pipeline

Want Free Trade? Build a West Coast Pipeline, Says China

This article originally appeared on the Dogwood Initiative blog.

With final arguments in the Kinder Morgan pipeline review underway in Burnaby, a top Chinese official is using the moment to offer Canadians a deal. During his visit to Ottawa last Friday, Han Jun, China’s Vice-Minister of Financial and Economic Affairs, said the world’s second-largest economy would be willing to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Canada — but only if we build a pipeline to the West Coast.

Signing an FTA, Han suggested, would give Canadian agriculture and energy producers greater access to China’s domestic market. In return, Beijing also wants restrictions lifted on takeovers of Canadian companies by Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

China has been working to gain access to Canadian oil reserves for more than a decade. As Enbridge’s first partner on Northern Gateway in 2005, state-owned PetroChina pledged to purchase up to half of the pipeline’s capacity, but became frustrated by delays and eventually pulled out of the project.

In the years following, China’s SOEs invested billions into the Canadian oil patch, culminating in the 2013 purchase of Nexen by the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) for $15 billion. (In a tragic coincidence, hours after Han spoke in Ottawa, an explosion at Nexen’s Long Lake facility killed one worker and left another critically injured.)

Trudeau is “Breaking the Promise He Made” By Allowing Trans Mountain Pipeline Review to Continue Under Old Rules

The next round of the National Energy Board’s (NEB) hearings for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline are scheduled to begin January 19 in Vancouver, B.C.

Climate advocates and critics of the National Energy Board are disappointed the review process will continue on under rules established by the previous federal government, especially since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to make the process more credible and evidence-based.

The Liberal party platform promised to immediately review the process, restoring “robust oversight and thorough environmental assessments” as well as restoring “lost protections” eliminated during the former government’s sweeping changes to environmental law. 

At a campaign stop in August 2015, Trudeau told Kai Nagata, energy and democracy director at the Dogwood Initiative, that the NEB overhaul would apply to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

Yes. Yes,” Trudeau said. “It applies to existing projects, existing pipelines as well.”

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.

Nexen’s Brand New, Double-Layered Pipeline Just Ruptured, Causing One of the Biggest Oil Spills Ever in Alberta

A pipeline at Nexen Energy’s Long Lake oilsands facility southeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, spilled about five million liters (32,000 barrels or some 1.32 million gallons) of emulsion, a mixture of bitumen, sand and water, Wednesday afternoon — marking one of the largest spills in Alberta history.

According to reports, the spill covered as much as 16,000 square meters (almost 4 acres). The emulsion leaked from a “feeder” pipe that connects a wellhead to a processing plant.

At a press conference Thursday, Ron Bailey, Nexen vice president of Canadian operations, said the company “sincerely apologize[d] for the impact this has caused.” He confirmed the double-layered pipeline is a part of Nexen's new system and that the line's emergency detection system failed to alert officials to the breach, which was discovered during a visual inspection. 

Just How Risky is Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion?

With the May 27 deadline for evidence submission to the National Energy Board’s review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project fast approaching, the cities of Burnaby and Vancouver are stepping up.

Last Wednesday, the City of Burnaby quietly released a report [PDF] outlining the risks and possible implications of a fire at the Burnaby tanker terminal. The results, to quote Mayor Derek Corrigan, are “comprehensive and jarring.”

It is remarkable that Kinder Morgan is even asking the citizens of Burnaby to assume such risks, but even moreso that the National Energy Board is willing to consider expanding this storage site in this location — on a hillside near thousands of residents and a busy university, and adjacent to an urban conservation area. This report clearly demonstrates that questions about the safety of this proposed tank farm expansion should be answered prior to any decisions being made by the NEB and that the Board should consider this an essential priority.”

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.”

CSIS “Can Neither Confirm Nor Deny” Spying on Me (Or You For That Matter)

When I asked the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) whether it has files on me or DeSmog Canada, I got a response that's been used as a non-answer by government spokespeople and celebrity publicists for 40-plus years: We can “neither confirm nor deny” the records exist.

The intelligence body doesn't have to disclose such information because it's exempt from Canada’s Access to Information legislation since it relates to “the detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities.”

Hmph. Some part of me was expecting them to simply say “no.” While non-denial denial responses like this are pretty par for the course when dealing with intelligence services — the phrase was first conjured up during a clandestine CIA submarine operation in the 1970s — it's disconcerting in light of the federal government’s proposed anti-terrorism bill C-51, which would increase the powers of CSIS and its role in government-sponsored spying.

As others have pointed out, bill C-51 will allow dangerously strong measures to be taken against even perceived terror threats or individuals that pose a threat to Canada’s critical infrastructure, such as pipelines, or the nation’s financial security.

DFO Slams Kinder Morgan's Shoddy Analysis of Oil Tankers' Impact on Whales

Oil tanker, Kinder Morgan, Whale Habitat, humpback

A report submitted to the National Energy Board (NEB) by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) points to “insufficient information and analysis” in Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal as it relates to whale populations off the coast of British Columbia.

There are deficiencies in both the assessment of potential effects resulting from ship strikes and exposure to underwater noise in the Trans Mountain Expansion Project Application documents,” the report says. “Ship strike is a threat of conservation concern, especially for…Fin Whales, Humpback Whales and other baleen whales.”

The report concludes that an increase in shipping intensity related to Kinder Morgan’s proposal would lead to an increase in threats to whale populations that occupy the Strait of Georgia and the Juan de Fuca Strait.

MLAs Request B.C. Government Withdraw from Federal Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Review in Legislature

Today members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia will request the Liberal government pull out of the federal National Energy Board’s (NEB) review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The review process has been at the centre of controversy recently after the NEB ruled Kinder Morgan did not have to disclose detailed spill response plans for the proposed twin pipeline that will nearly triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline system, increasing its capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000.

B.C.’s repeated efforts to gain access to Kinder Morgan’s emergency response plans, which detail the company’s preparations, timelines and access to equipment in the event of a spill, were ultimately unsupported by the federal regulator.

NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert will introduce today’s motion, requesting the provincial government “immediately withdraw from the National Energy Board’s review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project.”

Energy East: Groups Demand Transparency On Proposed Export Terminal in Quebec

transcanada energy east st. lawrence beluga habitat

Environmental organizations are demanding TransCanada clarify immediately whether constructing a marine oil tanker terminal in Quebec is still part of the company’s Energy East oil pipeline project.

[TransCanada] should reconsider its positions and show more transparency by revealing its real intentions behind its project in Quebec. The company should stop showing disregard to Quebecers and give us the real facts,” Christian Simard, director of Nature Québec said in a statement.

Earlier this week the Montreal-based news outlet La Presse reported that several sources in the Quebec government had confirmed TransCanada is no longer considering Cacouna, a port on the St. Lawrence River, as the site of an export terminal for the 4,600 kilometre west-to-east proposed pipeline.

TransCanada quickly denied the report. The Calgary-based pipeline company insists it will make a decision on Cacouna at the end of March.

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