By The Canadian Press - Monday, March 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – One of the key concerns for the federal government in a multimillion-dollar…
VANCOUVER – One of the key concerns for the federal government in a multimillion-dollar Natural Resources advertising campaign was the negative publicity around the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, according to internal government documents.
In particular, the statement of work provided to the ad company a year ago noted that media coverage had been critical of legislative changes that gave the federal cabinet power to override the National Energy Board recommendations on project approval.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, March 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – Lawyers for the provincial government have wrapped up their cross-examination of company…
VANCOUVER – Lawyers for the provincial government have wrapped up their cross-examination of company experts at the Northern Gateway review hearings with many questions left unanswered.
Environment Minister Terry Lake says the province was looking for more information on how pipeline proponents would deliver the world-class oil spill prevention and response promised as part of the $6-billion project.
He says Northern Gateway did not demonstrate under oath that it would be able to access or respond to a spill in the remote areas the pipeline will cross or that the company will be able to recover sunken oil.
By Chris Sorensen - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
How the most valuable resource in our history got mired in politics, protests and logistical nightmares
Prime Minister Stephen Harper first dubbed Canada an “emerging energy superpower” back in 2006. He was talking, primarily, about Alberta’s oil sands. “We are a stable, reliable producer in a volatile, unpredictable world,” he said, sending a clear signal that Ottawa intended to realize the oil sands’ full economic potential, as well as the geopolitical clout that comes along with it.
It was music to Albertans’ ears. With the world’s third-largest proven crude oil reserves, some 175 billion barrels, behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, the province had long been aware it was sitting on a gold mine. All that was needed were global oil prices above US$80 a barrel (needed to offset the expense of separating gooey bitumen from the sandy soil) and the necessary political vision to make it all happen. Canada finally had both. Industry forecasts predicted that, over the next quarter-century, the oil sands would draw more than $364 billion in investment, create some 3.2 million “person-years” of employment and add $1.7 trillion to Canada’s GDP. Continue…
By The Canadian Press - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 11:22 PM - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – More than a thousand people gathered during a rare Vancouver snowfall Monday…
VANCOUVER – More than a thousand people gathered during a rare Vancouver snowfall Monday to show a federal regulatory review panel their opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
Opponents of the project were bolstered by the nationwide Idle No More campaign, which brought First Nations from as far as the Haisla Nation on the North Coast, near the would-be tanker port of Kitimat, B.C., to voice their opposition to the pipeline plan at the start of community hearings in the city.
At Victory Square, protesters gathered before marching to the site of the evening hearings in the city’s downtown.
There, they were met by Vancouver police who kept protesters from entering the building. They chanted outside the Sheraton Wall Centre for a short time, chanting “No Pipelines” before moving on.
“The Harper government has one of the most aggressive, high-carbon strategies in the world,” Eddie Gardner, of the Sto:lo Nation, told the crowd as they mobilized ahead of the march.
He blasted the federal Conservatives for changes they’ve made to environmental laws that will affect oversight of the Northern Gateway and other future projects.
“He implemented that legislation, it has become law, and he did it with crass and ruthless disregard for the environment,” Gardner told the protesters.
“Stephen Harper is hell bent to expand the tar sands.
“Canada is coming alive to Harper’s real agenda … he is one of the biggest enemies of the environment.”
Chris Trendle, 77, and a friend came downtown from the North Shore of Vancouver for the protest.
“I came down because I want to be able to look my grandchildren in the eye and say, ‘It went through, perhaps, but I did all I could to stop it,’” said Trendle, who has 18 grandchildren and four grandchildren.
Protesters also took aim at a proposed expansion of the existing TransMountain pipeline operated by Kinder Morgan.
The pipeline moves oil from the oil sands to port in Vancouver, and a proposed $4.3-billion expansion would more than double the capacity of the 1,100-kilometre line.
The joint review panel, which is weighing the Northern Gateway project, has scheduled eight days of community hearings in Vancouver in the coming weeks.
They’re hearing public comment on the controversial plan to deliver oil from the Alberta oil sands to a tanker port on the North Coast of B.C.
Community hearings were held previously in Victoria, and one day of statements is scheduled in Kelowna later this month.
The panel limited access to the hearings room so it could listen to statements without distractions, stated a directive posted on the panel website.
“Given the large urban nature of Victoria and Vancouver and previous protests held in both locations regarding the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project (the project), the panel has decided that it will limit access to the hearing room,” stated the directive.
Presenters met in one venue, while members of the public listened to submissions in another. The hearings are also being streamed live on the panel website.
Access to the hearings remained closed off after the protesters gathered out front.
Inside, the three-person panel heard from a range of interested members of the public, from members of First Nation and environmental groups, to a scientist who lamented telling her children and grandchildren about what she did about climate change.
“What will you tell your grandchildren?” the woman asked the panel.
The panel held final hearings earlier in Edmonton, Prince George and Prince Rupert, where company experts and interveners answered questions under oath.
Those hearings will resume in Prince Rupert next month.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Eddie Gardner’s surname
By The Canadian Press - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 9:54 PM - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – A couple thousand people showed up on a rare, snowy Vancouver day…
VANCOUVER – A couple thousand people showed up on a rare, snowy Vancouver day to protest two proposed pipeline projects in British Columbia.
Eddie Gardiner of the Sto:lo Nation urged protesters to continue to fight the proposed Northern Gateway and TransMountain pipeline projects.
The Idle No More campaign merged with ongoing protests over the Northern Gateway Pipeline, with First Nations coming from as far as Haisla on the North Coast for the start of community hearings on the Northern Gateway project.
Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would transport oil from the Edmonton area to a tanker port in Kitimat, on the province’s north coast.
The proposed $4.3-billion expansion of the TransMountain pipeline would also more than double the capacity of the 1,100-kilometre line that runs from just outside Edmonton to Burnaby.
Eight days of community hearings have been scheduled in Vancouver in the coming weeks, and one day of statements is scheduled in Kelowna later this month.
By John Geddes - Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 1:44 PM - 0 Comments
How many senators did Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoint in 2012? How many years does the government allow, in its latest plan, for “development and acquisition” of F-35 fighter jets? How many premiers, provincial and territorial, attended the November economic summit in Halifax? (Hint: Saskatchewan’s just phoned in.)
In all cases, the answer is an even dozen. But for our purposes here—in this third annual installment of a year-capping look back—we’re interested in 12 only as the number of months in the calendar. Select just a single story for each, and 2012 might almost begin to show some semblance of coherence.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 9:09 PM - 0 Comments
PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. – A half dozen Pacific humpback whales broke the grey surface…
PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. – A half dozen Pacific humpback whales broke the grey surface of the ocean Tuesday just a few nautical miles away from where proponents and critics are sparing before a federal panel that is weighing the future of the Northern Gateway oil pipeline.
It was a fairly calm day for storm season in the North Pacific, where Brian Falconer, Long-time mariner and marine operations co-ordinator for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, said waves can swell to 26 metres high.
But the project assessment by Calgary-based Enbridge (TSX:ENB) said waves along the tanker route reach 10.2 metres.
“I’ve sailed on this coast for 35 years,” said Falconer, and that is “very, very misleading.”
“It doesn’t match anybody’s experience on the coast. Their portrayal of the weather conditions, their portrayal of duration of the fog, they don’t match,” he said as the Tsimshian Storm ferry swayed to and fro with the waves.
The company uses variously averages, mean values and other “manipulations” of weather, storm conditions and shipping traffic to paint a more favourable picture of the oil pipeline and tanker port, he said.
“They’re not lying. They’ve just chosen a way of expressing it that is meaningless in assessing risk,” Falconer told reporters who took part in the trip organized by the World Wildlife Fund Canada to show the tanker route.
A couple of times a month during the winter, the area will see waves that pummel even huge container ships. Winds can gust on rare occasions to 70-some knots an hour and there is far more shipping traffic than presented when smaller and fishing vessels are included in the figures, he said.
“It’s a manipulation of statistics… the miracle of averaging,” Falconer said.
Todd Nogier, a spokesman for Northern Gateway, said company experts will be questioned under oath about the data used in the assessment later in the hearings, and expect to fully explain their choices.
He said the statistics used by Enbridge represent the average, and not the most extreme events.
Ship pilots normally monitor closely all forecasts and weather information, and act accordingly, he said.
“They would adjust their scheduling and their route to avoid these extreme weather events,” Nogier said.
The supertankers that will carry oil from the proposed port in Kitimat only need to have one major spill in 30 years in order to cause irreparable harm to the coast from Alaska to Vancouver Island, say conservation groups.
In the hearing room, a panel of company experts testified under oath for a second day about the environmental and socio-economic assessment of the marine component of the project.
Maria Morellato, a lawyer for Coastal First Nations, asked about the possible risks to local fisheries, suggesting the company is basing its assessment on incomplete information.
Jeff Green, who is responsible for the environmental assessment for the pipeline, said that in some cases traditional and cultural resource use information was not provided to the company.
“As more information comes forward from any of the coastal First Nations, that information will be welcomed and it will be used,” Green said, opening the door for consultation that so far many aboriginal groups have declined.
“If you’ve reached a conclusion, is there any point in providing that information?” Morellato responded.
“Absolutely,” Green said, adding that the end of the panel process will not be the end of the environmental assessment process for the project.
The province of British Columbia will not be questioning the current panel, but is scheduled to return to the hearings in February to question a panel on marine emergency preparedness and response.
The panel will hear testimony on the tanker port and shipping assessments of the project until Monday, and return to Prince Rupert for 10 more weeks of hearings in the new year.
Earlier, lawyers for Ecojustice, which represents a coalition of conservation groups including Raincoast, asked company experts about the risks to marine mammals, including endangered humpback and killer whales.
It’s not just a major spill that poses a risk, said Darcy Dobell, vice-president of Pacific region World Wildlife Fund Canada. Tanker strikes, noise pollution and displacement from feeding grounds pose a routine risk, she said.
By Erica Alini - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 6:04 PM - 0 Comments
It was supposed to be a lifeline for Canada’s choking oil sands and America’s path to energy independence from the Middle East, Venezuela and the rest of the world’s rogue or unstable hydrocarbon exporters. It saw the Harper government lash out against “eco-extremists,” who, like other types of terrorists, we were told, are well connected to shady foreign financiers. In the U.S. it split “the Democrats’ twin pillars of big labor and environmentalists,” as the Washington Post put it at the time.That was the Keystone XL pipeline in 2011.
Just over a year later, though, it looks… well, not irrelevant, certainly much less important. “Even if the current Obama administration gives its final assent to the Keystone XL pipeline this will not resolve Canada’s export challenge,” notes a new CIBC report that came out yesterday. And it’s not just because we should really stop depending on a single buyer of our most prized export and diversify by catering to oil-thirsty Asian countries. It’s also because “US energy production is increasing at a pace that few, if any, saw coming,” reads a foreword penned by none other than Jim Prentice.
One of the few who did see it coming is Philip Verleger, a former advisor to President Ford and once director of the Office of Energy Policy at the U.S. Treasury under Carter. He thinks the lower energy prices brought on by the shift to shale will spur a productivity boom in the U.S. akin to what happened when computers started making their way into America’s workplaces. He has also repeatedly said—for example, here—that Canada, for now, is the only country other than the U.S. with the ability to produce shale gas competitively. Trouble is, according to this study by TD Economics, that Canadian businesses and consumers don’t have much use for cheap natural gas since, unlike Americans, they already enjoy relatively low power rates. Here too, concludes TD, the key is turning to Asia: Canada would need to export to countries like China and India to find a market for its vast reserves of shale.
In all likelihood, the next furious pipeline battles will about tubes that get stuff to the Pacific, not the Gulf of Mexico.
By Tamsin McMahon - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 2:54 PM - 0 Comments
Why the premiers of B.C. and Alberta just can’t learn to get along
On the night roughly a year ago when Alison Redford became the first female leader in Alberta’s history, she fielded a call from someone whom many at the time predicted would become one of her greatest political allies. Along with well wishes from Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Redford spoke with Christy Clark, if not B.C.’s first female premier, certainly the woman who has done the most to shake up her province’s political scene.
The conversation was friendly. Clark offered her congratulations and the two joked about just how wrong the pundits had been about both women’s chances of winning the premiership of their respective provinces. “I said, ‘Alison, how did the pollsters get it so wrong?’ ” Clark recalled in an interview with Maclean’s earlier this year. “And she said, ‘Christy, of all the people in the country I can’t believe you’re the one asking me that.’ ”
For many, Redford’s election was considered a win for B.C. After all, the two premiers, part of a growing powerhouse of women in Canadian politics, have some remarkable parallels.
Both are the same age—46—and born in B.C. (Clark in Burnaby, Redford in Kitimat). Both are mothers to preteens—Clark’s son Hamish is 11, Redford’s daughter Sarah is 10. Both were long-time party loyalists who spent time in federal government, Clark working for Chrétien-era transportation minister Doug Young and Redford for Joe Clark. What’s more, both were once married to party stalwarts and maintain close ties with their ex-husbands. So close, in fact, that both recruited their former spouses to work on their campaigns.
By macleans.ca - Monday, October 1, 2012 at 6:27 AM - 0 Comments
The political workweek of Sept. 24-28 generated five stories with sequels and endings and next chapters that we look forward to reading (and writing):
- The outcry over Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose’s surprise vote in favour of a Tory backbenchers’s motion to study when life begins might have been the sort of story flares briefly and is soon forgotten. After all, even though Ambrose also has cabinet responsibility for the status of women, her vote in the House for a study, which would have reopened elements of the abortion debate, didn’t have much practical impact: the motion was easily defeated. Full stop? Maybe not. For starters, another Conservative MP plans to table a motion condemning sex-selection abortion, a matter on which Ambrose expresses deep concern. She’s been praised for her handling of shipbuilding contracts, trusted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper sort out the F-35 fiasco, but will she become a political liability for reasons that have nothing to do with her core files? Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 11:34 AM - 0 Comments
Enbridge makes a case for pipelines from Alberta to the Pacific Rim
The UC Berkeley economist Brad DeLong has said that Deng Xiaoping may have been “quite possibly the greatest human hero of the 20th century.” It’s a tough-minded, utilitarian judgment; DeLong knows that Deng, as leader of China, ordered the Tiananmen massacre of 1989. In the other pan of the balance, however, is the successful transformation of China into a free-market industrial power. That transformation, over three decades of Deng’s leadership, multiplied per-capita GDP 50-fold and lifted somewhere between 200 million and 400 million people out of poverty.
The revolution is still ongoing, and it runs on oil. Enter Canada. Hearings into Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would link the town of Bruderheim, Alta., to the Pacific Rim at Kitimat, B.C., are being held now in Alberta and will soon shift to British Columbia. The B.C. phase of the hearings will see Enbridge challenged on whether it can successfully protect B.C. wildlands and the port of Kitimat from environmental disasters like the spill that affected the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010.
But in Edmonton, the topic of discussion has been the basic economic rationale for the pipeline. Put in its simplest form: China needs oil, and Canada’s got it. In truth, however, that pretext could be stood on its head. Canada needs alternative markets for its oil, and China is the obvious one. Right now, the oil sands are more or less forced to take a U.S. Midwest price for their product. With the sudden reflation of U.S. oil reserves, Alberta has been getting an increasingly raw deal. Enbridge consultant Neil Earnest explained to hearing attendees at a Holiday Inn in south Edmonton that it costs about $7 in pipeline tolls to move a barrel of Western Canada Select crude to the Gulf of Mexico. “But the price [of WCS] today at Edmonton is not the Gulf Coast price minus $7,” he explained. Owing to the huge oversupply of crude in the U.S., “it’s the Gulf Coast price minus $30.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 11:34 AM - 0 Comments
Support outweighs opposition to proposed plan to link Alberta to Pacific Ocean and Asian markets
Only four in ten B.C. residents have heard about an Enbridge project to link Edmonton, Alberta and Kitimat, B.C. by pipeline. But the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline Project is more likely to receive support, rather than opposition, according to a new Ipsos-Reid poll. Although the poll shows that a majority of Northern B.C. residents are unaware of the project, it also indicates that they are both increasingly familiar with it (42 per cent) and favourable to it (48 per cent). Only 32 per cent said the opposed the project. Respondents were also asked to name one main project benefit and one main concern; employment ranked first among the perceived benefits, while environmental issues were first among concerns. The poll, conducted on behalf of Enbridge, queried 1,000 adult British Columbians online using Ipsos Reid’s national online household panel between Dec. 12 and Dec. 15.