oilsands

Thu, 2014-11-27 11:32Guest
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Pipelines and the Erosion of the National Energy Board’s Credibility

burnaby mountain, protest, kinder morgan

This is a guest post by Karen Campbell, Ecojustice staff lawyer.

The dramatic events unfolding on Burnaby Mountain — where more than 100 protestors have been arrested and charged with civil contempt — has turned a white-hot spotlight on Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and the National Energy Board (NEB). And both parties are looking a little worse for wear.

Between injunctions and arrests, the furor over Kinder Morgan’s expansion project has suddenly surpassed that other pipeline, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, in terms of controversy. You will recall that despite vociferous opposition from most First Nations and northern B.C. communities, the federal government approved Northern Gateway in June 2014. That approval is now the subject of dozens of legal challenges, including three applications filed by Ecojustice lawyers on behalf of our clients.

We are just one-third of the way through the Kinder Morgan project review, and frustration with the NEB’s stripped-down process — a product of federal environmental law rollbacks tucked into the 2012 budget bill — is steadily mounting, and may have serious implications for other projects, namely TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline.

Wed, 2014-11-26 11:08Carol Linnitt
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Edelman and TransCanada Part Ways After Leaked Documents Expose Aggressive PR Attack on Energy East Pipeline Opponents

Russ Girling TransCanada

Last week internal documents from Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, were leaked to Greenpeace, exposing an aggressive strategy to target opponents of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline.

The release of the documents brought TransCanada under fire for using dirty public relations tricks to manipulate public opinion and divide communities on the issue of the company’s 4,600 km Energy East pipeline that will carry 1.1 million barrels a day of Alberta oilsands crude to one small refinery and to export facilities on the east coast.

Today a press release from Edelman confirms the firm is parting ways with TransCanada after “attention…moved away from the merits of TransCanada’s Energy East Pipeline project.”

According to the release, “Edelman and TransCanada have mutually agreed not to extend Edelman’s contract beyond its current term,” which completes at the end of December.

The release also states the communications strategy Edelman devised was meant to “drive an active public discussion that gives Canadians reason to affirmatively support the project.”

Tue, 2014-11-25 12:15Carol Linnitt
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Energy East Opposition Fund Swells Past $300K After Crowdfunding Campaign Makes Headlines

Energy East fundraiser Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois

Perhaps it’s the charming student activist, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, who donated his $25,000 Governor General’s Literary Award to the pipeline fight, or perhaps it was the scandalous documents leaked last week that showed pipeline company TransCanada has teamed up with one of the world’s most powerful PR firms, Edelman, to manipulate public opinion surrounding the Energy East pipeline.

Or maybe it’s the fact that at least two-thirds of Quebecers oppose the construction of a 4600km pipeline that will carry 1.1 million barrels of oilsands crude through their province (and five others) for export. Maybe onlookers, disturbed by the 50 arrests on Burnaby Mountain, have felt compelled to prevent a similar situation from erupting east of Alberta.

Who knows?

But what is becoming clear is the firestorm of public opposition that is committing to the fight against Energy East. Twelve hours after Nadeau-Dubois announced his $25,000 donation on the Radio-Canada talk show Tout le monde en parle on Sunday donations surpassed $140,000.

Tue, 2014-11-25 11:51Warren Bell
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Vivian Krause and Richard Berman’s Oil Industry Playbook

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He had no idea he was being taped.

So when influential Washington, DC, political consultant Richard Berman talked about strategy and tactics to the oil and gas industry’s Western Energy Alliance in Colorado Springs this past June, he didn’t mince words.  

This is an endless war,” Berman said.

The secret tape was published in the New York Times a few weeks ago, released by a displeased oil industry executive, on condition of anonymity.

As he urged industry reps to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, Berman also made one emphatic point:

People always ask me one question all the time, ‘How do I know that I won't be found out as a supporter of what you're doing?’ We run all of this stuff through non-profit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don't know who supports us. We've been doing this for 20-something years in this regard.”

The Western Energy Alliance, at whose June meeting Berman laid out his cold-blooded strategy, describes membership as “an investment in the future of the independent oil and gas community in the West.” Its members throughout the U.S. and Canada “share and support our commitment to improve business conditions, expand opportunities and move the industry forward.” 

Mon, 2014-11-24 14:04Scott Vrooman
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VIDEO: Maybe the People on Burnaby Mountain Aren't Who We Should Be Worried About

Scott Vrooman, burnaby mountain, kinder morgan, protest

This video, by comedian Scott Vrooman, originally appeared on the Toronto Star.

American energy corporation Kinder Morgan filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against five pipeline protestors in Burnaby, B.C., because apparently nobody told them the average income of a pipeline protestor.

The National Energy Board  an anagram of “regulatory capture” — ruled that the City of Burnaby can’t stop Kinder from carrying out its work, so now the protestors are accused of trespassing in their own city’s park. Kinder solved the Not In My Backyard problem by taking the backyard.

The company also claims that protestors’ angry facial expressions constitute an assault on their workers. They’re arguing that freedom of expression doesn’t extend to your face. So I assume that if protestors draw angry faces onto their butts and display those towards Kinder Morgan workers, that won’t constitute assault. And I encourage every protestor to test that theory.

All of this comes within the context of a wider attempt to delegitimize protest itself. The University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy which just installed a new oil feature in their garden it’s lovely  they recently held a conference on “social license,” where the case was made that protestors undermine the rule of law by claiming to speak for the whole community.

Mon, 2014-11-24 11:06Andrew Gage
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Suncor Argues "All of Us" are Complicit in Climate Change, But New Lawsuits Could Prove Otherwise

suncor oilsands payback time andrew gage desmog canada

At West Coast Environmental Law we're gratified that Suncor, one of Canada's largest oilsands companies, has taken the time to read  and publicly disagree with  our recent report, Payback Time.

Payback Time examined the risks to Suncor and other Canadian fossil fuel companies of lawsuits brought by the victims of climate change outside of Canada

Suncor responded with a blog post entitled “What to do when everyone is the problem” that cleverly attempts to downplay Payback Time as just one of several efforts to single out a culprit for climate change. Suncor then argues that we are all to blame, suggesting that singling Suncor out for special blame is simply wishful thinking on the part of equally blame-worthy polluters (i.e. the general public).

Some groups are quick to single out individual countries, based on GHG emissions volumes generated within their borders. Others point the finger at specific industrial sectors which generate significant GHG emissions. Some lay the blame squarely on corporations which produce energy [linking to Payback Time] from fossil fuel sources. 

The hard, undeniable truth is that all of us, as fortunate members of the developed world, are complicit when it comes to GHG emissions…

Wed, 2014-11-12 18:52Emma Gilchrist and Carol Linnitt
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Convenient Conspiracy: How Vivian Krause Became the Poster Child for Canada’s Anti-Environment Crusade

Vivian Krause The Province

Today Vivian Krause published an opinion piece in The Province claiming “a vote for Vision is a vote for U.S. oil interests.” So, you might be wondering: just who is Vivian Krause? We’re so glad you asked…

An essential component of all public relations campaigns is having the right messenger— a credible, impassioned champion of your cause.

While many PR pushes fail to get off the ground, those that really catch on — the ones that gain political attention and result in debates and senate inquiries — almost always have precisely the right poster child.

And in the federal government and oil industry’s plight to discredit environmental groups, the perfect poster child just so happens to be Vivian Krause.

Tue, 2014-11-11 12:37Chris Rose
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Kinder Morgan Oversells Benefits of Trans Mountain Pipeline, Underplays Costs, Says New Report

Kinder Morgan has significantly overstated the benefits of its controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal while vastly understating risks associated with increasing the flow of oil to Metro Vancouver.

That’s the conclusion of a new economic analysis by Simon Fraser University and The Goodman Group Ltd. which also recommended that the proposed expansion be rejected as it is neither in the economic nor public interest of B.C. and Metro Vancouver.

The jobs created are nowhere near the number claimed by Kinder Morgan and the costs are grossly underestimated when the risks of a major spill, particularly one occurring in the Vancouver area, are factored in,” said Doug McArthur, director of SFU’s Graduate School of Public Policy, which co-authored the report.

The whole project is highly questionable from a public policy point of view,” McArthur added.

Mon, 2014-11-03 15:41Chris Rose
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“Citizen Interventions” Have Cost Canada’s Tar Sands Industry $17B, New Report Shows

Oil companies and fossil fuel investors seeking further developments in the Alberta tar sands have been dealt another setback with the publication of a report showing producers lost $17.1 billion USD between 2010-2013 due to successful public protest campaigns.

Fossil fuel companies lost $30.9 billion overall during the same period partly due to the changing North American oil market but largely because of a fierce grassroots movement against tar sands development, said the report — Material Risks: How Public Accountability Is Slowing Tar Sands Development.

A significant segment of opposition is from First Nations in Canada who are raising sovereignty claims and other environmental challenges, added the report, which was produced by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and Oil Change International (OCI).

Tar sands producers face a new kind of risk from growing public opposition,” Tom Sanzillo, director of finance at IEEFA, and one of the lead authors on the report, said. “This opposition has achieved a permanent presence as public sentiment evolves and as the influence of organizations opposed to tar sands production continues to grow.”

Tue, 2014-10-28 11:20Emma Gilchrist
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Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Advertising Blitz During Election Doesn't Count as Elections Advertising: Elections BC Ruling

Kinder Morgan TransMountain advertisement

Kinder Morgan has launched an advertising campaign pushing the company’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that just so happens to coincide with B.C.’s municipal elections — but Elections BC says the company doesn’t need to register as a third-party advertiser.

That’s a bit of a puzzler given that Elections BC rules clearly state that anyone who runs ads on an election issue must register as a third-party advertiser and disclose costs within 90 days of the Nov. 15 election.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, which would triple the amount of oilsands bitumen flowing to the B.C. coast, is certainly an election issue, with Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson staking out positions against the project.

An online survey for the Burnaby NOW found the pipeline expansion is the No. 1 concern for Burnaby voters during the civic election.

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