‘There’s a difference, I think, night and day between a company that gets public engagement, Aboriginal engagement, environmental stewardship and Enbridge’
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 0 Comments
Heritage Minister James Moore was interviewed by Bill Good yesterday on CKNW in British Columbia about the Northern Gateway pipeline. Mr. Moore was first asked to respond to criticism of how little BC Conservatives have said in response to Christy Clark’s demands and then asked specifically for his thoughts on the proposed pipeline.
Bill Good. So do you think that British Columbia needs to get a much bigger share of the revenue that will be generated by a pipeline if it ever came to be?
James Moore. Well, that’s Christy Clark’s demand and she hasn’t been clear on what actually constitutes a fair share or where the fair share would come from. She’s put five demands on the table, or requests, and many of them, frankly, were already well on their way to being addressed. She knows that. The provincial government knows that. The first three, with regard to environmental assessments, environmental considerations while on land and on the water, those are all things that the federal government has been moving on, we are moving on, and I think those will all be addressed. The aboriginal consultation part is something that coastal First Nations have been very vocal about, will continue to be vocal about, and that needs to be addressed, for sure, by Enbridge, in order for the project to go forward. On the money side, it certainly, of course, it sounds great, as a British Columbian, to say British Columbia should get our fair share and I understand that. But Premier Clark hasn’t been specific about what she’s talking about, how much or where it would come from, so until she’s clear on that, it’s kind of an empty zone to have a debate about this. But I do understand, certainly, the reaction by the rest of the country, when you have one province, who is, geographically, the Pacific gateway for the entire country to the markets of the Asia-Pacific, the perception of us closing the door to the rest of the country doing business with the largest emerging markets in the world, it’s something that’s cause for concern. On the other hand, Christy Clark is very much, I think, in the right in terms of her responsibility to represent British Columbians. To make sure that the rest of the country understands that just because British Columbia is physically the Asia-Pacific gateway, it doesn’t mean that we’re the doormat for companies like Enbridge to think that they can go ahead and do business without having due diligence and taking care of the public’s interest.
Bill Good. A lot of people would be asking why we are even talking about doing business with Enbridge right now, given their track record, their recent environmental disasters, their what seems to be lack of procedures when it comes to oil spills. Why are we even talking about doing business with that particular company?
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 8:58 AM - 0 Comments
Pressure is now building on the federal Conservative government to step in and respond to B.C.’s demands – by stating, among other things, whether Ottawa is willing to share some of the billions of dollars of federal tax revenue that would be generated by the pipeline or pony up cash for environmental protection.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Monday that Ottawa has a role to play in pipeline safety and maritime environmental protection, and that “we’re going to fulfil our obligations in that regard.” However, the government doesn’t sound too interested at this time in sharing more of the economic benefits with British Columbia, although it won’t directly state a position on the matter. ”The economic benefits are, in fact, already shared across the country,” Oliver said in an interview with Postmedia News. ”I just don’t want to get into that specific issue at this time.”
A report from the Canadian Energy Research Institute projects that the vast majority of tax revenues from three proposed pipelines—Keystone XL, Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain—would go to Alberta.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 30, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Enbridge, the company behind the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, makes the news for a minor spill in Wisconsin.
The spill blackened a small field but did not appear to cause major damage. It comes almost two years to the day after a much larger spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River and at a time when the company is seeking support for its proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta to British Columbia for export to Asia.
BC critics fret. Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey invokes BP. The U.S. Transportation Department is investigating. And Reuters tallies accidents and leaks at Enbridge facilities over the last decade.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Harry Swain, a former deputy minister, explains what the federal government needs to make the Northern Gateway pipeline an acceptable proposition.
For starters, we need a serious oil spill response capacity on the West Coast. The Coast Guard currently has no capable ships, and no trained crews, for dealing with even a modest spill. The closest response capacity is many hours from the Douglas Channel. The Coast Guard needs a base in the region, a dozen small ships and a few bigger ones, new regulations, new response doctrine, new training manuals, and a lot of at-sea practice before the first tanker sails the channel.
One will also need quite a number of new licensed pilots. These take almost as long to train as neurosurgeons, so it’s time to get started. For a federal government whose only relevant action so far is moving the sole West Coast oil spill response facility to Quebec, there is a lot to do.
Meanwhile, the Globe editorial board pans Christy Clark’s proposal, but offers an alternative.
If Ms. Clark’s worries are genuine, but not so great as to be prohibitive should the project pass environmental reviews, a more defensible condition would be insisting upon some form of insurance to help cover costs in the case of an accident. That could involve an iron-clad commitment from the federal and Alberta governments (along with Enbridge, the company that would build the pipeline) to ensure that B.C. did not absorb any cleanup costs, or even the establishment of a fund to cover those costs in the event they’re ever incurred.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 9:36 AM - 0 Comments
“We can’t have a Canada where we try to toll-gate different goods and services in different parts of the country,” Baird told CBC’s Power and Politics. ”Alberta has a great resource, it’s a great resource for Canada, and they obviously have to get that resource to market.”
Central to the Harper government’s response would seem to be an effort to turn tollgate into a verb.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 4:44 PM - 0 Comments
Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber questions Christy Clark’s position on the Northern Gateway pipeline.
If she truly believes that the possible risks of a pipeline outweigh the $6B in proposed benefits, than she should oppose it unequivocally. That is the apparent position of the BC Opposition Leader Adrian Dix; a position shared by federal NDP Opposition Environmental Critic, Megan Leslie. They oppose the Northern Gateway Project full stop. I disagree with their position but at least I respect them for taking an unequivocal position and having the courage of their conviction to stand by it.
That is quite different from the position of the BC Premier. She apparently has environmental concerns. Fair enough, but she has publically stated that for enough money or BC’s “fair share”, she will give the project her blessing. The BC Premier is stating that her supposed concern for the environment has an undisclosed price tag. I am being kind when I call her position “disingenuous”.
Ms. Clark, meanwhile, wants “Alberta and Canada to come to the table and sit down with British Columbia and work to figure out how we can resolve this.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 9:49 AM - 0 Comments
Jason Kenney joins the pipeline fight between Alberta and British Columbia.
Kenney, who met with the Times Colonist editorial board, said he does not support the provincial government’s call for a larger share of the estimated $81 billion in tax revenue that would be generated if the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is approved. ”I think taking a balkanized approach to the federation is unhelpful,” Kenney said. “The notion that there are 10 separate fiefdoms and you have to tollgate everything you move from east to west would massively undermine the whole concept of an economic union and efficient operation of the Canadian economy,” he said.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 9:13 AM - 0 Comments
Alberta Premier Alison Redford is unimpressed.
Redford said such an arrangement would be a first in Canada. She said many pipelines that cross Alberta carry resources from B.C., and mused about whether B.C. would be willing to give Alberta a cut of the royalties it earns from those resources. She said Clark is essentially suggesting “that somehow the fundamental fiscal arrangements of Confederation need to change.” “When you start doing that, it means every commercial project in Canada will now become or would become a matter for interprovincial negotiation,” Redford said.
Alberta’s Intergovernmental Affairs Minister chimes in.
“I don’t think that’s a contemplated option,” said Cal Dallas heading into a late afternoon cabinet meeting. “Clearly we need to move all kinds of product around the country through a variety of different infrastructure types and that hasn’t been the way we’ve done business in the past and I don’t believe there’ll be early contemplation of an option of such as you’re describing.”
“We don’t have any history of sharing in uranium in Saskatchewan or the vast mining resources that exist in Ontario and Quebec and certainly with respect to forestry products and the like that move from west to east from British Columbia so the answer is we have a system in place, it’s worked well.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 23, 2012 at 4:58 PM - 0 Comments
BC Premier Christy Clark talks tough about the Northern Gateway pipeline.
“There is a risk to our environment and there is very little benefit to jobs and to our economy and to our province,” she said. “The balance isn’t there for British Columbia today and I don’t think British Columbians will want this project to go ahead until we can find that balance — unless we can find that balance.”
And her government follows that with a set of five prerequisites for pipeline construction—complete with some rather pointed pie charts. The last of those prerequisites is that “British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.”
More from the CBC.
Lake also said B.C. has “insufficient” information to support the Enbridge pipeline at this time, and the province would exercise its right to cross-examine Enbridge at upcoming federal hearings on the proposed pipeline.
B.C. Minister for Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Mary Polak said she was unaware of any First Nation in B.C. that supported the project, and it was clear they had real concerns about the project.
Meanwhile, Joe Oliver’s office has released a statement from the minister on “the Harper Government’s Commitment to the Responsible Development of Resources.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 9:29 AM - 0 Comments
The report has provided fuel for critics of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway project, which would carry crude oil along 1,170 kilometres of pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia’s coast. Even B.C.’s premier has demanded answers.
But the report won’t change the opinion of the federal Conservative government, which has hailed the Northern Gateway pipeline as important for the country, said Environment Minister Peter Kent. ”Pipelines are still, by far, the safest way to transport petrochemicals in any form,” Kent said in an interview Wednesday.
Wild Rose leader Danielle Smith, on the other hand, is ready to consider alternative routes.
“I’ve heard that there are options that would go to the West Coast on a different route that might make more sense,” Smith told reporters during a break in the Wildrose caucus retreat in Chestermere. ”There may have been in the past an easier time going through virgin territory,” Smith said. “But something’s changed in the last five years. Landowners are far more active and concerned, environmental groups are more active and concerned. First Nations are more active and vocal about it.”
Land-locked Alberta must get its oil to new markets, she said. But it makes sense to look at existing rights of way “so that we can have the least amount of environmental damage.”
By Scaachi Koul - Monday, July 16, 2012 at 3:03 PM - 0 Comments
It isn’t the first time the pranksters have been caught poking fun at giant corporations
A new Shell website has popped up, called Arctic Ready, promoting drilling for oil in the Arctic, and a new slogan: “Let’s go.” If it sounds fishy, that’s because it is—it appears that the site is actually an elaborate hoax.
The ad campaign was actually created by the Yes Men, an international organization of corporate pranksters who often imitate with the intention of humiliating giant corporations.
The website is in typical Yes Men form: it looks 100 per cent legitimate on the surface, from the logos to the contact information, but on closer inspection, it’s a sharp take-down of Shell and pro-drilling language.
“For hundreds of years, explorers have battled the Arctic,” the website’s homepage says. “Today, we’re finally winning.”
The site promotes Shell’s new Let’s Go! Arctic campaign, complete with tone deaf arctic-energy ads. They’d be tragic if they were actually coming from Shell, but since they’re not, they’re just funny.
Take, for example, one shot of a running Arctic fox with the slogan, “You can’t run your SUV on ‘cute.’ Let’s go.” There’s also an image of the sinking Titanic captioned with, “Never again,” promoting the melting of even more polar ice.
And if your kids want to learn more about the bad polar ice, there’s a game for them to play.
The site also encourages the public to take part in an ad contest to make the best Arctic-energy ads. The best ones, they claim, will be printed and posted offline.
This is certainly not the first time that the Yes Men have created elaborate hoaxes and almost gotten away with it. In 2007, two supposed ExxonMobil representatives, analyst for the Washington-based National Petroleum Council “S.K. Wolff,” and co-speaker “Florian Osenberg,” spoke at a keynote luncheon at Calgary’s Gas and Oil Exposition, a three day oil and gas trade show during the Calgary Stampede.
Once the duo started handing out candles supposedly made of the remains of Reggie Watts, a deceased ExxonMobil janitor, the audience realized they were being tricked.
Wolff and Osenberg are actually Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, two of the most well-known Yes Men members. They were prominently featured in the 2003 documentary, The Yes Men.
Bichlbaum and Bonanno didn’t even get the chance to show the memorial video made by Watts before they were ushered away by security.
Meanwhile, a parody fundraiser page on IndieGoGo in the same satirical vein as Yes Men’s work has popped up, asking for donations towards Minister Jason Kenney’s efforts to kick refugee claimants out of Canada.
“As Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, I recently tabled a bold new plan that would pay failed/bogus refugee claimants a small lump sum of cash ($2,000) to forget their rights to an appeal and leave the country voluntarily,” the page says under the guise of Kenney’s name. “That’s why I’m asking that Canadians show their support for me, Jason Kenney, and this innovative program by donating a few dollars of their own hard-earned money to help pay bogus refugees to leave the country.”
The fundraiser has yet to make a single dollar.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 13, 2012 at 8:06 PM - 0 Comments
In the House, explaining why Bill C-38 must be passed, the Prime Minister said it was in order ‘to provide certainty to investors.’ (May 10, 2012). What investors would those be? In the last few years direct ownership of Alberta oil sands by Chinese state-owned oil companies has gone from nearly nothing to over $12 billion. Chinese money is already invested in the Enbridge pipeline and tanker scheme, Petro-China wants to build the pipeline, and Suncor is talking about using lowerwaged Chinese temporary workers–just in time to drive down wages and environmental standards. Sinopec is the fifth largest corporation in the world with a board of directors appointed by the Chinese Communist polit-bureau. And now Sinopec’s 9% share in Syncrude has given it veto power over any future decision to refine Syncrude bitumen in Canada, rather than put it in tankers…
So, back to that wonderful transmission of values through trade. Does anyone else notice that it seems to be working? Canada is absorbing Chinese values respecting human rights, labour laws, and environmental protections. It is indeed a national disgrace.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 2:54 PM - 0 Comments
“Northern Gateway should be stopped and the plug should be pulled on it,” said Mulcair, after meeting with local community groups and business leaders. “Today’s conclusive report by the Americans, I think, should be the final nail in that coffin.”
British Columbia’s environment says “when you read about the culture at Enbridge, that’s worrisome,” but otherwise the B.C. Liberal government will continue to study the pipeline.
Meanwhile, Bob Rae visits Fort McMurray and attempts to assert a middle position between the Conservatives and New Democrats.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 25, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Thomas Mulcair rallies in Saskatchewan.
“I know that the vast majority of people in Saskatchewan believe that polluters should pay,” he said. “It’s not sustainable development to let people use the air, the soil and the water as an unlimited dumping ground that they don’t pay for. You have to include those costs whenever you have any form of production, whether it’s a factory or a natural resource … It’s a false debate to oppose economy and environment; the two go hand in hand.
“The basic question is do we allow companies now to receive subsidies to develop natural resources, especially extractive industries, without assuming the cost in this generation. We think that’s wrong,” he added, reiterating that a Canadian dollar inflated due to resource development has “caused the hollowing out of the manufacturing sector.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 1:16 PM - 0 Comments
A report from the OECD sees signs of Dutch Disease in the Canadian economy.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development warns in a report released Wednesday that the run-up in commodity prices is leading to an uneven economy in Canada. And it says the country needs to do more to develop non-resource aspects of the economy in order to maintain high levels of employment and an equitable distribution of wealth across regions…
“I don’t think you can really deny it,” Peter Jarrett, one of the report’s authors, said in an interview. ”You can’t explain the entire pattern of the history of manufacturing just by exchange rates. That goes too far. But anyone who argues it has no effect is clearly not looking at the data.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s response yesterday to a question about a Sun report that various environmental groups have received government funding.
I think what most Canadians believe and understand is that you have to put a priority both on growth and economic development, and also on environmental protection. This government and most Canadians understand that if you act prudently and appropriately, you can serve both of those interests. There are obviously some organizations that oppose development on principle, and I think that is way out of the Canadian mainstream. You’re asking me if, and I don’t know all of the facts, we’re certainly trying to comb through our spending to make sure it’s all appropriate. If it’s the case that we’re spending on organizations that are doing things contrary to government policy, I think that is an inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money and we’ll look to eliminate it.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 4, 2012 at 11:26 AM - 0 Comments
The NDP points to the Alberta budget to support Thomas Mulcair’s position that the high dollar has hurt the manufacturing sector. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has concerns, but Mr. Mulcair rejects the idea of a regional fight.
“What I’ve said since the beginning is I didn’t want to deal with anybody else but Stephen Harper,” Mulcair said. “I’ll work with all the provinces. – If they want to turn this into a provincial federal fight with me, I’ll set the record straight every time, saying I’m not looking in any way to have the debate with them. I want to work with them. My debate is with Stephen Harper.”
The federal official Opposition leader also rejected the notion he is pitting the eastern part of the country against the West, saying that is “how some of my political adversaries are trying to portray it. ”Some people were trying to change the message, setting up an east-west straw man, saying that’s what it was about,” he said. “But that’s not the case. Since the beginning, this has been about sustainable development. Some people have tried to turn that into, ‘Oh, they’re attacking us personally.’ ”Having seen that sort of exercise before in my home province, I’m immune to it. I’ll keep talking over it and I’ll keep setting the record straight, as I’m doing now, and make it very clear that we want an energy future that is sustainable, we want an economic future that’s sustainable.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Gordon looks at who benefits from oil sands development.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 1, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
The mayor of Fort McMurray reports on her meeting with the NDP leader.
“His passion is deep for the advances he’s trying to make in environmental legislation,” she said. “He’s got some valid points. He’s got some that I disagree with. But overall, I respect the visit he made to our region and the time that he spent while he was here.”
The three Western premiers have condemned Mulcair’s comments, saying that he is using wedge politics to divide the country. But Mulcair rejected that premise saying he is holding the federal government to account accusing the Stephen Harper Conservatives of failing to meet its legislative obligations in enforcing environmental standards.
“Our thesis has always been that one of the reasons we have an artificially high number of U.S. dollars coming in is because we haven’t internalized the environmental costs,” he said. “We haven’t included those costs in the product so allowing a bit of a free ride in using the air, the soil and the water in an unlimited way.”
He also tries a little diplomacy, saying he agrees with Premier Alison Redford that there needs to be a national conversation about resource development.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 10:34 AM - 0 Comments
And later, on CBC’s Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, Oliver said tailings ponds created through oilsands development are being cleaned up. ”The fact is the tailings ponds are being cleaned up and you’ll be able to drink from them, you’ll be able to fish from them,” Oliver said. “The land will be brought back to its original state.”
Meanwhile, an oil spill has been discovered in northwest Alberta.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 11:53 AM - 0 Comments
The NDP has announced the details of Thomas Mulcair’s trip to Alberta. He will receive a helicopter tour of the oil sands tomorrow morning, followed by a tour of Suncor’s facilities (including the Flue Gas Desulphurization Unit, the mine complex, a virtual tour of the extraction process, an overview of the upgrading process, an overview of former Pond 1 reclamation and a discussion on tailings reduction operations). Then he will meet with the mayor of Fort McMurray and then he will depart for Edmonton for a meeting with the deputy premier. He’ll be joined by Peter Julian, Megan Leslie and Linda Duncan.
Mr. Mulcair was asked about the trip earlier this week.
The most important element for us in going out there is to talk about the sustainable development of all of our natural resources, but, of course in particular there, the oil sands. This is about the future of the economy of the country, maintaining the equilibrium, coming up with a strategy that will allow us to maintain a vital industrial sector. But of course it’s about the enforcement of federal legislation. Since the beginning we’ve made it clear that we’re very concerned that the federal government is not enforcing federal law—the Navigable Waters Act, the Fisheries Act, migratory birds, not looking at cumulative health effects, not looking at groundwater, not monitoring the water in any way shape or form. A year ago, they talked about monitoring water. Now they’re dropping it completely. Some of the people who were supposed to be on that committee haven’t even been convened to a meeting. So these are all things that the federal government is not doing. But, of course, I want to come and talk to people in Fort Mac, see more about the actual installations themselves.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
During the 2008 campaign, Stephen Harper promised to ban the export of raw bitumen to countries with weaker emissions targets.
“We will not permit the export of bitumen to any country that does not have the same greenhouse gas regulations that we are imposing,” Harper said in Calgary, where he was campaigning for re-election in an Oct. 14 vote.
Harper’s promise is likely to have no impact on bitumen exports to the United States, said Environment Minister John Baird, but could affect the construction of a major pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific coast to feed the Asian market. Questioned on whether the emission target proposal would have an impact on future bitumen exports to Asian countries, Harper replied: “Well, it could. It absolutely could.”
Nearly four years later, the Harper government is quite keen to sell this country’s oil to Asia. But for all the discussion in recent months about resource development and oil exports, Mr. Harper’s pledge has gone unmentioned. What happened to promised ban? I sent the following query to the Prime Minister’s Office.
During the 2008 campaign, the Prime Minister promised to ban the export of raw bitumen to countries with environmental standards that were more lenient than Canada’s. Does the Prime Minister still intend to fulfill that promise? And, if so, how does he square it with the government’s desire to export oil to countries like China and India?
That question was forwarded to the office of Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. Mr. Oliver’s spokeswoman sent along the following statement by way of response (emphasis mine). Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 1:52 PM - 0 Comments
In his interview with Tom Clark this weekend, the NDP leader recommended a pair of readings. The first is his own essay, adapted from the preface to Andrew Nikiforuk’s book Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, that appeared in the March issue of Policy Options.
If Canada could simply apply the basic principles of sustainable development, such as the internalization of costs and polluters pay, it would have long-term beneficial effects both environmental and economic. This is why I have proposed a “comprehensive cap and trade plan” that would be based on the principle that “polluters pay.” My plan would cap climate change pollution at the source, thus avoiding complicated monitoring systems that are prone to loopholes. It would also include all the major sources of climate change pollution in Canada. It’s a plan that has been endorsed by Professor Andrew Weaver, a lead author of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Instead of taking such a sensible approach, Stephen Harper continues to heavily subsidize unsustainable practices by making direct financial transfers, by reducing taxes for petroleum producers and by investing large numbers of taxpayer dollars into speculative research into the capture and storage of carbon dioxide. We’re also exporting jobs, since exporting unrefined heavy oil creates no value-added jobs in upgrading or refining. It’s equivalent to exporting raw logs — a practice typical of undeveloped nations.