oilsands

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.

Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline Review ‘Vexed from Outset’

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan

The review of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has been plagued by a critical lack of evidence, members of a National Energy Board panel heard in Burnaby last week.

Chris Tollefson, lawyer from the Environmental Law Centre representing intervenors BC Nature and Nature Canada, said the evidence presented in the hearings is insufficient to prevent the panel from discharging its duty under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Fundamentally we say there is a lack of evidence for you to do your job,” he said.

David Suzuki: Paris Changed Everything, So Why Are We Still Talking Pipelines?

TransCanada Keystone Pipeline

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

With the December Paris climate agreement, leaders and experts from around the world showed they overwhelmingly accept that human-caused climate change is real and, because the world has continued to increase fossil fuel use, the need to curb and reduce emissions is urgent.

In light of this, I don’t get the current brouhaha over the Trans Mountain, Keystone XL, Northern Gateway or the Energy East pipelines. Why are politicians contemplating spending billions on pipelines when the Paris commitment means 75 to 80 per cent of known fossil fuel deposits must be left in the ground?

Didn’t our prime minister, with provincial and territorial premiers, mayors and representatives from non-profit organizations, parade before the media to announce Canada now takes climate change seriously? I joined millions of Canadians who felt an oppressive weight had lifted and cheered mightily to hear that our country committed to keeping emissions at levels that would ensure the world doesn’t heat by more than 1.5 C by the end of this century. With the global average temperature already one degree higher than pre-industrial levels, a half a degree more leaves no room for business as usual.

Feds Announce Upstream Emissions Will be 'Factor' In Pipeline Decisions

Miniser of Environment Catherine McKenna

The federal government announced on Wednesday the upstream greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with pipeline projects will be taken into consideration when federal cabinet makes its decisions on pipeline projects.

We are considering direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions,” Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said. McKenna along with Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr made the announcement.

Today’s announcement is a great step forward and shows the federal government is listening to Canadians,” Kai Nagata, Dogwood Initiative’s energy and democracy director, told DeSmog Canada. “The dark days of the National Energy Board are coming to an end.”

The new measures will apply to pipeline projects currently under regulatory review, such as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain and TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline projects, according to Carr. Five principles that proposed pipelines will be measured against were unveiled. One of those includes “meaningful consultation” for Indigenous peoples.

In the Energy East Fight, We All Want the Same Things

Oil spill on beach

This is a guest post by Mitchell Beer. It originally appeared on GreenPAC.

The pitched media battle between Mayors Denis Coderre of Montreal and Naheed Nenshi of Calgary shows just how quickly the political debate can get nasty when the things that matter most to us are at stake.

Calgary Mayor Nenshi, Premier Wall Blast Montreal’s Energy East Opposition

Several prominent western Canadian politicians came out firing at Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre’s announcement yesterday that Montreal-area municipalities will oppose TransCanada’s Energy East oil pipeline project. The outraged western leaders were not exactly polite in their criticism either.

He’s wrong on this one. There’s no better way to put it,” Calgary Naheed Nenshi told CTV’s Power Play. “The alternative is more oil by rail and people in Quebec know the dangers of oil by rail, tragically.”

I trust Montreal area mayors will politely return their share of $10B in equalization supported by (the) west,” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said on Twitter.

The 82 municipalities of the Communauté Municipale de Montréal (Montreal Metropolitan Community) voted yesterday to oppose the 1.1 million barrels a day proposed pipeline going through their jurisdictions. The environment risks outweighed the meager economic benefits of the project, according to the political body representing nearly four million Quebecers.

Montreal Formally Opposes TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline

Montreal Mayor Denise Coderre announced Thursday the city's formal opposition to TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline. The 4,600-kilometer west-to-east oil pipeline project would see 1,600 kilometres of new pipe built along the St. Lawrence River in Quebec and in New Brunswick.

“We are against it because it still represents significant environmental threats and too few economic benefits for greater Montreal,” Coderre said in a press conference.

Groups opposed to the 1.1 million barrels-a-day project, which is significantly larger than TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, welcomed the announcement.

Today, 82 municipal counsellors, representing 3.9 million citizens in the greater Montreal region, have issued a resounding ‘no’ to the Energy East project and to TransCanada Corporation,” Steven Guilbeault, Senior Director at Équiterre, said in a media release.

Coderre’s announcement came after 82 municipalities comprising the Communauté Municipale de Montréal (Montreal Metropolitan Community) voted this morning on whether to approve or oppose the project. Energy East’s proposed route would go through the northern municipalities of the greater Montreal-area.

We’re really happy,” Audrey Yank, spokesperson for Montreal-based citizens-group Coalition Vigilance Oleoducs told DeSmog Canada. “It feels like a another small victory to give us hope.”

Federal Scientist Says Worst Part of Being Muzzled Was Not Being Able to Talk About How Awesome His Job Is

Environment Canada scientist Phil Thomas recently texted me a photo of him working in the field. The image shows him gloved, crouched before a strip of bloodied flesh that is hanging from a thin rope. From the top of the creaturely thing protrudes a strange-looking tail.

What IS this?” I texted back.

Lmao,” he replied. “Trappers usually bring me their carcasses to skin … I skin them for them. They keep the hide, I keep the tissues. This is an otter … Or was an otter.”

The profundity of this interaction, while not apparent on its head, can’t be overstated.

Here I am, a journalist, chatting freely and casually via text message with a federal scientist about his work.

Two years ago Thomas and I were having what felt like cloak and dagger conversations, entirely off the record and at his occupational peril.

Back in Canada’s Harper days, before the “Great Unmuzzling,” it was next to impossible to conduct a real-deal interview with a federal scientist. The idea of having casual, on-the-record conversations that were entirely un-chaperoned seemed like a fairy tale.

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.

Why Alberta’s Climate Plan Won’t Stop the Battle Over Oil Pipelines

Burnaby Mountain protest against Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

An article published last week in the National Post that claims a “secret” deal was struck between oil companies and environmentalists has ruffled many feathers — from corporate big wigs in Calgary to environmental activists on the West Coast.

According to Claudia Cattaneo’s story, Alberta’s climate change plan — which introduced a carbon tax, phased out coal-fired electricity and put a cap on oilsands emissions — was “the product of secret negotiations between four top oilsands companies and four environmental organizations.”

I’m not sure how secret any of that was given that all of those players could clearly be seen on stage with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley when she announced the plan, but the story goes on to state: “The companies agreed to the cap in exchange for the environmental groups backing down on opposition to oil export pipelines, but the deal left other players on the sidelines, and that has created a deep division in Canada’s oil and gas sector.”

The remainder of the story goes into how various oil companies have their knickers in a twist over the deal.  You’d think environmentalists would be dancing in the streets about that, but no — it’s actually hard to say who’s more outraged: environmentalists, who bristle at the idea of a secret deal and who don’t think the agreement is strong enough, or oil companies, who don’t think the new regulations will help them gain the market access they’re so desperately seeking.

Let’s just all hold our horses for a second.

Pages

Subscribe to oilsands