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B.C. gives Pacific BioEnergy green light to log rare inland rainforest for wood pellets

Michelle Connolly

B.C. gives Pacific BioEnergy green light to log rare inland rainforest for wood pellets

Prince George plant will grind ancient cedar and hemlock into pellets to be burned for fuel overseas, destroying forest that’s home to endangered caribou and vast stores of carbon.

Sean O’Rourke was hiking in B.C.’s globally rare inland rainforest this spring when pink flagging tape indicating a planned cutblock caught his eye. Finding flagging tape is nothing new, but when he looked closer, he realized the tape had the name of a nearby pellet company on it — Pacific BioEnergy.

The company operates a plant in Prince George where it turns waste wood products — sawdust from mills, tree bark, wood shavings and clippings — into pellets to be burned to produce heat or electricity, replacing coal and fossil fuels. More than 90 per cent of Canadian wood pellets are shipped overseas to Europe and Asia, according to the Wood Pellet Association of Canada.

But the ancient cedars and hemlocks in the rainforest in Lheidli T’enneh First Nation territory, about 60 kilometres east of Prince George, are most certainly not waste wood.

O’Rourke, a field scout with Conservation North, a grassroots organization advocating for the protection of old-growth forests in northern B.C., took photos of the flagging tape to show his colleagues. He later combed through the publicly available harvest data to confirm the province had indeed issued permits to Pacific BioEnergy to log the old-growth forest.

Pacific BioEnergy cutblock

Flagging tape marked “PBEC” — Pacific BioEnergy Corporation — tipped off Conservation North field scout Sean O’Rourke that the area was going to be logged for pellets. Photo: Conservation North

Conservation North field scout Sean O’Rourke

Sean O’Rourke takes a photo of a Douglas fir tree destined to be turned into wood pellets. Photo: Conservation North

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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.

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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.

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This small branch of Trans Mountain could derail Canada’s pipeline purchase

This small branch of Trans Mountain could derail Canada’s pipeline purchase

The vast majority of oilsands crude moving to the West Coast passes through the little regarded Puget Sound Pipeline, which is now heavily entangled in troubled Canada-U.S. relations

Politicians and industry have long boasted of the ability for an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline to get oil to lucrative Asian markets from Burnaby’s Westridge terminal.

But experts in Washington State are increasingly concerned that the twinning of the Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline may in fact lead to an expansion of the Puget Sound Pipeline, a 111-kilometre “spur line” from Trans Mountain that branches southward at Abbotsford to carry oil to four large refineries in the Puget Sound region.

If Kinder Morgan shareholders vote to approve the deal, Canada will purchase the Puget Sound Pipeline as part of the $4.5 billion deal for the existing Trans Mountain line — meaning the decision to expand the spur line would eventually fall to Ottawa.

Trump may use Puget Sound Pipeline to punish Canada for trade conflict

According to a recent analysis from the Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, the presence of the Puget Sound Pipeline in the $4.5 billion sale to Canada may end up being the very thing that scuttles the deal.

That’s because the U.S. government is required to approve the purchase as it crosses the border, including review by both the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and State Department.

President Donald Trump would ultimately decide the verdict of the deal — which he may oppose given his erratic approach to addressing ever-growing trade tensions between the two countries.

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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.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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