natural gas

Ever Wondered Why Site C Rhymes With LNG?

On January 20, BC Hydro issued a press release singing the praises of a new hydro transmission line not far from where preliminary work has begun to build the $9-billion Site C dam.

The release, headlined “New transmission line to power development in the south Peace,” featured boosterish quotes from Premier Christy Clark, Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett and BC Hydro CEO and president Jessica MacDonald, but made no mention of the dam.

Yet it highlighted for many one of the most vexing questions about why the dam, which is the single-most expensive megaproject in the province’s history, is being built at all: Why this project at this time?

“This line doubles the amount of power we can provide to the region,” enthused MacDonald. “We know it’s a growing region and BC Hydro needs to be one step ahead and ensure we can get power to where it is needed most. We want industry in B.C. to use clean power that comes from BC Hydro’s hydroelectric facilities.”

What MacDonald didn’t say, and Clark and Bennett did nothing to elaborate on either, is that the $300-million and counting transmission line is but the first of at least three in the region. Another two lines, which the provincial government wants exempt from review by the provincial electrical utilities regulator the BC Utilities Commission (the province also exempted the Site C dam project from similar review), will add hundreds of millions of dollars more to the tally for taxpayers.

Meet The Paris Climate Summit's ‘Big Energy’ Sponsor Engie

BY KYLA MANDEL AND BRENDAN MONTAGUE IN PARIS

French energy giant Engie is perhaps the most prominent and most promoted corporate sponsor of the COP21 climate talks in Paris.

Engie, formerly known as GDF Suez, can be seen everywhere from the launch of India’s Solar Alliance on Monday to a ‘wind tree’ outside the COP21 venue at Le Bourget and the white lock-boxes spread throughout the halls where attendees can charge their devices.

And today the company will lead the charge at the opening of Solutions COP21 where corporates are gathering in central Paris to promote their various climate solutions. Here, Engie will be discussing opportunities for start-ups as well as showcasing a solar-powered race car and an air purifying robot.

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 policynote.ca.

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?

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