natural gas

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?

Andrew Nikiforuk’s Latest on the Fracking Craze should be Required Reading for MLAs

This is a guest post by Ben Parfitt, resource policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It orginially appeared on

Well, I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down

— Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty

In the mid 1960s, the world’s two superpowers hit on a novel idea to try to coax more oil and natural gas from the ground. In what they hoped would prompt the release of “endless fountains of fossil fuels,” first the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and then the United States of America detonated nuclear bombs belowground.

The hoped-for geysers of fuel never materialized. Instead, nearby oil and gas wells became contaminated with radioactive gases that in some cases later broke to the surface and swept over the homes of unsuspecting residents. Groundwater was polluted. And giant subterranean craters filled with cancer-inducing gases that no public power utility in its right mind would touch.

Volkswagen Got Caught Cheating Emissions Reporting. Will B.C.?

This is a guest post by Andy Skuce.

Volkswagen has admitted to cheating on emissions tests of some of its diesel vehicles. The full story has not yet been made public, but Volkswagen seems not to be an isolated case. There are indications of widespread gaming of emissions testing in the European automobile industry, with regulators and governments turning a blind eye to cheats and being reluctant to introduce testing procedures that would measure actual emissions in real-world conditions. 

There are some parallels with the estimation of emissions in the natural gas industry in British Columbia, where officially-sanctioned emissions rates are far lower than in other jurisdictions, compliance inspections are non-existent and methodologies do not include state-of-the art field measurements.

B.C. Handed Out Scientifically Flawed Fracking Water Licence to Nexen: Appeals Board

Christy Clark

The B.C. Environmental Appeal Board has ruled the province failed to properly consult the Fort Nelson First Nations and employ adequate scientific modelling when it approved a long-term water withdrawal licence for Nexen Inc., a company with fracked gas operations in the Horn River Basin.

The board ordered the cancellation of the water licence, effectively immediately. The permit granted Nexen permission to withdraw up to 2.5 million cubic metres of water annually from North Tsea Lake, located within traditional Fort Nelson First Nation territory, until 2017.

The First Nation considers the ruling a significant victory over both Nexen and the B.C. government.

Granting this licence was a major mistake by the province,” Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Liz Logan said, adding “our members have always used the Tsea Lake area in our territory to hunt, trap, and live on the land.”

Logan said Nexen withdrew water from Tsea Lake at ecologically damaging times.

The company pumped water out of the lake, even during drought conditions,” she said. “There were major impacts on the lake, fish, beavers and surrounding environment.”

Back to School: "Frackademia" Alive and Well at U.S. Universities, Says New Report

The Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) has published a timely “back to school” report concluding that “frackademia” is alive and well at U.S. universities. 

While only focusing on the people and money behind five recent studies, PAI's report sits within a much broader universe of research in its Frackademia Guide. The new report serves as an update of its February 2015 report titled, “Frackademia in Depth,” a title poking fun at hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) front group Energy in Depth (which did not react kindly to its report).

Nova Scotia, Canada Extend Offshore Oil and Gas Moratorium in Ecologically Rich Georges Bank

A moratorium on oil and gas development on a large piece of the continental shelf between Southwest Nova Scotia and Cape Cod called Georges Bank will be extended for seven years, protecting the ecologically diverse waters beloved by fishermen and environmental groups in the region.

The shallow waters of Georges Bank, located about 100 kilometres off the Nova Scotia coast is abundant in haddock, halibut and scallops and is a refuge for endangered turtles and whales that migrate through the nutrient-rich corridor.

The shelf is also thought to be home to large quantities of natural gas.

Nova Scotia recently announced it will renew legislation, Bill C-64, this fall that maintains the moratorium, following a similar decision announced by the federal government before parliament broke for summer.

According to Mark Butler, policy director at the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, the provincial decision to extend the moratorium “passed at the very last minute.”

It’s quite amazing, really, but nonetheless it passed.”

Permits to Start Construction on Site C Dam Issued Despite Pending Lawsuits

Peace River

Authorizations allowing construction to begin immediately on the Site C dam on the Peace River in northeastern B.C. were issued on Tuesday by B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations — despite a pending legal challenge by the Treaty 8 First Nations.

This Saturday, hundreds of people in canoes and kayaks will paddle down the Peace River to protest the imminent construction of the dam and flooding of the river.

The $8.8 billion Site C dam — the most expensive public project in B.C. history — was approved by the B.C. government in December. If built, the dam will flood more than 100 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries, drowning agricultural land that experts say could produce fruit and vegetables for one million people.

Since the government’s decision to move forward with the project, expert voices have come out of the woodwork to speak out against the project.

Alberta’s First NDP Climate Victory May Have Nothing to Do With the Oilsands and Everything to Do With Coal

Back in March when the prospect of a majority NDP government in Alberta was still a twinkle in Rachel Notley’s eye, the to-be premier introduced a motion to phase out the province’s use of coal for electricity by 2030.

The evidence is clear that it is time to phase out coal powered electricity in the province in Alberta. Coal is one of the single largest pollutants in Alberta. It costs our health care millions of dollars every year and is a massive source of greenhouse gas emissions,” she said, urging then premier Jim Prentice and the Progressive Conservative party to “do the right thing.”

So now that Notley has taken the reins, will she follow through with her own ambitious plan?

First Nations Chief Fears Site C Will Increase Mercury Poisoning of Fish

West Moberly First Nation Chief Roland Willson said the day his nine-year-old son caught a nine pound fish, a dolly varden, in the Williston reservoir should have been a proud moment.

He caught it in the reservoir but because of what I know about the mercury we couldn’t eat it,” Willson said. “He had snagged it so bad we had to take it home and it ended up going in the garbage.”

The Williston reservoir, resulting from the creation of the W.A.C Bennett dam, is known for containing high levels of mercury, a common feature of large man-made reservoirs containing high levels of organic material. In 2000, the B.C. government issued a fish consumption advisory for the reservoir.

Although that day of fishing on the reservoir was seven years ago, Willson has a new reason to fear those high levels of mercury: the recent approval of the Site C dam.

Willson said he’s concerned the Site C dam will result in similarly contaminated reservoir water.

Site C is proposed for the same river,” Willson said. “There’s no reason to think this problem is not going to transfer.”

Canadian Government Called on to Federally Regulate Fracking

The Council of Canadians called on the federal government Tuesday to implement regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Canada. The process, widely used for unconventional oil and gas recovery in western Canada, is linked to numerous human and environmental health threats and currently faces bans or moratoria in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador

The next Oka in Canadian history is going to be in B.C. and it’s going to be about energy,” indigenous lawyer Caleb Behn said during a press conference in Ottawa addressing the fracking boom in northern British Columbia and other parts of western Canada. 

I guarantee it. The writing is on the wall. It is just a question of when in my view. That is why the regulators need to step up.”


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