NEB Conditional approval for Kinder Morgan Pipeline is met with Determined Opposition

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On May 19, a National Energy Board press release stated,  “Taking into account all the evidence, considering all relevant factors, and given that there are considerable benefits nationally, regionally and to some degree locally, the Board found that the benefits of the Project would outweigh the residual burdens.”  The Kinder Morgan TransMountain Pipeline NEB approval, with 157 conditions , is subject to review by a three-member federal panel, announced on May 17    , which has until  November to report to  the Minister of Natural Resources.  The final decision will then be made by the federal Cabinet. See “ Trudeau Declares Resource Promotion a PM’s ‘Fundamental Responsibility’” , and “McKenna won’t give a straight answer about Enbridge pipeline” (May 17)  , summarizing the mixed messages and political manoeuvering over pipeline development.  Also of interest, from DeSmog blog: “Enbridge and Kinder Morgan lobby hard as Feds change tune on Pipelines”  .

The Kinder Morgan decision had been the focus of Canada’s Break Free divestment protests on May 14, and Canada’s 350.org states that the NEB decision doesn’t change “the simple fact that the Kinder Morgan pipeline will never be built.” EcoJustice reacted with: “Ready to continue fight against Kinder Morgan”  in the courts, and citizens , local governments, and environmental groups also oppose Kinder Morgan: see  “Local Governments deeply disappointed”   , and “NEB sides with Texas-based pipeline company against B.C. citizens, First Nations”  .   Chances that First Nations will approve the pipelines are non-existent, according to a National Observer report (May 19)   in which  Rueben George, spokesperson for the local Tsleil-Waututh Nation, states ” First Nations have won 170 legal cases around resource extraction, that’s a 97 per cent victory rate. It’s pretty clear to me that we have veto power over this company.”  The  interactive map  (above) by the Wilderness Committee shows the Kinder Morgan route and summarizes the opposition by First Nations throughout the NEB consultations .

The Alberta Government  calls the NEB decision “a responsible national approach to energy infrastructure. Canada is balancing the need for much stronger action on climate change with the need to pay for that action, by sustainably developing our natural resources – including our energy resources.”  From the British Columbia government: “ We will only support new heavy-oil pipelines in British Columbia if our five conditions can be met. These conditions include the successful completion of the environmental review process, ensuring world-leading marine and land-based spill response, prevention and recovery systems are in place, ensuring legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed and First Nations are provided with the opportunities to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project, and, finally, that British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits from any proposed heavy-oil projects.… “The responsibility for meeting the five conditions is complex and will take a great deal of effort from both industry and governments….we will continue to work with the proponent and all stakeholders to address B.C.’s needs.”  And indeed, the B.C. government passed legislation  to alter the boundaries of Finn Creek Provincial Park in May, after a Kinder Morgan submission that requested changes to four park boundaries .

Unnoticed amidst the Kinder Morgan debate was a report released on April 28 by the Council of Canadian Academies(CCA). Commercial Marine Shipping Accidents: Understanding the Risks in Canada , explores the likelihood of commercial marine shipping accidents, including oil spills,  and considers their potential social, economic, and environmental impacts. Noting significant gaps in the available data, and that there have been few such accidents, the report concludes that the Pacific Region has the highest level of shipping activity, but has a relatively low risk profile. The report concludes that Canada has a well-developed oil spill response regime overall, but identifies areas for improvement as “ the need for a hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) preparedness and response regime across Canada, as well as further research into how substances classified as HNS behave in a marine environment.” The report was commissioned by the Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping,  a not-for-profit  based in Vancouver since 2014.  Its goal is to provide unbiased, independent research; its funding comes from the governments of Canada, Alberta, and “industry groups represented by CAPP” (the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers).

 

 

 

 

 

Unifor joins First Nations and Environmental Groups in Court against the Northern Gateway Pipeline decision

Eighteen lawsuits were consolidated and heard in a Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver, from October 1 to 8, as eight First Nations, four environmental groups and Unifor challenged the decision of the Federal Joint Review Panel on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline. Lawyers representing Unifor argued that the Joint Review Panel erred by focusing on the economic benefits of oil sands development and refusing to consider greenhouse gas emissions produced by upstream development (see Unifor’s detailed Memorandum of Fact and Law here). West Coast Environmental Law provides a Legal Backgrounder with official documents, a day by day summary of proceedings and will cover the decision when it is announced in the coming months. “How Harper triggered a First Nations legal war over Northern Gateway” in the National Observer (Oct. 1) provides background.

Recognition of First Nations’ Leadership to preserve the Environment

The Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest international contest for grassroots environmental activism, was announced in April 2015. The North American winner was Marilyn Baptiste , an elected councillor and former chief of the 400-member Xeni Gwet’in First Nations, near Williams Lake, British Columbia. The award recognizes her leadership  in the fight against the Prosperity Mine which would have destroyed Fish Lake, a source of spiritual identity and livelihood for First Nations. Baptiste presented and prepared comprehensive environmental, cultural and economic data at federal environmental hearings. She also initiated a one-woman blockade in 2011 that prevented construction crews from reaching the proposed mine site.   Other winners are profiled at the Goldman Prize website.

The list to recognize all the efforts of Canada’s First Nations to protect our environment would be almost endless. Most recently, on May 14, the Lax Kw’alaams Nation rejected an offer of over $1-billion from Petronas LNG, in exchange for their consent to construction of an LNG export terminal on Lelu Island in the Great Bear Sea.   See the DeSmog blog or the WWF reactions . Meanwhile, the government of B.C. signed an agreement with Petronas LNG which will promote such ventures. Read the Globe and Mail article, “ B.C. pushing ahead with LNG proposal despite Objections from First Nations” (May 20).

After 14 Years, Forestry Companies and Environmentalists Reach Joint Recommendations to the B.C. Great Bear Forest Agreement

On January 29th, recommendations were  announced by the parties of the Joint Solutions Project, comprised of the forest companies operating in the Great Bear Rainforest (Western Forest Products, Interfor, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper, BC Timber Sales and Catalyst) and three environmental groups (ForestEthics, Greenpeace and Sierra Club of BC). Highlights  of the 82-page document include: an additional 500,000 ha to be set aside for conservation; a harvest level consistent with a “viable forest industry”; changes to landscape planning that better account for old growth, cultural values, key wildlife habitat and riparian zones; and a legal and policy framework for implementation. The recommendations will be considered by the province of British Columbia and the Nanwakolas Council and Coastal First Nations, who are the decision-makers in the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, and in consultation with 12 other First Nations. The Joint Solutions Project was established in 2000 and the Great Bear Forest Agreement was reached in 2006.

See the ForestEthics press release at: http://forestethics.org/news/forest-companies-and-environmental-groups-deliver-joint-recommendations-great-bear-rainforest. The B.C. government press release is at: http://www.coastforestconservationinitiative.com/pdf2014/2014FLNR0005-000099.pdf.

Pipeline Politics from Ontario’s Point of View

The Politics of Pipelines: Ontario’s Stake in Canada’s Pipeline Debate, was released on November 12 by University of Toronto-based Mowat Centre, taking a climate change policy perspective on the issue of pipeline development and its impact on Ontario. It says that provinces who don’t necessarily receive adequate economic benefit from the oil sands are obligated to contribute to the nationwide effort to reduce greenhouse gases, and recommends either a national carbon tax or a cap and trade policy to satisfy the “polluter pays” principle. The report does note that local and First Nations communities across Canada will likely benefit from an increase in construction, maintenance, and management jobs, as well spin-off projects near pipeline routes. However, manufacturing sectors may suffer from inflated exchange rates and Dutch Disease. In Ontario, the conversion of the Line 9 gas pipeline to oil sands bitumen would decrease the capacity of the natural gas sector and may increase the consumer cost, while taxpayers would be forced to fund equalization payments.

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The Politics of Pipelines: Ontario’s Stake in Canada’s Pipeline Debate is at: http://mowatcentre.ca/research-topic-mowat.php?mowatResearchID=96

Protests Continue in New Brunswick; UNIFOR Supports First Nations with a Call for a National Moratorium

The government of New Brunswick continues to support fracking despite First Nations protests, according to New Brunswick’s Energy Minister, quoted in the Globe and Mail. Read “Anti-fracking protests shouldn’t hinder shale-gas sector, N.B. Energy Minister says” (Nov. 14) in the Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/anti-fracking-protests-shouldnt-hinder-shale-gas-sector-nb-energy-minister-says/article15447462/. But UNIFOR, the union which represents energy workers, expressed support for the First Nations protests and called for a national moratorium on fracking. Read the press release at:  http://www.unifor.org/en/whats-new/news/unifor-calls-national-moratorium-fracking and the full statement by the National Executive Board (November 12) at: http://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/attachments/neb_resolution_on_fracking_nov2013_e.pdf.

Call for Protection of the Boreal Forest

A report released in July by the International Boreal Conservation Science Panel emphasizes the importance of the Boreal forest, stating that scientific guidance dictates that no less than 50 percent of a region should be forever protected from development. Industrial activities taking place in the remaining unprotected areas should be carried out with the highest global sustainability standards. A network of large protected areas should be established before industrial development proceeds. Furthermore, both protected areas and industrial activities should only see development after free, prior, and informed consent of the affected Aboriginal communities. See Conserving the World’s Last Great Forest is Possible at:

Progress Report on Energy Efficiency Initiatives in B.C. Municipalities and First Nations Communities

BC-Progress-Report-CoverAn August report by QUEST B.C. shows that “BC’s 190 local governments are demonstrating remarkable momentum on ICES as are many First Nations”. Integrated Community Energy Solutions (ICES), are defined as initiatives “to meet energy needs at the community level by taking an integrated approach across the historical silos of Land Use and Community; Housing and Buildings; Local Community Services, Transportation, Energy Supply and Distribution and Industry.” The report provides details and case studies of energy efficiency initiatives in B.C. in areas including infrastructure, waste management, building codes, and vehicle emissions, and lists the legislative, regulatory, and policy tools that have enabled them. Although many metrics are well-developed, the report recommends improved measures for the economic development impacts of the energy efficiency initiatives.Read Integrated Community Energy Solutions Progress Report Province of British Columbia at: http://questcanada.org/sites/default/files/publications/ICES%20Progress%20Report%20-%20Province%20of%20BC.pdf.

Quality Urban Energy Solutions for Tomorrow (QUEST) is a national non-profit organization with provincial caucuses; its mission is to advocate for ICES; see http://www.questcanada.org/. For more on this theme, see Ellen Pond’s September 13 blog, British Columbia Needs local Government Innovation to Meet its Climate Targets at Pembina Institute at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/749.

3rd Anniversary of Canada’s Boreal Forest Agreement is not a Happy One

Referring to the withdrawal of Canopy, a forest conservation group, from the Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) in April 2013, Greenpeace Canada stated: “Their departure from the CBFA is a consequence of the Agreement’s inability to deliver greater protection for the Boreal Forest and a failure of its structure. The CBFA is simply no longer a credible tool for conservation.”

Read the Canopy press release at: http://canopyplanet.org/canopy-boreal-withdrawal/. And follow the continuing story about the expulsion of Resolute Forest Products in May with Environmental groups suspend further work with Resolute under Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (May 21) at the CPAWS website at:  http://cpaws.org/news/environmental-groups-suspend-further-work-with-resolute-under-cbfa.

Resolute was the subject of criticism by Greenpeace for its sustainability failings, for its treatment of workers, and disregard for Indigenous rights and communities. Read the report, Resolute’s False Promises: The (un)Sustainability Report 2013 at: http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/resolutefalsepromises/ 

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Forecasts of B.C. LNG Revenues are Disputed as “Cloudy”

A week after Premier Clark released optimistic projections for the province’s liquefied natural gas strategy in February, the Energy ministry released two independent consultant’s reports on the issue. In an article in The Tyee, Geoff Dembicki unravels the calculations behind the government’s projected revenues, the consultants’ numbers, and the current industry opinion. He concludes that the projections are built on unrealistic assumptions, and “industry opinion also suggests B.C. is unlikely to realize tax revenues of $260 billion, or even the lower Liberal estimate of $130 billion.” Read “Clark’s Gas Export Optimism Floats on Cloudy Numbers” by Geoff Dembicki in The Tyee (April 10, 2013) at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2013/04/10/LNG-Revenues-Cloudy/.  

The two consultant’s reports are athttp://www.llbc.leg.bc.ca/public/pubdocs/bcdocs2013/528495/grant%20thornton%20-%20lng%20revenue.pdf andhttp://www.empr.gov.bc.ca/OG/Documents/Ernst%20and%20Young%20-%20LNG%20Revenue.pdf.

Another article by Dembicki, on April 4, provides more background and criticism of the LNG strategy. By changing the rules to allow natural gas to power the energy-intensive processing stages of LNG, the government has undercut its own “clean energy” boast and reduced the potential job benefits for First Nations clean energy enterprises. Read “Changes to LNG Plan Pull Plug on Jobs Say First Nations” in The Tyee (April 4, 2013) at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2013/04/04/Changes-to-LNG-Plan/, and a supporting 2012 blog by Matt Horne of the Pembina Institute at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/611.