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Alberta Has Spent $23 Million Calling BC an Enemy of Canada

Alberta Has Spent $23 Million Calling BC an Enemy of Canada

Tyee FOI reveals pro-pipeline PR strategy, spiraling costs.

The Alberta government has spent more than $23 million — twice as much as previously revealed — in a campaign designed to turn the rest of Canada against B.C., The Tyee has learned.

The “KeepCanadaWorking” ad and PR campaign’s top “principle” states, “This is not B.C. vs. Alberta, this is B.C. vs. Canada,” according to documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request.

The documents show how an “ethnic campaign” targeted residents of the Lower Mainland, Toronto suburbs and Ottawa who speak “Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Filipino, Punjabi.”

Work first began in January, 2018 to create the campaign that promotes expanding the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which would triple the volume of Alberta bitumen sent through the port of Vancouver.

As recently as Nov. 14, 2018, Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP government stated it had spent $10 million on the campaign.

On Jan. 7, 2019, the Alberta government told The Tyee the amount had reached $23,040,463.90.

The province’s self-described “full-service” public relations arm, the Communications and Public Engagement (CPE) department, named that figure in an email responding to Freedom of Information requests filed by The Tyee.

In the past two months, Alberta has dumped more than $13 million into its pro-pipeline public relations push, a provincial government spokesperson confirmed to The Tyee.

What did $23 million in taxpayer money buy?

Internal Alberta government documents obtained by The Tyee reveal the top “principle” of the so-called “KeepCanadaWorking” campaign: “This is not B.C. vs. Alberta, this is B.C. vs. Canada.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC Energy Minister on Her Site C Reversal: No Regrets

BC Energy Minister on Her Site C Reversal: No Regrets

Michelle Mungall once firmly opposed the mega-dam. Now she’s a powerful figure in a ‘complicated’ party.

Michelle Mungall says she’s not generally a fan of hockey metaphors.

But she uses one to explain what it was like to join British Columbia Premier John Horgan to announce the government would continue building the Site C dam, a project she had fiercely opposed in Opposition.

It was like taking the ice in a Stanley Cup championship game against a much stronger team, knowing you can only lose, said Mungall, the energy, mines and petroleum resources minister.

“You have to go out there and you have to do your best all the same,” she said. “It was a tough day for sure.”

But that’s the reality of being in government, not Opposition, says Mungall, first elected to the B.C. legislature in 2009 as the 31-year-old MLA for Nelson-Creston.

The Site C decision was one of the defining moments of the NDP government’s first year. While it pleased some supporters, including the unions whose members would help build and operate the publicly owned project, it was deeply disappointing to others.

A year later, Mungall does not regret the decision.

An NDP government wouldn’t have started the project, she said during an interview in her office, much of it conducted with her five-month-old son Zavier on her lap. But that didn’t make it easy to stop.

“That’s the nature of being responsible for decisions, is that you have to weigh out everybody’s interests,” she said. In Opposition, the NDP’s Power BCplan emphasized conservation and other alternatives to building the dam.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Another Crucial Canadian Pipeline Runs Into Trouble

Another Crucial Canadian Pipeline Runs Into Trouble

LNG canada

Late last year, Royal Dutch Shell gave the greenlight to a massive LNG export terminal on Canada’s Pacific Coast, one of the largest investments in LNG in years. But like other fossil fuel projects in Canada, the plans have run into some trouble.

Shell’s LNG Canada project hinges on a crucial pipeline that will connect gas fields along the border of British Columbia and Alberta to the Pacific coast at Kitimat. The Coastal GasLink pipeline is to be constructed by TransCanada (or, rather TC Energy, as the company now wants to be known).

The Coastal GasLink pipeline was supposed to mark a departure from previous long distance pipelines in Canada – a project that would, from the start, adequately consult with First Nations. Prior pipeline projects – Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Line 3; TransCanada’s Energy East; as well as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion – ran into stiff resistance from various First Nations.

TransCanada hoped that Coastal GasLink would be different. But, it too is now meeting resistance. Members of the Wet’suwet’en nation threw up makeshift barricades to stop construction on their land in recent weeks. On January 7, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police broke through those barricades and arrested at least 14 people. RCMP said it was enforcing a court order, but the clash made national and international headlines.

The situation is complex because the Wet’suwet’en nation never signed a treaty with Canada, so their territory is neither ceded nor even formally acknowledged by Canada. “What I see is a long history of the Canadian government doing its best to avoid acknowledging the existence of other systems of government,” Gordon Christie, a scholar of indigenous law at the University of British Columbia, told The Guardian.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is Coastal GasLink an Illegal Pipeline?

Is Coastal GasLink an Illegal Pipeline?

Challenge to energy project’s approval brings threats to Smithers activist.

The $6.2-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline may face a bigger threat than the opposition of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and protests across Canada.

Smithers resident Michael Sawyer says the project lacks the required federal approvals. He has filed a formal application to require a full National Energy Board (NEB) review.

Last fall the board agreed to consider Sawyer’s challenge.

In April it will hear final arguments on the question of whether the pipeline falls under provincial jurisdiction, or if it is subject to NEB rules and assessments.

That would bring delays and “put real, tangible benefits to people in B.C., including First Nations, at risk,” said pipeline owner TransCanada Corp., rebranded this week as TC Energy.

The B.C. government’s Environmental Assessment Office approved the contentious 670-kilometre pipeline in 2014.

The project would move fracked methane from northeastern B.C. and northwestern Alberta to the $40-billion LNG Canada export terminal in Kitimat.

Sawyer, a 61-year-old environmental consultant, said the prospect of a NEB regulatory review should have been considered by the B.C. Supreme Court before it issued an injunction that led to RCMP action against two Indigenous checkpoints this week.

“I wonder if TransCanada disclosed information to the judge about this jurisdictional challenge before it asked him to grant the injunction against the blockade,” he said. “The fact is that the RCMP enforced the injunction in an over-the-top manner for a pipeline that may be deemed illegal and whose permits could be quashed.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Judy Wilson’s Message for Canadians: ‘The Land Defenders Are Doing This for Everybody’

Judy Wilson’s Message for Canadians: ‘The Land Defenders Are Doing This for Everybody’

RCMP raids in Wet’suwet’en territory can’t bring justice, reconciliation or a better future, Neskonlith chief says.

The Tyee reached out to Wilson to talk about RCMP action against pipeline protesters in the Wet’suwet’en nation in northwest B.C. because of her extensive involvement with government and industries and her long history of environmental advocacy. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What are your thoughts on how governments are responding to the RCMP action in the Wet’suwet’en territory?

I was just reading Premier [John] Horgan’s response to the Unist’ot’en, and I think he was trying to stay on the middle ground. He mentioned the bands who signed these agreements [to allow the pipeline], but to me, the issue is clearly about the hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs. They are the proper titleholders to their unceded territory, and they already made a decision. They said no pipelines in their territory.

As for Trudeau, I don’t think he’s really responded. It’s concerning that on one hand he talks about truth and reconciliation, he talks about implementing UNDRIP [the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People] and has supported Bill C-262, which is about implementation — and then he’s using forceful, militarized RCMP to remove people and arrest them at Unist’ot’en and Wet’suwet’en territory. He’s speaking contradictorily, and he’s actually in violation of some of the conventions that he signed at the United Nations.

You called for Canadians to ‘stand with land defenders.’ How can they do that?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

First Nations Pipeline Protest: 14 Land Protectors Arrested as Canadian Police Raid Indigenous Camp

First Nations Pipeline Protest: 14 Land Protectors Arrested as Canadian Police Raid Indigenous Camp

In Canada, armed forces raided native Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia Monday, with at least 14 arrests being reported. Land defenders faced off with Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the police breached two checkpoints set up to keep pipeline workers out of protected territory. Indigenous leaders are reportedly being blocked from their territory. TransCanada Corporation has been seeking entry into indigenous territory, where they are planning to build the massive $4.7 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline. Land protectors from First Nations clans set up two encampments where they had been physically blocking entry to TransCanada workers.

We speak with Karla Tait, a member of the Unist’ot’en House Group of the Gilseyhu Clan. She’s the mental wellness manager for the Northern Region with the First Nations Health Authority, serving the 54 First Nations in Northern British Columbia. Dr. Tait is also the director of clinical programming for the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In Canada, armed forces raided native Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia Monday, with at least 14 arrests being reported. Land defenders faced off with Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the officers breached two checkpoints set up to keep pipeline workers out of protected territory. Indigenous leaders are reportedly being blocked from their territory.

WET’SUWET’EN LAND DEFENDER: The Wet’suwet’en have won rights and title to their lands. We did not hurt anyone. The hereditary chiefs say, “No, you cannot go through our lands.” And under your law, the authority is them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC earthquakes and fracking

BC earthquakes and fracking

As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information

There is no fracking going on right now in northeastern British Columbia, the epicenter of the province’s oil and gas production. Hydraulic fracturing operations have been shut down there for a month due to earthquakes that happened on Nov. 29 about 20 kilometers southeast of Fort St. John.

The BC Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC), which both regulates and promotes the industry (more on that below), is investigating the 4.5 magnitude quake, followed by two smaller aftershocks. One of the largest oil and gas producers in Canada, Canadian Natural Resources, was fracking in the area.

The commission has linked previous earthquake incidents to increased seismicity, though it states on its website that none of the events in BC have resulted in environmental or property damage. Yet.

For those who have been following our investigations into the BC government’s plans to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in BC – something we vehemently disagree with considering its costs will vastly outweigh its benefits – there is an irony in the operations suspension.

A couple of months ago the BC Premier and the Prime Minister gathered with industry representatives to announce the final investment decision by Shell and its Asian partners to go ahead with LNG Canada. The first-in-BC $40 billion LNG compression plant, to be built in Kitimat, will receive natural gas via a new pipeline – filled with the same fracked gas that is causing earthquakes and shutting down the industry while the BCOGC investigates. It would be downright shocking if they found anything that would slow fracking in northeastern BC, which supplies natural gas to BC and Alberta, as well as valuable liquefied gas products like diluted bitumen (dilbit) to the oilsands, not to mention hundreds of millions in royalty payments to the BC and Alberta governments.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Scourge of the American Petroleum Tankers That Prowl the British Columbia Coast

The Scourge of the American Petroleum Tankers That Prowl the British Columbia Coast

November 26 marked a dreadful anniversary for the tanker-bedraggled British Columbia coast. One year ago in Hecate Strait, the American ATB “pusher tug” Jake Shearer broke apart from its fully loaded 10,000 deadweight-ton capacity petroleum barge and came within a stone’s throw of destroying the most magnificent, wild and precious region of the Pacific Ocean.

The Jake Shearer is a new-generation tugboat which is set up to lock into, and push its petroleum barge rather that towing it by cable in the conventional manner.  The bow of the tug is fitted with two giant hydraulic locking pins, while its tanker barge is fitted with a large notch cut out of its transom. Once mated together, these two vessels then become an “articulated tug/barge unit” or “ATB.” The tug pushes into the transom notch and the locking pins extend out sideways from the bow and engage into large racks fitted within the transom of the barge. Then, mated together “doggy style” as it were, the tug/barge combo goes about its business.

A fully loaded American “ATB” tanker travelling up the BC Inside Passage. Photo: Ian McAllister

In this case, the business of the Jake Shearer was to deliver domestic petroleum products to Southeast -AKA “Panhandle” Alaska, which it did on a regular, once every 2-3 week schedule, travelling back and forth through the BC Inside Passage. Alaska’s 5 oil refineries supply about 80% of its domestic fuels needs, but the remaining 20% is delivered to the “Panhandle” via the BC coast by ATB, -with each trip carrying on average, a load of about 10,000 deadweight tons. To illustrate, that is about 1/4 of the spill volume released into the Gulf of Alaska by the Exxon Valdes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

World’s Cheapest Natural Gas Market Could Be Facing A Shortage

World’s Cheapest Natural Gas Market Could Be Facing A Shortage

Natural Gas

A natural gas shortage in Canada is expected to last through the winter months, forcing gas users ranging from industrial forces to local governments to seek alternative fuel sources and strategies for slashing consumption and conserving the gas they have. The shortage stems from this month’s pipeline explosion near Prince George, British Columbia.

In the aftermath of the explosion, FortisBC, one of British Columbia’s largest utilities, says that their supply of natural gas will be reduced by a whopping 50 to 80 percent throughout the coldest months of the year. This sudden squeeze will necessitate a lot of unforeseen expenditures on alternative fuel sources. This is a cost that will be passed directly onto consumers, affecting everything from the price of gas and heating to even the price of vegetables, among other subsequent price hikes.

Natural gas has service has already been restored to the province in the wake of the October 9th disaster, and pipeline owner Enbridge says that it will have the section of the pipeline that ruptured back online by the middle of November. The National Energy Board, however, has mandated that Enbridge limit pressure in the ruptured line, and a smaller line nearby will also remain running below capacity until the spring of next year. As a safety measure, pressure levels will be kept at 80 percent along the entire length of the damaged pipeline up to the United States border.

The shortage is occurring in what is one of the cheapest natural gas markets in the world. Canadian gas has been hit hard by competition from the United States and limited pipeline infrastructure, which has only been made worse by the Prince George explosion. After the announcement that FortisBC’s pipes would remain running under capacity through the winter, gas prices fell to a five-month low last week.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

LNG Canada project called a ‘tax giveaway’ as B.C. approves massive subsidies

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

LNG Canada project called a ‘tax giveaway’ as B.C. approves massive subsidies

Fracked gas export project will be B.C.’s largest carbon polluter

There was a telling comment from Shell Global’s Maarten Wetselaar — representing five multinational investors in a $40 billion project to ship B.C. liquefied natural gas to Asia — amidst the hoopla that accompanied Tuesday’s LNG announcement.

“The governments of Canada and British Columbia have helped to ensure that the right fiscal framework is in place to make sure that the pie is divided in a just and fair way,” Wetselaar told a Vancouver news conference hosted by LNG Canada, which will oversee construction of a 670-kilometre pipeline carrying natural gas from northeastern B.C. to a processing plant in Kitimat, where it will be liquefied for transport in ocean tankers.

“And that fiscal framework leads to why we believe LNG Canada is in the right place.”

The “right” fiscal framework amounts to a bouquet of government subsidies for B.C.’s largest carbon polluter, including tax reprieves, tax exemptions and cheaper electricity rates for some of the largest and most profitable multinationals in the world — the LNG Canada quintet of Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsubishi Corp., Malaysian-owned Petronas, PetroChina Co. and Korean Gas Corp.

At a technical briefing for media, a B.C. senior government official pegged the province’s total financial incentives for the project at $5.35 billion.

The first of the incentives, a break on provincial sales tax during project construction, was approved Tuesday by the B.C. Cabinet.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How this man’s legal challenge could stall LNG Canada

Michael Sawyer

How this man’s legal challenge could stall LNG Canada

A massive new fracked gas export plant in Kitimat may have just received the go-ahead, but a Smithers resident is arguing a pipeline vital to the project should have faced a federal review — and he’s won before

LNG Canada has announced that the international consortium is ready to proceed with Canada’s largest ever infrastructure project, but, in a David and Goliath scenario, a challenge by a Smithers environmental consultant is aiming to temporarily derail or delay the $40-billion megaproject.

Michael Sawyer is arguing that the Coastal GasLink Project, a 675-kilometre pipeline running from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, should have faced a federal review by the National Energy Board instead of relying on provincial approval.

Although the $4.7-billion pipeline is set to be built entirely within B.C. — which would usually put it under the jurisdiction of the province — the pipeline, which would supply the LNG Canada export terminal in Kitimat, connects to an existing pipeline system that is federally regulated.

Also, Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of TransCanada Pipeline Ltd., which means under the Constitution Act the pipeline is within federal jurisdiction and should be regulated by the National Energy Board, Sawyer says in an application to the board.

Sawyer-Challenge-CoastalGasLinkProject-NEB by The Narwhal on Scribd

“A pipeline that crosses international boundaries or provincial boundaries would normally be federally regulated,” Sawyer told The Narwhal, pointing to a 1998 Supreme Court decision that said if a provincial pipeline is “functionally integrated” with an existing federally regulated line, it becomes an extension of the federal line.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Fires This Time

The Fires This Time

Photo Source Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington | CC BY 2.0

This is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it.

– James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

The wildfires may be out of the headlines, but they are not out. Visual images seem the only way to comprehend the scope. The cluster of little flaming circles indicating active fires, crowded over interactive maps of the Western U.S. and Canada, covering their landmasses like an infestation of cartoon bugs, and with NASA’s hallucinatory satellite imagery color-coding them among all the atmospheric wildness in Gaia’s Revenge this summer: smoke, fire, dust, deluge, typhoon. However, the sheer acreage burned requires a return to the numerical: there’s no way to capture it in a single image. And yet whatever those numbers are, they still seem utterly disconnected from the Dow Jones, or the price of eggs at the supermarket, or flights to Spain, and so they are still inadequate.

But in Canada, with 550 fires burning last month in British Columbia alone, and smoke coating the west from border to border and beyond, someone thought to write about the mental and physical anguish of being surrounded by wildfire and its consequences, watching a familiar landscape, once vibrant, benevolent, be transformed into something fearful and toxic, in which you are trapped. When the suffocating smoke covers a thousand miles for weeks on end, where is there to run?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Carbon price wars–BC, Ontario or Quebec?

Carbon price wars–BC, Ontario or Quebec?

The question of how the Canadian provinces should deal with the issue of greenhouse  gas emissions continues to be contentious and occasionally acrimonious.

The new provincial government of Ontario has declared its intention to cancel that province’s cap-and-trade system—referring to it as “a punishing, regressive tax that forces low-and middle-income families to pay more.” A week ago the province of Alberta threatened to pull out of the Federal government’s carbon pricing scheme after progress on building the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline ground to a halt. Progressive Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has vowed to shut down carbon pricing asserting: “Conservatives know that carbon tax isn’t just bad for big business; it’s bad for everyone. And that’s why, come 2019, my first act as prime minister will be to get rid of it once and for all.”[1]

So is it?  Bad for everyone?

There is no question that pricing carbon works. Over 51 countries and subnational jurisdictions are now operating carbon pricing systems, or planning to do so.[2]  A report last year by two of the world’s top  economists was clear: “A well-designed carbon price is an indispensable part of a strategy for reducing emissions in a efficient way.[3]

Earlier this year, Environment and Climate Change Canada published the results of a modeling exercise which showed that a carbon pricing system applied across Canada would reduce greenhouse gas pollution by between 80 and 90 million tonnes by 2022–making a significant contribution to meeting Canada’s Paris Agreement target of a 30% reduction over the period 2005 to 2030. [4]

But some forms of carbon pricing systems seem to work a lot better than others. Can we learn a few lessons and draw some conclusions by looking at the performance of the four Canadian provinces where carbon prices have been introduced: Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia?  Of the four, British Columbia’s revenue-neutral carbon pricing system is widely regarded as a major success.[5]  But the latest data on Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions paint a rather different picture.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada’s Top Court Dismisses Burnaby Case Against Trans Mountain Pipeline

Canada’s Top Court Dismisses Burnaby Case Against Trans Mountain Pipeline

infrastructure

Canada’s Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by the City of Burnaby—the planned end point of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in British Columbia on the Pacific coast, clearing another legal hurdle for the project, which still faces several lawsuits at various Canadian courts.

The City of Burnaby was seeking to overturn a decision by Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB), which ruled in favor of Kinder Morgan in December last year, saying the company is not required to comply with two sections of the City of Burnaby’s bylaws as it was preparing to begin construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The NEB found that Burnaby’s bylaw review process was unreasonable and caused an unreasonable delay.

The Trans Mountain expansion has become one of the most controversial pipeline projects in North America as it pitted two provinces—Alberta and British Columbia—against each other.

Alberta’s heavy oil producers need more pipeline capacity as their production grows, but pipeline capacity has stayed the same. British Columbia’s NDP government, which came into office last year, however, is against any new oil pipelines, although it doesn’t mind all the crude it currently gets from the existing pipeline.

The fierce opposition in British Columbia has forced Kinder Morgan to reconsider its commitment to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, and to sell the project to the Canadian government.

“We’re disappointed that the courts seem unwilling to review decisions made by the National Energy Board that hamper municipal jurisdiction,” Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said, commenting on today’s court ruling.

“Burnaby is not going away. We intend to continue to oppose this project with all legal means available to us, and will be continuing with our other legal challenges,” Corrigan added.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada, U.S. governments watching, but not intervening, in coal mine pollution controversy

Greenhills coal mine

Canada, U.S. governments watching, but not intervening, in coal mine pollution controversy

U.S. officials accused Canada of omitting information on selenium pollution flowing from B.C.’s Elk Valley into Montana waters

The U.S. State Department is not going to intervene in a dispute that has split the International Joint Commission (IJC), despite a letter from U.S. commissioners charging that their Canadian counterparts are refusing to publish data showing the full effects of selenium pollution flowing from B.C. coal mines into Montana.

A State Department official told The Narwhal that there are “no plans to weigh in at this time,” and, instead, both the U.S and Canadian federal governments are urging IJC representatives to work out their differences.

The International Joint Commission, which operates at arm’s length from government, has a mandate to prevent disputes over water quality in transboundary waters and is made up of three representatives from the U.S. and three from Canada.

It is hoped commissioners will reflect on more than a century of collaborative history, said the State Department official.

“The U.S Department of State and Global Affairs Canada hold bilateral meetings every six months to discuss a full range of transboundary water issues. Together we have discussed the issue of mining and potential transboundary impacts at every meeting for the past several years and the two governments continue to seek opportunities for collaboration,” he said.

John Babcock, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, did not directly address the letter from the U.S. commissioners, but said addressing selenium pollution from Teck Resources’ five open pit coal mines in the Elk Valley is a priority.

“Reducing the release of harmful substances found in coal mining effluent discharged into the Elk River and the transboundary Kootenay River basin remains a matter of key importance for Canada,” he said in an emailed response to questions from The Narwhal.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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