Keystone XL

Tue, 2014-04-08 09:21Indra Das
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More Than 100 Scientists and Economists Call on President Obama to Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline

Keystone XL protest

More than 100 scientists and economists “concerned about climate change and its impacts” signed an open letter Monday calling on U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project, which would transport oilsands crude from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast, mainly for export.

The signers “urge [President Obama and Secretary Kerry] to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline as a project that will contribute to climate change at a time when we should be doing all we can to put clean energy alternatives in place.”

The letter, signed by prominent leaders in science and economics, is the latest addition to an already strong and growing opposition to the Keystone XL project in the U.S., including 2 million public comments sent to President Obama and a previous open letter signed last month by over 200 business leaders and entrepreneurs asking for the rejection of the pipeline.

Sat, 2014-03-15 14:37Indra Das
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Debunked: Eight Things the U.S. State Keystone XL Report Got Wrong About the Alberta Oilsands

kris krug oilsands tar sands

Last week the Alberta government responded to the U.S. State Department's final supplemental environmental impact statement (FSEIS) on the Keystone XL project by emphasizing the province's responsibility, transparency, and confidence that the pipeline is in the “national interest” of both Canada and the U.S.

In a statement, Alberta Premier Alison Redford appealed to the relationship between the U.S. and Canada. Premier Redford pointed out that the FSEIS had “recognized the work we're doing to protect the environment,” saying that “the approval of Keystone XL will build upon the deep relationship between our countries and enable further progress toward a stronger, cleaner and more stable North American economy.”

Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Robin Campbell also issued a statement, mentioning Alberta's “strong regulatory system” and “stringent environmental monitoring, regulation and protection legislation.”

Campbell's reminder that the natural resource sector “provides jobs and opportunities for families and communities across the country” was similar to Premier Redford's assurance that “our government is investing in families and communities,” with no mention made of corporate interests.

In order to provide a more specific and sciene-based response to the FSEIS report on Keystone XL, Pembina Institute policy analyst Andrew Read provided counterpoints to several of its central claims.

Tue, 2014-03-04 09:43Heather Libby
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Enbridge Announces $7B Line 3 Rebuild, Largest Project in Company History

Enbridge Line 3

In its largest capital project in history, Enbridge plans to do what Transcanada so far can't — ship more than half a million barrels of heavy oil across the U.S. border without President Barack Obama's direct approval.

Late Monday evening, Enbridge announced plans for its largest capital project in history— a $7 billion replacement of its Line 3 pipeline.

The existing Line 3 pipeline is part of Enbridge’s extensive Mainline system. The 34-inch pipe was installed in 1968 and currently carries light oil 1,660 km from Edmonton to Superior, Wis. 

While the Line 3 pipeline currently has a maximum shipping capacity of 390,000 barrels of light crude oil per day, pumping stations along the line have a much larger capacity (and can accommodate heavier oils). Enbridge plans to take advantage of this. Under the company's replacement plans, the new Line 3 pipeline will be widened by two inches, and built “using the latest available high-strength steel and coating technology.” By the time it goes into service in 2017, Line 3 will ship 760,000 barrels of oil across the border every day, nearly double what it currently moves. 

Wed, 2014-02-26 12:26Indra Das
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U.S. EPA Denied Late Participation in Kinder Morgan Hearings, Exposes Shortcomings of New NEB Process

Kinder Morgan trans mountain Pipeline

The Canadian National Energy Board (NEB) rejected a request this month from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to extend the deadline to apply as a participant in the public hearings on Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion.

The EPA was unaware of a February 12 deadline to apply as a participant in hearings on the proposed $5.4 million expansion of the Vancouver-to-Edmonton Trans Mountain pipeline, which would increase its capacity from 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of diluted bitumen to 890,000 bpd.

The pipeline expansion, which is supported by 13 oil companies, will free the flow of landlocked Albertan oil to Asian markets overseas.

The EPA reportedly needed more time to “follow through with agency protocols and procedures” before applying to take part in the hearings, according to a notice filed with the NEB.

Mon, 2014-02-10 10:54Russell Blinch
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Keystone is Still in Limbo, and that’s Good for Canada

U.S. President Obama is again signaling he’s in no rush to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and that offers a sliver of hope for Canadians hoping to put the brakes on the pell-mell development of the Alberta oilsands.

Ahead of Super Bowl weekend the U.S. State department released the final environmental assessment of the pipeline project and mainstream media was quick to declare the report gave Obama the cover he needed to finally approve it.

Kate Shepherd at the Huffington Post wrote that the assessment “increases the likelihood” the pipeline, a great superhighway to deliver Alberta bitumen to thirsty U.S. Gulf coast refineries, would finally get the green light.

Fri, 2014-02-07 10:08Indra Das
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Proposed Energy East Pipeline Could Exceed Keystone XL in GHG Emissions, Finds Report

Climate Implications of the Proposed Energy East Pipeline: A Preliminary Assessment

A new report from Pembina Institute says that the proposed TransCanada Energy East pipeline could generate up to 32 million tonnes (Mt) of additional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the crude oil production required to fill it. Thirty-two million tonnes of carbon emissions is the equivalent of adding 7 million cars to Canada's roads, exceeding the projected emissions of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

The Keystone XL pipeline, in comparison, would generate 22 Mt of additional GHG emissions through oilsands production, according to a previous report by Pembina. The estimated emissions impact of Energy East is “higher than the total current provincial emissions of five provinces.”

The $12 million Energy East pipeline, proposed by TransCanada in August 2013, would have the capacity to transport 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of oilsands and conventional crude oil from Alberta to New Brunswick. According to the report, the volume of new oilsands production associated with Energy East would represent up to a 39 per cent increase from 2012 oilsands production levels.

Tue, 2014-02-04 10:58Indra Das
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Oilsands Air Pollution Emissions Underestimated, Finds University of Toronto Study

oilsands pollution photo by kris krug

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto has found that air pollution emissions released by oilsands operations in Alberta are likely two to three times higher than previously estimated.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed U.S. journal, modeled levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) released by oilsands bitumen extraction. PAHs are toxic air pollutants released by the burning of fossil fuels, and can be highly carcinogenic.

“When dealing with chemicals that have such great potential to harm people and animals, it is absolutely vital that we truly understand how, and how much they are being released into the environment,” said Abha Parajulee, co-author of the report, in a press release.

Tue, 2014-02-04 10:13Kai Nagata
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Is Keystone in the National Interest? Of Canada, That Is?

keystone xl

It's up to the U.S. President to decide whether the cross-border leg of the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest of his country. Ultimately, his criteria are less scientific than political. Does he stand to lose more by alienating those who support or oppose the project?

With midterm elections coming up in November, Obama doesn't have time to worry about Canada's hurt feelings. Our economy, environment and opinion are very low on his list of priorities.

But the strongest pro-Keystone arguments on the American side raise an uncomfortable question: if the pipeline is approved, who benefits a little bit — and who benefits a lot? In other words, who gets the short end of the stick?

Mon, 2014-01-27 09:03Kai Nagata
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Peak Harper?

stephen harper

It turns out we have yet to reach peak oil, after all. And in this topsy-turvy world where the U.S. now produces more oil than it needs to import, it may be Prime Minister Stephen Harper's power that has peaked instead. Why? Because in his quest to build an “energy superpower,” Harper tied his political fate to the price of Canadian crude.

Harper won his long-coveted majority in May 2011, with a simple promise to energy producers: he would do whatever necessary to get their wares to market. Higher export prices would unlock deeper, more marginal reserves. And for the Tories, the resulting spurt of growth could pay for tax cuts, helping to paper over voters' concerns about environmental tradeoffs. But Harper's plan, like a runaway oil train, is going off the rails.

The day before the last federal election, Canadian heavy crude was trading at $82.87 a barrel. Since then the price has gone up and down, only to end up right back where it started. Thanks to fixed-date election laws he himself brought in, Harper has at most 20 months to fulfill his promise to energy producers — or they will find someone else who can.

Read more: Peak Harper?
Tue, 2013-11-12 08:00Carol Linnitt
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Joe Oliver Makes “False Claims” in Keystone XL Push

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver

In his efforts to advance TransCanada’s bid for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, that will carry 700,000 barrels of oilsands oil from Hardisty, Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has travelled to Washington six times. During his most recent trip he resorted to “desperate and false arguments” to sell the project according to Robyn Allan, former President and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

In a recent piece for the Vancouver Observer, Allan writes Oliver’s “eagerness” has led him to make misleading claims about the significance of the pipeline to energy security – for both the U.S. and Canada – job security and the environment.

During his November 6th trip Oliver claimed “the approval of Keystone XL would enhance energy security, create thousands of jobs and support the environment. Approval would displace oil from Venezuela which has repeatedly threatened to cut off its supply to the United States and has the same or higher emissions as the oil sands, with less stringent regulations.”

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