tar sands

Orange Crushed: Have the Alberta NDP Lost Their Way?

Exactly a year has passed since the centre-left New Democratic Party (NDP) rolled to a stunning win in Alberta.

Yet it’s still deeply surreal to think about that victory on May 5, 2015, which increased the party’s seat count from four to 54 in the 87-seat legislature and elevated former labour lawyer Rachel Notley to the position of premier.

After all, the Progressive Conservatives (PCs) — a union-bashing and petroleum-entrenched behemoth of a party — had governed the province without challenge since 1971.

For much of the ‘90s and 2000s, the province was led by Ralph Klein, an austerity-obsessed alcoholic who cracked jokes about human-caused climate change, berated homeless people for being unemployed and blew up a hospital to save a bit of money.

Why the Oil to Tidewater Argument for Pipelines is Bunk

This article originally appeared on the Council of Canadians' website.

If you follow mainstream media you’ve probably heard the argument ‘we need to get our oil to tidewater’ ad nauseam.

Be it Natural Resource Minister CarrPrime Minister TrudeauPremier Notley or pipeline and tar sands industries, it’s a drum beat that’s building in intensity. As the argument goes, if we could only get a pipeline built and oil shipped, Canada’s crumbling oil industry could recover from its current woes.

Here’s the thing… it’s totally wrong.

I’m not the only one calling this bluff.

Pipelines or Indigenous Rights? Premier Notley Can't Have Both

The speech Alberta Premier Rachel Notley gave to over 1,000 federal NDP delegates on Saturday in Edmonton’s Shaw Convention Centre was a stunning thing to behold.

In a mere half-hour, she received around a dozen standing ovations, cracked a pretty solid joke about Donald Trump and delivered a unabashed appeal for the approval and construction of pipelines “that are built by Canadians, using Canadian steel.”

But even more stunning was the fact that she completely failed to mention the rights or interests of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

Canada Must Adapt to Low Oil and Gas Price Environment, International Energy Agency Warns

If Saudi Arabia’s oil minister’s dire warning about high-cost energy producers didn’t effectively get the message across that Canada needs to adjust to a new market reality, perhaps a new warning by the International Energy Agency (IEA) might.
 
“We are likely to see continued capacity increases (in) the near term, with growth slowing considerably, if not coming to a complete standstill, after the projects under construction are completed,” the IEA said in an oil market overview published Monday.
 
According to the IEA, Canada’s oil era may be coming to an end due to dramatically low prices, increasing environmental concerns, a lack of public support for pipelines and evolving climate policies.
 
In an in-depth review of Canada’s energy portfolio and policies released Thursday, the agency urged Canada to adopt strong climate goals as it considers future energy production.
 
“As a leading exporter of oil, coal, natural gas, uranium and hydropower, Canada is a cornerstone of global energy markets and energy security,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said as he presented the report, Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Canada 2015.

Oilsands Monitoring Programs Collecting But Not Using Data, Report Finds

Oilsands monitoring programs aren’t quite living up to expectations.

That was the conclusion presented by a six-person expert panel in Edmonton on February 22.

The two organizations that were examined — the Joint Canada-Alberta Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM) and Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA) — have improved in performance in recent years, according to the review.

But the organizations have largely failed at actually conducting analysis of the data collected about the four component areas: air, water, wildlife contaminants and toxicology, and biodiversity and land disturbance.

In addition, both JOSM and AEMERA have lacked clear mandates, a fact that has “severely hampered” success.

“The work of the Panel was made more challenging by the absence of an overarching document that clearly articulates the policy and scientific goals of the Governments of Canada and Alberta for oil sands monitoring,” according to the report, which was commissioned by AEMERA and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

4 Key Questions for Canada's New Pipeline, LNG Climate Test

This article by policy analyst Matt Horne originally appeared on the Pembina Institute website.

Last week, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr 
announced Canada’s intention to apply a climate test to major energy infrastructure proposals. This was the fifth of five new principles they announced to improve environmental assessments in the country.

The change is good news because it will fill a long-standing gap in the country’s environmental assessment process. The standard approach has been to look at individual oil pipeline or LNG terminal proposals without worrying about the oilsands mines or gas fields they’re connected to. The new approach will include the carbon pollution from the project being proposed and the carbon pollution from the development associated with it.

What the federal government hasn’t said yet is how they plan to evaluate the new information and integrate it into their eventual decisions. Here are four questions I’d like to see included in their climate test, using Petronas’s Pacific NorthWest LNG project to illustrate how they might work. In many cases, the federal government — as opposed to the proponent — is in the best position to address these questions.

B.C. Formally Opposes Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Due to Marine and Land-based Oil Spill Risks

Kinder Morgan’s proposal to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline has failed to meet British Columbia’s standards when it comes to marine and land spill response plans, according to the province’s submission provided to the National Energy Board (NEB) Monday.

Environment Minister Mary Polak told reporters the province outlined five conditions that must be met to receive the province's support for any oil pipeline in its submission to the National Energy Board. She said two of those conditions, pertaining to marine and land spill response, have not been met.

Today we are putting forward our final submission to the National Energy Board hearings on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion,” Polak said.

You will see once again our five conditions outlined. We see those as our basis for defending British Columbia’s interests in terms of environment, but also First Nations and benefits to British Columbia.”

We have not at this time seen evidence in the NEB process that those conditions have been met,” she said.

“Rational, Drama-Free Conversations as Energy Producers Can Be Had,” Says Alberta Environment Minister in Paris

Alberta Minister of Environment Shannon Phillips says her province is being celebrated on the international stage for its climate leadership.

Alberta has put in place a robust set of policies and we are now leaders in the country and on the continent in terms of action,” she told reporters in Paris on Wednesday.

The province of Alberta is participating in the Canadian delegation to the Paris climate talks alongside many other provinces including B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Philips says when it comes to its international reputation, Alberta has “turned the page.”

She added Alberta’s positive reception in Paris can be attributed to the new NDP government’s change in tone.

We’ve demonstrated that it can be done: that rational, drama-free conversations as energy producers can be had and that leadership can come out of that.”

Canada’s Implementation of UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights Raises Questions About Oilsands, Resource Extraction

After years of refusal by the Conservative government, Canada is preparing to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) — a decision that could herald the beginning of a new era in relations between First Nations and the federal government.

In a mandate letter addressed to Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requested the minister “renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.”

The first item on Bennett’s long list of to-dos is to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting first with the implementation of the UN declaration.

Implementing the declaration is a big deal for Canada, one of only four countries to not only abstain from voting on the declaration, but to actually vote against it. (The other three are the U.S., which has signaled its intention to revise its position, and New Zealand and Australia, both of which reversed their positions in 2009.)

The declaration, first adopted by the UN in 2007 after 25 years of consultation and deliberation, is meant to “constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.”

Canada Subsidizes the Fossil Fuel Industry by $2.7 Billion Every Year. Where Does That Money Go?

Canada’s fossil fuel industries are the recipients of $2.7 billion US ($3.6 billion CDN)  in handouts each year, despite a promise from all G20 nations, including Canada, to eliminate subsidies in 2009.

About $1.6 billion US of those subsidies came from the federal government with the rest distributed by the provinces, according to a new report from Oil Change International.

The report finds G20 countries spend about $452 billion US each year to prop up their oil, gas and coal industries.

The Liberals promised to “fulfill Canada’s G20 commitment to phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry,” in their election platform. The party singled out the Canadian Exploration Expenses tax deduction as too generous to industry, saying the tax break should only kick in if companies are completely unsuccessful in their resource exploration.

The saving will be redirected to investments in new and clean technologies,” the party platform says.

But the Canadian Exploration Expenses tax deduction isn’t the only place where companies can take advantage of a generous subsidy system.

So were else is the money coming from and going to?

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