Displaying items by tag: Oil and gas
Read this eye-opening column by Pete McMartin in The Vancouver Sun on the real world climate impacts of plans to turn BC into a major new carbon corridor to Asia, including up to eleven new ports designed to export coal, oil and gas. (May 18, 2013)
This week — and you may have missed it due to Christy Clark’s coming-out party — something called the Sightline Institute released a study about fossil fuels.
Sightline is a regional sustainability think-tank based in Seattle, and it focuses on regional environmental concerns for what we refer to as Cascadia.
The study was entitled Northwest Fossil Fuel Exports and its author was Eric de Place, Sightline’s policy director.
What de Place tried to do was give a numeric value to the amount of global-warming carbon dioxide that would be emitted by all the energy-exporting projects now in the planning stages in B.C., Washington and Oregon.
• Five new coal terminals.
• Two expansions of existing coal terminals.
• Three new oil pipelines.
• Six new natural gas pipelines.
Eleven of those 16 proposals are in B.C.
It’s breathtaking, that kind of industrial concentration: Cascadia has suddenly become the nexus of mining and energy companies anxious to get their products off to power-hungry Asian markets. It’s this century’s gold rush. The troubled American coal industry wants a West Coast outlet. Alberta wants pipelines to the Pacific. Our premier sees our future in liquefied natural gas.
De Place sees a different future.
“British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington each enjoy a reputation for leadership in clean energy and environmental policy,” he wrote.
“Yet the new fossil fuel infrastructure planned for the region would eclipse the region’s green reputation, transforming the Northwest from an aspiring climate leader into a carbon export hub of global consequence.”
The final figure that de Place came up with?
Collectively, these new projects, he estimated, would produce a total of 761 million tonnes of CO2.
That, de Place noted, is 12 times the total amount now emitted by B.C.
De Place recognized that all these projects might not be built. Some are in direct competition with each other. There was the danger, he admitted, of overstating his case.
But he also said, to give the study balance, he purposely understated many factors that contribute to CO2 production — factors like the mining, processing and transportation of those carbon products. He also left out the vast amounts of energy that would be needed to power projects like B.C.’s proposed LNG plants. He counted only the CO2 emitted by the final user of the fuel.
“There were folks who reviewed this who felt I was being far too conservative with the numbers because I only included the carbon inside the fuel and none of the energy used to extract it or process it. But I wanted something clear and defensible, so I went with the more modest number.”
Of special note, de Place cited research from the B.C. environment ministry showing present provincial greenhouse gas production — at least, our domestic production of GHGs, as opposed to that which we export. Many would be surprised to learn that, according to the government, GHG production fell by almost six per cent between 2000 and 2010, the latest year figures were available.
“I think there’s a lot of evidence,” de Place said, “that we can divorce GHG emissions from economic growth. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other.”
Read this story by the Vancouver Sun's Douglas Todd on warnings from two unlikely sources of the loss of Canada's democracy to a Chinese "oligarchy" seeking our resources. (May 15, 2013)
The University of B.C.’s Paul Evans has written a valuable piece exploring Canada’s potentially deadly competition with the People’s Republic of China.
The professor of Asian international affairs at the Institute of Asian Research and the Liu Institute for Global Issues looks at the various ways that Canada could most effectively engage with China, the world’s fastest-rising economic and military giant and Canada’s largest source of new immigrants.
In his piece in The Literary Review of Canada, Evans offers a useful perspective on the approaches taken by both Preston Manning, former Alliance Party leader, and former Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff. The two aren’t that far apart in the way they see the relationship with China as full of pitfalls.
Evans notes Ignatieff’s concerns that China is an “oligarchy” that has no ideology other than “enrichment.” And he expresses some sympathy with Ignatieff’s belief that it’s best to engage China as an “opponent,” not an “enemy.”
Here’s an excerpt:
Behind the negativity is a growing fear that a rising China poses a profound challenge to values and institutions that Canadians hold dear. Preston Manning framed the sale as part of a “deadly serious political competition with China” that “pits the well-developed Chinese Communist ideology of state-controlled capitalism and state-directed ‘democracy’ against the older Western ideology of market-driven capitalism and citizen-directed democracy. This competition is especially keen in developing countries where the West and China compete for resources.” The West, he added, “appears to be losing the competition.”
A few months earlier, Michael Ignatieff spoke in Riga about the “decisive encounter” of liberal democracies with post-communist oligarchies in Russia and China “that have no ideology other than enrichment and are recalcitrant to global order,” that are “predatory on their own societies” and that are “attempting to demonstrate a novel proposition: that economic freedoms can be severed from political and civil freedom, and that freedom is divisible.”
As “Mao continues to glower down over Tiananmen Square,” commerce and capitalism, contracts and economic relationships have not dented China’s political system. Ignatieff called for a “defiant stance toward the new tyrannies in China and Russia,” and approaching them as “the chief strategic threat to the moral and political commitments of liberal democracies.”
But rather than seeing conflict as inevitable and eternal, he advocated responding with both curiosity and tolerance, avoiding the fixed categories of “us” and “them,” “[learning] from beliefs we cannot share,” and treating China as an opponent, not an enemy while practising politics, not war or religion.
Read more: http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/05/15/canadas-democracy-losing-against-chinas-oligarchy-ignatieff-and-manning/
Read this story and watch video from CBC.ca on the renewed pipeline debate in BC following the re-election of the BC Liberals to the Legislature. (May 16, 2013)
The unexpected victory by Christy Clark and her Liberal Party in B.C.’s provincial election has renewed the divisive debate over pipelines.
The NDP said it would put the brakes on two pipelines from Alberta to the West Coast, saying the risks to the environment are too great and the economic benefits too small.
But Clark, speaking to reporters on Wednesday about her election win and her priorities, said one reason for her re-election was her decision to keep the door open to pipelines if conditions can be met.
“The idea that you're going to say no to economic development before you even see it — I think that was part of it, the issue of who was going to say yes to economic development,” she said.
The Enbridge Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipelines would bring jobs to B.C., especially during the construction phase.
But the projects also bring environmental risk on land and offshore, with a huge jump in oil tanker traffic off the province’s coast.
Federal NDP energy and natural resources critic Peter Julian said there's tremendous opposition to the pipelines within B.C.
Julian, who is the MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, said Clark's re-election isn't necessarily a mandate for the projects to go ahead — despite pressure from Alberta and the federal government.
"I don't think this changes anything,” he said.
"As newly re-elected premier, she has to be cautious about public opinion. British Columbians have been very clear — they don't see this in our environmental or economic interests.”
‘A smarter discussion’
Many Albertans were rooting for the B.C. Liberals because they are seen as more friendly to Alberta's energy industry. Getting Alberta bitumen to B.C.'s coast is critical to Alberta's economy.
Rod Love, one of the organizers of a Calgary fundraiser for the B.C. Liberals earlier this year, said the premiers of B.C. and Alberta can now talk about pipelines without worrying about an election on their immediate horizons.
“With Christy Clark now getting a new mandate, I think we're able to have a smarter discussion about our common interest with respect to energy and getting product to market,” he said.
Love said more than 130 companies were at the fundraiser for the B.C. Liberals in Calgary earlier this year — a clear sign many Alberta businesses will be celebrating the Liberal win.
He wouldn't say how much was raised at that event but records show Alberta companies donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the B.C. Liberals.
David Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, acknowledged a Liberal government in B.C. is a good thing for Alberta.
“We know what we are working with as far as the policy environment — it’s a government that has been largely supportive of oil and gas issues, like West Coast access for oil,” he said.
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/05/16/bc-election-pipelines-alberta.html
Read this story from The Calgary Herald on Alberta Premier Alison Redford's comments at a recent energy conference in Calgary, vowing to push forward with proposed pipeline projects from he province, regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's provincial election in neighbouring BC. (May 11, 2013)
Just days before British Columbians go to the polls, Premier Alison Redford said Friday that the vote's outcome won't necessarily spell the end of controversial energy projects aimed at transporting Alberta bitumen to the West Coast for export overseas.
But Redford told an energy conference in Calgary that it is imperative for Canadian crude to gain access to the Asian market in the next three to five years.
"We have oceans to cross and we have enormous distances to cover. The need for interprovincial co-operation on market access is more urgent than ever," she told the business crowd assembled at the Western Energy Summit.
Redford touted her Canadian energy strategy - a plan to unite provinces around promoting energy development - saying that "billions of dollars and millions of jobs and the future of public services that Canadian families use every day are at stake over market access."
She acknowledged, however, the quest for market access faces challenges on the provincial level.
There are no greater obstacles than those in British Columbia, where safety and environmental concerns have fostered staunch opposition to oilsands pipelines.
With election day set for Tuesday, the front-running NDP and the long-governing Liberals have opposed to varying degrees Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and Kinder Morgan's plan to expand its existing Trans Mountain oil line.
"Elections are quite unique things and the dialogue that goes on there is something to watch," Redford told reporters following her speech.
"We're looking forward to seeing the results of the election and at that point we'll continue to work ... with whoever is elected to keep building our opportunities."
Redford did not directly answer a question on whether a B.C. government could stand in the way of the Northern Gateway project if the development receives approval from Ottawa after a National Energy Board review.
Experts on energy and environmental policy say a fight between the provincial and federal governments would enter into uncharted territory.
"Could British Columbia stop development of a pipeline project that has been federally approved? Really good question," said Len Coad, director of the Centre for Natural Resource Policy at the Canada West Foundation.
Coad said a dispute over the issue could become a constitutional battle, in that provinces have responsibility for natural resources, the federal government has jurisdiction for interprovincial pipelines and international trade, and the two levels of government share environmental responsibility.
"Things would get very interesting," agreed Kathryn Harrison, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia.
Read this story from CBC.ca on Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver's bold defense of the Alberta Tar Sands on the international stage. (May 11, 2013)
Canada’s natural resources minister continues to hit back against the many critics of Canada’s oilsands, including a European Union proposal to designate its oil as dirty.
In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House, Joe Oliver said Canada’s first priority when it comes to the EU is to change proposed legislation from the 27-country bloc that would see crude oil from the oilsands fail new standards for greenhouse gas emissions.
“It's discriminatory, it's not based on science and it would potentially hurt Canada's ability to access markets for its resources,” Oliver said in the interview.
“We will act if, as a last resort, there are no changes... we will look at all the alternatives and we may possibly take action before the [World Trade Organization].”
Oliver said the EU proposal has loopholes that would give a “free pass” to countries with higher emissions levels than Canada and he’d like to see it reviewed by a third party.
“Venezuelan heavy crude or oil coming from Russia, Nigeria or Angola has a process where they release gas... into the air or they burn it, and that would bring their numbers up,” he said.
“But under this directive, they're treated as if they have much lower emissions than Canada.”
EU ambassador to Canada Matthias Brinkmann said Thursday whatever measures are adopted will be "non-discriminatory and science based and will stand the test at the WTO."
Tour of Europe ending
Rhetoric has recently been heating up around Oliver and the oilsands as he ends a tour through Israel, France, England and Belgium aimed at promoting the Canadian oil and gas industry.
A group of 12 scientists sent him a letter this week saying Canada is delaying the transition to an economy more reliant on alternative energy.
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/05/10/pol-joe-oliver-oilsands-europe-criticism.html
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 op-ed in the Georgia Straight by Eoin Madden and Torrance Coste of the Wilderness Committee on the real and proposed transformation of Vancouver and the Salish Sea into a "carbon corridor" for coal and oil to new Asian markets. (May 8, 2013)
The Salish Sea, stretching from Metro Vancouver to the southern tip of Vancouver Island, is one of the world’s most hospitable and bountiful bodies of water. The region’s mild climate and abundant resources make it an ideal place to live, and it has been home to thriving Indigenous nations since time immemorial. For the same reasons, Europeans and others settled here in great numbers, and the Salish Sea is now one of the most densely populated areas in western Canada.
A key strength of the region is the inherent ease of transportation that’s possible given its geographic and maritime position. But as we see unprecedented industrial and political prioritization of fossil fuels above all else here in British Columbia, this status as an ideal transport corridor poses a problem for the Salish Sea.
Vancouver, the region’s largest municipality, has taken effort to brand itself as the world’s “greenest city,” and civic leaders here seem to understand that we can no longer afford to be so reckless when it comes to industrial development and its impacts on the environment. At the same time, there are proposals on the table from industry to dramatically increase exports of both coal and diluted bitumen—two of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels—from the Lower Mainland.
These two objectives are in direct contrast. Vancouver cannot be both a green city and one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel exporters; it just doesn’t work. If efforts to become sustainable don’t apply to exports, we are simply shipping away our impact on the climate, which isn’t a solution at all.
With regard to coal shipments, proposed port expansions at Fraser Surrey Docks—combined with an approved expansion at the Neptune facilities in North Vancouver and recent upgrades at Delta’s Westshore Terminal—would increase the Salish Sea’s export capacity to the equivalent of around 90 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year. That amount of climate-changing pollution is equal to almost six years’ worth of emissions from every vehicle on the road in B.C.
The Salish Sea is also facing a massive increase in tar sands exports. Texas-based corporation Kinder Morgan plans to build a new pipeline alongside its existing Trans Mountain pipeline, which terminates in Burnaby. The proposed increase from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day means a jump from around 80 to over 400 tankers full of dangerous tar sands bitumen per year in the Salish Sea—a further 100 million tonnes of carbon exports.
So what does this mean?
Well, if all current proposals go ahead (coal port expansions and the Kinder Morgan pipeline), the Salish Sea will be transformed into a global carbon corridor. Green initiatives undertaken at the municipal or regional level will essentially be nullified by the fact that they all exist within a climate change superhighway.
We believe many people who live here want to find innovative solutions and more sustainable ways to operate our economies. If we become a carbon corridor, we’ll be clinging to an archaic and destructive system, and contributing to the climate crisis like never before.
Fossil fuel apologists tirelessly push the “if they don’t get oil/coal from us, they’ll get it somewhere else” argument. This thinking is worn out, uncreative, and cowardly. North America holds major fossil fuel reserves—leaving them in the ground is simply better for our future.
Increasing carbon export capacity is about more than just expanding trade opportunities, it’s a major long-term investment in an unsustainable and harmful system, one that will compromise the health of our communities and our global climate.
Instead of subsidizing the fossil fuel sector (currently $1.4 billion per year in federal subsidies), we should be supporting jobs in sustainable sectors, including increased processing in our timber, agriculture, and fishing industries.
Additionally, directing revenue from a smarter, more efficient carbon tax towards green initiatives like the expansion of electrified public transit and freight transport, as well as the construction of energy efficient buildings, will help speed up the transition to a green economy.
Read more: http://www.straight.com/news/379386/eoin-madden-and-torrance-coste-salish-sea-risk-becoming-global-carbon-corridor
The Council of Canadians, along with the Transnational Institute and Corporate Europe Observatory, released a report this week examining the threat that a proposed Canada-EU free trade deal would have on a community’s ability to implement fracking regulations and fracking bans on both sides of the Atlantic. Canada began negotiations with Europe on the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) in 2009 and hope to conclude the agreement by this summer. As Canadian negotiators visit Brussels this week to continue negotiations, the report warns the proposed investment protection clauses in the agreement would jeopardise governments’ ability to regulate or ban fracking.
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.
The thing that has always bothered me about Justin - ever since his entry onto the public scene at his famous father's funeral - is that he's never appeared to stand for anything real. Years later, even following a lengthy leadership race and literally thousands of media clips and public appearances, I still don't know what core principles motivate his drive to lead the country. Based on his few tangible policy statements, if Justin stands for anything, it's selling out Canada's strategic resources to the Chinese and exploiting the climate-destroying Tar Sands. Where his father tried and failed to build a made-in-Canada energy policy, the younger Trudeau is going in the opposite direction.