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 fossil fuel industry lobbied the B.C. government more than 22,000 times between April 2010 and October 2016, according to a report released Wednesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives as part of the Corporate Mapping Project.
The report also found that 48 fossil fuel companies and associated industry groups have donated $5.2 million to B.C. political parties between 2008 and 2015 — 92 per cent of which has gone to the BC Liberals.
The Corporate Mapping Project is a six-year research and public engagement initiative jointly led by the University of Victoria, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Alberta-based Parkland Institute.
“I was definitely surprised at the sheer volume of lobbying contacts that we found,” Nick Graham, lead author of the report and PhD candidate at the University of Victoria, told DeSmog Canada.
The ramshackle regulatory system governing B.C.’s mining industry is profoundly dysfunctional and the public has lost confidence in the province’s ability to protect the environment and communities from poor mining activities, says a new report from the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre.
The wide-ranging report, released Wednesday, was commissioned for the Fair Mining Collaborative — a non-profit group that helps First Nations communities assess mining activities — and recommends that the provincial government establish a Commission of Public Inquiry to investigate B.C.’s regulation of the mining industry.
A judicial inquiry is needed because mining is a multi-billion dollar industry that can create jobs and great wealth, but can also create “catastrophic and long-lasting threats to entire watersheds and to critical public assets such as fish, clean water, wildlife and public health,” according to the report, which is signed by ELC legal director Calvin Sandborn and law student Kirsty Broadhead.
The gas industry has donated more than $1 million to the BC Liberals since the last provincial election, according to a new analysis done by the Wilderness Committee.
The companies and industry groups are involved in extracting B.C.’s gas (via fracking) and building gas pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations.
“This industry receives billions of dollars in provincial tax breaks and subsidies from the very government they’re paying to elect,” Peter McCartney, climate campaigner at the Wilderness Committee, said in a press release.
Gas industry donations since 2013 total $1,007,456.
There’s just no way around it: building codes are deeply boring documents.
The most recent National Building Code of Canada clocks in at 1,400 jargon-filled pages.
Despite being a snore fest, it’s on its way to becoming an incredibly important tool in preparing new buildings for the worst impacts of escalating climate change and extreme weather events, such as flooding, hail and rain.
That’s thanks to a brand-new $40 million federal government investment in the National Research Council, which is responsible for updating the building code every five years; the last one was released in 2015, meaning the next version will be released in 2020.
“It’s the first time that the government has talked about building code and climate change in one breath,” says Glenn McGillivray, managing director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. “It’s very important.”
On wind-swept ridgelines, surrounded by pine-beetle ravaged forests, the massive turbines at B.C.’s largest wind power project have started turning.
The Meikle Wind project, built by Pattern Development, will increase wind power capacity in the province by more than one third — to almost 674 megawatts — and will be able to generate energy for up to 54,000 homes, according to Mike Garland, Pattern CEO.
The wind farm, 33 kilometres north of Tumbler Ridge, has a 25-year power purchase agreement with BC Hydro and benefits to the province include an expected $70-million in payments for property taxes, Crown lease payments, wind participation rent and community benefits over 25 years.
The wind farm uses the latest technology, with blade tips reaching as high as 170 metres, and the ability to individually control each turbine to capture maximum energy from the wind.
“It’s another step forward in the evolution of wind technology,” said Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
“Wind farms are now truly power plants.”
Since January 1, 2017 there have been more than 50 accidental releases from pipelines and oil and gas facilities in Alberta. These spills and leaks, ranging from large to small, from hazardous to non-hazardous, happen almost every single day.
Don’t believe it? You can check for yourself via the Alberta Energy Regulator’s incident reporting dashboard where spills are documented and information about volume, location and response is made available to the public.
In B.C., however, the provincial regulator’s pipeline incident reporting page has been offline for eight months (yes, you read that correctly).
DeSmog Canada has been reporting on the missing map since October and the issue was recently taken up by the Globe and Mail.
“In a province where the public debate over increased oil pipeline capacity has consumed so much energy, the lack of transparency about the province’s management of its existing system is surprising,” wrote Justine Hunter as politicians returned for the spring sitting at the legislature.
George Heyman, environment critic for the B.C. NDP, said getting the map back online should be a priority for the province.
“It’s shocking that the portal and the online incident report would be offline for such a significant amount of time,” Heyman told DeSmog Canada.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Canada’s largest oil and gas lobbyist group, asked the federal government to introduce a carbon pricing scheme that would “recycle” revenues back into oil and gas operations, documents released via Freedom of Information legislation reveal.
The documents, released to Greenpeace Canada, contain an August 2016 submission CAPP provided to the federal government in which the group argues a price on carbon should be revenue neutral for industry.
“One of the decisions governments need to make is what to do with the revenue generated from the carbon pricing mechanism,” the document reads. “There are many options available to enable innovation for distribution of this generated revenue; CAPP recommends that to enable innovation, revenue generated by industrial emitters is best recycled back to industry for technology and innovation.”
Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist for Greenpeace Canada, says, “The oil industry formally supports action on climate change (in exchange for pipeline approvals) but wants to shape how the policy is implemented so as to minimize the impact on its own operations.”