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When Is Mountaintop Removal Not Mountaintop Removal? In Alberta, of Course!

When Is Mountaintop Removal Not Mountaintop Removal? In Alberta, of Course!

The Kenney government plays word games as it plans to strip-mine the Rockies.

In Alberta, the government of Jason Kenney has one definition for mountaintop removal, while most people have another.

You might think that excavating the top of a mountain until it’s reduced to a series of carved away “benches” that rise like giant steps to a last shred of a mountain’s peak is “mountaintop removal.”

If so, you disagree with the Alberta government.

Here’s someone else who disagrees with the Kenney definition. Australian coal miners.

While the Kenney government claims mountaintop removal can’t happen in Alberta’s water-sensitive eastern slopes, Benga Mining, an Australian firm owned by Aussie billionaire Gina Rinehart, says that’s the technique it intends to employ — and in a joint federal-provincial hearing no less.

Last week, the Kenney government told the Narwhal in a series of emails that open-pit mining can’t be called mountaintop removal if it only removes, say, 90 per cent of a mountaintop.

By Alberta’s definition, the top of the mountain has to be “completely” removed to qualify as mountaintop removal.

The Alberta Energy Regulator and Kenney spokesperson Kavi Bal both informed the Narwhal that open-pit mining can scrape off the sides of a mountain, devein coal seams and leave a ridge a pockmarked shadow of itself after removing tonnes of toxic debris, and that’s OK: because it’s open-pit mining, and not mountaintop removal.

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

 

‘A Monstrous Monument to Greed and Stupidity’: Critics React to Site C Decision

‘A Monstrous Monument to Greed and Stupidity’: Critics React to Site C Decision

BC Liberals accuse NDP of mismanagement; Greens warn public to brace for higher costs.

Premier John Horgan’s announcement today that the government will continue with the Site C dam despite massive budget increases and delays brought criticism from opponents and supporters of the project.

“We’ve seen mismanagement of this file,” said Tom Shypitka, the BC Liberal critic for energy, mines and low carbon innovation. “It’s a sad day for the taxpayers, but it’s a good thing to see Site C proceed for the future of British Columbians.”

Horgan announced the government will continue with the project even though the budget has grown to $16 billion, an increase he blamed largely on unexpected geotechnical issues and delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now expected to be in service in 2025.

The Site C budget was $7.9 billion in 2010. When the NDP decided to continue construction in 2017 they increased the budget to $10.7 billion.

Shypitka said the cost of the dam has doubled since the NDP came to government and that the oversight committee it put in place in 2018 has clearly failed. “Under their watch, this project has gone off the rails. That’s on the NDP government.”

He rejected the idea the BC Liberals should have been more diligent before starting the project. It’s unclear how much of the delay and cost escalation can be blamed on the pandemic and how much was due to the NDP’s mismanagement, he said.

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

 

5 ways Norway leads and Canada lags on climate action

As major oil and gas producers and exporters, Norway and Canada share a particular responsibility for confronting the planet’s existential climate threat. However, their different political, economic and cultural features have resulted in major differences in their climate policy track records.

Overall, Norway is a leader on climate change performance and Canada is a laggard. The 2021 Climate Change Performance Index ranks 61 countries on their progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, renewable energies and climate policy. Norway ranked eighth overall, while Canada was near the bottom in 58th place.

Both countries face epic challenges in weaning themselves from petroleum dependence — and putting an end to exporting carbon emissions. Canada is a long way from winding down the oil and gas industry and implementing a green and inclusive recovery.

One of the advantages Norway holds is the high degree of equality and inclusivity in the policy process, which translates into a healthier democracy than Canada’s. This is something Canada can learn from and improve upon.

Canada produces 4.7 million barrels of oil per day — 80 per cent of it from Alberta — and exports 79 per cent to the United States. The carbon emissions from the consumption of those fossil fuel exports are almost four times greater than the emissions produced in their extraction and processing. These emissions aren’t attributed to Canada, even though it’s responsible for making them available.

Norway produces 1.7 million barrels of oil daily and, since the country runs mainly on hydroelectricity, exports almost all of it, largely to Western Europe. Norway exports 10 times more emissions than it produces domestically.

Norway’s exit ramp from oil dependence is bumpy. Despite some contradictory climate actions, Norway’s progress exceeds that of virtually all petrostates, with Canada trailing behind.

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

 

Critics Skeptical as Alberta Reverses Course on Open-pit Coal Mines

Critics Skeptical as Alberta Reverses Course on Open-pit Coal Mines

Five days after Kenney defended the province’s mining push, the government says it was all a big mistake.

After months of ignoring a grassroots protest movement opposing plans to allow open-pit coal mining in Alberta’s Rockies, Energy Minister Sonya Savage said today the provincial government made a mistake and is now prepared to fix it.

In a brief news conference, Savage said the province would reinstate the 1976 Coal Policy, which prohibited open-pit mining on 1.5 million hectares of “Category 2” lands in the eastern slopes of the Rockies.

In addition, Savage said she had instructed the Alberta Energy Regulator that “no mountain top removal will be permitted” in the province and that all future coal exploration on the Category 2 lands will be paused indefinitely until public consultation is held.

Coal exploration by Australian miners on six existing leases in the foothills will not be paused.

Savage’s reinstatement of the Coal Policy directly contradicts statements from Premier Jason Kenney on Wednesday that the Coal Policy was a “dead letter” and obsolete.

The highly unpopular premier also characterized opponents of coal mining as urban snobs even though the majority of the opposition has come from his party’s angry base: ranchers, farmers, landowners and rural towns and municipalities.

The government’s abrupt change of course follows weeks of protests from hundreds of thousands of Albertans from all walks of life and all political parties.

They raised concerns about water security, selenium pollution (a legacy of open-pit coal mines), and the future of the province’s iconic eastern slopes.

Landowner and conservation groups greeted today’s announcement with skepticism.

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

Domestic Terror is a Government Without Constraints

Ruh Roh: That Unhinged Canadian Conspiracy Theory is 5-for-5 so far…

A friend I’ve referenced in my writings before as “an unemployed tech CEO” (he’s been unemployed since one of his exits about 10 years ago) sent me that link that was making the rounds back in October..

It was purportedly from an anonymous Liberal Party “Strategic Committee” leaker that laid out a plan where the Canadian federal government, in collusion with world governments everywhere, were going to use the Coronavirus pandemic to impose a New World Order, distinctly communist in nature, replacing private property with Universal Basic Income and immunity passports.

wrote it up at the time pointing out the various holes in the narrative, not the least of which was that it was completely unsourced. You had to decide to believe something like that.

My response to him was:

I saw this months ago and kinda ripped the guy who sent it to me because it sounded very Qanon-ish and just batshit. No sources, no attributions, it could literally be anything. I hate this kind of stuff.

Next thing I know my phone is ringing, and as I plug in my earbuds I hear his thick middle-eastern accent:

“Ok junior” (he had picked up my knickname from my punk rock days nearly 30 years ago, although he was never in that scene), “bring it up and let’s just walk down the list”:

  • Phase in secondary lock down restrictions on a rolling basis, starting with major metropolitan areas first and expanding outward. Expected by November 2020

Well, here we are under lockdown in Toronto, again – and most other Canadian cities as well.

  • Rush the acquisition of (or construction of) isolation facilities across every province and territory. Expected by December 2020.

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

Months Before Albertans Were Told, Australian Miners Knew Plans to Axe Coal Policy

Months Before Albertans Were Told, Australian Miners Knew Plans to Axe Coal Policy

Investor presentations signalled the Kenney government aimed to open protected lands to open-pit mining.

Australian mining firms seeking to strip-mine metallurgical coal in Alberta’s eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains knew well ahead of Albertans that the government was planning to rescind a law that stood in the way.

The 44-year-old Coal Policy, the result of extensive public consultation in the 1970s, kept 1.5 million hectares of Category 2 lands in the eastern slopes off limits from open-pit mining until the Jason Kenney government abruptly axed it in May of last year with no public consultation.

Alberta’s environment minister has denied that doing away with the Coal Policy “has opened up the eastern slopes for strip-mining.”

But a presentation prepared some time in 2019 by Capital Investment Partners, a firm that owns four private coal companies with extensive leases in the central Rockies, told investors: “Alberta government [is] in the process of changing the coal policy to allow more open-pit mining.”

This statement raises serious questions, said Katie Morrison, the conservation director of the Southern Alberta arm of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, who found the presentation online.

“The CIP presentation really implies that long before Albertans heard about the cancellation of the Coal Policy, the government was consulting with coal companies at the request of coal companies and for the benefit of coal companies,” Morrison told The Tyee.

She added that the presentation “is very clear that the Australians understood the cancellation as a lifting of restrictions that allowed them to mine in areas they couldn’t access before.”

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

Canada & The Canceling of its Currency

QUESTION #1: If Canada is not a dictatorship, how can Trudeau cancel the dollar? How can he do so in secret?

RW

QUESTION #2: Why can’t Biden follow Trudeau and cancel the dollar?

EH

ANSWER: The answer lies in the difference in history.  Because the paper currency called bills-of-credit back then became worthless, the Framers of the Constitution expressly took into account currency. I have written before that when I was a market-maker in gold and one of the three largest in the country, the IRS walked in and declared me to be a bank and then I was supposed to report everyone who bought or sold gold in $10,000 amounts or more. They cited the Constitution saying that gold and silver were money thereby making me a bank because Nixon only closed the gold window, he never DEMONITIZED gold. So I was suddenly a bank in no need of such a license for the purposes of the IRS. Hence, I retired.

This raises an interesting question. Can Congress create a digital dollar constitutionally? The question of money was thus settled directly in the Constitution because each state had previously issued its own coinage and paper bills-of-credit (paper money).

Article 1 – The Legislative Branch
Section 10 – Powers Prohibited of States
<<Back | Table of Contents | Next>>

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

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

Methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells underestimated

Methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells underestimated

Methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells underestimated
Bubbles of methane gas in water around an unplugged oil/gas well in Pennsylvania. Credit: Mary Kang

A recent McGill study published in Environmental Science and Technology finds that annual methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas (AOG) wells in Canada and the US have been greatly underestimated—by as much as 150% in Canada, and by 20% in the US. Indeed, the research suggests that methane gas emissions from AOG wells are currently the 10th and 11th largest sources of anthropogenic methane emission in the US and Canada, respectively. Since methane gas is a more important contributor to global warming than carbon dioxide, especially over the short term, the researchers believe that it is essential to gain a clearer understanding of methane emissions from AOG wells to understand their broader environmental impacts and move towards mitigating the problem.

Multiple sources of uncertainty

The researchers show that the difficulties in estimating overall  emissions from AOG  in both countries are due to a lack of information about both the quantities of methane gas being emitted annually from AOG wells (depending on whether and how well they have been capped), and about the number of AOG wells themselves.

“Oil and gas development started in the late 1850s both in Canada and the US,” explains Mary Kang, the senior author on the paper and an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at McGill. “Many companies that dug wells have come and gone since then, so it can be hard to find records of the wells that once existed.”

Thousands of undocumented AOG wells

To determine the number of AOG wells, the researchers analyzed information from 47 state, provincial or territorial databases as well as from research articles and national repositories of drilled and active wells in the US and Canada.

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

Canada’s Mortgage Lenders Have Set Aside a Record Amount for Bad Loans

Canada’s Mortgage Lenders Have Set Aside a Record Amount for Bad Loans

It’s odd to see it occur while almost every market reports record home sales. 

Canada’s real estate markets are booming, but lenders are preparing for mortgage losses. Bank of Canada (BoC) data shows the allowance for credit losses due to mortgages reached a record high in Q3 2020. The record was reached with the biggest surge in the annual rate of growth since the Great Recession.

Today’s data point is the allowance for credit losses, specifically for mortgages. You might have already guessed what this is – the amount banks set aside in the event of non-payment. When lenders expect a loan has become unrecoverable, they have to add more money to this pile. We’re going to be looking at the aggregate amount across all lenders.

The amount set aside for losses has climbed to a new record high, and is growing unusually fast. Allowances reached $3.9 billion in Q3 2020, up 22.01% from the previous quarter. This represents an increase of 54.11% when compared to the same quarter last year. It’s not just a record high for dollars, but also the highest rate of growth in over a decade.

Biggest Growth Loss Allowances Since Great Recession

Mortgage loss allowances at Canadian lenders grew at the fastest pace since the Great Recession. There’s been consistent growth since 2018, but the annual rate of growth has been tapering. That is, until the most recently reported quarters. Both Q2 and Q3 in 2020, showed a very large surge in growth. It was Q3’s annual growth that was the largest print since 2009 though.

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

Cascadia Was Poised to Lead on Climate. Can It Still?

Cascadia Was Poised to Lead on Climate. Can It Still?

BC, Washington and Oregon all aimed to slash emissions. After epic battles, they failed. First in a series on creating a zero-carbon bioregion.

With dozens of people killed by wildfires in the western U.S., millions of acres scorched and choking smoke spreading far into British Columbia, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee lit up the news wires in September. “These are not just wildfires,” Inslee asserted at a press conference from Olympia, “these are climate fires.”

Two days later on George Stephanopoulos’ Sunday-morning ABC News talk show, the recent presidential candidate recounted a poignant visit to a town nearly wiped out by the fires. “The only moisture in Eastern Washington was the tears of people who have lost their homes,” said Inslee. “And now we have a blowtorch over our states in the West, which is climate change.”

Just days after his return to the national stage, however, the question in a Seattle courtroom was whether the state he’d run since 2013 should be sanctioned for helping to fuel and light that torch. On Thursday, Sept. 17, an attorney representing Inslee and the entire apparatus of Washington state government stood to tell three masked judges behind a plexiglass shield that courts could not hold the state legally responsible for its part in the climate crisis: The part where it expanded highways. The part where it licensed power plants and factories to emit many tons of greenhouse gases. Where it set building standards that would keep residents’ stoves and furnaces and water heaters polluting the atmosphere for decades to come.

 

Protests in Canada – Interesting Approach

 

Merger Mania Is Transforming Canada’s Oil Scene

Merger Mania Is Transforming Canada’s Oil Scene

Canada’s oil landscape looks encouraging for 2021 as Whitecap Resources Inc. acquires two oil and gas companies in addition to mergers between other energy companies, with anticipated growth through the coming year as demand for energy steadily increases. In November, Whitecap Resources announced a plan to acquire rival company TORC Oil & Gas through an all-stock transaction of $704.12m equivalent. The deal is expected to go through by 25 February 2021, providing an encouraging outlook for the first quarter of next year.

This merger would mean an estimated 100,000 bpd equivalent in production making it one of Canada’s major players. The expected value of the combined company is around $3.13 billion.

Since demand for energy has steadily increased since the slump in early 2020, so has Whitecap’s share price, going from C$2.29 ($1.80) in early July to C$4.96 ($3.89) in December, with a market cap of C$2.025 billion ($1.58bn) on the Toronto stock exchange.

Whitecap CEO Grant Fagerheim stated of the acquisition, “We are combining two strong Canadian energy producers to form a leading large-cap, light oil company geared towards generating sustainable long-term returns for shareholders while prioritising responsible Canadian energy development’”.

The TORC acquisition comes just months after Whitecap announced its plan to buy NAL Resources for nearly $119 million in August. Manulife, an insurance and financial company, will have a 12.5 percent stake in the combined company as Whitecap issues it with 58.3 million shares. The move to acquire both companies drives forward Whitecap’s aim to increase its Alberta and Saskatchewan assets and operations.

Smaller energy companies across Canada have been showing interest in mergers throughout 2020 as a means to bolster their portfolios, in response to the volatile oil market this year.

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

 

Hope for the Best from Canada’s UNDRIP Law. But Expect More of the Same

Hope for the Best from Canada’s UNDRIP Law. But Expect More of the Same

Like BC, the federal government is better at talking about Indigenous rights than it is at actually respecting them.

Is this really a game changer for Indigenous Peoples in Canada? I have my doubts, as do others.

There are two reasons for skepticism.

First, Bill C-15 focuses on high-level, aspirational commitments rather than on delivering concrete, immediate change to Indigenous Peoples.

If passed into law, Bill C-15 will require the federal government to take measures to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the declaration, and to prepare and implement an action plan to achieve its objectives. While enacting sweeping changes to federal legislation will undoubtedly take time, the federal government’s focus on these future promises conveniently allows it to sidestep the realities that Indigenous people face on a daily basis.

Governments pour promises on Indigenous people like a winter rain. Rather than witnessing real change, we are too often left with cold disappointment.

Maybe it’ll be different this time. But, if the experience of British Columbia’s UNDRIP legislation is an accurate predictor, we should all dress for more cold rains.

Passed a little over a year ago to great fanfare, the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act has failed to live up to its promise. Instead, the provincial government has continued with its dreary, self-serving narrative based on the denial of Indigenous rights.

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

Why Site C Construction Should Stop Today

Why Site C Construction Should Stop Today

The BC government has failed in its oversight role, say a former BC Hydro CEO and a veteran dam engineer.

Site C is the most expensive publicly funded infrastructure project in British Columbia’s history and the dam’s construction is being spearheaded by BC Hydro, a publicly owned hydroelectric utility whose sole shareholder is the provincial government.

That ought to mean that our elected leaders and civil servants place the highest priority on keeping on top of everything that goes on at Site C, because ultimately all British Columbians must pay for the project.

But there is an even more compelling reason why our government must be fully and effectively engaged on this project. All dams built in British Columbia must, by provincial statute, be designed, built and maintained to the highest safety standards.

Dams do not fail often. But when they do, the losses can be devastating. Which is why B.C.’s dam safety regulation is in place, and why it falls to engineers and dam safety officials employed by the provincial government to ensure that all dams built in the province have structural integrity.

Unfortunately, this important responsibility has rarely been mentioned as Site C has careened from one set of problems to another.

First there was the troubling tension crack that opened a gaping maw on the north riverbank following initial excavation work in 2017, leading to the removal of millions of cubic metres of additional earth to stabilize a clearly unstable bank.

Then there was problem after problem drilling the project’s diversion and drainage tunnels, as portions of the concrete liners anchored to the tunnel walls gave way and crashed to the tunnel floors — incidents later attributed to the soft shale that dominates the site.

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

Privacy Commissioner Launches Investigation of RCMP Internet Unit

Privacy Commissioner Launches Investigation of RCMP Internet Unit

The probe comes after Tyee reports on Project Wide Awake and web spying. Here are some questions to pose to the force.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has launched an investigation into the RCMP’s Tactical Internet Operational Support unit and Project Wide Awake, the unit’s advanced web monitoring program using digital tools it kept secret.

The office is probing “the RCMP’s collection of the personal information of Canadians under Project Wide Awake,” deputy commissioner Brent Homan of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner confirmed in writing to NDP MP Charlie Angus.

Angus, a member of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, called for an investigation in a letter sent Nov. 23, following Tyee reports exposing Project Wide Awake and related programs at the RCMP.

“I have grave concerns about the level of secrecy and duplicity the RCMP has gone through to hide their activities into procuring and using these tools to gather information on Canadians,” said Angus in the letter.

He added, “I am very concerned that these internal documents appear to contradict how the force characterized Project Wide Awake to your office.”

The files obtained by The Tyee revealed that the RCMP’s Tactical Internet Operational Support unit requested “national security exceptions” which enable it to hide contracts for software it acquired. The force argued if the software was publicly procured, its capabilities might be defeated by people targeted for spying.

At the same time, the RCMP emphasized that its software only seeks “open source” information online, implying that its sources were only those in the public domain.

However, The Tyee investigation reveals that the force may consider any information it can acquire online, by any means, to be “open source.”

Documents show that the RCMP purchased a license for a program that “unlocks” hidden friends for Facebook users who have set their friends to be private. The provider of Web Investigation Search Tool, used by police around the world, discontinued its operation after a Tyee report.

The RCMP also listed “private communications” and those from “political protests” in a diagram of “darknet” sources, which it aimed to target with a “dark web crawler” and monitoring software.

The internal documents obtained by The Tyee also contained references to programs that appear related to digital surveillance but outside of Project Wide Awake, including ones named Cerebro, Sentinel and Search, and a reference to “expansion of biometrics”.

Here are some questions about the RCMP’s Tactical Internet Operational Support unit the privacy commissioner inquiry might seek to resolve:

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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