Prime Minister Harper’s Inaction on Climate Killed the Keystone XL Oilsands Pipeline

Stephen Harper climate change

With U.S. President Barack Obama expected to deny a permit to the Keystone XL pipeline this fall, Canada’s oil industry is looking for someone to blame.

The National Post’s Claudia Cattaneo wrote last week that “many Canadians … would see Obama’s fatal stab as a betrayal by a close friend and ally” and that others “would see it as the product of failure by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to come up with a climate change plan.”

The latter is the more logical conclusion. Obama has made his decision-making criteria clear: he won’t approve the pipeline if it exacerbates the problem of carbon pollution.

Even the U.S. State Department’s very conservative analysis states the Keystone XL pipeline would “substantially increase oilsands expansion and related emissions.” The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed.

While Canada’s energy reviews take into account “upstream benefits” — such as jobs created in the oilsands sector as a result of pipelines — they don’t even consider the upstream environmental impacts created by the expansion of the oilsands.

For all the bluster and finger-pointing, there’s no covering up the fact that Canada’s record on climate change is one of broken promises.

Ontario Energy Board Report Highlights Risks of Energy East Pipeline in New Report

A new report released Thursday by the Ontario Energy Board finds the risks of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, destined to carry Alberta oilsands crude to eastern refineries and export facilities, outweigh the project’s benefits.

The board’s vice-president, Peter Fraser, said the report, prepared at the request of Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli, finds “an imbalance between the economic and environmental risks of the project and the expect benefits for Ontarians.”

The Energy East pipeline, projected to transport 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, is the continent’s largest proposed pipeline, outsizing the company’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which has become a political boondoggle in the U.S. in recent years due to growing concerns over oil spills, private property and climate.

The Ontario Energy Board traveled to communities along the pipeline route to gauge public sentiment about the project and, according to the report, found fears over potential water pollution running high throughout the province.

Evidence Released at TransCanada’s Keystone XL Permit Renewal Hearing Sheds Light On Serious Pipeline Risks

Keystone XL protest by Doug Grandt

Just because TransCanada continually states that the Keystone XL pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever built, doesn’t mean it is true.

The company’s pipeline construction record is facing intense scrutiny in America’s heartland, where many see no justifiable rationale to risk their water and agricultural lands for a tar sands export pipeline.

New documents submitted as evidence in the Keystone XL permitting process in South Dakota — including one published here on DeSmog for the first time publicly — paint a troubling picture of the company’s shoddy construction mishaps. This document, produced by TransCanada and signed by two company executives, details the results of its investigation into the “root cause” of the corrosion problems discovered on the Keystone pipeline.

Energy East Threatens Drinking Water for 850,000 Manitobans, Report Finds

Drinking water for more than 60 per cent of Manitoba's population will be put at risk by TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline, according to a report released Monday by the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition. 

The entire length of the Winnipeg aqueduct is in danger of contamination from the nearby pipeline,” the report states. “Contamination could occur from large spills anywhere along the pipeline and from small, more frequent, undetected spills between Falcon Lake and Hadashville where the aqueduct and pipeline are very close.”

Retired biophysicist and author of the report, Dennis LeNeveu, announced his findings in Winnipeg, saying the city's aqueduct is at risk from the nearby pipeline. LeNeveu added it is not just Winnipeg’s drinking water that is threatened by the 1.1 million barrels a day Energy East project.   

The drinking water supplies in the province, as well as Winnipeg’s supply are at risk of contamination from the pipeline. Many communities draw their water from rivers that the pipeline directly crosses,” LeNeveu wrote in the report.  

“Winnipeg has much to lose from the pipeline crossing within its boundaries and little to gain.”

Manitobans in the Dark on Province's Energy East Position

Three Manitoba-based environmental groups — Manitoba Wildlands, Wilderness Committee, and Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition — held a press conference Thursday in Winnipeg demanding the Manitoba government “acknowledge the magnitude” of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project, which would see oilsands (also called tar sands) bitumen shipped through the province. 

Does the Manitoba government have an agreement with TransCanada Energy East already? Or does Manitoba Hydro already have an agreement to provide this energy? Will the Manitoba government follow the lead of other provinces and review the climate impacts? There are so many unanswered questions,” Gaile Whelan-Enns, director of Manitoba Wildlands, said.

While Ontario and Quebec are conducting public consultations on the propsed west-to-east oil pipeline and have expressed some uneasiness with the project, Manitoba premier Greg Selinger has been accused of saying very little about Energy East.

Manitobans deserve to know where their government stands on this issue,” Whelan-Enns said.

Tracing the 'Endless War' on Environmentalists Back to the War in the Woods

No one admits to recording Richard Berman’s address to a room full of energy executives in Colorado Springs in June 2014, but it’s an eye-opener.

One unnamed industry executive recorded Berman’s remarks and was offended by them. He provided a copy of the recording and the meeting agenda to the New York Times. DeSmog picked up the story the following day.

If the oil and gas industry is going to prevent environmental opponents from slowing down its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to use dirty tricks, Berman told the executives, whose companies specialize in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

At least four companies with Canadian fracking operations were in Berman’s audience — Devon Energy, Encana Oil and Gas, Ensign Energy Services and Newalta.

Fear and anger have to be part of the campaign,” he said. “You got to get people fearful of what’s on the table” (what they might lose if environmentalists win) “and then you got to get people angry over the fact they are being misled” (by environmental groups).

Over 25,000 March in Quebec Demanding Climate Leadership in Canada

An estimated 25,000 took to the streets of Quebec City Saturday to protest the federal government’s lack of leadership on climate change and unfaltering support for increased production in the Alberta oilsands.

Our message is simple — yes to climate equals no to the tar sands,” Christian Simard, executive direct of Nature Quebec, said. Nature Quebec along with Greenpeace, Equiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation and other eastern Canadian environmental groups organized the demonstration — already being called the largest climate protest in Canada's history.

Demonstrators filled the streets of Quebec City’s historic quarter demanding the nation's premiers be climate leaders and reject proposed pipeline projects like TransCanada’s Energy East and Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain.

We don’t want to see the premiers under the cover of a national energy strategy agreeing to help Alberta expand the tar sands. A national energy strategy needs also to be a climate strategy,” Adam Scott, climate and energy program manager at Environmental Defence Canada, told DeSmog Canada.

TransCanada Confirms No Energy East Tanker Terminal in Cacouna, Quebec, Near Beluga Breeding Grounds


TransCanada announced Thursday the company no longer plans to build an oil tanker terminal at the controversial site of Cacouna, Quebec, as part of its 1.1 million barrel-a-day Energy East oil pipeline project.

TransCanada will be advising the NEB (National Energy Board) that the company will not be proceeding with a marine terminal in Cacouna and is evaluating other options,” the Calgary-based pipeline company said in a press release. Cacouna was TransCanada's lone Quebec terminal.

TransCanada used the announcement as an opportunity to take a shot at Energy East’s critics. 

It goes without saying but we’ll say it anyway, our decision was certainly not made because of opposition from some well-funded groups that want to deny Canadians the right to benefit from a reliable domestic supply of energy that ensures Canadians enjoy the quality of life they’ve come to expect in this country every day,” TransCanada states on its Energy East website.

Citizens Take Constitutional, Free Speech Challenge Against National Energy Board to Supreme Court

A group of citizens fighting to speak about climate change and the oilsands at National Energy Board (NEB) reviews of pipeline projects, like the current Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, are taking their battle all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The group, comprised of landowners, academics, owners of business and many others, filed a constitutional challenge against the NEB’s restrictive policies that limit public participation and prevent discussion of climate and upstream oil and gas activities.

The purpose of taking the challenge to the Supreme Court “is to ask that Court to direct the NEB to do its job properly,” David Martin, legal counsel, explained in a statement.

The NEB's claim that it cannot consider scientific evidence regarding the long term impacts of the export of bitumen is simply wrong,” Martin said.

“Instead the NEB is making a misguided choice to adopt an unconstitutionally narrow interpretation of its jurisdiction so as to avoid having to address the real competing public interests that pipeline approval applications necessarily entail.”

Treaty 3 First Nations Sign Declaration Against Transport of Bitumen in Territory Without Consent

A wall of First Nations opposition to the proposed Energy East oil pipeline is emerging in northwestern Ontario, where Treaty 3 Anishinaabe chiefs unanimously endorsed a declaration on crude shipments through their territory.

We are joined to Declare to our Nation, as the political leadership we are determined to ensure that no oil or bitumen shall be transported through Anishinaabe Aki without our full, prior and informed consent,” the eleven-point declaration signed on February 26th in Couchiching First Nation reads.

Much like the Save the Fraser Declaration, which galvanized First Nations opposition against the Northern Gateway pipeline in British Columbia, this document demonstrates Treaty 3 chiefs are also concerned about the risks of piping oil and oilsands (also called tar sands) bitumen through their traditional territory and drinking water supply.

Water is sacred. Water is life,” Chief Fawn Wapioke of Iskatewizaagegan (Shoal Lake #39 First Nation), a signatory of the declaration, said.


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