By Edgar Hertwich, ...
Almost a full decade since first applying for a presidential permit, TransCanada looks set to finally receive go-ahead in the U.S. for its massive $8-billion Keystone XL pipeline.
But here’s the thing: U.S. approval, while a great leap forward for TransCanada, doesn’t guarantee the Keystone XL pipeline will ever be built.
U.S. President Donald Trump was elected with the explicit promise to get the 830,000 barrel per day pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska built, under the conditions that the U.S. would receive a “big, big chunk of the profits, or even ownership rights” and it would be built with American steel; his administration has already flip-flopped on the latter pledge.
*Update: On March 24, 2017, Trump granted Trans Canada the presidential permit required to build Keystone XL, saying: “It’s going to be an incredible pipeline, the greatest technology known to man, or woman.”
So is Keystone XL going to be built? Not so fast. Here are three key reasons why it may never become a reality.
The Alberta Energy Regulator — responsible for regulating more than 430,000 kilometres of pipelines in the province — has finally started to try to clean up its image.
In the last two weeks of February, the agency launched a “pipeline performance report” that graphs recent pipeline incidents, it levelled a $172,500 fine against Murphy Oil for a 2015 spill that went undetected for 45 days and it shut down all operations by the notoriously uncooperative Lexin Resources, including 201 pipelines.*
But critics suggest there are major systemic flaws in the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) that still need to be addressed if pipeline safety is to be taken seriously.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” says Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. “You’re talking about a spill that went undetected for 45 days. And the company was fined an amount that they could likely make in less than an hour. That doesn’t send any message to the company. It definitely doesn’t send any message to the industry. And it doesn’t reform company behaviour.”
The federal government has committed $25 million over five years to funding Indigenous guardian programs.
The news, announced on Wednesday in the federal budget, marks the first time the government has ever financially supported the community-run programs, which work to monitor ancestral territories, enforce Indigenous laws, conduct scientific research and increase cultural knowledge. There are currently about 30 existing Indigenous Guardians programs across Canada.
However, the $25 million commitment represents only five per cent of what was requested by the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, which has been leading the charge to attain federal funding for 1,600 guardians and associated costs.
“This budget commitment acknowledges the leadership of Indigenous Peoples in determining the future of our lands,”said Ovide Mercredi, a senior advisor with the Indigenous Leadership Initiative.
While the investment will not enable new guardian programs to be established immediately, the seed funding will help develop a national network and prepare indigenous nations and communities to launch their own indigenous guardians programs, according to a press release from the Indigenous Leadership Initiative.
The last few months have been marked by some massive shifts in the oilsands.
In December, there was the $830 million Statoil sale to Athabasca Oil, followed in January and February by the writing down of billions of barrels of reserves by Imperial Oil, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.
On March 9, Shell sold a majority of its oilsands assets to Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) in a huge $7.25 billion sale, while Marathon Oil split its Canadian subsidiary between Shell and CNRL for a total of $2.5 billion.
The question is: why are all of these companies selling their oilsands assets? While some celebrate the moves as successes for the climate movement, others blame the Alberta NDP for the exodus of internationals.
But experts say the reality has more to do with a broader economic shift that’s made oilsands uneconomical — for the time being at least.
This article originally appeared on The Tyee.
Imagine if you lived in a nice quiet community of about 30 people, and the Chinese government got permission to plunk a $20-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on your doorstep.
Holy snapping duck shit! Chances are you’d want a pretty strong say in whether that could or should happen, under what conditions, with whose permission — and you’d want a very clear, objective analysis of the costs and benefits, and the risks, to you, your family, your neighbours, not to mention the physical place that would be so massively disrupted by such a project — you know, the place you currently call home.
Most of us don’t live in nice quiet communities of 30 people — or maybe we do. On my residential block in East Vancouver, I’d say that (based on the census’s estimated average of 2.6 people per household in Vancouver) there are 30 people on my side of the street alone. Maybe you live in an old apartment building with 30 people in it total; maybe a condo with 30 people on your floor. Anyway, 30 people isn’t a lot, but $20 billion is, and right now, on Digby Island — right across the harbour from Prince Rupert in northern B.C. — the tiny community of Dodge Cove is staring down a project that would pretty much destroy it.
It’s become a “sacrifice zone” — yet another bucolic corner of the world at risk of being flattened on the anvil of progress.
Access to world markets for Canadian oil has been available since 1956 when the Westridge dock was constructed in Burnaby, B.C., and linked to the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The dock’s export capacity has rarely been used to its full potential in more than 60 years — yet the oil industry and politicians continue to make the argument that Canada needs new pipelines to get oil to world markets.
Here are four reasons that argument doesn’t fly.
A little known federal plan to adopt a clean fuel standard could cut Canada’s emissions by as much as Ontario’s coal phase-out (North America’s single largest emissions reduction initiative) — if done right.
The clean fuel standard, announced last November, will require fuel suppliers to decrease the carbon footprint of the fuels they sell in Canada.
But unlike similar regulations in British Columbia and California, which target transportation fuels only, the federal government is considering using the clean fuel standard to also target emissions from fuels used in buildings and industrial processes, such as heating oil and petroleum coke.
“Gas, solids, liquids, whatever. If it is a fossil fuel, it is going to be subject to this standard,” Clare Demerse, policy advisor at Clean Energy Canada, told DeSmog Canada. “That is a really … powerful signal. All fossil fuels in Canada have to improve their carbon performance.”
Between the Site C dam, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility, it’s hard to keep track of all the projects that have been approved in B.C. But for First Nations that will be affected by the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal and pipelines, the environmental and cultural impacts are impossible to escape.
In what is now the fourth federal lawsuit filed against the federal government’s approval of the $36 billion LNG project, two Gitxsan Nation hereditary chiefs have filed a judicial review arguing that Pacific NorthWest LNG infringes on their Aboriginal fishing rights.
In October of last year, judicial reviews were also filed in federal court by the Gitanyow and Gitwilgyoots First Nations, as well as the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.
The main concern? Salmon. Specifically, salmon stocks in the Skeena watershed, which supports Canada's second-largest salmon run. The LNG export terminal is planned for Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert, a site the federal government studied 40 years ago and found unsuitable or port development.