coal

Fact Checking Christy Clark’s LNG Claims

Christy Clark LNG

For years, the B.C. government has touted the benefits of developing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry — and while some of those benefits may be legit, one of them almost certainly isn’t.

That’s the claim that exporting natural gas from B.C. will somehow result in emissions reductions in China.

Let’s back up for a second.

Exporting LNG involves first fracking for gas in B.C.’s northeast, a process which causes earthquakes, uses epic amounts of fresh water and leaks the potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere at a rate 2.5 times higher than what the B.C. government has been admitting.

It’s Official: Coal Just Became Uneconomic in Canada

Coal power plant

Marijuana wasn’t the only green thing being celebrated on April 20.

In a somewhat unexpected move, the Calgary-based electricity company TransAlta announced it will accelerate the phase-out of eight coal-fired power units — representing almost 3,000 megawatts of generating capacity — with six of those to be converted to gas-fired generation between 2021 and 2023.

The remaining two will be closed on Jan. 1, 2018.

It makes complete economic sense that they did that,” says Binnu Jeyakumar, electricity program director at the Pembina Institute, pointing to expiring power purchase agreements (PPAs) and an increasing inability for coal to compete with natural gas and renewables.

While calculations vary, it’s estimated that the conversion of the six coal plants to simple cycle gas operations — a process that will cost around $300 million in total — will cut emissions by between 30 and 40 per cent per megawatt hour of electricity produced.

Are B.C. Taxpayers Paying $3.5 Billion for Massey Bridge to Make Room for Coal, LNG Exports?

Massey Bridge

This article originally appeared on The Tyee.

There are places one can sit and consider the past and future with equal clarity. On this October day, Harold Steves, 79, an outspoken environmentalist and Richmond city councillor, looks from the riverbank at the end of Richmond’s Rice Mill Road.

Directly in front of him is the Fraser River, and directly below his feet lies Highway 99’s George Massey Tunnel. Given a $22-million seismic upgrade a decade ago, it was said by then-B.C. transportation minister Kevin Falcon that the tunnel was safe and a future twinning would eliminate the twice-daily commuter bottleneck.

But if today’s B.C. government has its way, work will start late this year on a massive $3.5-billion bridge, financed through a Public-Private Partnership (P3), to be completed by 2022.

Which means a stiff toll to pay off private creditors in the years ahead. Which will also mean that the perfectly safe, perfectly good tunnel will be removed.

Four Things You Need to Know About How Coal Affects Human Health

Woman with respirator

By Benjamin Israël for the Pembina Institute.

In November 2016, the Government of Canada announced its intention to phase out coal as a source of power. Since then, many voices have misrepresented or questioned the impact that coal emissions have on Canadians’ health and our environment.

In order to clear the air, we’ve answered four of the biggest questions being asked about the link between an accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power and human health.

Cutting Through The Spin on Ontario's Electricity Prices

Transmission line

What do electricity prices have in common with the rain? Politicians don’t control either. However, hearing the Ontario Conservatives and NDPs slamming the Liberals this week for rising electricity costs and pretending they somehow have the answer, you’d hardly know it. But the fact is, Tweet: Any politician who promises low electricity rates is selling a lie — one we all end up paying for http://bit.ly/2myQ6WD #cdnpoli #onpoliany politician who promises low electricity rates is selling a lie — one that all of us end up paying for sooner or later.

Ontario’s electricity woes stem back to the late 1970s and, over the past 40 odd years, all three parties have had a hand in them. It started with the building of the Darlington nuclear station, which the Bill Davis Tories approved and the David Peterson Liberals saw through to completion — 10 years late and almost $12 billion over budget. No one could afford to pay the real cost of Darlington, so Ontarians carried that debt for the next three decades.

Over that time, electricity — like cars, and coffee, and just about everything else we buy — didn’t get cheaper, it got more expensive. And when the recession hit in 1993, and electricity prices were rising, people got angry. The party in power at that time, the NDP, did the popular thing; it froze electricity rates, halting investment in the power system.

When Coal Companies Fund Public Health Research: The Case of TransAlta and the University of Alberta

The University of Alberta and TransAlta, a major Alberta utility company and coal producer, struck an agreement for the company to pay the university $54,000 to research the health impacts of coal-fired power plants near Edmonton, according to documents obtained by DeSmog Canada.

When TransAlta published the research — a study entitled Investigation of Fine Particulate Matter Characteristics and Sources in Edmonton, Alberta — on its website last spring the company initially stated it had sponsored the work, co-authored by Warren Kindzierski and fellow University of Alberta professor Aynul Bari.

But that sponsorship disclaimer was abruptly scrubbed from the company’s website.

Documents released to DeSmog Canada through Freedom of Information legislation show TransAlta did indeed enter into a sponsorship agreement with the University of Alberta that provided Kindzierski, as principle investigator, $54,000 to conduct the research.

Canadian Climate Denial Group, Friends of Science, Named as Creditor in Coal Giant's Bankruptcy Files

By Charles Mandel for the National Observer.

A Canadian climate change denial group has popped up in a U.S. coal giant's bankruptcy proceedings that have lifted the curtain on the funding of a sophisticated continent-wide marketing campaign designed to fool the public about how human activity is contributing to global warming.

document, nearly 1,000 pages long, lists the Calgary-based Friends of Science Society as one of the creditors expecting to get money from the once-mighty coal company, Peabody Energy.

Climate scientists and environmentalists have long suspected that the so-called “Friends” group was a front for fossil fuel companies trying to block government action to reduce carbon pollution, but Friends of Science members always declined to reveal their source of funding.

Canada’s Physicians Want to See the End of Coal-Fired Power Plants

Doctors, nurses and health care professionals from across Canada are urging the federal government to phase out coal-fired power plants within the next decade because of coal’s harmful effects on human health and its contribution to climate change.

The unusual activism from groups such as the Canadian Lung Association, the Asthma Society of Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, led by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, comes on the heels of growing global recognition of the damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power generation.

Tweet: #Canada doctors & nurses: ‘We urge the government of Canada to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2025’ #cdnpoli http://bit.ly/1tvOtv4We urge the government of Canada to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2025 as a critical and immediate action toward achieving Canada’s emissions commitments and as a means to reap significant health benefits for Canadians,” reads a submission from 15 health organizations, representing more than 300,000 health professionals.

Vancouver Port Regulator Under Conflict of Interest Fire Over Coal Lobby Membership

With news of the Port of Vancouver ruffling the feathers of the federal government by issuing a permit for a jet fuel pipeline without so much as a heads up, the port authority’s integrity has been thrust into the spotlight yet again.

While the port has apologized to Transport Minister Marc Garneau, the thorny issue of the port conducting environmental reviews of projects, while profiting from the same projects, remains.

Complicating matters, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (which regulates the Port of Vancouver) is a member of the Coal Association of Canada — a lobby group that glosses over the impacts of burning coal on climate change and that has gained notoriety in recent weeks for spreading misinformation about the phase-out of coal-fired electricity in Alberta.

The port authority has also been outed in the past for a covert and intimate relationship with the Vancouver-based Coal Alliance, an aggressive lobby group with a membership that includes rail companies, export terminals and other lobby groups.

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Alberta Minister Turned Coal Lobbyist

A complaint filed with Alberta’s Office of the Ethics Commissioner on Tuesday argues that the president of the Coal Association of Canada contravened the Conflict of Interest Act by lobbying for the coal industry shortly after leaving his post as an Alberta cabinet minister.

Until six months ago, coal lobbyist Robin Campbell served as Alberta’s finance minister. He previously held positions as minister of aboriginal relations and minister of environment and sustainable resource development.

The Conflicts of Interest Act bars a former minister from lobbying any public office holder for 12 months after their last day in office.

Progress Alberta, a non-profit progressive advocacy group, filed the ethics complaint, arguing that Campbell’s activity on behalf of the coal industry may contravene rules in the Lobbyist Act designed to prevent the use of “grassroots communication” to persuade members of the public to pressure public office holders.

Since his controversial appointment as Coal Association president, Campbell has visited communities across Alberta and spoken with media about the lobby group’s positions. At least one media report indicates Campbell called on audiences to get in touch with their elected officials.

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