Robyn Allan is the former President and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of BC and is an economist by trade. I have enormous respect for Ms. Allan and concur with her conclusion, stated frequently and as recently as July 6 in The Vancouver Sun, that the proposed Enbridge Pipeline will have a deleterious impact on the Canadian economy generally and that of BC in particular. The economics of this huge issue are, of course, very important to the decision making process and to the decision itself. My caveat is, however, to dwell on the economy brings with it great risks.
Read this story from Peter O'Neil in The Financial Post on Enbridge's lack of financial liability for a potential oil spill in BC from its proposed Northern Gateway pipelines, due in part to the shell corporation the company has set up to own and operate the project. (July 6, 2012)
OTTAWA – Canadian and especially B.C. taxpayers aren’t adequately protected in the event Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline suffers the same kind of catastrophic failure that resulted in a US$765-million — and counting — spill in Michigan two years ago, says a former senior Canadian insurance executive.
Former Insurance Corp. of B.C. chief executive Robyn Allan also argues the 2010 U.S. disaster proves Enbridge is underestimating the potential of human error turning a relatively minor spill into a major one.
She made the assertions in a submission filed last month at the request of the Joint Review Panel (JRP), which was established under the authority of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The JRP, which has sent questions to Enbridge as well as to Ms. Allan about the company’s ability to cover costs if there’s a massive spill, is due to release its findings in late 2013.
The panel was established by the Harper government to consider the economic, social and environmental consequences of the $5.5 billion megaproject.
Enbridge assured the JRP earlier this year that if insurance doesn’t cover damages in the event of a spill, the money could be raised from the company’s cash reserves, by borrowing, or even by selling assets.
“Regardless of whether or not insurance covers losses and liabilities of Northern Gateway and/or third parties, Northern Gateway would make good the damages which it has caused,” the company said.
But Ms. Allan pointed in her submission that the corporate entity that will own and operate the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline — the Northern Gateway Pipelines Limited Partnership — will be distinct from the Calgary-based corporate giant Enbridge Inc., which had $19.4 billion in revenues and just under $1 billion in profits last year.
“The purpose of the structure Enbridge has chosen — a limited partnership — is to limit the exposure investors have for liabilities of the company, not to ‘make good’ on [a] catastrophic spill event,” she told the JRP.
“Enbridge is claiming something it cannot guarantee the limited partnership will deliver.”
Read more: http://business.financialpost.com/2012/07/05/canadian-b-c-taxpayers-could-bear-brunt-of-costs-in-event-of-gateway-spill-expert/?__lsa=3cb9aeca
Check out this new cartoon from Gerry Hummel. Province cartoonist Dan Murphy set off a firestorm recently with his video spoof on Enbridge's slick, new ad - designed to allay British Columbians' concerns over the company's proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline - when the piece was pulled hours after first being posted online. Murphy explained to the media that he was told by the paper's Editor-in-Chief Wayne Moriarty that Enbridge had complained about the cartoon and threatned to pull a million dollars worth of advertising from the paper's parent company, Postmedia, if it wasn't pulled from The Province's website.
I have received a lot of feedback on my recent blog on John Weston, MP. Let me say that this was directed to Weston because he is my MP and it applies with equal force to all Tory MPs from British Columbia. I’ve been asked if I would resign were I in John’s position and I say YES. Now, I realize that’s easy to say – he who has not sinned has not been tempted. I have no doubt, however. I sat in a cabinet that had half a dozen ministers who would have resigned under these circumstances. Premier Bill Bennett recognized this and it was taken into his consideration, I’m sure.
Read this column from The Georgia Straightby Charlie Smith on former Conservative cabinet minister Jim Prentice's veiled warning to the Harper Government on the consequences of ignoring First Nations' opposition to major resource projects. (July 1, 2012)
Sometimes, you stumble across an intriguing article where you least expect to find it.
This weekend as I was perusing a Vancouver Sun special section on energy, I spotted the byline of Jim Prentice. He's the senior executive vice-president and vice-chairman of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.
Prentice also happens to be the former Conservative environment minister who announced his resignation from the Stephen Harper government in 2010 because he wanted to spend more time with his family. Coincidentally (or not), this came shortly after he visited Haida Gwaii with environmentalist David Suzuki.
Prentice was a Progressive Conservative before his party was taken over by the more right-wing Canadian Alliance. Its roots were in the old Reform Party of Canada.
Harper, a former policy director of the Reformers, likely went a bit berserk at the sight of his environment minister hobnobbing on The Nature of Things with Suzuki.
Now in his role with the bank, Prentice writes that the objective of developing and exporting Canada's hydrocarbon deposits is a "defining moment” for the country. He used the same language in a speech last month to the Business Council of B.C.
In the article, Prentice never mentions the proposed Enbridge or Kinder Morgan pipelines by name. However, he acknowledges that “the constitutional and legal issues surrounding west coast energy corridors, terminals and shipping are extraordinarily complex”.
One section of Prentice's piece is worth repeating verbatim:
To begin, however, the constitutional obligation to consult with first nations is not a corporate obligation. It is the federal government's responsibility.
Second, the obligation to define an ocean management regime for terminals and shipping on the west coast is not a corporate responsibility. It is the federal government's responsibility.
Finally, these issues cannot be resolved by regulatory fiat—they require negotiation. The real risk is not regulatory rejection but regulatory approval, undermined by subsequent legal challenges and the absence of 'social licence' to operate.
There are billions of dollars at stake for Corporate Canada in the efforts to export raw bitumen through Kitimat and the Port of Vancouver and ship this product via supertankers to Asia.
In the article, Prentice is, in fact, appealing to the Harper government to modify its approach of not seriously negotiating with First Nations.
Read more: http://www.straight.com/article-723126/vancouver/former-conservative-cabinet-minister-jim-prentice-issues-veiled-warning-stephen-harper
Dear John Weston, MP: Didn’t we send you to Ottawa to represent us and work on our behalf? Don’t we have the right to expect you to fight our battles in public, not tamely accept huge and permanent damage to your province?
John, you support fish farms, support the BC government’s raping our rivers (indeed you’ve given grants to these bastards), you support legislation to all but eliminate federal protection of fish habitat, you approve of the environmental desecration of our salmon spawning grounds, pay no attention to the sure carnage which will, as night follows day, destroy our God-granted environment if pipelines and tanker traffic are approved.
Read this blog from The New York Times on the recent controversy in BC over The Province newspaper's decision to pull a cartoon from its website which mocks Enbridge's new ad campaign - allegedly under pressure from the company. (June 28, 2012)
OTTAWA — Like many political cartoonists, Dan Murphy at The Province, a tabloid daily in Vancouver, British Columbia, supplements his traditional drawings with online animations.
But an online parody of a pipeline company’s television commercial drew an unusual amount of attention in Canada after the decision of the newspaper to remove it, according to Mr. Murphy, because of pressure from Enbridge, the pipeline company.
Enbridge is currently running a advertising campaign to promote a controversial pipeline proposal to move oil from Alberta’s oil sands to ports in British Columbia for shipment to Asia.
After an existing Enbridge pipeline in Alberta developed a leak, Mr. Murphy took an Enbridge commercial that features bucolic watercolor animations of life after the new pipeline and interrupted it with repeated splatters of animated oil. During the parody video, an off-camera voice, a spoof of an Enbridge executive reviewing the commercial, can be heard saying, “It’s O.K., we’ll clean this up; we’ll be as good as new” as an animated hand squeegees away the oil.
But not long after the video was posted last Friday, Mr. Murphy wrote in an e-mail that he and Gordon Clark, the editorial page editor, met with Wayne Moriarty, the editor in chief of The Province, which is owned by PostMedia, a national chain.
Mr. Murphy said that they were told by Mr. Moriarty “that he’d had a call from PostMedia’s chief digital officer, Simon Jennings, and been told that if the Enbridge parody didn’t come down from our Web site, Enbridge was going to pull their ads from our Web site and papers.” In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which first drew attention to the animation’s removal, Mr. Murphy said that he was told that the resulting revenue loss would be measured in “millions” and that he also understood that Mr. Moriarty would be fired if the cartoon remained online.
In an interview, Mr. Moriarty said, “I believe what Dan said is what Dan took out of the conversation.” But he added: “My intentions have been so completely misconstrued in all of this.”
Mr. Moriarty said that he reviewed the animation after being contacted by the newspaper’s advertising sales department. An advertising buying agency working for Enbridge, he said, had contacted the paper to complain that the animation was “a misappropriation” of the pipeline company’s advertisement. Enbridge, he added, did not contact the paper nor did he consult anyone at PostMedia’s head office in Toronto. The newspaper then contacted Enbridge to apologize.
The removal of the video, Mr. Moriarty said, was not related to legal concerns or threats that advertisements would be pulled. Although he added of the meeting with Mr. Murphy: “Did the subject of potential loss of advertising come up? How could it not?”
A earlier animation by Mr. Murphy mocking the pipeline plan and featuring Enbridge’s logo remains on The Province’s site, as does a second one featuring snippets from a television commercial by a pro-oil sands group.
Read more: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/political-cartoon-taking-aim-at-pipeline-company-is-pulled/
Read this op-ed in TheTyee.ca by economist Robyn Allan on Enbridge's glitzy, new ad campaign, designed to mollify British Columbians concerns about the company's proposed Northern Gateway pipelines. (June 28, 2012)
Enbridge's multi-million dollar advertising campaign praising the Northern Gateway pipeline project is sweeping through British Columbia. Animated pastel dream sequences promise economic prosperity, thousands of jobs, world-class safety standards, low environmental impact, and kids who know how to jump rope.
Vast economic gain with minimal risk sounds wonderful, but when you look deeper, there's quite a different story.
Few jobs for a short time
Enbridge's job claims are suspect. In their ads the company says Northern Gateway creates "3,000 construction jobs at the peak of construction." But in their report, the peak of construction is a three month period in the third year of a five year project and they aren't jobs -- they are person years of employment. A more accurate claim, using Enbridge's published data, would be 1,000 construction jobs.
Even then, Enbridge has indicated PetroChina -- probably using the Temporary Foreign Workers Program which allows imported workers to be paid 15 per cent less than Canadians -- would "love" to build the pipeline.
Your bills will rise
For almost two years Canadians were led to believe the economic benefit from Northern Gateway would arise from higher prices paid in Asia for crude oil shipped along the pipeline. What we weren't told is that these higher prices would be passed onto Canadians. When I filed my critique of Enbridge's benefits case with the National Energy Board Review Panel earlier this year, the company confirmed this is the intent of the project.
Consumers and businesses faced with limited budgets must adjust to higher oil prices. This impacts economic activity in other areas. Spending and investment declines -- downsizing and layoffs result. None of the negative impact of higher oil prices have been built into Enbridge's rosy scenario.
History of failed monitoring
The ads also tell us Enbridge has "World-class safety standards... the pipeline will be monitored 24/7."
On July 25, 2010 in Marshall, Michigan, Enbridge's Line 6B ruptured releasing more than 20,000 barrels of dilbit. Dilbit is a mixture of heavy oil sands crude called bitumen mixed with a toxic diluent which enables it to flow through a pipeline. This is the oil planned for the Northern Gateway pipeline.
In Michigan, as diluent evaporated into the air affecting the local community, remaining bitumen made its way into the Kalamazoo River. Enbridge's corporate standard for identifying a spill is 10 minutes with an additional three minutes for pipeline shutdown. It took more than 17 hours for the Kalamazoo spill to be detected and the pipeline shut down. Line 6B was monitored "24/7."
Read more: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/06/28/Enbridge-Ad-Blitz/
Province newspaper cartoonist Dan Murphy went public on CBC yesterday to confirm suspicions that his publication had pulled a spoof he created last Friday, under pressure from Enbridge Inc...The fallout over Enbridge's alleged actions is indicative of the clash of old and new media. Clearly the company believes it is still operating in a old media world, wherein a company can control a story by way of advertising dollars and corporate heft. But in today's increasingly online media world, these heavy-handed tactics pose a real risk of backfiring, as they plainly have here.
A spoof of an Enbridge pipeline video ad by Vancouver Province cartoonist, Dan Murphy. It was pulled from The Province’s website after an enraged call to the Province by Enbridge.
Eco-Footprint Founder Dr. Bill Rees on Resources, the 7 Billion and You
With human population exploding and demand for resources fast outstripping supply, Dr. Bill Rees, founder of the "eco-footprint" concept, calls for "a new cultural narrative that shifts the values of society from growth (getting bigger) to development (getting better) - from competitive individualism, greed and narrow self-interest toward community, cooperation and our collective interests in repairing the earth for survival."
Five Oil Spills in One Week: 'Accidents' or Business as Usual?
What do ExxonMobil, Enbridge, Suncor, CP Rail and a Michigan Utility have in common? They've all spilled oil within the past week. This latest round of disasters should give Canadian and US lawmakers pause as they contemplate new pipelines.
All Candidates Dialogue Wednesday Promises "Real Talk on Climate Change"
An all candidates dialogue on April 3 at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver - featuring representatives from four different political parties and one independent candidate vying for office in the May 14 provincial election - will focus on solutions to climate change.
Anyone who has been following the sorry saga of inexplicable diseases and unusual mortality in BC's wild salmon will not be surprised that the information in Twyla Roscovich's documentary, Salmon Confidential, links the source of this trouble to the salmon farming industry. The surprise, however, is the impact of such information when its complexity is condensed to an intense 70 minutes.
Mother Nature, US Govt Chase Shell Out of Arctic
Shell Oil, the first energy company granted coveted Arctic drilling permits by the US Government, is shutting down operations for all of 2013, nearly as quickly as they began. Shell's hand is being forced by the Interior Department, following a scathing report which castigated the company for a series of misadventures in 2012 and early 2013.
Paul Simon Lends Song to Coastal First Nations' Anti-Tanker Video
A 2-minute video produced by Coastal First Nations - a group representing nine different aboriginal communities on BC's north and central coast - is underscored by the famous Simon and Garfunkel song, "The Sound of Silence." The video, which harkens back to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in nearby Alaskan waters, was released around the 24th anniversary of that disaster, in order to voice opposition to the new threat from proposed tanker traffic on BC's coast.
'Heartwood' Explores Clash Between Different Visions for Future of Forestry
"Cortes is not just a bunch of crazy tree-huggers...We want to log our lands. We want a community forest," one of the subjects of the forthcoming documentary film Heartwood tells Vancouver-based director Daniel Pierce. The film explores the conflict over logging practices on a remote island on BC's south coast, which encapsulates a larger debate currently shaping the future of forestry in the province.
Why the NDP Can and Should Say No to Site C Dam
The BC NDP may finally coming to their senses on Site C Dam. On the heels of the release of new documents from BC Hydro in recent weeks, the Official Opposition is calling into question the crown corporation's proposed 1,100 Megawatt hydropower project. And so it should...With BC Hydro in virtual bankruptcy, skyrocketing hydro bills for consumers and businesses, a massive and escalating provincial debt and $80 Billion in additional contractual obligations for which taxpayers are on the hook, pushing ahead with Site C would be the height of fiscal recklessness for BC.
Working Together Through Idle No More - Ben West, Mandy Nahanee, Damien Gillis Web Chat
Damien Gillis hosts a google web video chat discussing how indigenous and non-indigenous peoples can work together through the growing Idle No More movement to address historical injustices and build a sustainable energy future. Featuring Squamish and Nisga'a First Nations member and protocol specialist Amanda Nahanee and Ben West, Tar Sands campaigner for ForestEthics.
The Different Faces of Idle No More - Web Chat
Watch this 10 min web chat, in which two young, indigenous men discuss their different experiences across the country with the growing Idle No More Movement.
Idle No More - Scenes from a Vancouver Train Station
On January 2, 2013, hundreds of First Nations and non-indigenous people converged on Vancouver's Waterfront Station for the latest Idle No More rally. The beating of drums and singing of traditional songs signaled this crowd's solidarity with the movement that is building across the country and beyond its borders.
Travelling Canada's Carbon Corridor - the Making of Fractured Land
Watch this presentation by Damien Gillis, co-director of Fractured Land - a documentary in production which examines the industrialization of northern Canada through the eyes of a young indigenous man named Caleb Behn - at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
Kinder Morgan Vancouver Pipeline, Tanker Debate
On Oct 30, the Board of Change hosted a debate in Vancouver on American energy pipeline giant Kinder Morgan's plans to turn Vancouver into a shipping port to access new foreign markets with Alberta Tar Sands bitumen. Hear both sides of the story as representatives of Kinder Morgan and the shipping industry square off against an environmental activist, lawyer and filmmaker over the future of the world's "Greenest City", the province of BC and the planet.
Justice Cohen Gets Tough on Fish Farms - Inquiry Report Released
Video from the press conference on the release of the final report from the Cohen Commission into disappearing sockeye. Justice Bruce Cohen highlighted several key recommendations to protect wild salmon from open net pen aquaculture operations, including: removing the promotion of aquaculture from DFO's mandate, prioritizing the health of wild salmon over suitability for aquaculture when siting farms, and even removing some farms if more research into diseases shows they cannot safely coexist with wild fish.
Video: Pipelines "Job Killers" - Energy Workers Union Leader @ Defend Our Coast
Watch this powerhouse speech from Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union at the Defend Our Coast rally in Victoria explaining why his members are "diametrically opposed" to Tar Sands pipelines to BC's coast.
Video: Rafe Mair Honoured with Wilderness Committee's Eugene Rogers Award
The Wilderness Committee, Canada's largest member-based environmental organization, honoured hall of fame broadcaster and co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian Rafe Mair with its annual Eugene Rogers Award for outstanding contribution to environmental protection in BC at its AGM this past weekend.
Video: Rafe Mair and Economist Erik Andersen, Pt. 2 - LNG, Site C Dam and the Global Economy
In Part 2 of Rafe Mair's July 2012 interview of economist Erik Andersen, the two cover the plan to build Liquefied Natural Gas plants on BC's west coast - to sell natural gas to Asia - and the proposed Site C Dam. Andersen raises real concerns about investing in new dams and electrical infrastructure to supply industries like mines and LNG.
Video: Rafe Mair and Economist Erik Andersen, Pt. 1 - The 'Enronization' of BC Hydro
Part 1 of Rafe Mair's July 2012 interview with economist Andersen, delving deep into BC's troubled energy situation, including Hydro's broken forecasting model, rip-off private power projects, and massive debt and Enron-style accounting practices at our public utility - all driven by the shadowy private American corporation to which we've unwittingly handed over our energy sovereignty.