Carol Linnitt's blog

Premiers Finalize National Energy Strategy That Relies Heavily on Fossil Fuels, Pipelines

Canada’s provincial leaders finalized the Canadian Energy Strategy Friday with a document many onlookers are criticizing as too reliant on traditional carbon-based sources of energy.

The strategy, intended to guide the integrated development of Canada’s energy resources across the provinces, places no restrictions on the release of greenhouse gas emissions and takes a proactive approach to building oil and gas pipelines.

According to officials who spoke with the Globe and Mail the strategy was meant to strike a balance between the energy ambitions of each province with growing concerns over global climate change.

We have a path to pursue two critical national priorities,” a senior Alberta official said, ”how are we going to keep building our energy industry and how are we going to address climate change?”

Exclusive: B.C. to Pay Millions to Subsidize Petronas Pollution Due to Secretive LNG Emissions Loophole

The B.C. government plans to subsidize Malaysian gas giant Petronas to the tune of $16 million, in part due to a promise to exclude a significant chunk of the greenhouse gas emissions from the Pacific Northwest LNG project from compliance penalties, DeSmog Canada has learned.

British Columbia’s politicians are in a special summer sitting at the legislature right now to debate Bill 30, the Liquefied Natural Gas Project Agreements Act, which will allow the government to enter into a $36 billion agreement with Petronas and pave the way for B.C.’s first major liquefied natural gas export plant, located near Prince Rupert.

Under the terms of the 140-page deal, the province would compensate the LNG consortium if future governments raise income tax rates for LNG operations, add carbon taxes that specifically target the industry or make changes to rules on greenhouse gas emissions. That could result in the province paying out $25 million a year or more.

While the compensation clause has commanded the lion’s share of attention, DeSmog Canada has learned that the B.C. government has quietly excluded two sources of Petronas’ emissions from compliance standards, which will result in the province paying out millions of dollars in subsidies.

B.C. Approves Partial Reopening of Mount Polley Mine Despite Major Unanswered Questions About Tailings Spill

Mount Polley Mine Site, Carol Linnitt

Nearly one year after the catastrophic collapse of the Mount Polley mine tailings pond, which sent an estimated 25 million cubic metres of contaminated mining waste and water into Quesnel Lake, the project is permitted to partially reopen.

The B.C. government approved a permit to temporarily restart the gold and copper mine at half capacity even though the company has no long-term plan to deal with an abundance of water on site. A backlog of water, which overburdened the tailings storage pit, contributed to the accident last August according to an engineering panel that investigated the incident.

Mines Minister Bill Bennett said the province will approve the short-term permit while the mine figures out how to deal with the excess water.

Our choice was: Do we wait for them for a year to do absolutely everything that shows they have a long-term plan, or let them operate for a few months and get people working again and allow the company to earn some revenue, given there’s no negative impact to the environment?” Bennett said.

New Carbon Tracker Report Calls $82 Billion of B.C.’s LNG Ambitions into Question

A new report released by the London-based Carbon Tracker Initiative finds more than $283 billion in potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects worldwide are likely unfeasible in a carbon-constrained world. The report identifies $82 billion in potential Canadian LNG projects — almost entirely in B.C. — potentially headed for the rubbish bin.

If the world is to limit global warming to an increase of 2 degrees Celsius, “energy companies will need to be selective over which gas projects they develop,” the Carbon Tracker Initiative stated in a press release. Many high carbon, high cost LNG projects will simply need to be abandoned. LNG is natural gas cooled and compressed to a liquid form for transportation via tanker.

Investors should scrutinize the true potential for growth of LNG businesses over the next decade,” James Leaton, Carbon Tracker’s head of research, said. “The current oversupply of LNG means there is already a pipeline of projects waiting to come on stream. It is not clear whether these will be needed and generate value for shareholders.”

The size of the gas industry in North America could fall short of industry projections — especially those expecting new LNG industries in the U.S. and Canada,” Andrew Grant, lead analyst at Carbon Tracker and co-author of the report, said.

Ongoing Audits of Canada’s Charities a Violation of Human Rights, United Nations Hears

Canada Without Poverty, an Ottawa-based charity, is arguing the sweeping audits of charities by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) are a violation of human rights before the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva this week.

Harriett McLachlan, president of Canada Without Poverty, told the CBC she will argue the contentious audits violate Canada’s international commitments.

The Canada Revenue Agency has targeted 60 Canadian charities in a $13.4 million audit program to determine if the groups are violating rules that limit their spending on political activities to 10 per cent of resources.

McLachlan told the CBC the political activity rules silence groups like Canada Without Poverty that advocate for increased government accountability. Charities in Canada are prevented from engaging in any partisan activity.

“If we want to write a petition, or be part of some kind of gathering, a protest, there's a fear there that we are stepping over the bounds,” she told the CBC.

Breach of Trust: Opposing Factions Divide Likely, B.C., Months After Mount Polley Mine Spill

“I’m surprised that nobody has been killed here since the spill.”

That’s what one resident of Likely, B.C., recently told me at her home near Quesnel Lake, the site of the Mount Polley mine disaster that sent 24 million cubic metres of mining waste into the lake last August.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity she said she was warned by another community member about discussing the Mount Polley mine spill with journalists.

Be careful, they said to me. Be careful.”

She said another woman, who lives up the road, received three separate threatening phone calls after speaking with a television crew in the wake of the spill.

One person told her she should mind her own goddam business.”

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