Are you curious to know the results of our Freedom of Information request for an updated budget and timeline for the $8.8 billion Site C dam project on B.C.’s Peace River?
So are we.
We were told by former energy minister Bill Bennett’s office that we would have the information on May 30, three weeks after the provincial election and nine months after we filed our request.
But then we received an e-mail from the ministry on May 24, advising us that the deadline had been extended by 45 business days. It had become apparent upon reviewing 880 pages of relevant records, said the e-mail from a government FOI specialist, “that an external consultation is required with BC Hydro.”
Kinder Morgan is providing potential investors with shoddy information, according to a complaint filed with the Alberta Securities Commission by Greenpeace Canada last week.
The formal complaint contends the company’s draft prospectus — a legal document prepared for investors ahead of its massive $1.75 initial public offering (IPO) — failed to properly disclose future Asian oil demand and the financial impacts of climate policy.
It turns out that Kinder Morgan used demand forecasts that assume “business as usual” for oil consumption, which effectively means no serious attempt to keep global warming below two degree celsius.
The prospect of a new provincial government in B.C. has sparked fresh political debate about Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which is opposed by B.C.’s NDP and Green Party, despite already receiving provincial and federal approval.
“There are no tools available for a province to overturn or otherwise block a federal government decision,” stated Alberta Premier Rachel Notley this week.
But is that really the case?
The short answer is no.
An association representing B.C.’s commercial sector and business interests says it has compelling evidence that B.C. Hydro has over forecasted electricity demand over the past 50 years — leading to anticipated revenues “that won’t show up” and creating a large existing electricity surplus roughly equal to the power from the Site C dam.
The end result, according to David Craig, the executive director of the Commercial Energy Consumers Association of B.C., could be cumulative new hydro rate increases so significant that that some industries in B.C. may no longer be able to compete as well in their world markets, potentially risking the viability of some businesses and the jobs they support.
Craig confirmed that his association is challenging B.C. Hydro’s projections of power demand — known as “load forecasts” — in an on-going proceeding at the B.C. Utilities Commission, the agency responsible for approving hydro rate increases.
“We just want to get the truth,” said Craig, who previously spent more than 20 years working for B.C. Hydro in various management positions, including as the head of the utility’s accounting group and internal audit function.
By Chris Tollefson, Executive Director Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation.
Early on in its remarkably candid treatise released today, the Expert Panel tasked with advising the Trudeau government on how to modernize the National Energy Board (NEB) observes that the issue it was asked to grapple with “is much larger than simply the performance of the NEB in and of itself”: read the panel report here.
Since the 2013 Northern Gateway pipeline hearings, our national energy regulator has been buffeted by one controversy after another. The NEB must bear some of the blame for this. Its work on the Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan and Energy East files underscore that its expertise does not lie in the realm of environmental assessment. But it is also a victim of history — an institution conceived and born in an era (almost 60 years ago) long before Indigenous rights, climate change and decarbonization had political, let alone legal, salience.
After six months of consultations, the National Energy Board (NEB) Modernization Expert Panel has delivered its long-awaited report.
The results are damning.
“In our consultations we heard of a National Energy Board that has fundamentally lost the confidence of many Canadians,” the five-member panel wrote. “We heard that Canadians have serious concerns that the NEB has been ‘captured’ by the oil and gas industry.”
The 87-page report issued 26 key recommendations to repair the oft-criticized quasi-judicial tribunal, responsible for regulating interprovincial and international oil, gas and electricity projects.
Those include establishing a one-year review process by cabinet to ascertain whether a major project meets “national interest” prior to regulatory review, replacing the NEB with a “Canadian Energy Transmission Commission” and placing a broader focus on interprovincial transmission lines and renewable energy.
In addition, the panel recommended the government create a new agency responsible for collecting information about energy, relocate board headquarters back to Ottawa, considerably improve consultation with Indigenous peoples including an Indigenous Major Projects Office and extend the timelines for review of major projects (which were accelerated under the previous Conservative government).
Forestry has been a passion and a career for Martin Watts for 25 years, but, since attempting to point out problems with B.C.’s process for setting logging rates, his forestry consulting business has nosedived and Watts is claiming in a civil suit that he was blacklisted by the provincial government.
“My business doesn’t really exist any more except on paper. It has caused a lot of hardship. I am funding this case through my retirement savings,” Watts said in an interview with DeSmog Canada.
However, the battle is worthwhile because it is vital that the public be made aware of inaccuracies in the Timber Supply Review Process, which is used by the Chief Forester to determine the Annual Allowable Cut — a calculation of how much of the forest can be cut each year, said Watts.
Corrupted data and unvalidated computer models are being used to estimate how much timber is in B.C.’s forests and, since budget and staff cuts started in 2002, many of the inventories are 20 years old, according to critics.
The next leader of the Conservative Party will be chosen on May 27.
While only Conservative Party members are eligible to vote in the ranked ballot election, the outcome will determine who will likely run against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next election, so it’s worth paying attention.
Where do the 13 leadership hopefuls stand on energy and environment issues? Well, they’re a bit all over the map. Fear not, we’ve distilled the platforms down into this quick cheat sheet to help you get up to speed on what Canada could be in store for come May 27.