Oil and Gas and Canada’s Energy Policy

Two other reports were released in advance of the Premiers meetings in Quebec City. Crafting an Effective Canadian Energy Strategy: How Energy East and the Oil Sands Affect Climate and Energy Objectives by the Pembina Institute reviews Canadian experience with carbon pricing, emissions levels, and states that any energy strategy will only be effective if it takes into account the emissions footprint of new infrastructure projects, including the proposed Energy East pipeline project. The report also recommends that the Council of the Federation create an advisory committee modelled on the disbanded National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. The report is also available in French.

 Another study, released by Environmental Defence and Greenpeace, makes similar arguments and asserts that “continuing to expand tar sands production makes it virtually impossible for Canada to meet even weak carbon reduction targets or show climate leadership”. Read Digging a Big Hole: How tar sands expansion undermines a Canadian energy strategy that shows climate leadership.

 In April, Environment Canada released the UNFCC-mandated report, National Inventory Report 1990-2013: Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada. The report states that the Energy industry was responsible for 81% of Canada’s emissions in 2013. 

Alberta Regulations Re Water Management and Tailings Management

On March 13, the Alberta government announced two new policies meant to provide environmental protections in the Athabasca Oil Sands area. The Tailings Management Framework for Mineable Oilsands limits the amount of tailings allowed to accumulate and  requires that sites be remediated to a ready-to-reclaim state within 10 years of the end-of-mine-life of a project. Companies are encouraged to invest in new technology, and are required by the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation to post additional financial security to deal with potential remediation issues. Read the Pembina Institute reaction, Tailings Management Framework: A new Chapter in the Alberta Oil Sands Story? (March 16). Regarding water policy, The Surface Water Quantity Management Framework establishes limits for water use during low-flow periods and requires maintenance of an adequate quantity of water for Aboriginal river navigation and pursuit of traditional activities. It does not establish Ecosystem Base Flow (EBF) system, as recommended by scientists. The Council of Canadians reacted by pointing out that the Framework restrictions are voluntary, and provide exemptions to Suncor and Syncrude, even if water levels are low. The explanation? Under NAFTA Chapter 11, the government of Canada could be sued if Alberta were to limit the current water access of the oil sands companies.  SumOfUs.org, Keepers of the Athabasca, Environmental Defence Canada and the Natural Resources Defence Council issued a joint press release condemning the new regulations as an “oil industry wish list”. See also the NRDC blog, New Tar Sands Water Policy from Alberta favors Industry (March 13).

Economic Impact of Alberta Greenhouse Gas Emissions Funds

On February 27, the Conference Board of Canada released Investing in GHG Emissions-Reduction Technology: Assessing the Economic Impact (free with registration). The study quantifies the economic impact of investments in greenhouse gas emission-reducing technologies that are funded in whole or in part by Alberta’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC), and concludes that the total economic impact of CCEMC and related investments from 2011 to 2016 will be over $2.4 billion and an additional 15,017 person-years of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employment. The Pembina Institute reaction (March 5) was to point out that despite any economic gains, the problem remains that there are no significant reductions to greenhouse gas emissions.


Reaction to the Harper Government Northern Gateway Decision

Neither the Prime Minister nor any cabinet ministers were available for comments or questions about the expected cabinet approval, released at the last possible moment via a brief press release on June 17. “After carefully reviewing the report, the Government accepts the independent Panel’s recommendation to impose 209 conditions on Northern Gateway Pipelines’ proposal.” …” Moving forward, the proponent must demonstrate to the independent regulator, the NEB, how it will meet the 209 conditions. It will also have to apply for regulatory permits and authorizations from federal and provincial governments. In addition, consultations with Aboriginal communities are required under many of the 209 conditions that have been established and as part of the process for regulatory authorizations and permits.” See the press release at http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=tp&crtr.page=2&nid=858469&crtr.tp1D=1 and the government’s summary statement of the 209 conditions is at http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=tp&crtr.page=1&nid=858489&crtr.tp1D=930 .

The province of British Columbia has conditions of its own, which Environment Minister Polak reiterated in the official B.C. reaction to the decision on June 17 at http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/06/northern-gateway-pipeline-more-work-needed-to-meet-bcs-five-conditions.html. Most notably, the First Nations of B.C. have condemned the decision: see the Coastal First Nations website at http://www.coastalfirstnations.ca/ , where Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations says: “The government’s announcement giving its approval to Enbridge is meaningless. ‘It’s an approval in name only. This project is dead. ’…… The project can’t proceed with these conditions. We’ve been clear there is no technology to clean up an oil spill and the dispersant that is used causes more damage than the oil itself.” (http://www.coastalfirstnations.ca/news-release/june-17-2014-215pm ).

Another press release from the Coastal First Nations, on June 16th, states: “With many First Nations gearing up for court battles to protect their territories from this risky proposal, representatives of Coastal First Nations, Dogwood Initiative, Unifor, West Coast Environmental Law, Douglas Channel Watch and One Cowichan promised to work together to defeat Northern Gateway, regardless of any approvals issued by the federal cabinet.”

The internet is alive with opposition campaigns: Within B.C., the Dogwood Initiative is calling for a referendum at Let B.C. Vote at http://www.letbcvote.ca/ , (includes a compilation of news reports). Stand Strong Christy, co-ordinated by ForestEthics Advocacy, at http://standstrongchristy.ca/ has an online petition urging B.C. Premier Christy Clark to hold firm to her earlier stated 5 conditions for Northern Gateway approvals in B.C.

Leadnow.ca and ForestEthics Advocacy host another petition at http://www.enbridge21.ca/ naming the Enbridge 21 (the 21 federal Conservative cabinet ministers from B.C.) and providing an online email form to contact them, and “hold them accountable” by pledging to vote for whoever opposes Enbridge in the 2015 election.

David Suzuki posted an open Letter and has an online petition to Stephen Harper , and the leaders of all federal parties at http://action2.davidsuzuki.org/no-enbridge-pipeline?utm_campaign=enbridgeEmail&utm_source=EM1&utm_medium=email&utm_content=link&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRolu6XLZKXonjHpfsX66u8kXK%2B3lMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4CSsFiI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFS7jNMbZkz7gOXRE%3D .

The federal Green Party also has its own petition at http://www.greenparty.ca/media-release/2014-06-17/predictable-cabinet-decision-enbridge-project-launches-fight-stop-pipelines . Environmental Defense has an online email form to send a protest message to the political leaders at http://environmentaldefence.ca/stop-tar-sands-expansion?utm_source=Environmental+Defence+Campaign+Email+List&utm_campaign=06cf692bda-Lighten+Up+FINAL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_df56834cfa-06cf692bda-27545293.

For reaction from environmental groups, see EcoJustice at http://www.ecojustice.ca/media-centre/press-releases/federal-approval-doesnt-guarantee-enbridge-northern-gateway-will-be-built ; Pembina Institute at http://www.pembina.org/reacts-fed-decision-gateway, Greenpeace Canada at http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/Blog/harper-just-picked-a-fight-he-cant-win/blog/49666/ , Environmental Defence Canada at http://environmentaldefence.ca/articles/statement-environmental-defence%E2%80%99s-tim-gray-in-response-federal-cabinet%E2%80%99s-irresponsible-deci and Natural Resources Defence Council (U.S.) at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/eshope/canada_approves_northern_gatew.html .

Low-Carbon Solutions to the GTA Gridlock – What Do They Mean for Workers?

A new report from the Pembina Institute and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund presents policy options, innovative ideas, and examples from other countries of strategies that would reduce emissions, chiefly by greening delivery fleets and optimizing trip planning through sophisticated information sharing. Directed at government and business, this report also has implications for workers, particularly those in the transportation and delivery sectors, as well as the warehousing, manufacturing, retail and food services industries.

See Greening the Goods: Opportunities for Low-Carbon Goods Movement in Toronto at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2536.

Energy East Pipeline Could Increase Canada’s Emissions More than Keystone

A new report from the Pembina Institute says that TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline could increase Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 32 million tonnes per year, surpassing estimates for Keystone XL. The new pipeline would have the capacity to transport 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta to New Brunswick. Terminals near Rivière-du-Loup and in Saint John would likely export crude by tanker. Climate Implications of the Proposed Energy East Pipeline argues that because the oil sands are “land-locked”, pipelines are a vital component of accessing international markets and are therefore directly linked to rising oil sands emissions. Pembina asserts that the National Energy Board should consider those “upstream” effects as part of Energy East’s environmental impact assessment, though it has neglected to do so for past pipelines.
See Climate Implications of the Proposed Energy East Pipeline and the media release at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2519.

Oil Sands Economics: The Latest Facts and Some New Recommendations

A new report released by the Pembina Institute and Equiterre focuses on economic debate surrounding the oil sands, updating In the Shadow of the Boom, published by Pembina in May 2012.The new report,Booms, Busts, and Bitumen examines several economic risks associated with natural resource booms, including the decline of the manufacturing sector, known as Dutch disease, and GDP instability caused by Alberta’s overreliance on the oil sands. The report questions the benefits accrued outside of Alberta, stating that only 14% of the employment opportunities created by oil sands development will be outside Alberta, and citing a CERI analysis that indicates the U.S. may stand to gain more than the rest of Canada. It also points to increasing worldwide pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the uncertainty of future oil sands markets. Finally, the report calls for better government management to ensure long-term gain from the one-time exploitation of non-renewable resources, for example through capital investment that focuses on reducing fossil fuel dependency in Canada, elimination of preferential tax treatment for the fossil fuel industry, and a mandate for the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to study the current restructuring of the Canadian economy, and the associated regional disparities, with an aim to identify a course of action to diversify economic growth and aid competitiveness across the whole country.


Booms, Busts, And Bitumen: The Economic Implications of Canadian Oilsands Development is available in French and English versions from: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2494  

Will the IPCC 5th Assessment Report Inspire Change?

The 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released on September 27. Dealing with the physical sciences, the report projects future weather, ocean levels, global warming and carbon dioxide levels.  According to U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, the report provided the first “carbon budget” – how much carbon dioxide we can emit before global temperature increase exceeds 2ºC and the planet overheats. The bad news? We’d already used half of it by 2011, and could now be approaching two-thirds. Thomas Stocker, co-chair of the IPCC working group, points out that more fossil fuels exist than can be burned if we are to remain within the budget. In other words, some valuable reserves will need to remain untapped.

The Globe and Mail summarized early Canadian reactions to the IPCC report, and cited the absence of comment from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office. Provincial premiers have been similarly silent. The David Suzuki Foundation is one of the few Canadian organizations to have commented, highlighting provincial successes and calling for the federal government “to prioritize clean energy and eliminate the billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies.” The Climate Justice Project at the Canadian Centre for Policy Analysis analyzed the IPCC report in relation to British Columbia, and asks, “will LNG development blow B.C.’s carbon budget?”. The Pembina Institute released a brief statement. A call to arms can be found in the Opinion piece by Andrew Weaver in the Globe and Mail, which states, “While the U.S., the E.U. and even China are making a profound shift to address the root causes of climate change, the Canadian government continues to focus our economy predominantly around the extraction, transportation and combustion of fossil fuels. Even British Columbia, which used to be considered a leader in the development of climate policies, is now moving in the opposite direction with its focus on the development of a Liquefied Natural Gas industry. The IPCC report could and should inspire us to take a different approach.”


IPCC 5th Assessment Report documentation is available at: http://www.ipcc.ch/

“IPCC: 30 Years to Climate Calamity If We Carry on Blowing the Carbon Budget” in

“Around the World: Strong Reactions To Climate Change Report” (Sept. 27) in the Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/around-the-world-strong-reactions-to-climate-change-report/article14566793/

David Suzuki Foundation media backgrounder on the IPCC 5th Report is at:http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/downloads/DSF_IPCC_WG1_Backgrounder.pdf

“Will LNG Development Blow BC’s Carbon Budget?” is at the Climate Justice Project at:http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/commentary/will-lng-development-blow-bcs-carbon-budget

Pembina Institute response is at: http://www.pembina.org/media-release/2483

“Now That Climate Change is Beyond Doubt, Focus on Fixing It” (September 28) at the Globe and Mail at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/now-that-climate-change-is-beyond-doubt-lets-focus-on-solving-it/article14588647/

Canadians Take to the Courts to Fight for Freedom of Speech and Protest

In mid-August, ForestEthics Advocacy and activist Donna Sinclair filed a constitutional challenge in the Federal Court of Canada, seeking to overturn the amendments to the National Energy Board Act which were passed in the 2012 omnibus budget bill C-238, and which make it more difficult for citizens to speak out in regulatory hearings. Clayton Ruby, Chair of the Board of ForestEthics, is also seeking an injunction to prevent the National Energy Board from making a recommendation to cabinet on Enbridge’s Line 9B application until the constitutional challenge has been dealt with.

See the Globe and Mail report of August 13th at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/activists-launch-suit-in-federal-court-over-ability-to-oppose-proposed-pipeline-projects/article13721850/. The ForestEthics press release is at: http://www.forestethics.org/blog/press-release-forestethics-advocacy-challenges-harper-government-energy-rules-court, the 4-page Backgrounder is at: http://www.forestethics.org//sites/forestethics.huang.radicaldesigns.org/files/Backgrounder-ForestEthics-Advocacy-Lawsuit.pdf.

In Alberta, the Pembina Institute appeared in court on September 5, appealing a Government of Alberta decision which denied the Institute a voice in the 2009 regulatory review of the Southern Pacific Resource Corporation’s proposed oil sands project on the MacKay River near Fort McMurray. See the Pembina news report at: http://www.pembina.org/media-release/2477.


Changes in Oil and Gas Regulations for Canada and Alberta

While Canada waits for the new oil and gas regulations promised for Spring 2013 by Environment Minister Kent, the Pembina Institute has released its own recommendations for what it calls this “make-or-break moment for Canada’s climate credibility”. Author Claire Demerse recommends: the oil and gas industry reduce emissions intensity by 42 % ; the technology fund levy for those who don’t meet the emissions reduction target should increase to at least $100 per tonne by 2020; the current unlimited access to offset credits for companies should end.

Read Getting on Track to 2020: Recommendations for Greenhouse Gas Regulations in Canada’s Oil and Gas Sector from links at:http://www.pembina.org/pub/2427 .

In Alberta, discussion is underway for reform of the provincial carbon pricing system, with the media reporting proposals of a 40% target to improve emissions intensity, and a compensating payment of $40 per tonne if that is not achieved.

Read “Carbon levy talks in early stages, Alberta environment minister confirms” in the Edmonton Journal, April 4, 2013 at:http://www.edmontonjournal.com/technology/Alberta+reviewing+climate+change+policy+McQueen+confirms/8195862/story.html, and See What you need to know about Alberta’s 40/40 carbon pricing proposal, by Simon Dyer (April 5, 2013) at the Pembina website: http://www.pembina.org/blog/707.  

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.”


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;


Carbon Pricing Compared: Alberta, B.C., California, Australia, and Other Jurisdictions

Released by the Pembina Institute on February 25, a useful comparison chart highlights carbon pricing approaches in Alberta, British Columbia, California, Australia, Norway and the European Union. Details about each jurisdiction include the 2013 carbon price, proportion of GHG’s covered by the carbon price; presence of a “hard cap” on emissions; percentage of allowance value collected by government; extent to which offsets may be purchased;anticipated public revenue in 2013; and where carbon revenues are allocated.


Carbon Pricing Approaches in Oil and Gas Producing Jurisdictions is available at the Pembina Institute website at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2414