Read this story from The Globe and Mail on a leak from Kinder Morgan's pipeline near Merritt, BC. (June 13, 2013)
The operator of the only major crude oil pipeline to Canada's West Coast from Alberta was forced to shut the system down after a spill was discovered in the British Columbia interior, the latest incident to hit the industry as it seeks to vastly expand exports to lucrative Asian markets.
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP said it turned off the Trans Mountain oil pipeline after discovering what it initially estimated to be about 12 barrels, or roughly two cubic metres, of spilled crude while conducting maintenance in a remote area near Kingsvale, B.C. The incident was reported late Wednesday afternoon and repairs are under way, the company said.
The National Energy Board, which regulates the line, said there were no immediate safety concerns. “The pipeline has been shut down to prevent additional oil from being released into the environment and the company is currently in the process of contacting area residents,” the board said in a statement.
The Trans Mountain pipeline carries up to 300,000 barrels of oil a day from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., where it provides Alberta crude to refineries in B.C. and Washington, as well as to export markets via a marine terminal. The company did not say when it might reopen the pipeline.
Such a spill volume is not large, but any release of crude comes at a tricky time for the oil industry as it seeks to expand capacity to the Pacific Coast, allowing currently discounted Alberta supplies to reach richer international markets. However, the first proposal, Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline, faces opposition from environmental groups, First Nations communities and even the B.C. government, which fear environmental damage from oil spills on land and in coastal waters.
Kinder Morgan, meanwhile, has plans to nearly triple the capacity of the 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain system to 890,000 barrels a day with a project that would cost about $5.4-billion. It has said it aims to file a regulatory application later this year.
The Trans Mountain incident the second leak from energy operations reported this month. In Northern Alberta, 9.5 million litres of toxic waste from an oil and gas operation run by Apache Corp spread over 42 hectares of land.
Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/kinder-morgan-shuts-trans-mountain-pipeline-after-spill-detected/article12510666/
Read this story from the Canadian Press on an internal audits of Canada's Coast Guard which reveals its oil spill recovery equipment is outdated and fails to meet the government's own standards for oil spill readiness. (June 3, 2013)
VANCOUVER – Internal government audits of the Canadian Coast Guard’s capacity to monitor and respond to a marine oil spill found a system that was outdated, disorganized and in need of an overhaul.
But many of the substantial recommendations in the reports have languished, despite pressure on Ottawa to deal with concerns over a potential increase in oil tanker traffic off the British Columbia coast.
Two 2010 audits “each found a number of significant deficiencies in the program’s preparedness capability, and questioned the capacity of the (Canadian Coast Guard) to respond to a significant marine pollution event,” said a March 2012 draft report for the federal Fisheries department.
In particular, the report, obtained by The Canadian Press using Access to Information, found that about 83 per cent of the oil spill response equipment across the country is ready to use, but most of it is outdated.
“Although operationally ready to respond, most of the assets held by the (emergency response) program average 25 or more years in service and have either become obsolete or are coming to the end of their useful life,” said the report of the Environmental Response Capacity Definition Project.
“Maintenance is increasingly difficult as technical support and availability of parts are compromised.”
Last week, the British Columbia government came out formally opposed to Enbridge’s (TSX:ENB) proposed Northern Gateway project, saying the project didn’t address its concerns, including those involving a potential marine oil spill.
In Canada, polluters are legally required to pay for clean-up, and the shipping industry funds the Canadian Marine Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime. The Coast Guard oversees clean-up, and maintains its own capacity for oil spill response.
But the lack of dedicated funding has meant the Coast Guard has not been able to “properly life-cycle” equipment, the authors found.
“This has eroded response capacities and has raised questions on the current condition and overall effectiveness of (Canadian Coast Guard)’s response equipment,” said the report.
The B.C. government has estimated the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would deliver oilsands products to a tanker port in Kitimat, B.C., for export to Asian markets, and Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of its existing TransMountain pipeline into the Port of Metro Vancouver, could increase tanker traffic by more than 1,000 annually off the Pacific coast.
The largest of the vessels, VLCC tankers, can carry up to 200,000 deadweight tonnes of oil.
Canadian regulations require shipping companies, who bear responsibility for responding to an incident, to have the capacity to clean up 10,000 tonnes of oil. Federal briefing notes claim the Canadian Coast Guard has a pollution response capacity in the Pacific region of 8,000 tonnes.
But the audit found that number is substantially less. The national capacity, in reality, is slightly less than 6,900 tonnes due to storage limitations in all regions, the report said.
The authors of the report had difficulty even finding out what the capacity was across the country, as there is no national co-ordinator or national inventory, and records collected from region to region varied from paper to obsolete electronic documents.
The report said that as an organization, the Coast Guard has not even defined an appropriate level of response capacity to meet its mandate.
Ivan Giesbrecht, spokesman for the Enbridge (TSX:ENB), said the Calgary-based company has made commitments beyond those required under Canadian law.
“Our marine spill response plan will improve existing safety and response readiness on British Columbia’s coastline. Naturally, this is something we hope can improve confidence and public support for our project,” Giesbrecht said in an email response to questions.
Those commitments will become requirements that will be tracked by regulatory agencies, he said.
“The commitments that Northern Gateway has made will not be voluntary after project approval.”
In March, Transport Minister Denis Lebel announced a tanker safety expert panel that is to make recommendations on improvements, among other measures aimed at assuaging public concerns in B.C.
The government announced it would also establish a Coast Guard incident command system.
Melanie Carkner, spokeswoman for Fisheries and Oceans, said in an email that the changes were “the first steps towards the development of a world-class Tanker Safety System for Canadian coasts that will strengthen the safety of Canadians and better protect the environment.”
But Will Horter, of the Dogwood Initiative, a vehement opponent of any increase in oil tanker traffic off the B.C. coast, said a spill is inevitable with the amount of tanker traffic that would ply the Pacific coast.
“Even a ‘world-class’ system doesn’t prevent the kind of risks that British Columbians are concerned about,” Horter said. “British Columbians would bear the burden.”
I think most environmentalists are still in a state of shock over the Liberals' victory – or more correctly, the NDP loss...A battle has been lost, although considering Adrian Dix’s waffling on environmental matters generally, perhaps the NDP would have been no better than the Liberals. It’s up to First Nations and the rest of us to go to work to stop the destruction of what we love so dearly and we must be ready for civil disobedience. If we’re not prepared to do that, it’s like going into a poker game saying, "remember, I’m always bluffing."
BC Premier Christy Clark's decision today to oppose formally the Northern Gateway Pipeline, coupled with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's shift in focus to the Keystone XL project, means Enbridge's pipeline is all but dead. Yet the Clark Government's final submission to the Enbridge review panel pointedly leaves the door open to Kinder Morgan's proposal to triple its pipeline capacity to Vancouver. This makes no sense. The basis upon which Clark rejected Enbridge - the company's failure to meet five conditions established by the Liberal Government a year ago - applies equally to Kinder Morgan's plan. If the Enbridge pipeline isn't up to Christy Clark's standards, then the proposed Kinder Morgan expansion shouldn't be either.
BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix issued a statement Tuesday, offering an explanation and form of apology for the surprise provincial election loss he presided over recently. In the letter, published here, he accepts responsibility for the loss, acknowledging a common criticism of the campaign - levied often in these pages - that he wasn't tough enough on his Liberal opponents. "We did not do a good job prosecuting the case against the government, based on their record," Dix admits. And yet, he appears to remain committed to the "nice guy" approach that to many observers was his undoing: "I don't believe last week's results are the end of 'positive politics' in BC."
The annals of contemporary political history make one thing clear: Elections are invariably won and lost on a single issue - and that issue is most often the economy. The NDP lost this election for three reasons - all of which relate back to that one central point: 1. Despite compelling evidence in their favour, the NDP failed to destroy the Liberals' economic credibility; 2. Mr. Dix failed to understand the difference between being fair and being nice; 3. Unlike their opponents, the NDP have no sense of storytelling, no narrative arc to which they can attach their myriad policy points.
Following a polling debacle in last year's Alberta election and troubling signs in BC as voters prepare to cast their ballots, John King questions the motives and methods of pollsters and the corporate media who publish them. "Suddenly, obscure pollsters often funded by unknown sources are constructing the narrative that the ailing B.C. Liberal Party checked itself into the ER, bandaged itself up, and is making a contest out of what was anything but...Polls closing out the last working week leading into the election show wide discrepancies. An Angus Reid poll has the NDP out in front by a nine-point margin, while a poll commissioned by the Victoria Times-Colonist says the NDP lead has 'narrowed to just four percentage points.'"
From Common Sense Canadian contributor Kevin Logan comes this multimedia examination of Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberal Party's real stand on proposed oil pipelines and tankers in BC. "What they have neglected to tell British Columbians is that their government has entered into binding agreements that ensure the success of pipelines from Alberta to the BC Coast...The June 2010 'Equivalency Agreement', done in secret by the BC Liberals with the Harper Conservative Government, forfeits BC's ability to review, assess and decide on these pipeline proposals which threaten to transform the province as we know it."
Read this story from The Vancouver Sun on the ongoing political reverberations of NDP Leader Adrian Dix's unexpected stand against Kinder Morgan's plans to turn Vancouver into a major Tar Sands shipping port. (May 5, 2013)
VANCOUVER - Controversy surrounding increased oil tanker traffic British Columbia's coastal waters is an issue that isn't going away with just over a week to go in the provincial election campaign.
NDP leader Adrian Dix called on Premier Christy Clark to clarify her position on proposed projects that would see more tankers transporting heavy oil to Asia.
Clark's position on the proposed Kinder Morgan and Enbridge pipeline projects has been unclear thus far, Dix said at a Saturday morning rally on Vancouver's Kitsilano Beach.
He said he wants Clark to outline her Liberal party's position before voters go to the polls on May 14.
“The Premier’s position on both these pipelines appears to be ‘trust me.’ But if the price from Ottawa or Alberta is right, she’s prepared to support a massive increase in tankers and the environmental risks that they pose," Dix said.
He added B.C. has an obligation to protect its coastline from projects that would radically transform the northern and southern coasts into major shipping routes for tankers transporting bitumen to markets abroad.
"The stakes in this election could not be higher," Dix said to dozens of NDP supporters, media and a few Green Party candidates.
"Looking out at English Bay, looking out at Stanley Park ... for those of us who grew up in Vancouver, is part of what makes our community special and what brings people from all over the world to this place."
The feeling, Dix said, is similar for First Nations communities that sustain their livelihoods with fishing along the province's northern coastal waters.
"That's their economy too," Dix said to applause. "They understand that projects such as Enbridge Northern Gateway are not in our economic, our cultural, or our environmental interests."
Clark took the day off from the campaign trail on Saturday to attend a little league baseball event in her home riding.
Liberal Environment Minister Terry Lake issued a statement on behalf of the party, saying it's Dix's platform that needs clarification.
The New Democrat changed his stance on the proposed Kinder Morgan project midway through the election campaign, Lake stated in a news release.
“Adrian Dix continues to be all over the map on the issue of heavy oil pipelines in British Columbia – his position is clear as mud,” Lake said.
If it's successful, the Kinder Morgan proposal would see expansion of the company's existing trans-mountain pipeline that delivers oil from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver.
Initially Dix said he would wait for Kinder Morgan to file its application before committing himself for or against the project, but then stated his outright opposition to the project and the increased tanker traffic it would bring.
At Saturday's rally, the NDP leader reiterated his stance that pipeline decisions should be made provincially, rather than at a federal level.
“A B.C. NDP government would protect our coast line and make sure decisions that impact B.C. are made right here and not in Ottawa,” Dix said.
He added his government would cancel an existing Equivalency Agreement with the federal Conservatives within a week of taking office, if the NDP is elected in ten days.
Gary Mason of The Globe and Mail's take on BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix's surprise opposition to the Kinder Morgan's plans to turn Vancouver into a major Tar Sands shipping port. (April 26, 2013)
We may never know what inspired NDP Leader Adrian Dix to breathe life into a moribund B.C. Liberal election campaign by reversing his position on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. But it is clear from the first leaders debate Friday that the issue has become a political millstone for the New Democrats.
It has dominated the campaign since Mr. Dix stunned many on Earth Day by declaring his opposition to Kinder Morgan’s plans. This, after saying as recently as two weeks earlier that as a “matter of principle” he wouldn’t prejudge the project before the company had a chance to submit its complete proposal to the National Energy Board later this year.
The NDP Leader has maintained that his thinking on the matter evolved over time. He has said the tipping point was when he learned that Kinder Morgan was planning to increase the amount of oil it was going to move through the new pipeline. At his Earth Day announcement, Mr. Dix said he did not believe that Vancouver should become a major oil-exporting port, something he says would happen if the pipeline expansion went ahead. The number of big oil tankers entering the port would increase several fold, he has maintained, increasing the likelihood of a spill.
Not surprisingly, the subject was highlighted in the first half hour of the leaders debate on the Bill Good radio show on CKNW. Liberal Leader Christy Clark used her opponent’s about-face to expose him as a flip-flopper. She criticized him for taking a position ahead of an environmental review process. After previously coming out against the Northern Gateway pipeline, Mr. Dix is being accused of being anti-business and anti-development, labels he has been fighting hard to shake off.
Ms. Clark is also now suggesting that Mr. Dix arrived at his position in January and “kept it concealed,” until the election campaign. “It makes you wonder what else Mr. Dix is concealing,” Ms. Clark said on the radio. Being in the desperate position that she is – 14 points behind in the polls with just two weeks left in the campaign – Ms. Clark is now trying to cast the NDP Leader’s announcement in a more sinister light.
On this point, the Liberal Leader is completely wrong.
Ms. Clark is basing her “secret agenda” line of attack on a recent story by Globe and Mail reporter Justine Hunter. Based on an interview with Mr. Dix, her piece said the NDP Leader made up his mind to oppose the project after Kinder Morgan “signalled its expanded ambitions for the project in January.” Ms. Clark is suggesting that implies January is when Mr. Dix made his decision when, in fact, it only suggests he made up his mind “some time after” the beginning of the year.
Despite Ms. Hunter’s best efforts during the interview, Mr. Dix steadfastly refused to say when, exactly, he did decide to change his position. That leaves us to guess as to his motive and one of the best deductions making the rounds is that the NDP saw recent polling numbers that suggested the party was vulnerable in a number of key ridings because of the Green Party – something the New Democrats felt they could undercut by taking a position against Kinder Morgan.
But while it may have helped fend off the Greens, the NDP’s new policy has almost certainly helped Ms. Clark and the Liberals.
Whether you agree with Mr. Dix’s stand or not, declaring a project dead ahead of an environmental review process is not very statesmanlike. It looks amateurish, especially against the backdrop of a previously held – and much-ballyhooed – matter of principle position.
It allows the Liberals to cast the New Democrats as anti-development. It allows the Liberals to ask in the heat of an election campaign: How does an NDP government intend to pay for all its campaign promises if it is going to oppose every development project that environmental groups do not like? Has Mr. Dix forgotten about the tens of thousands of jobs the resource sector creates in B.C.? Does he not believe in due process?
Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/adrian-dixs-opposition-to-kinder-morgan-and-the-liberals-hopes/article11584071/
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.