NEB’s “Public Comment” Doesn’t Include Public or Climate Change

29 01 2015

Dear friends across Canada,

In days, the National Energy Board will start public consultations that could decide the fate of the eastern oil sands pipeline.But they want to freeze out discussion of climate change, and limit the number of people they hear from. Now citizens’ groups are coming together to build an enormous combined call for full and fair hearings — click now to join and tell everyone!

SIGN THE PETITION

A group of energy sector insiders look set to rubber stamp the eastern oil sands pipeline, which will cross rivers and cut through communities from Alberta to Québec and New Brunswick — choking the climate, and risking spills of up to 2.6 million litres of oil. 

Shockingly, they say that climate change isn’t their concern.

The good news is that the National Energy Board is about to start public consultations before this crucial decision is made — but they only want to hear from a hand picked few, on topics that they choose.

Right now, citizens’ groups are coming together to make the biggest push yet for a fair and inclusive process that will look at all the issues — if we all add our voices, they will have to listen, or risk a complete loss of public faith.

We only have days before the process starts. Click now to tell these decision makers to put their rubber stamp back in their pockets, and instead protect our precious natural resources and the climate. When 100,000 sign on, Avaaz will bring all our voices right to the NEB’s doorstep in Calgary.

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/canada_pipeline_neb_e/?buMQMib&v=52485

PM Harper’s government has tethered our economy to the oil industry, they’ve described the National Energy Board as an “ally”, and they advise on appointments to the board.

But the NEB is supposed to be independent, and they are required to hear from people impacted by these mega projects. This should include people impacted by the devastating effects of climate change too.

The NEB says that climate change isn’t its concern, and that the provinces, together with pipeline-builder TransCanada, should deal with it. But it’s taking a narrow look at only the oil transportation issues, and not at the pipeline’s role in unleashing carbon from the tar sands on the world. Building this pipeline means digging ourselves further into a downward spiral of oil dependency and its impact on our changing climate needs to be reviewed.

New studies show that the pipeline, which will transport over 1 million barrels of tar sands crude each day, is vulnerable to corrosion, cracking, and massive spills. The Ontario-commissioned studies also say that the pipeline doesn’t provide the economic benefits that have been claimed, and there could be impacts on drinking water.

The National Energy Board could decide that the project is simply too risky for Canadians to bear. As they prepare for public consultation, let’s make sure that they hear from as many people as possible, and look at all the impacts of this oily pipeline. Click now to take action:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/canada_pipeline_neb_e/?buMQMib&v=52485

Late last year, pipeline company TransCanada hired a giant PR firm that suggested targeting Avaaz and other organisations. We won’t be intimidated by this dirty war! By raising our voices together, we can show the NEB that thousands of Canadians demand fair and open hearings on this massive project.

With hope,

Jo, Ari, Danny, Emma, Ricken, and the whole Avaaz team

SOURCES

National Energy Board’s pipeline focus isn’t climate change, CEO says (CBC)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/national-energy-board-s-pipeline-focus-isn-t-climate-change-ceo-says-1.2847487

Poll shows few Quebecers support Energy East pipeline (Montreal Gazette)
http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/poll-shows-few-quebecers-support-energy-east-pipeline

City raises pipeline concerns (Winnipeg Free Press)
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/city-raises-pipeline-concerns-252590031.html

More details needed on impact of Energy East pipeline, report says (Toronto Star)
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/01/15/more-details-needed-on-impact-of-energy-east-pipeline-report-says.html

Energy East pipeline benefits overblown, report says (CBC)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/energy-east-pipeline-benefits-overblown-report-says-1.2576782

TransCanada pressuring opponents of Energy East pipeline, documents show (Toronto Star)
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/11/18/transcanada_pressuring_opponents_of_energy_east_pipeline_documents_show.html

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2 Degrees C: Tar Sands Must Stay in the Ground

9 01 2015

85% of tar sands must stay in the ground to limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius

With Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s environment minister meeting with provincial and territorial leaders to discuss post-2020 carbon emission targets in late February, the federal election this October, the pivotal United Nations climate summit in December, and a federal government decision expected on the Energy East pipeline just a few month later by May 2016, the release yesterday of a new report on what Canada must to do to limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius is of critical importance.

The Canadian Press reports, “British researchers [from University College London] have concluded that most of Canada’s [tar] sands will have to be left in the ground if the world gets serious about climate change. The report, published in the journal Nature, says three-quarters of all Canada’s oil reserves and 85 per cent of its [tar] sands can’t be burned if the world wants to limit global warming.”

“The report also concludes that no country’s Arctic energy resources can be developed if global temperature increases are to be kept manageable. It adds that about one-quarter of Canada’s natural gas reserves and four-fifths of its coal would also have to be left in the ground.”

CBC adds, “[The study] says for the world to have a reasonable prospect of meeting the target, no more than 7.5 billion barrels of oil from the [tar] sands can be produced by 2050 — a mere 15 per cent of viable reserves and only about one per cent of total bitumen.” And the Globe and Mail further notes, “Domestic estimates of Alberta’s oil reserves come in at about 168 billion barrels, with hundreds of billions more available for extraction if future oil prices make the resource more attractive. The study uses a more conservative estimate of 48 billion barrels as the current reserve and then finds that only 7.5 billion barrels of that, or about 15 per cent, can be used by 2050 as part of the global allotment of fossil-fuel use in a two-degree scenario.”

In response to this study, Natural Resources Canada said, “The majority [of the world’s energy] will come from fossil fuels, even under its most stringent greenhouse gas reduction forecast. The choice is whether to use energy from a secure, environmentally responsible, transparent country like Canada, or to seek energy from less stable countries without responsible environmental policies.” And Andrew Leach, the Enbridge Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Alberta, says that even using 25 per cent of Canada’s oil reserves between now and 2050 would lead to growth above current rates of production.

In terms of production, in early October 2014, Canada was exporting about 2.98 million barrels per day of crude to the United States. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has said they expect oil production to reach 3.91 million barrels per day in 2015 and 6.44 million barrels per day by 2030. And in terms of meeting our carbon emission target, the Globe and Mail has reported that documents submitted by the Harper government to the United Nations in December 2013, “show that, without further policy action, Canada’s emissions would be 734 megatonnes by 2020, or 20 per cent higher than the target of 612 megatonnes [that the Harper government agreed to at the United Nations climate summit in 2009].”

The Council of Canadians is against the proposed Keystone XL, Northern Gateway, Energy East, Trans Mountain and Arctic Gateway pipelines. Together, those pipelines would move about 3.45 million barrels of oil per day or about 1.26 billion barrels a year. If all of these pipelines were to become operational, they would exceed the 7.5 billion barrel limit noted in this British study in less than six years.

And as now supported by this study, we have called for a moratorium on the offshore extraction of oil and gas from Arctic, an end to fracking, and opposed coal export terminals in British Columbia. As an alternative, we have called for the development of sustainable energy sources in a joint report with the Canadian Labour Congress titled Green, Decent and Public.

We were also present for the climate talks in Lima in 2014, Cancun in 2010 and Copenhagen in 2009. At those summits, we called on the Harper government to commit to an emissions reduction target of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. We have also stated that Canada’s fair contribution to climate adaptation for the Global South should be $4 billion yearly. And we have argued for inclusion and a democratization of the climate change negotiations process. The next United Nations climate summit – COP 21 – will take place November 30 to December 11 in Paris.

Further reading
85% of oilsands can’t be burned if world to limit global warming: report (Canadian Press)
Climate change study says most of Canada’s oil reserves should be left underground (CBC)
Oil sands must remain largely unexploited to meet climate target, study finds (The Globe and Mail)

 





BP oil spill dispersants concern Nova Scotia environmentalist

29 12 2014

Bill C-22 is ‘an absolute, total abdication of regulatory responsibility’

CBC News Posted: Dec 29, 2014 9:38 AM AT Last Updated: Dec 29, 2014 9:38 AM AT

Crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala., on June 12, 2010.

Crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala., on June 12, 2010. (Dave Martin/Associated Press)

A Shelburne County environmentalist is raising concerns about a toxic chemical that could be used off Nova Scotia in the future.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil platform erupted in flames in 2010, it spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but some research says the cleanup was worse because about 6.8 million litres of the chemical Corexit 9500A was used to disperse the oil.

The dispersant used by oil company BP, when mixed with crude oil, was found to be 52 times more toxic than oil alone to some microscopic plankton-like organisms called rotifers.

“When you mix this stuff with the oil, you create a compound that is substantially more dangerous than even the dangerous dispersant on its own or even the dangerous oil on its own and this is the issue that we have,” says John Davis, a founder of the No Rigs Coalition.

He says Shell has already put out bids to use Corexit if there is a spill at a well planned for the Shelburne Gully.

“The creators of CoRexit will tell you it’s less toxic than dish soap. All you have to do is read the warning label to know that it’s a highly, highly dangerous chemical.… There is no doubt in my mind that if Shell made the effort they could find ways to clean up the oil and not just be prepared to disperse it and put it under water and out of sight,” he says.

‘Total abdication of regulatory responsibility’

Davis says there is legislation in place to prevent the use of chemicals like Corexit, “but what happened here is that the federal government has decided to put forward legislation called Bill C-22 — which in fact creates a circumstance where the oil company can go and utilize the product, the dispersants, and then report after the fact to the regulatory agencies. It is an absolute, total abdication of regulatory responsibility.”

Bill C-22 was introduced by the federal minister of Natural Resources earlier this year.

It would pre-approve emergency plans for oil and gas companies to deal with spills, such as the speedy use of dispersants, or chemicals used to break oil into smaller particles in the event of an oil spill at sea.

Davis says he worries the chemical could end up on the Georges Bank, pointing out the Labrador Current would carry any material right to the fertile fishing grounds.

“It’s that [upwelling of water] that provides much of the nutrients that makes Georges Bank such an important biological place — and so important to us as an economical generator,” he says.

A publication in the February 2013 issue of the scientific journal Environmental Pollution, found that on their own, the oil and dispersant were equally toxic. But when combined, the oil and dispersant increased toxicity to one of the rotifer species by a factor of 52.

‘High and immediate human health hazards​’

Dispersants cause giant pools of spilled oil floating atop the sea to break up into tiny droplets that then dilute with water just below the surface. The process helps creatures including turtles, birds and mammals that need access to the surface, and also ensures less oil flows ashore where it can choke coastal wildlife. However, it increases the amount of oil just below the surface, potentially contaminating the organisms that live there.

Scientists at the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes in Mexico and the Georgia Institute of Technology now say Corexit 9500A is far more harmful than previously thought to a key dweller of those sub-surface depths.

An Environment Canada study states the dispersant is 27 times safer than common dish soap, but some say that figure is dangerously misleading. The study also states that five of Corexit’s 57 ingredients are linked to cancer and can pose “high and immediate human health hazards.”

In all, the British Petroleum oil leak was the largest offshore petroleum spill in U.S. history, sending 4.9 million barrels (584 million litres) of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.





CATHOLIC BISHOPS FROM EVERY CONTINENT CALL FOR ‘AN END TO THE FOSSIL FUEL ERA

29 12 2014

 POSTED ON DECEMBER 11, 2014 AT 4:45 PM UPDATED: DECEMBER 12, 2014 AT 9:05 AM

Catholic Bishops From Every Continent Call For ‘An End To The Fossil Fuel Era’

Pope Francis and a group of bishops at the Vatican.

Pope Francis and a group of bishops at the Vatican.

CREDIT: AP PHOTO / ALESSANDRA TARANTINO

A group of Catholic Bishops called on the world’s governments to end fossil fuel use on Wednesday, citing climate change’s threat to the global poor as the lodestar of their concern.

According to the BBC, the statement is the first time senior officials in the Church from every continent have issued such a call. The statement also drops in the middle of ongoing international climate talks in Lima, Peru, as countries continue to hash out what to do about climate change in the run-up to a summit in 2015, where observers and activists hope a new international agreement will be finalized.

“We express an answer to what is considered God’s appeal to take action on the urgent and damaging situation of global climate warming,” the bishops wrote.

Striking a similar note to Naomi Klein’s recent book, “This Changes Everything,” the bishops’ statement also argued that global capitalism and its economic systems, as currently designed, are incompatible with long-term ecological sustainability: “The main responsibility for this situation lies with the dominant global economic system, which is a human creation. In viewing objectively the destructive effects of a financial and economic order based on the primacy of the market and profit, which has failed to put the human being and the common good at the heart of the economy, one must recognize the systemic failures of this order and the need for a new financial and economic order.”

The document calls on the international community to “adopt a fair and legally binding global agreement” to cut carbon emissions at the summit in Paris next year. Specifically, the bishops insist on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels — a considerably more ambitious goal than the 2°C ceiling that’s generally agreed on as the threshold beyond which climate change becomes truly dangerous — and on building “new models of development and lifestyles that are both climate compatible” and can “bring people out of poverty.”

“Central to this is to put an end to the fossil fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in 100 percent renewables with sustainable energy access for all.”

The goal of reducing global carbon emissions to zero is already making the rounds in Lima, and the Associated Press reports that dozens of governments are on board with the idea. At its current rate of emissions, the world will actually use up its “carbon budget” — the total amount of greenhouse gases it can emit this century and still stay under 2°C — by 2040, though slowing that rate in the coming years will extend the deadline.

The bishops’ logic and their goal for restraining temperature increase is rooted in prioritizing “the immediate needs of the most vulnerable communities.” Indeed, precisely because of their lack of resources and infrastructure, many of the globe’s poorest populations — particularly those in Southern Asia and Africa — are especially vulnerable to the droughts, floods, rising seas, storms, and other forms of extreme weather that are part and parcel of climate change. Meanwhile, a report released by the United Nations this past Friday determined that the amount poor and developing countries will have to collectively invest in adapting to climate change will run between $250 and $500 billion annually by 2050 even if the world does keep to the 2°C threshold. There’s also at least some scientific evidence that the effects of climate change at a 2°C rise will be considerably more severe than generally thought.

The U.N. report also determined that there is currently a massive gap between what the developing countries will need and what the developed world is willing to pay — a point of considerable tension in the international talks. While China has overtaken the United States as the biggest cumulative emitter, the U.S. maintains are far higher level of emissions per capita. Furthermore, climate change is cumulative, meaning the bulk of the effects are still driven by the carbon the U.S. and the rest of the western world historically emitted in the course of building their wealth. That greater wealth per person also means advanced countries have far more room to invest in cutting emissions and in aiding the still-developing neighbors.

“Those responsible for climate change have responsibilities to assist the most vulnerable in adapting and managing loss and damage and to share the necessary technology and knowhow,” the bishops continue, while insisting that 50 percent of all climate-related public funding go to meet the developing world’s adaptation needs.

While this is a first by some markers, the Bishops’ statement also continues a long tradition of engagement with environmental issues and climate change by the Catholic Church. Pope Francis himself has made the religious case for combating climate change, warning that “if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us!” Earlier this year, the Church held a five-day summit bringing together scientists, economists, philosophers, astronomers, and other experts to explore ways the Catholic church could address climate change and its related challenges. Francis has also singled out the destruction of the rainforest as a “sin,” as is working on an official papal encyclical tackling the environment and humanity’s relationship to it.





Stanford: Pathways to 100% Renewable Energy

19 12 2014





Largest Tar Sands Pipeline to US Shut Down Indefinitely After Spill of 50,000+ Gallons

19 12 2014

Enbridge Inc., based in Calgary, Alta., has agreed to pay about $6.8 million to settle a class action in one of the costliest onshore oil spills in U.S. history. (photo: AP)
Enbridge Inc., based in Calgary, Alta., has agreed to pay about $6.8 million to settle a class action in one of the costliest onshore oil spills in U.S. history. (photo: AP)

By Scott Haggett, Reuters

18 December 14

nbridge Inc said on Thursday it has no restart date yet for its 796,000-barrel-per-day Line 4, the largest oil-export pipeline to the United States, after it was shut a day earlier after a spill of 1,350 barrels at its Regina, Saskatchewan, oil terminal.

Graham White, a spokesman for the company, said in an email the spill originated at a flange or valve within the terminal, so there were no problems with the pipeline itself. He said that could mean the problem is “a relatively easy fix”, but could not speculate on when the line would return to service.





Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks

17 12 2014
By THOMAS KAPLAN and JESSE McKINLEY DEC. 17, 2014

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the disputed method of natural gas extraction.

State officials concluded that fracking, as the method is known, could contaminate the air and water and pose inestimable dangers to public health.

That conclusion was delivered during a year-end cabinet meeting Mr. Cuomo convened in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release oiland natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.

The question of whether to allow fracking has been one of the most divisive public policy debates in New York in years, pitting environmentalists against others who saw it as a critical way to bring jobs to economically stagnant portions of upstate.


With Unresolved Health Risks and Few Signs of  an Economic Boon, Cuomo to Ban Gas Fracking

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who has prided himself on taking swift and decisive action on other contentious issues like gun control, took the opposite approach on fracking. He repeatedly put off making a decision on how to proceed, most recently citing a continuing — and seemingly never-ending — study by state health officials.

On Wednesday, six weeks after Mr. Cuomo won re-election to a second term, the long-awaited health study finally materialized.

In a presentation at the cabinet meeting, the acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, said the examination had found “significant public health risks” associated with fracking.

Holding up scientific studies to animate his arguments, Dr. Zucker listed concerns about water contamination and air pollution, and said there was insufficient scientific evidence to affirm the long-term safety of fracking.

 

Dr. Zucker said his review boiled down to a simple question: Would he want to live in a community that allowed fracking?

He said the answer was no.

“We cannot afford to make a mistake,” he said. “The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not even fully known.”

New York has had a de facto ban on the procedure for more than five years, predating Mr. Cuomo’s election. Over the course of his first term, the governor at times sent conflicting signals about how he would proceed.

In 2012, Mr. Cuomo flirted with approving a limited program in several struggling Southern Tier counties along New York’s border with Pennsylvania. But later that year, he bowed to entreaties from environmental advocates, announcing instead that his administration would start the regulatory process over by beginning a new study to evaluate the health risks.

Polls showed public opinion divided over the issue, and the governor felt pressure from both sides.

Mr. Cuomo had focused a great amount of attention on trying to improve the economic climate upstate, and fracking appeared to offer a way to bring new life to struggling areas atop the Marcellus Shale, a subterranean deposit of trapped gas that extends across much of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Mr. Cuomo’s Republican opponent in the election this year, Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, promised to allow fracking, and he accused the governor of squandering an opportunity to help upstate regions.

But the governor has also faced strong opposition from groups worried about the effects of fracking on the state’s watersheds and aquifers, as well as on tourism and the quality of life in small upstate communities.

Opponents were aided by celebrities like Yoko Ono, who drew attention to their cause. As he traveled around the state, Mr. Cuomo was hounded by protesters opposed to fracking, who showed up at his events and pressed him to impose a statewide ban.

The governor’s uncertain stance on fracking also hurt his standing with some liberal activists. Pledging to ban fracking, Zephyr Teachout, a law professor, won about a third of the vote in the Democratic primary in September, a strong showing that Mr. Cuomo later attributed in part to support from fracking opponents.

Complicating matters, dozens of communities across New York have passed moratoriums and bans on fracking, and in June, the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled that towns could use zoning ordinances to ban fracking.

Recognizing the sensitivity of the issue, Mr. Cuomo both affirmed the fracking ban on Wednesday and tried to keep some distance from it, saying he was deferring to the expertise of his health and environmental conservation commissioners.

Nevertheless, environmental groups cast the governor as a hero.

Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, said Mr. Cuomo “set himself apart as a national political leader who stands up for people” over the energy industry.

Advocates of fracking accused him of giving in to environmentalists’ efforts to stoke public fears.

Brad Gill, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, said, “While industry will find opportunity elsewhere, our hearts go out to the farmers and landowners in the Southern Tier whose livelihoods in New York State are in jeopardy.”

 
 
also: Wall Street Journal re Fracking Ban http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-gov-andrew-cuomos-administration-moves-to-ban-fracking-1418839033

notes the importance that a legal decision to uphold town’s rights to ban fracking played in this decision