Climate

B.C. Makes Big Promises on Environment, Indigenous Rights in Throne Speech

BC Speech from the Throne 2018 Chad Hipolito

The B.C. government tried to steer clear of controversy over liquefied natural gas exports, the Site C dam and fish farms in the Speech from the Throne Tuesday. The speech laid out the NDP’s “affordability” agenda and unveiled plans to revitalize the environment assessment process and address fugitive emissions in the oil and gas sector.

As B.C. develops its abundant natural resources, we must do so in a way that meets our obligations to the environment, First Nations and the public interest,” read the speech, presented by Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to mark the start of a new legislative session.

This year, government is taking important steps to restore public trust in B.C.’s environmental stewardship.”

B.C.’s Fugitive Gas Pains: Report Calls for Crackdown on Biggest Polluters

methane emissions oil and gas wells BC

A potent, heat-trapping gas is being released into the atmosphere from B.C.’s oil and gas wells at a much higher rate than shown in industry and government reports and immediate action is needed, a new study by the David Suzuki Foundation confirms.

The findings, released Wednesday, follows on the heels of a previous peer-reviewed study by the Suzuki Foundation and St. Francis Xavier University, which found methane emissions from B.C.’s oil and gas industry are two-and-a-half times higher than reported.

The study revealed that wells in the Montney region, in northeast B.C. near Fort St. John, released more than 11,800 tonnes of methane into the air annually — the equivalent of burning 4.5 million tonnes of coal or putting two million cars on the road.

Five Things You Need to Know About the Cancellation of the Energy East Oilsands Pipeline

Alberta oilsands

TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline is officially dead.

Announced via press release on Thursday, the news confirmed long-held suspicions that the $15.7 billion, 4,500 km oilsands pipeline simply wouldn’t cut it in today’s economic context.

But that hasn’t stopped commentators on all sides from pouncing on the cancellation as proof of their political project. Conservative politicians have lambasted the federal Liberals for introducing carbon pricing and new rules on pipeline applications, while environmentalists have claimed the company’s decision was a direct result of their organizing.

DeSmog Canada is here to help wade through the mess. Here are five things you should know about the cancelled Alberta-to-New Brunswick pipeline.

Four’s Company: Where NDP Leadership Candidates Stand on Energy and Climate Policy

NDP leadership debate

It feels like an eternity since federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair received the boot from delegates at the party convention in April 2016.

The lengthy leadership race hasn’t exactly helped that feeling.

Most candidates launched their campaigns in February. Nine debates were held between March and September. But we’re almost at the end of the tunnel. Voting for the first ballot, via both mail-in ballots and online, commenced on Sept. 18 and concludes on Oct. 1. If needed, second and third ballots will be collected by Oct. 8 and Oct. 15.

While there are only four candidates left in the race — Guy Caron, Jagmeet Singh, Charlie Angus and Niki Ashton — there are an enormous number of combined proposals related to energy, climate and environmental policies (especially compared to what was discussed during the federal Conservative leadership race).

Let’s take a look at what’s on offer from the NDP candidates.

When B.C.’s Wildfires Are Over, What Comes Next?

BC Wildfire 2015

British Columbians have been suffering through some of the worst wildfires in memory. These latest fires are turning out to be even more devastating than the horrible 2003 Kelowna fires that saw more than 27,000 residents displaced and the loss of 239 homes in B.C.’s lake country.

It’s hard to overstate the impacts of this latest wildfire disaster: as of last week, more than 45,000 people had been displaced or evacuated. While some of them have been able to return home, they’ll be returning to the tragic sight of burned down homes and a whopping 4,000-plus square kilometers of burned forest. The wildfires this summer have been so severe that the province declared a state of emergency for the first time since the Kelowna fires.

Five Myths Trudeau Rehashed in Kinder Morgan Pipeline Approval

Most Canadians weren’t surprised to hear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approve the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline this week.

Yet Trudeau’s announcement was so thoroughly cut through with political spin and misinformation some have described it as “Orwellian.”

So where did the Prime Minister rank highest on the spin-master index?

Here are our top five myth and misinformation moments from Trudeau’s Kinder Morgan announcement.

Federal Liberals Approval of Kinder Morgan Is Final Nail in the Coffin of ‘Reconciliation’

The federal Liberals have issued an approval for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project, subject to 157 conditions.

In doing so, the government has granted permission for the Houston-based company to expand the capacity of its Edmonton-to-Burnaby network capacity by 690,000 barrels/day, fulfilling pleas by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to allow giant corporations to export more carbon-intensive bitumen.

And it completely undermines any alleged commitment to “reconciliation” with Indigenous peoples.

It’s not as if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t understand the stakes. In mandate letters sent to each of his ministers in November 2015, he emphasized a renewed “nation-to-nation relationship, based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”

Trudeau also pledged that his government would “fully adopt and work to implement” the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which included the provision that “Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.”

That dream has been slowly dying ever since.

The ‘Canada Needs More Pipelines’ Myth, Busted

Rachel Notley, Stephen Harper and Naheed Nenshi

For years, the Canadian public has been besieged with the same message: Alberta’s pipeline network is completely maxed out, meaning the oilsands are landlocked and new pipelines must be constructed to allow producers to ship their product to new markets and eliminate the discount imposed on exports.

It’s a notion that’s been repeated by politicians of all stripes, including Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

But there’s no merit to that argument, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Oil Change International.

Did Trudeau Race to Approve the LNG Project that Petronas Wants to Sell?

The Trudeau government’s rushed approval of the Petronas-led Pacific Northwest LNG project Tuesday — during sunset at a gated Coast Guard station near the Vancouver airport — struck some opposition MPs, and the Vancouver press corp, as oddly rushed.  

Now comes word, in a bombshell Reuters news report Friday morning, that Petronas may be looking to sell the Pacific Northwest LNG project, according to “three people familiar with the matter.” The B.C. government tried to throw water on the speculation Friday afternoon, saying it sought assurances from Petronas and that the proponent doesn't have plans to sell the LNG project.

However, the revelations have led some to speculate the Trudeau government knew about Petronas’ plans to sell and raced out west in a hurried attempt to save the project from collapse. Others have questioned if the provincial and federal governments knowingly approved a project destined for failure, and if so, why?

It’s incredibly cynical if Trudeau’s government had advance knowledge this wasn’t going ahead,” Nathan Cullen, NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, told DeSmog Canada.

Suncor Opens Conversation about ‘Stranded Assets’ in Alberta’s Oilsands

Suncor Energy CEO Steve Williams rocked the oil industry boat Thursday when he announced a plan to leave some of the company’s oilsands reserves unrecovered during a conference call with investors.

Williams said the company is working to develop a plan with Alberta to “strand” its least economical reserves, a proposal that appears to align with the call of environmentalists to leave the high-cost and high-carbon fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic global warming.

Tweet: Whoa: ‘We’re advocating in a modest way to work with govt so we can strand some of the oil in the oilsands’ http://bit.ly/2aO78OU #ablegWe are advocating in a modest way to work with government so that we can strand some of the oil in the oilsands,” Williams said, as reported by The Canadian Press.

Our regulation is written so that we take to a very high percentage the last piece of oil out. That tends to be the most expensive both economically and environmentally. What we would like to do is leave that last piece in (the ground),” he said.

I’m very optimistic we are making some breakthroughs with government to do that.”

The proposal is about more than leaving some oil deposits undeveloped, according to Simon Dyer, director of the Pembina Institute.

We’re talking about Alberta moving philosophically from maximizing production to optimizing value,” Dyer told DeSmog Canada.

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