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Four Decades and Counting: A Brief History of the Site C Dam

Arlene Boon

This is a guest post by Ray Eagle.

Many British Columbians may not realize that the $9 billion Site C dam, currently under construction on the Peace River, has a 46-year back-story.

B.C. Hydro began engineering studies for Site C back in 1971. In the early 1980s B.C. Hydro went before the newly formed British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC), created “to ensure that ratepayers receive safe, reliable, and nondiscriminatory energy services at fair rates from the utilities it regulates, and that shareholders of those utilities are afforded a reasonable opportunity to earn a fair return on their invested capital.”

In November 1983, the BCUC issued a 315-page summary that stated the dam was not needed at that time, while at the same time criticizing B.C. Hydro’s forecasting ability.

Tweet: “The Commission examined the methodology of @BCHydro's forecasting…” and it didn’t go so well in 1983. Or now still http://bit.ly/2nhohVbThe Commission examined the methodology of Hydro's forecasting … and concluded that, while significant improvements have been made, further improvements can and should be made to improve reliability,” the report read.

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.

Canada’s New Climate Plan Could Shift Billions from Highway Expansion to Public Transit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Clark and most of Canada’s premiers recently signed the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. ‘Framework’ is a good title for this agreement — it is barely a start on what is needed.

But it contains a policy shift that could dramatically reduce climate pollution from transportation.

Over the past decades the federal government has funded transportation infrastructure with little or no regard for climate pollution. They spent billions of public dollars every year on projects that increase climate pollution, such as urban highway expansion.

And since projects are usually cost shared, one billion of federal money is often matched by two billion from the province and region or municipality. Largely as a result of this perverse spending, between 1990 and 2014 climate pollution from transportation increased 32 per cent.

Trudeau’s first budget allocated new money to a public transit fund, which can reduce carbon pollution, but there was no commitment to shift money away from projects that increase pollution.

B.C. Government Pulls LNG Television Ad After Complaint

By Andrew MacLeod for The Tyee.

The British Columbia government has pulled a television ad that claimed $20 billion has already been invested in the LNG industry in the province, but denies the decision was due to a citizen’s complaint to the industry body that self-regulates advertising in Canada.

Blogger Merv Adey reported Thursday that a complaint about the liquified natural gas ad one of his readers had made to Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) had succeeded.

Rather than respond to the complaint… the B.C. Government has decided to withdraw the misleading $20-billion figure from all its advertising,” he wrote. “The ASC now considers the matter closed, though a case summary with no names attached will appear on the ASC’s quarterly report.”

Yes, the Arctic's Freakishly Warm Winter is Due to Humans' Climate Influence

Iceberg

By Andrew King, University of Melbourne

For the Arctic, like the globe as a whole, 2016 has been exceptionally warm. For much of the year, Arctic temperatures have been much higher than normal, and sea ice concentrations have been at record low levels.

The Arctic’s seasonal cycle means that the lowest sea ice concentrations occur in September each year. But while September 2012 had less ice than September 2016, this year the ice coverage has not increased as expected as we moved into the northern winter. As a result, since late October, Arctic sea ice extent has been at record low levels for the time of year.

Arctic Drilling Ban Reveals Crucial Difference Between Obama and Trudeau on Climate

By Adam Scott for Oil Change International.

The historic announcement by President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau that both countries would ban oil and gas development in Arctic and Atlantic waters was a major victory to protect our oceans and the people who depend on them, and a real victory for our climate.

But the difference between how the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office explained this announcement reveals a major rift between the leaders in their understanding of how to address the climate threat.

At the end of November, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed a key test of his understanding of what is required to stop climate change by approving the Kinder Morgan and Line 3 pipelines. During his speech he defended his actions:

Canada Isn't Immune to Trump-ism

By Sarah Boon from Watershed Moments.

In the days following the U.S. election, two former Canadian ambassadors to the U.S. had some advice for Canadians worried about the future of Canada-U.S. relations.

Calm down,” they said. “Change the channel and watch some hockey.”

This paternalistic statement not only played on the worn cultural stereotype that all Canadians like hockey, Tweet: Nope, sorry. A ‘head in the sand,’ ‘everything will be fine’ mentality is NOT a good way to deal with Trump, Canada http://bit.ly/2gwbt7Ebut it suggested that a ‘head in the sand,’ ‘everything will be fine’ mentality was a good way to deal with Trump.

In truth, Canadians have every reason to worry.

One Alberta Ranching Family's Three-Generation Fight for Cleanup of Contaminated Well Site

Twin Butte, Alberta

By Tony Bruder

For three generations, my family has lived on our ranch near Twin Butte, Alberta, where the mountains meet the prairies.  Against a backdrop of towering rock there is an abundance of wildlife, and immensely rich grazing land. In the midst of all this beauty lies an all too familiar site in rural Alberta — two long-inactive sour gas wells.

I never met my grandfather, but my dad told me about the first time oil and gas folks stepped foot on our property near Twin Butte 60 years ago — the way they disregarded my grandfather’s concerns about the land and the haphazard way in which they commenced drilling, operated their wells and eventually left the site as an eyesore on the land.

What we didn’t expect is that our own government — in this case the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) — would side with industry over the people it is meant to protect.

B.C.'s First LNG Plant Gets Investment Green Light

This article originally appeared on The Climate Examiner at the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.

British Columbia’s first major liquefied natural gas project is set to go ahead with Woodfibre LNG’s announcement last week of funding to build a $1.6 billion processing and export plant in Squamish.

The project, which promises some 650 construction jobs and 100 permanent operating jobs to the small town with a population of 17,000, aims to begin exporting some 2.1 million tonnes of LNG annually to Asia from 2020.

The plant is much smaller than the highly controversial $11 billion Pacific NorthWest (PNW) LNG terminal planned near Prince Rupert that received conditional approval from the federal Liberal government in September and which would ship some ten times the amount of the Woodfibre project each year.

It is however the first of 20 proposed LNG export projects in British Columbia to be given company approval — a development that will bring much cheer to the provincial government which is facing an election next May and for whom a flourishing LNG industry is the centerpiece of its economic development plans.

Ontario Cancels Nearly $4 Billion in Clean Energy Projects

Originally published on The Climate Examiner.

The fingerpointing continues on the Ontario government’s decision to cancel $3.8 billion in planned wind and solar projects, as part of its struggle to keep a lid on soaring electricity prices that are being attributed to multiple factors.

The cancelled schemes could have offered up to 1000 megawatts of power under optimal weather conditions, sufficient to service the instantaneous demand of roughly a million homes.

Previously signed projects will still go ahead, including 16 wind, solar and run-of-river hydroelectric endeavours that could offer up to 455 megawatts.

Last month, the government announced an eight-per cent subsidy for residential and small-business electricity bills amid growing voter anger over price increases that have given the province one of the highest electricity costs in North America.

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