Keystone is dead!

On June 9, TC Energy issued a press release announcing that the company, in consultation with the Alberta Government, has terminated the Keystone XL Pipeline project, although it will continue “to co-ordinate with regulators, stakeholders and Indigenous groups to meet its environmental and regulatory commitments and ensure a safe termination of and exit from the project.” The Alberta government had invested over $1 billion in the project as recently as March 2020 , and continued to defend it even after U.S. President Biden rescinded the permit in January 2021. The WCR compiled sources and reactions in January in “President Biden’s Executive Orders and Keystone XL cancellation – what impact on Canada?”    A new compilation of Alberta Government statements is here .  CBC Calgary describes Keystone XL is dead, and Albertans are on the hook for $1.3B.

Climate activists in Canada and the U.S. rejoiced at the latest news: “‘Keystone XL Is Dead!’: After 10-Year Battle, Climate Movement Victory Is Complete” , and activist Bill McKibben (and others) are hammering home a message of “never give up, activism works!”. The article from Common Dreams quotes Clayton Thomas Muller, longtime KXL opponent and currently a senior campaigns specialist at 350.org in Canada: “This victory is thanks to Indigenous land defenders who fought the Keystone XL pipeline for over a decade. Indigenous-led resistance is critical in the fight against the climate crisis and we need to follow the lead of Indigenous peoples, particularly Indigenous women, who are leading this fight across the continent and around the world. With Keystone XL cancelled, it’s time to turn our attention to the Indigenous-led resistance to the Line 3 and the Trans Mountain tar sands pipelines.”     The National Observer expands on this with “Keystone XL is dead, but the fight over Canadian oil rages on” (June 10).  The Indigenous Environmental Network news chronicles the ongoing resistance to pipeline development, as well as the reaction to the Keystone announcement.

Here is a closer look at the TC Energy press release which stated, in part:

“after a comprehensive review of its options, and in consultation with its partner, the Government of Alberta, it has terminated the Keystone XL Pipeline Project. …. We remain grateful to the many organizations that supported the Project and would have shared in its benefits, including our partners, the Government of Alberta and Natural Law Energy, our customers, pipeline building trade unions, local communities, Indigenous groups, elected officials, landowners, the Government of Canada, contractors and suppliers, industry associations and our employees.   

Through the process, we developed meaningful Indigenous equity opportunities and a first-of-its-kind, industry leading plan to operate the pipeline with net-zero emissions throughout its lifecycle. We will continue to identify opportunities to apply this level of ingenuity across our business going forward, including our current evaluation of the potential to power existing U.S. assets with renewable energy. 
  
….Looking forward, there is tremendous opportunity for TC Energy in the energy transition with its irreplaceable asset footprint, financial strength and organizational capabilities positioning it to capture further significant and compelling growth. The Company will continue to build on its 70-year history of success and leverage its diverse businesses in natural gas and liquids transportation along with storage and power generation to continue to meet the growing and evolving demand for energy across the continent.”  

President Biden’s Executive Orders and Keystone XL cancellation – what impact on Canada?

Incoming U.S. President Biden exceeded expectations with the climate change initiatives announced in week 1 of his term, and many have important repercussions for Canada.  The most obvious came on Day 1, January 20, with an Executive Order cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline and taking the U.S. back into the Paris Agreement.  Also of potential impact for the Canadian clean tech and auto industries – the Buy American policies outlined in Executive Order on Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers (Jan. 25). On January 27 ( “Climate Day ”), the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at home and abroad (explained in this Fact Sheet ) announced a further series of initiatives, including a pause on oil and gas leases on federal lands, a goal to convert the federal government’s vehicle fleet to electric vehicles, and initiatives towards environmental justice and science-based policies. Essential to the “whole of government” approach, the Executive Order establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy to coordinate policies, and a National Climate Task Force composed of leaders from across 21 federal agencies and departments. It also establishes the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, “to be co-chaired by the National Climate Advisor and the Director of the National Economic Council, and directs federal agencies to coordinate investments and other efforts to assist coal, oil and natural gas, and power plant communities.”    

The New York Times summarized the Jan. 27 Orders as “a  sweeping series of executive actions …. while casting the moves as much about job creation as the climate crisis.” A sampling of resulting summaries and reactions: ‘We Need to Be Bold,’ Biden Says, Taking the First Steps in a Major Shift in Climate Policy” in Inside Climate News (Jan. 28); “Fossils ‘stunned’, ‘aghast’ after Biden pauses new oil and gas leases” in The Energy Mix (Feb. 1); “Biden’s “all of government” plan for climate, explained” in Vox (updated Jan. 27) ;  “Biden’s Pause of New Federal Oil and Gas Leases May Not Reduce Production, but It Signals a Reckoning With Fossil Fuels”  (Jan. 27) ; “Biden is canceling fossil fuel subsidies. But he can’t end them all” (Grist, Jan. 28);  “Activists See Biden’s Day One Focus on Environmental Justice as a Critical Campaign Promise Kept”  and  “Climate Groups Begin Vying for Power in the Biden Era as Pressure for Unity Fades” (Jan 21) in The Intercept , which outlines the key policy differences between the BlueGreen Alliance (which includes the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Teachers, and the United Steelworkers in the U.S.) and  the Climate Justice Alliance, a national coalition of environmental justice groups.

The Narwhal provides an excellent overview of the important issues for Canada in “Biden has hit the ground running on climate and environmental justice. How will Canada respond?

Focus: Cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline

The January 20 Executive Order halting the Keystone XL pipeline construction was meant to be a highly symbolic break with the previous administration’s policies, as described by Bill McKibben in the New Yorker as “Joe Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline is a landmark in the climate fight” . Inside Climate News wrote “Biden Cancels Keystone XL, Halts Drilling in Arctic Refuge on Day One, Signaling a Larger Shift Away From Fossil Fuels” (Jan. 21).       

In Canada, the Keystone XL cancellation set off a torrent of reactions – with  Alberta’s Premier immediately calling for trade retaliation  – summarized in “‘Gut punch’: Alberta premier blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit” (National Observer, Jan. 20) . The federal government held an Emergency Debate on Keystone on January 25, the first day the House of Commons re-convened after Christmas break. Environmental groups, along with social justice groups, First Nations, and the B.C. Government Employees Union, sent an Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and all cabinet ministers on January 26, approving of the Keystone cancellation and stating: “Canada must follow Biden’s lead on Keystone XL and cancel TMX because it directly conflicts with the federal government recently announced climate plan and it does not have permission or consent from affected Indigenous Nations.”  An opposite viewpoint was reported in  “Keystone XL denial will hurt communities, Indigenous business coalition leader says” (National Observer, Jan. 22). Consistent with the past policies of the construction unions in the U.S. and Canada, Canada’s Building Trades Unions issued a press release expressing deep disappointment in lost jobs as a result of the decision – as did their U.S. counterpart the North American Building Trades Union (NABTU) . (The discord amongst unions over pipeline construction has been long-standing and well documented – for example, in Contested Futures: Labor after Keystone XL by Sean Sweeney ( New Labor Forum, 2016.)  

What next for Canada, now that Keystone XL has been cancelled?

CBC reports  “Trudeau government looks to continental energy strategy in wake of Keystone cancellation” (Jan. 27), which summarizes the unimpressive history of international energy initiatives but strikes an optimistic note because of the new Biden administration.  Eric Grenier summarizes the political and public opinion landscape and concludes that “For Trudeau, there’s no political reason to fight for Keystone XL” , and Aaron Wherry expands on that theme in “How political symbolism brought down Keystone XL” (Jan 23). In “Cenovus unveils capital spending plan, confirms up to 2,150 layoffs still targeted” (Jan. 29)  the CEO of Cenovus states that while the Keystone XL pipeline cancellation was a  “tragedy” for the industry, it wouldn’t affect his company’s ability to move oil and that Biden’s pause on oil and gas leasing, “is probably good for the Canadian oilpatch” . The Cenovus layoffs announced are not related to Biden’s policies but come as a result of its takeover of Husky Energy- Cenovus had already announced it would cut 20 to 25 per cent of its combined employee and contractor workforce (approx. 1,720 and 2,150 workers) in October 2020. 

Warren Mabee wrote in The Conversation Canada (Jan.21) “Biden’s Keystone XL death sentence requires Canada’s oil sector to innovate” – (republished in The Narwhal here ) arguing that Canada and Alberta “need to decide if more pipeline capacity is really needed” and “The future of Canada’s oil sector may not be in volume, but in value” – for example, high value-added products such as plastics, rubber and chemicals.   But this is Canada, so pipeline battles will continue: “With Keystone XL cancelled, all eyes turn to Trans Mountain expansion battle” (Ricochet , Jan. 27) and “The cancellation of Keystone XL raises the stakes for Trans Mountain (Globe and Mail Opinion piece, Jan. 26) . David Hughes has written, most recently in October 2020, that the Trans Mountain pipeline capacity is not needed, and on December 8 2020, the Parliamentary Budget Office released a report with the same conclusion. An excellent overview on the status of the Trans Mountain issue appears from the West Coast Environmental Law, and the Dogwood Institute maintains an online petition against TMX here.

No new pipeline construction needed in Canada, and domestic fossil fuel consumption peaked in 2019

The key takeaway from a new flagship government report is that no new pipeline construction is needed in Canada, and  the current pipelines under construction – the TransMountain Expansion, Keystone XL, and Enbridge Line 3 Replacement- are sufficient to accommodate all future crude oil production.  The  new report, Canada’s Energy Future 2020: Energy Supply and Demand Projections to 2050, is the latest annual report by the Canada Energy Regulator CER- (formerly the National Energy Board) and discusses the future of all energy commodities under two scenarios – a Reference case and an Evolving Scenario, which includes a carbon price of $75 per tonne in 2040 and $125 per tonne in 2050.

Under the Evolving Scenario of increased policy intervention, Canada’s domestic fossil fuel consumption peaked in 2019 and by 2050, it will be 35% lower than the 2019 level. However, the report states that even under the Evolving Scenario, fossil fuel consumption is forecast to make up over 60% of Canada’s fuel mix in 2050.  It is worth noting that these CER reports have been criticized in the past for overestimating fossil fuel demand – for example, by the Pembina Institute in 2019, in “Why Canada’s Energy Future report leads us astray” . In 2020, Pembina calls for changes to the modelling assumptions for future reports, saying “the scenarios modelled in the report are still not aligned with commitments set out in the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. This model of Canada’s energy future is not consistent with the future that Canada has committed to in the Paris Agreement.” Further, it points out “Canada’s Energy Future 2020 report does not reflect the range of recent scenarios for global oil demand, such as those recently released by the International Energy Agency and BP, where demand is predicted to fall by 50 to 75 per cent over the next 20 to 30 years in order to achieve net-zero emissions.”

Other reactions to the CER report focus on the forecast of declining need for pipelines , summarized in  “No Future Need for Trans Mountain, Keystone XL Pipelines, Canadian Energy Regulator Report Shows”  (The Energy Mix, Nov. 25), and even echoed in the conservative Financial Post .  Followers of David Hughes will recognize this argument that he has made many times, most recently in Reassessment of Need for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project , published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives at the end of October .

The press release and summary from the Canada Energy Regulator report is here, with data sets and interactive tables here  and an archive of past annual reports here.  Beyond fossil fuel projections, this year’s Report includes a discussion of the transition to a  Net-Zero Emissions energy system, focusing on  personal passenger transportation, oil sands production, and remote and northern communities. It also briefly notes the impact of  the Covid pandemic, stating  “Canadian end-use energy demand will fall by 6% in 2020 compared to 2019, the biggest annual drop since at least 1990. Energy to move people and goods will fall the most due to less travel and increased remote work and learning.” (A report  published by the World Meteorological Office on Nov. 23 provides preliminary estimates of a reduction in the annual global emission between 4.2% and 7.5% because of Covid).

 

 

 

Despite another oil spill, Keystone XL pipeline is approved in Nebraska. Resistance is strong and resolute

On November 16, TransCanada Pipeline shut down the existing Keystone Pipeline to contain a spill in South Dakota, estimated at 210,000 gallons– the third in the area since operations began in 2010.  Reports include “South Dakota Warns It Could Revoke Keystone Pipeline Permit Over Oil Spill”  in Inside Climate News .   On November 20, the Nebraska Public Service Commission granted approval to Keystone  – but an approval which Anthony Swift at NRDC describes as a “pyrrhic victory” because the original proposed route through Nebraska was rejected, and the new alternative route approved – the Keystone Mainline Alternative route –  must now undergo new state and federal environmental approval processes .  Official intervenors may also file an appeal  in the Nebraska courts within 30 days and may petition the Public Service Commission for a rehearing within ten days.  Even TransCanada seems to wonder if the Keystone will ever get built – the official press release  states:  “As a result of today’s decision, we will conduct a careful review of the Public Service Commission’s ruling while assessing how the decision would impact the cost and schedule of the project. ”   Other reaction to the news of the approval: from The National Observer  ;  Alberta’s Calgary HeraldCouncil of Canadians ; Bold Nebraska (an alliance of landowners, environmental groups and First Nations), and  from Common Dreams, ” ‘This Fight Is Far From Over’ Groups Declare as Nebraska Clears Path for Keystone XL Construction”  – summarizing the responses of 350.org and the Sierra Club.

As for strong and resolute opposition: In May 2017, CBC reported that leaders of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Canada, the Great Sioux Nation (U.S.) and the Ponca tribe (U.S.)  signed a joint declaration of opposition to Keystone XL . In a broader coalition,  First Nations, along with non-native groups such as 350.org and Greenpeace USA, have now launched  the Promise to Protect campaign which states:We will make a series of stands along the route – nonviolent but resolute displays of our continued opposition to a project that endangers us all. Join native and non-native communities in the Promise to Protect the land, water, and climate. ”  In light of the resolute and deep resistance, it is important to note an article in The Intercept   “Nebraska approves Keystone XL Pipeline as opponents face criminalization of protests”   (Nov. 20), which reported:  “In anticipation of the Keystone XL’s construction, legislation was passed in South Dakota in March that allows the governor or a local sheriff to prohibit groups numbering more than 20 from gathering on public land or in schools, and also allows the Department of Transportation to limit access to highways by prohibiting stopping or parking in designated areas.”  The South Dakota Senate Bill 176 is here.

 

Fossil fuel approvals, job creation, and the gap in Canada’s emissions goals

one-million-jobs-e1407607008390 Assessing the Federal Government’s Actions on Climate Change   was released by the  Green Economy Network in February (with a 4-page Executive Summary here ) . It estimates the job creation value of four fossil fuel projects under active consideration – Petronas LNG in B.C., Kinder Morgan TransMountain Pipeline, Enbridge Line 3, and Keystone XL Pipeline –  using figures from the proponents of those projects, and concludes that the estimated total investment of $60.3 billion would result in 380,900 direct, indirect, and induced person job years of employment over 5 years, many of which would be in the U.S.  The investment would also increase Canada’s annual GHG emissions by 89.9 megatonnes. In comparison, GEN estimates  the job creation and emissions impacts of that same $60.3 billion investment if it were directed to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and transit, as recommended in its One Million Climate Jobs Plan .  GEN concludes that the green investments would create 784,570 person job years of employment over five years while reducing annual GHG emissions by up to 190 Mt after ten years.

In its discussion of the government’s Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change , the Green Economy Network  notes that “it is unclear how the emissions from federally approved fossil fuel infrastructure projects are factored into the PCF”.  Regarding the Pan-Canadian Framework considerations of employment and Just Transition issues , the report further states:  “Calculations for job creation from each of the proposed measures are completely absent”.  Though the term “Just Transition” gets a mention, “there are no specific measures outlined to ensure that workers and their families are supported in the transition to a low-carbon economy.”  … “The Framework also misses a significant opportunity to demonstrate how major public infrastructure projects can be designed to include Just Transition measures, including skills training and integrating mandatory requirements for contractors to sponsor apprenticeships, which will aid in increasing apprenticeship completion rates and ensure that our workers have the skills that they need.”     GEN makes recommendations to improve these deficiencies.

The Green Economy Network  represents the concerns and solutions of an alliance of approximately 25 labour unions, environment and social justice organizations in Canada.  Their signature One Million Jobs campaign is part of an international campaign which includes the U.K. and South Africa.

Trudeau welcomes Trump’s Keystone pipeline decision – can we really have it both ways?

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources delivered its report on The Future of Canada’s Oil and Gas Industry  in September 2016; see the WCR coverage from September here.   On January 19, the Government released its Official Response to the Committee Report, with this introductory statement: “It is clear to our Government that in order for the energy sector to continue to be a driver of prosperity and play a part in meeting global demand for energy, resource development must go hand in hand with the environmental and social demands of Canadians.”  Not surprising then, that when Donald Trump opened the door for construction of the Keystone Pipeline on January 24, Justin Trudeau and his cabinet members welcomed the news .

ccpa_extractedcarbon_shareYet author Marc Lee reinforces what others have stated in his January 25 article in CCPA Policy Notes.   “Canada can’t have it both ways on environment”  demonstrates that “the amount of fossil fuel removed from Canadian soil that ends up in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide—has grown dramatically. ”  Although not technically “counted” in our own emissions reporting under the Paris Agreement, the emissions from Canada’s fossil fuel exports, counted in the countries where they are burned, is greater than Canada’s total GHG emissions within the country.  Lee goes on: “Based on our share of global fossil fuel reserves, Canada could continue to extract carbon at current levels for between 11 and 24 years at most (the smaller the carbon budget, the less the damages from climate change). This means a planned, gradual wind-down of these industries needs to begin immediately.”

Marc Lee’s article summarizes  a more complete report he authored for the Corporate Mapping Project, jointly led by the University of Victoria, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute.  Extracted Carbon: Re-examining Canada’s contribution to climate change through fossil fuel exports  updates a 2011 CCPA report, Peddling GHGs: What is the Carbon Footprint of Canada’s Fossil Fuel Exports?  in the context of the Paris Agreement and Canada’s contribution to the global carbon budget.  It concludes that “Plans to further grow Canada’s exports of fossil fuels are thus contradictory to the spirit and intentions of the Paris Agreement. Growing our exports could only happen if some other producing countries agreed to keep their fossil fuel reserves in the ground.  The problem with new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, like Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plants and bitumen pipelines, is that they lock us in to a high-emissions trajectory for several decades to come, giving up on the 1.5 to 2°C limits of Paris.”  It follows that “Canadian climate policy must consider supply-side measures such as rejecting new fossil fuel infrastructure and new leases for exploration and drilling, increasing royalties, and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.”

How can U.S. Labour recover from the Keystone XL Fight?

Contested Futures: Labor after Keystone XL”  was published in New Labour Forum   and reproduced on the website of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy , where author Sean Sweeney is Coordinator.  His analysis begins with the considerable complexities of union positions in the  Keystone XL pipeline debate in the U.S. between 2011 and 2015, and continues to the present, considering the divided approaches towards the Clean Power Plan and the upcoming U.S. election campaign . His vision:   “Labor’s KXL fight could be the precursor to more disunity and acrimony in the labor movement in the years ahead, especially if the Black-Blue Alliance remains in place and “Saudi America” imaginings continue to shape labor’s discourse. Alternatively, unions in all sectors—the Trades, transport, health, and so on—can work together to support an approach to energy and climate that is needs-based, grounded in the facts, and independent of both industry interests and the mainstream environmental groups that support renewable energy “by any means necessary.” Sweeney calls for labour to unite behind an energy democracy agenda which would shift control over energy toward workers, communities, and municipalities.

Keystone Decision Delayed Again

U.S. President Obama announced on April 18th that he will extend the government comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline until at least the end of May, frustrating Canadian boosters of the project. Read the CBC report at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/u-s-to-delay-keystone-xl-decision-1.2615062. Protests against KXL continue in the U.S., the latest including U.S. First Nations – see “Keystone Protesters mark Final Roundup – For Now” in Politico at: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/keystone-protesters-mark-final-roundup-for-now-106053.html?ml=la.

Keystone Pipeline: Protests Continue: Obama Takes his Time

The U.S. State Department released  its Final Environmental Impact Report regarding the Keystone XL pipeline  on January 31 (see: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/finalseis/index.htm), yet a date for the final decision is still unclear, and at the North American leaders summit in Mexico on February 18, President Obama rebuffed Prime Minister Harper’s attempts to elicit approval. On February 19th, a court in Nebraska ruled that a 2012 law did not give the governor the authority to approve the Keystone route through the state. As a result TransCanada would have to negotiate with each landowner directly to build the pipeline through that state. See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/keystone-xl-access-through-nebraska-shut-down-by-judge-1.2543898.
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In the U.S., Keystone continues to be a rallying point for environmental groups with an estimated 10,000 people attending anti-Keystone XL vigils in 280 locations across the U.S. shortly after the State Department release, and a planned “act of civil disobedience” announced by 350.org for Washington D.C. on March 2. Read the Inside Climate News report at: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140210/environmental-movement-test-its-muscle-keystone-final-stretch.

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“Keystone XL and the Tar Sands: Voices from the Front lines” (Feb. 4) at: http://www.thenation.com/blog/178224/keystone-xl-and-tar-sands-voices-front-lines, includes a profile of Alberta Chippewa activist Eriel Deranger and her comments to the Tar Sands Exposed Tour in Boston and outlines the Chippewa First Nations arguments and actions against Keystone XL.

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According to an article at the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy website, five U.S. unions are on the record as opposing Keystone XL, while the Laborers’ International Union (LIUNA) and the AFL-CIO Building Trades support it. See “U.S. Unions Still Divided On Keystone XL Pipeline” at: http://energydemocracyinitiative.org/u-s-unions-still-divided-on-keystone-xl-pipeline/.

Unifor Condemns Northern Gateway & Keystone XL, Supports Line 9, and Establishes a New Energy Council within the Union

In December, Unifor released a “primer” explaining its opposition to the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines, and support for the smaller Line 9 pipeline. The national union condemns all recent major export pipelines on both economic and environmental grounds, asserting that export pipelines do not prioritize Canadian consumers or maximize Canadian jobs. It also fears massive exports will harm other sectors, such as manufacturing, as the Canadian dollar rises.
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Unifor asserts that the smaller Line 9 pipeline does not suffer from the same problems as the enormous export pipelines. Provided Line 9 oil is not shipped to Maine, and pending strict environmental and safety measures and First Nations approval, the union backs the Line 9 promise of energy independence and value-added manufacturing jobs, especially in Quebec. Unifor’s position echoes a statement issued by the Alberta Federation of Labour in October, which also contraposed Line 9 and major export pipelines.
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In contrast to the Unifor and AFL positions, some labour activists continue to dismiss Line 9 benefits as “myths”, instead emphasizing the magnitude of safety, environmental, and economic threats. January revelations regarding an influx of Enbridge maintenance notices filed with the NEB has reinforced concerns regarding the age and fragility of the pipeline.
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Delegates to Unifor’s Ontario Regional Council meeting in December approved recommendations for a long-term national energy strategy, including emissions targets and a climate action plan, energy independence, and a national energy grid. They also endorsed the National Executive Board’s call for a moratorium on unconventional fracking, until environmental and First Nations concerns have been addressed. Arriving at a national energy and environmental strategy for Unifor will be the task of its new Energy Council, soon to be constituted by delegates from all energy-related locals in the union.
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LINKS: 
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Debating Pipelines: A Primer is available at the Unifor website at: http://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/documents/document/pipeline_primer_dec_2013.pdf
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Press release regarding Unifor Ontario Council Recommendation for a National Energy and Environmental Policy is at: http://www.unifor.org/en/whats-new/news/unifor-ontario-council-calls-national-energy-and-environmental-strategy.

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The official statement of Recommendations is available at: http://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/attachments/ont_council_energy_recommendation.pdf

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The Alberta Federation of Labour statement is available at: http://www.afl.org/index.php/Press-Release/afl-makes-final-argument-in-favour-of-enbridge-line-9-pipeline.html.

“Six reasons why some labour is rallying against Line 9”, a Rabble.ca blog (Nov. 2013) is available at: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/jesse/2013/11/six-reasons-why-some-labour-rallying-against-line-9

Enbridge launches hundreds of digs for cracks in Line 9 (Jan. 21, 2013) at CBC Hamilton website at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/enbridge-launches-hundreds-of-digs-for-cracks-in-line-9-1.2504175

The Jobs Argument of the Keystone Pipeline

A newly-released report by the Labor Network for Sustainability and Economics for Equity and Environment compares the jobs that would be created by the proposed Keystone pipeline to the jobs that could be created if investment was placed in water, sewer, and gas infrastructure projects in the five states the pipeline crosses. The report concludes that the infrastructure investment would create more than 300,000 total jobs across all sectors: five times more jobs, and better jobs.

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The Keystone Pipeline Debate: an Alternative Jobs Strategy is available at:
http://www.labor4sustainability.org/files/__kxl_main3_11052013.pdf

Safety for Pipeline Workers Raised as Part of the Pipeline Debate

The recent oil spills in Alberta and Lac Megantic have raised the public profile of rail transport of oil and gas products in Canada.  The Fraser Institute, apparently in response to the worsening prospects of U.S. approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, released a report on Intermodal Safety in the Transport of Oil on October 15. Although the paper cites summary data from the National Energy Board about oil spills and injuries in Canada, the conclusions are based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for the period 2005-2009. The paper compares injury statistics amongst workers in the pipeline, rail, and road modes of transport and finds that the rate of injury requiring hospitalization among oil pipeline workers was 30 times lower than that of rail workers, and 37 times lower than trucking workers. The paper concludes, “The evidence is clear: transporting oil by pipeline is safe and environmentally friendly. Furthermore, pipeline transportation is safer than transportation by road, rail, or barge, as measured by incidents, injuries, and fatalities- even though more road and rail incidents go unreported.”  The paper does NOT address the environmental damage caused by spills, or injury to citizens.

LINKS

Intermodal Safety in the Transport of Oil is available at the Fraser Institute at:http://www.fraserinstitute.org/uploadedFiles/fraser-ca/Content/research-news/research/publications/intermodal-safety-in-the-transport-of-oil.pdf

U.S. Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) website provides data and statistics at: http://phmsa.dot.gov/pipeline/library/data-stats

Canada’s National Energy Board Pipeline Spills information is available at:http://www.neb-one.gc.ca/clf-nsi/rsftyndthnvrnmnt/sfty/pplnncdntgrprtng/pplnncdntshydrcrbnsplls/pplnncdntshydrcrbnsplls-eng.html

What does the New Obama Climate Change Plan Mean for Keystone – and what is Stephen Harper Doing about it?

On what has become the defining issue of his climate policy, President Obama stated that he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline, only if it “does not significantly exacerbate the climate problem.” In a New York Times interview in July, the President downplayed the job creation impact of Keystone XL, saying that, after construction, “we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs in an economy of 150 million working people.” See “Obama Says He’ll Evaluate Pipeline Project Depending on Pollution” (NY Times, July 28) at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/us/politics/obama-says-hell-evaluate-pipeline-project-depending-on-pollution.html?ref=politics

On July 23, a Natural Resources Defence Council White Paper on the Keystone’s impact calls for the denial of approval on the grounds that the pipeline would exacerbate global carbon pollution. Further, the paper states, “Canada is not pursuing climate policy that would effectively counteract significant growth in greenhouse gas emissions, or meet its international climate target. … Current regulations in Alberta are inadequate, and despite promises from the last four Canadian federal environmental ministers, the Canadian federal government has not yet introduced rules to effectively limit greenhouse gas pollution from Canada’s oil and gas sector.” (See the White Paper at: http://docs.nrdc.org/energy/files/ene_13072301b.pdf).

Until now, the Canadian government has used the job creation and energy security arguments to promote oil sands development and the Keystone XL pipeline (as exemplified in its Go with Canada Website). But on September 6th, CBC reporter Chris Hall reported that Prime Minister Harper sent a letter to Obama in August, “formally proposing ‘joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector'”. See Harper offers Obama climate plan to win Keystone approval (Sept. 6) at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/09/06/pol-harper-canada-us-climate-change-strategy-letter-keystone.html.

So far, Obama has not responded to Harper’s proposal, and the Canadian government has not announced any new policies or regulations for GHG emissions. The Keystone XL decision is now deferred till 2014, after the U.S. State Department’s Inspector General confirmed a delay in the inquiry about potential conflict of interest in the environmental review process.

Meanwhile, the drumbeat of protest against Keystone XL goes on: a report released on August 29 by the Sierra Club and Oil Change International compiles data and failcommentary “from oil industry experts, Wall Street analysts, and Canadian politicians who say on the record that without Keystone XL the industry cannot expand production of tar sands crude”. Sources for the report include Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Royal Bank of Canada, International Energy Agency, Standard & Poor, TransCanada, Government of Alberta, Scientific American, Financial Post, and others. Read the report: FAIL: How the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Flunks the Climate Test at: https://content.sierraclub.org/beyondoil/sites/content.sierraclub.org.beyondoil/files/documents/kxl-climate-report.pdf

The Effects of Carbon Tax, and an Upward Revision of the Social Cost of Carbon

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office released a study on May 22 which reviews the existing literature on the economic impacts of a carbon tax, and explores three options for using the revenues from the tax: to reduce budget deficits, to decrease existing marginal tax rates, or to offset the costs to the most affected groups of people. Read: Effects of a Carbon Tax on the Economy and the Environment at: http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44223 or for a more detailed study of the effects on employment, see the May 2010 CBO Briefing Report How Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Affect Employment at: http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/ftpdocs/105xx/doc10564/05-05-capandtrade_brief.pdf. The 2013 CBO study discusses various studies which estimate the social cost of carbon – the value used by governments (including Canada’s) to assess the benefits and costs of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

An important new report released by the U.S. Government in June revises the “official” U.S. social cost of carbon substantially, by between 50 – 60%. The first regulation to use this new SCC will be the U.S. emission standard for microwaves; it has also been recommended for use by the State Department in its consideration of the impact of the Keystone Pipeline. Read: Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis – by the U.S. Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon Under Executive Order 12866 at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/inforeg/social_cost_of_carbon_for_ria_2013_update.pdf, and for background, see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency article at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/EPAactivities/economics/scc.html

 

Telling the Tar Sands Story – An Alternate View

A new website by the Tar Sands Solutions Network offers a library of documents, videos, and news about Canada’s oil sands and pipeline development from the point of view of its members: First Nations, environmental groups, landowners, farmers, scientists, community leaders, academics, and grass roots groups located throughout North America and in the U.K. See http://tarsandssolutions.org/. The network campaign website is at Oil Sands Reality Check at: http://oilsandsrealitycheck.org/.

CEP & CAW Statements to the House of Commons Committee: Pipelines and Dutch Disease

The federal House of Commons Committee on Natural Resources began hearings on “Market Diversification in the Energy Sector” on April 18th. (Previous hearings were on “Innovation in the Energy Sector”).   On April 23, the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union submitted its position paper to the Committee, opposing pipeline development such as Northern Gateway and Keystone XL.  However, “CEP endorses that decision (i.e. approval of Enbridge’s Line 9A pipeline) and supports Enbridge’s current application for Line 9A to extend supply to the Montreal Suncor and Quebec City Ultramar refineries. CEP supports Line 9B on the basis that its 300,000 bbl/d capacity will provide just 75% of the capacity of the two Quebec refineries. CEP does not support a further expansion or a revival of the “Trailblazer” project which would have transformed Line 9 into an export line to Portland, Maine.”

In the Canadian Auto Workers submission by Jim Stanford, also submitted on April 23, the focus is on reviewing the economic debate about “Dutch disease”, or what Stanford calls “resource-driven deindustrialization”.  The paper summarizes the arguments and reviews 7 previous studies, concluding that resource-driven deindustrialization does exist. He then raises (but does not answer) the questions: how large has the effect been, have the costs to manufacturing been offset by the benefits of resource expansion, and should the government and the Bank of Canada intervene?

Many others have appeared before the Committee, including representatives from the Fraser Institute, Conference Board of Canada, and Macdonald Laurier Institute. Unions have been represented by:  Christopher Smillie (Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO) on April 25; Gil McGowan (President, Alberta Federation of Labour) on April 30.

LINKS

CEP submission is at http://www.cep.ca/sites/cep.ca/files/docs/en/130424-Fred-NatResCmttee.pdf

CAW submission, Resource-driven Deindustrialization   is at http://www.cep.ca/sites/cep.ca/files/docs/en/130424-Jim-NatResCmttee.pdf

Transcripts are available at the Committee website, by date, (in English)  at http://www.parl.gc.ca/committeebusiness/CommitteeMeetings.aspx?Cmte=RNNR&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=1  and (in French) at http://www.parl.gc.ca/committeebusiness/CommitteeMeetings.aspx?Cmte=RNNR&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=1&Language=F

U.S. State Department Releases New Jobs Estimates for Keystone XL Pipeline

The U.S. State Department released the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL on Friday March 1, making no recommendations for or against approval of the pipeline project. A 45-day period has commenced to allow for public comments, with a final supplemental environmental impact statement to be released before a government decision, expected no earlier than Summer 2013.

Although mainly assessing environmental impacts, the report includes a socioeconomic section which provides new data: a wider view of impacts (including housing, public services support, fiscal revenues and private property valuations), and more detailed estimates about job creation and earnings impacts. According to the new estimates, 42,100 indirect jobs and 3,900 direct jobs would be created during the one- to two-year construction period, but the ongoing operation of the pipeline would only support 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, mostly for inspections, maintenance and repairs.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver summed up the Canadian government position on the Keystone XL pipeline when he traveled to Houston Texas on March 6 to address the Huston oil workers. He stated: “The oil sands generate jobs and economic prosperity both in Canada and in the United States. Currently, oil sands production supports 63,000 American jobs per year. With expansion through Keystone and other projects, the oil sands will support tens of thousands more on both sides of the border.”

LINKS

Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL is available in a series of PDF files at: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/draftseis/index.htm

Detailed Socioeconomic estimates, including employment and earnings, are published in Section 3.10 at: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/205641.pdf and Section 4.10 at: http://keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/documents/organization/205612.pdf

All documents related to the project are posted on a dedicated State Department website at: http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/

Reactions to the statement from:
TransCanada Pipeline http://www.transcanada.com/6209.html;

National Resources Defence Council (U.S.) at: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/sclefkowitz/keystone_xl_tar_sands_pipeline_7.html;