pembina institute

Alberta is Losing Out on Millions in Natural Gas Revenue. Here's Why.

Alberta methane emissios

Alberta oil and gas companies are wasting so much natural gas each year that Albertans are losing out on up to $21 million a year in provincial natural gas royalties.

Oil and gas companies let an estimated $253 million worth of natural gas escape through undetected leaks and the practice of venting annually.

According to Progress Alberta, a progressive advocacy group, the lost royalties could pay for five new schools, 84 new playgrounds or 36 new nurses.

The Best Canadian Climate Policy You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Canada Clean Fuel Standard

It just might be the best climate policy you’ve never heard of.

It’s called the Clean Fuel Standard. Proposed back in December 2016 when the landmark Pan-Canadian Framework was signed by most provinces and territories, it’s since been vastly overshadowed by other, splashier policies, such as carbon pricing, the federal coal phase-out and methane regulations.

But as outlined in a brand new report by Clean Energy Canada — a think tank based at Simon Fraser University — the policy has incredible potential to cut Canada’s annual greenhouse emissions: upward of 30 megatonnes per year, compared to 18 megatonnes from the carbon price.

So why hasn’t anyone heard of it? DeSmog Canada took a look at the details to help you make sense of the situation.

The Problem of Alberta's Growing Oilsands Tailings Ponds is Worse Than Ever

Oilsands tailings ponds Alex MacLean

This article originally appeared on the Pembina Institute website. This is part 2 of a series on the last 50 years of the oilsands industry. Read part 1 here.

The sheer size and scope of Alberta's some 20 oilsands tailings ponds is unprecedented for any industry in the world. 

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, one of these ponds — the Mildred Lake Settling Basin — is the world's largest dam by volume of construction material.

Since oilsands mining operations started in 1967, 1.3 trillion litres of fluid tailings has accumulated in these open ponds on the Northern Alberta landscape. This is enough toxic waste to fill 400,000 Olympic swimming pools.

What's Up with LNG in B.C.? Three Things You Need to Know

BC LNG Christy Clark

By Maximilian Kniewasser and Stephen Hui.

Under Premier John Horgan and the NDP, British Columbia’s government is no longer promoting liquefied natural gas exports as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to snag 100,000 jobs, a $100-billion Prosperity Fund, and more than $1 trillion in economic activity. Nevertheless, proposed LNG development remains a thorny issue to be tackled by the new provincial government.

This week, the Pembina Institute and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions published Liquefied Natural Gas, Carbon Pollution, and British Columbia in 2017, an update on the state of the B.C. LNG industry in the context of climate change.

Here are three highlights from our report.

Five Ways Alberta Can Raise the Bar on Methane Regulations

Flare stacks

Environmental organizations, labour groups and technology companies are calling on Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to take decisive action on methane emissions from oil and gas activities.

Methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas, with 25 times the global warming potential as carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. Methane is a huge component of natural gas, so Alberta generates a lot of the stuff because it gets vented in all sorts of ways once you start digging around beneath the earth’s surface.

In an open letter the groups call on Alberta to go above and beyond the draft federal regulations on methane.

Alberta can lead the country’s methane reduction efforts and keep good job opportunities in the oil and gas sector from going to waste,” the letter reads.

Sounds nice, right?

Six Troubling Subsidies That Support B.C.’s LNG Industry

By Maximilian Kniewasser, Pembina Institute.

Four years ago, the government of British Columbia bet big on the prospect of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports creating overseas markets for the province’s shale and tight gas resources.

LNG development would deliver 100,000 jobs, a $100-billion Prosperity Fund, and over $1 trillion in economic activity, British Columbians were told. Since then, however, the economics of LNG have shifted, and the predicted LNG boom has yet to materialize.

In order to attract LNG investment, the provincial government has provided myriad incentives, exemptions, and direct transfers to the natural gas industry. Financial incentives that shield the emissions-intensive industry from current and potential future increases in carbon costs are of particular concern to the Pembina Institute.

For one thing, these measures lessen the incentive to reduce carbon pollution — as the world increasingly demands that polluters pay for their emissions. Furthermore, such incentives use scarce public dollars to support the fossil fuel sector at a time when government should be removing barriers to clean innovation and investing in green jobs.

Here is an overview of six carbon-related incentives that benefit LNG projects and the natural gas industry in B.C.

It’s Still Unclear How Alberta’s Tailings Will Be Cleaned Up Or Who Will Pay For It

Alberta oilsands tailings ponds, Alex MacLean

For years, Alberta’s government has reassured the public that it has a plan to ensure the oilsands’ 1.2 trillion litres of hazardous tailings are permanently dealt with after mines shut down.

That assertion is becoming less convincing by the day.

Industry still hasn’t decided on a viable long-term storage technology to begin testing. The fund to cover tailings liabilities in case of bankruptcy is arguably extremely underfunded. And there are concerns from the likes of the Pembina Institute that the future costs for tailings treatment will be far greater than anticipated.

Martin Olszynski, assistant professor in law at University of Calgary, told DeSmog Canada such questions simply can’t be left unanswered.

It would the height of unfairness if at the end of all this massive profit and wealth generation, Albertans were left on the hook for what will be landscape-sized disturbances that are potentially very harmful and hazardous to humans and wildlife,” he said.

Modernize the National Energy Board? Here’s How

NEB review

Want to modernize Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB)?

Bring the regulatory agency — first founded way back in 1959 when the realities of climate change weren’t readily known — into alignment with our carbon-constrained present.

That recommendation, coming from the Pembina Institute, comes in a report released Friday to coincide with the end of a federal review of the National Energy Board that brought an expert panel into halls and meeting rooms of 10 cities across the nation.

In the report, “Good Governance in the Era of Low Carbon,” the Pembina Institute states the review is an important opportunity to not only bring the mandate of the NEB into the 21st century, but also to restore public trust in what many see as a broken process.

The National Energy Board has been called a “captured regulator” that has “lost touch with what it means to protect the public interest,” by Marc Eliesen, former head of BC Hydro and former deputy minister of energy in Ontario and Manitoba.

Meet the First Nation Above the Arctic Circle That Just Went Solar

Solar panels in Old Crow, Yukon

Across Canada’s north, diesel has long been the primary mode of providing year-round electricity to remote communities — but with the advent of small-scale renewables, that’s about to change.

Northern communities were already making strides toward a renewable energy future, but with $400 million committed in this year’s federal budget to establish an 11-year Arctic Energy Fund, energy security in the north has moved firmly into the spotlight.

This level of support shows positive commitment from the Canadian government on ending fossil fuel dependency in Indigenous communities and transitioning these communities to clean energy systems,” said Dave Lovekin, a senior advisor at the Pembina Institute.

Canada’s New Carbon Price: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Canadians could be forgiven for being a bit confused about how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doing on climate change these days.

Last week he approved one of the largest sources of carbon pollution in the country — the Pacific Northwest LNG export terminal in B.C.

The week before that his government announced it would stick with Harper-era emissions targets.

Now Trudeau has announced the creation of a pan-Canadian carbon-pricing framework, which means our country will have a carbon tax nation-wide for the first time ever.

So are we hurtling toward overshooting our climate targets or are we finally getting on track?

Pages

Subscribe to pembina institute