policy record of Stephen Harper’s governing Conservatives for almost a decade but the Alaska summit in Canada’s northern backyard raised nary a peep from the various campaigns.
In fact, climate change as been largely absent from the election dialogue to date.
29 August
Pipeline politics: What you need to know about oilsands and the 2015 election
(Global) Both NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau have pledged to revamp the National Energy Board‘s approval process. They want to give community members and aboriginal peoples more opportunity to comment and question proponents and they want the National Energy Board to take a project’s climate impact into account when deciding whether it’s a good idea.
But what would these mean for proposals that are already in the works?
Mulcair and Trudeau have been less clear on that point. While each has slammed the evaluation process, they’ve both shied away from condemning these projects outright.
“It is not for governments to be cheerleaders for various pipelines,” Trudeau said Thursday when asked point-blank if he supports the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines.
TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project is especially vulnerable to strengthened assessment criteria, said Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Keith Stewart
After the company agreed to revise its planned route because of concern for beluga whale habitat in Cacouna, Que., it has yet to complete its submission to the National Energy Board.

21 August
Kinder Morgan pipeline proposalNEB delays Kinder Morgan pipeline hearing due to conflict of interest issue

(National Observer) Less than a month after the Harper government received scalding criticism for appointing a Kinder Morgan consultant to the National Energy Board, the NEB announced Friday it will postpone the public hearings into the Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to deal with the conflict of interest about the hire.The National Observer originally broke news of the conflict of interest in a story that went viral.
12 August
Kinder Morgan pipeline review by NEB loses 35 participants over ‘flawed’ process

‘We can’t abide by the system any more. It’s too flawed,’ says former participant
(CBC) Dozens of participants have dropped out of the controversial National Energy Board review of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, saying they can no longer support a “biased” and “unfair” process.
Thirty-five commenters and interveners, including the Wilderness Committee and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, sent a letter to the board Wednesday announcing their immediate withdrawal.
Kinder Morgan pipeline plan could cost Canada $22.1B, says SFU study
The news came as the energy board was to release its draft conditions for the pipeline expansion. Commenters have six days to respond to the conditions, which are legally required and do not mean the board has made a decision yet.
NEB suggests 145 conditions for Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
U.S.-based Kinder Morgan is seeking permission to nearly triple capacity on the Edmonton-to-Burnaby, B.C., Trans Mountain system, to 890,000 barrels a day.
The $5.4-billion plan is supported by some of the world’s largest energy companies, but it has drawn sharp criticism from environmental and local groups opposed to increased tanker traffic off the B.C. coast. More than 30 participants walked away from hearings into the project on Wednesday, calling the review process “biased” and “unfair.”
Kinder Morgan Pulls Trans Mountain Pipeline Ads During Federal Election 2015 Campaign
A spokeswoman for the Trans Mountain expansion said election officials had not contacted the company, but it has decided not to run advertising — in any format or community — until after the Oct. 19 vote.
Kinder Morgan hopes to triple the bitumen-carrying capacity of the Trans Mountain line by laying almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipe between Edmonton and Burnaby, increasing the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet to 34 from the current five per month.
1 August
Harper gov’t appoints Kinder Morgan consultant to NEB
(National Observer) The Harper government chose the Friday afternoon of a long weekend, just before the Sunday launch of a federal election, to appoint a paid Kinder Morgan consultant to the National Energy Board (NEB) in a timed press release that critics say was an attempt to bury the news.  … Calgary-based petroleum executive Steven Kelly will become a full-time board member of the federal agency that helps cabinet decide if oil and gas pipelines go forward.  Mr. Kelly’s consulting firm was hired by Kinder Morgan two years ago to prepare an economic analysis justifying the $5.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Mr. Kelly himself, in his capacity of vice president of IHS Global Canada, authored and submitted the 203-page Kinder Morgan report to the National Energy Board. Mr. Kelly will soon sit in a position of power at the NEB —close to those who will rule on whether that very same Kinder Morgan oil pipeline is in Canada’s economic and environmental interest. A decision is expected in January 2016.
17 July
Earthquakes shake Alberta town’s faith in fracking
One of nearly a dozen communities built during Alberta’s oil rush of the 1950s and 1960s, Fox Creek is at the centre of a hydraulic fracturing boom. The process, known as fracking, injects a high-pressure fluid into a well to crack rock and increase the flow of oil and gas.
While hydraulic fracturing has taken off in the United States, Canada’s shale plays have been disappointing. The Duvernay could change that. Chevron, Shell, Exxon and other major players are investing billions of dollars in the hills around Fox Creek, sinking more than 700 wells in the past three years.
But the people of Fox Creek are wondering about the costs of that potential windfall. It was once a seismically stable area with about one measurable earthquake a year. More than 160 have been detected since December, 2013, about the time hydraulic fracturing began in earnest.
The Alberta Energy Regulator has attributed two earthquakes measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale so far in 2015 to hydraulic fracturing. The two earthquakes are the strongest to be connected to fracking anywhere in the world. After the second 4.4-magnitude earthquake near Fox Creek on June 13, Alberta’s regulator issued its first stop order based on seismic activity.
10 June
Stop oilsands expansion, Canadian and U.S. researchers say
Group cites concerns about carbon pollution, environmental contamination, aboriginal rights
(CBC) More than 100 Canadian and U.S. researchers are calling on Canada to end expansion of its oilsands, for 10 reasons that they describe as “grounded in science.”
“Based on evidence raised across our many disciplines, we offer a unified voice calling for a moratorium on new oilsands projects,” said a statement issued Wednesday by the group, led by academics at the University of Waterloo, Simon Fraser University and the University of Arizona.
Read the full statement and 10 reasons
The statement, signed by a range of researchers including biologists, political scientists, physicists, economists and geographers, including a Nobel Prize winner and several Order of Canada recipients, is being sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, MPs and the Canadian media.
The group says it has requested meetings with federal politicians to discuss the science behind their reasons in favour of the moratorium.
Marc Jaccard, a professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University who co-authored the statement, said the group is targeting the oilsands primarily because most of them are Canadian. He added that the scientists are not calling for existing oilsands projects to shut down — they just don’t want new ones to start up.
22 May
Major Vancouver Oil Spill Could Cost City $1.2 Billion: Report
Vancouver’s economy could suffer a $1.2-billion blow in the case of a major oil spill caused by Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, concludes a new report released by the city.
The report, conducted by the University of B.C.’s Fisheries Economics Research Unit, examined the potential economic costs of a 16-million litre spill in Burrard Inlet, the body of water bordering to the city that is busy with industrial use, cruise ships and float planes. …
The City of Vancouver is publishing a series of reports critical of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion leading up to its submission of evidence next week to the National Energy Board, which is reviewing the project. A decision on the project is expected in January 2016.
Kinder Morgan hopes to triple its bitumen-carrying capacity to 890,000 barrels a day by laying almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipe near the existing pipeline that runs from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C.
13 May
Harper Government Keeps Pitching Pipelines To U.S. That Alberta Doesn’t Want
(CP via HuffPost) A new political reality surfaced Wednesday in which Ottawa is aggressively marketing an Alberta pipeline project that the new provincial government says it won’t promote and doesn’t even want.
Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s speech Wednesday before a Wall Street crowd makes it clear Ottawa is happy to take over from the Alberta government when it comes to pitching the stalled Keystone XL project in the United States.
The federal Conservative government’s latest Keystone pitch comes just days after Alberta voters elected the NDP and leader Rachel Notley, who has made it clear she won’t be taking part in the pipeline-promoting trips of her predecessors.
Notley has said she doesn’t necessarily oppose pipelines, but when it comes to Keystone XL, she would rather see the oilsands bitumen refined in Canada instead of the U.S. And unlike Alberta’s Progressive Conservative premiers of the past, Notley has said she’s prepared to let the Keystone XL debate in the U.S. play itself out.
7 May
Why it matters that left-wingers just won in oil-rich Alberta
(Grist) On Tuesday, the lefty New Democratic Party (NDP) won the provincial elections on a platform that promises to diversify Alberta’s fossil fuel-dependent economy. The NDP campaigned on criticism of the Conservatives for being too close to the oil industry and a pledge to tax more oil profits. From The Wall Street Journal:

The longtime ruling party of Canada’s energy-rich Alberta province lost its four-decade hold on power on Tuesday, ushering in a left-leaning government that has pledged to raise corporate taxes and increase oil and gas royalties.
The Alberta New Democratic Party swept enough districts to form a majority, taking most of the seats in both the business center of Calgary and the provincial capital of Edmonton, according to preliminary results from Elections Alberta. …
She also signaled her party wouldn’t support a proposed Enbridge Inc. crude-oil pipeline, called the Northern Gateway, which would connect Alberta’s oil sands with a planned Pacific coast terminal in British Columbia, telling a local newspaper that “Gateway is not the right decision.”

Notley also doesn’t support plans for Keystone XL, and pledged to stop spending taxpayer dollars to push the pipeline in Washington, D.C. (She does support two other tar-sands pipeline projects, though.)
5 May
How Canada made the Koch brothers rich
By Bruce Livesey
(National Observer) … since 2011, KOSO [Koch Oil Sands Operating ULC] has applied to Alberta’s energy regulator to drill dozens of exploratory wells on their land, and build at least one other in situ bitumen recovery project – called the Gemini Oil Sands Project. If true, it might explain why the Koch brothers want the Keystone XL pipeline built, why the oil sands are a critical asset to the company’s future—and why they are taking such an active role in American politics.
Kochs fund both climate denial and a political machine
The wealth generated by refining Canadian oil not only helped the Koch brothers expand their empire, but gave them cash to pursue their ideological ambitions.
Following in the footsteps of their father and his John Birch Society roots, Charles and David began setting up and financing right-wing foundations, front groups and political lobbying organizations – often called the “Kochtopus” by critics.
Today, this network consists of at least 17 different organizations, including the Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity and the Heritage Foundation.
Greenpeace’s most recent research shows that since 1997, the Kochs have spent a total of US$79-million to groups that deny climate change science.
Some of that cash has come north to Canada – specifically to the Fraser Institute. As first revealed by the Vancouver Observer, tax records show that since 2007, the Fraser Institute, one of Canada’s oldest conservative think tanks, has pocketed a total of US$765,000 from one of Charles Kochs’ foundations.
28 April
U.S. worried about Canada’s ability to respond to oil spills, records reveal
Newly released U.S. documents show American authorities are nervously eyeing Canadian proposals to triple the number of oil tanker voyages through the shared waters off B.C.’s coast, saying among themselves that Canadian standards to clean up a major spill are decades behind those of the U.S. and leave states vulnerable to environmental damage and costs.
27 April
Notley says no way forward for Northern Gateway pipeline
NDP Leader Rachel Notley says that if she becomes premier she would initiate a review of Alberta’s energy royalty system and withdraw provincial government support of the Northern Gateway pipeline.
But Notley — fresh from a strong performance in Thursday’s leaders debate and looking to build support in Calgary ahead of the May 5 election — told the Herald editorial board Friday that an NDP government would be supportive of an oil and gas industry which “must remain sustainable.”
24 April
Kai Nagata: Is Northern Gateway Dead?
One year after pivotal Kitimat vote, grassroots opposition hopes to hobble pipeline project.
(The Tyee) If the battle is fought on their field — the world of advertising, political donations, lobbying and strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP) suits — “Big Oil” will win every time. But if a corporate giant like Enbridge can be drawn into an electoral skirmish, the odds are less certain.
Like Goliath shuffling down to the Valley of Elah in heavy armour for his fight with a young shepherd, energy companies are ill-equipped for asymmetrical conflict.
Last week’s bunker fuel spill in English Bay served as a small but graphic illustration of the risks involved in turning Vancouver into a global oil port. Just 17 barrels of spilled oil proved too much to contain for Western Canada Marine Response Corp., the private spill-response company majority owned by Kinder Morgan. Federal officials were pilloried over their slow and poorly co-ordinated response.
What lessons can citizens draw from Douglas Channel Watch and other grassroots victories? If you’re working to defeat an opponent much bigger and stronger than you, don’t fight on their terms. Start by finding your allies closest to home. Build trust and shared purpose through stories that connect to deeper values. Knock on doors. Grow your list. Pick skirmishes you know you can win. Over time, draw Goliath down to the valley bottom.

Canada’s pipeline network (interactive map)

The Green Party scored two major legislative points this week when it won the support of the Conservative-dominated House of Commons’ natural resources committee to make amendments to Bill C-46, the Pipeline Safety Act.
The first amendment enables aboriginal governing bodies to be reimbursed for actions they take in relation to a spill. Originally, the bill outlined that those at fault in a spill would only be liable for “costs and expenses reasonably incurred by Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province or any other person.”
The second amendment is related to the concept of polluter pays, which is the practice that those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment. The original line in the bill says that the National Energy Board “may” recover funds to compensate those affected by a spill. The amendment changed the “may” to “shall.” More
13 April
Dramatic photos of Vancouver oil spill spark pipeline outrage on social media
Many fear sight of fuel on water will become common if B.C. gets more oil pipelines
And if this had happened in the channel leading to Kitimat?
Vancouver mayor rips Ottawa, province for response to fuel spill
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is accusing Ottawa and the province of a “totally inadequate” response to a toxic fuel leak in English Bay, which left an oily sheen across a large swath of ocean water, prompted public health warnings and raised fresh questions about whether the federal government is adequately prepared to respond to marine spills.
8 April
TransCanada applies Keystone’s lessons to Energy East pipeline
(Planet Ark) After six years battling bitter opposition to its Keystone XL pipeline project in the United States, TransCanada Corp has learned where and when to pick its fights, to consult early and often – and to retreat when prudent.
Canada’s No. 2 pipeline company scrapped plans last week to build a crude oil export terminal in Quebec because it would endanger beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River.
The proposed Cacouna terminal was part of TransCanada’s 1.1 million barrel-per-day Energy East plan for a pipeline to take Alberta oil sands crude to Canada’s east coast.
The pipeline project will now be delayed roughly two years as TransCanada rejigs regulatory filings.
24 February
Crude Awakening: How the Keystone Veto Dashes Canada’s ‘Superpower’ Dreams
Oil prices are crashing and Obama has vetoed Keystone XL. Will Canada double down on its dirty tar sands?
(Rolling Stone) Barack Obama’s veto of Keystone XL has placed the export pipeline for Canadian tar-sands crude on its deathbed. Earlier in February, the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that Keystone could spur 1.37 billion tons of excess carbon emissions — providing the State Department with all the scientific evidence required to spike the project, permanently. If the news has cheered climate activists across the globe, it also underscored the folly of Canada’s catastrophic quest, in recent years, to transform itself into a dirty-energy “superpower.” …
To avoid a crimp in production, the tar-sands producers said they needed at least one export pipeline to come online by 2018. So the Harper regime proceeded to rewrite bedrock environmental law, jamming through 150 pages of deregulation on the back of the federal budget in 2012. Heavily influenced by the oil industry, according to documents leaked to environmental groups, the legislation slashed protections for waterways and replaced mandatory environmental impact reviews with assessments performed only at the discretion of political appointees. Ecologists decried the budget as the worst setback in environmental law in more than five decades. Worse: Harper’s government now insists it has no authority to weigh climate impacts when permitting pipeline projects.

Obama vetoes proposed Keystone XL pipeline approval

Keystone pipeline mapPresident Barack Obama vetoed the Congressional approval of the Keystone XL pipeline Tuesday although he made clear he wasn’t making any final decision about the merits of the controversial Canadian pipeline.
“Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest,” the president said in a letter to the Senate. “Because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest – including our security, safety, and environment – it has earned my veto.”
Mr. Obama’s veto – only the third of his presidency – will escalate the battle between Congress and the president over the Canadian pipeline that would send Alberta oil sands crude to the Texas Gulf coast.
TransCanada statement on President Obama’s veto of bi-partisan legislation
23 February
Shell pulls plug on long-delayed oil sands mine
Royal Dutch Shell PLC has scrapped plans for a long-delayed oil sands mine, pulling the plug as oil prices skid to multiyear lows.
The European oil major said Monday that it is withdrawing its application with federal regulators for its 200,000 barrel-a-day Pierre River mine north of Fort McMurray, calling the project a “very long-term opportunity” that is not currently a priority.
The move is the latest sign of upheaval in Alberta’s energy sector … The collapse in crude prices has prompted layoffs and deep spending cuts across the industry, hitting profits at large companies such as Suncor Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc.
11 February
Canada accuses EPA of ‘distortion’ on Keystone pipeline
(Globe & Mail) The Canadian government attacked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday over its assertion that the Keystone XL pipeline might worsen greenhouse gas emissions.
Following a spirited defence of Canada’s track record on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Mr. Doer wrote: “The EPA chose to ignore that the oil sands are produced in the only jurisdiction supplying oil to the United States that has imposed a carbon fee which is used to fund clean energy technologies.”
The letter, made public only hours before the House of Representatives was to vote on approving the Keystone XL project, makes it clear that Canada will not sit on the sidelines as an increasingly hostile showdown looms between Mr. Obama and Congress, where Republicans now hold commanding majorities in both the Senate and the House.
Written from an interview with prominent Vancouver business leader Leonard Schein
What Canada and Alberta could learn from Norway
Should Canada adopt the same energy model that made Norwegian citizens theoretical millionaires?
There’s a philosophy here that government cannot be involved in the oil industry, but the vast majority of non-english speaking countries play a very big role in their oil industry.
(CRED) While Norway claims ownership over oil in its land, Canada assumes that any oil in the ground belongs to the companies that extract it.
According to Schein, Alberta and Canada need to do the following:
Alberta should set a 2-3 year deadline of allowing bitumen to be transported out of Alberta. Alberta should then require all bitumen to be refined in the oil sands and they should take an equity position in the refinery. If the bitumen is refined in Alberta, it would mean, for example, that the Northern Gateway and Keystone pipeline would not need to be built. Twin pipelines would not be needed to send back the natural gas condensate so that bitumen can be diluted in order to travel in a pipeline.
Revisit the original principles of the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund and follow the Norway example of keeping the income in the fund for when the oil industry no longer generates revenue.
Refine oil domestically within the provinces instead of shipping crude products that are then upgraded elsewhere.
Create a national energy policy to encourage non-fossil fuels and tax carbon
Increase royalty on oil production. On Alberta’s government website, it proudly states Alberta charges oil companies less in royalties than just about any other country in the world (currently around $7/barrel when the price of oil is around $100/barrel). Canada sells oil to the United States for less than we import oil. We should refine our own oil and ship it east. Then we wouldn’t have a need to import more expensive oil.
Alberta_vs_Norway_infographic
14 January
Canada finds new oil markets to counter U.S. Keystone rejection
William Marsden
Published: January 14, 2015, 6:47 pm
Canada is negotiating to expand its oil and gas markets into Europe, China and Japan to counter the very real possibility that U.S. President Barack Obama will refuse to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said negotiations for new markets and pipelines to the East and West Coasts are “going quite well.”
The fact that about 99 per cent of Canada’s exported oil and gas goes to the U.S. is simply a reminder that Canada must expand its markets, he said Wednesday at a news conference wrapping up his two-day visit to the U.S. capital.
6 January
Obama won’t sign Keystone bill if it passes, White House says
President Barack Obama will veto Republican efforts to force immediate approval of Keystone XL – the controversial project to funnel Canadian heavy oil sands crude across the United States to the Gulf coast – the White House confirmed Tuesday shortly before Republicans introduced legislation approving the pipeline.

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