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)

 

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Judge Rules Ottawa Wrongly Passed 2012 Omnibus Budget Bills

22 12 2014

By Vincent McDermott

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Protesters with the Idle No More movement block traffic on Highway 63 in early January 2013. Vincent McDermott/Today Staff

A federal court has ruled that Ottawa should have consulted First Nations before introducing the two omnibus bills that served as the catalyst for the 2012 Idle No More protests, after a Fort Chipewyan band challenged the bills in court.

The omnibus bills, C-38 and C-45, included alterations of several environmental acts. They also reduced federal protection of hundreds of streams, rivers and tributaries across the country, including ones the Mikisew Cree First Nation argued were culturally significant.

Within Wood Buffalo, only Lake Athabasca, and the Athabasca and Peace rivers, remained protected once the bill was passed.

Chief Steve Courtoreille of the MCFN said Friday’s ruling was a victory for Canadians, not just his band.

“It is not responsible to ram these bills through Parliament without consulting us and thinking that is alright,” he said. “It is pretty sad for all of us that we had to remind a government that we are having trouble trusting of that.”

In a 64-page ruling, Justice Roger Hughes ruled the MCFN should have been consulted prior to the passing of the two bills, but stopped short of granting an injunction.

“No notice was given and no opportunity to make submissions was provided,” Hughes wrote in his ruling. “The Crown ought to have given the Mikisew notice when each of the Bills were introduced into Parliament.”

Courtoreille said he did not expect an injunction, but is hoping Ottawa will amend the acts to their previous wording.

“To me, the omnibus bills are invalid because the court has said so and our treaty says so. The duty to consult is clear,” he said.

Prior to the bill’s passing in the House of Commons, the federal government said it would be transferring responsibility to local governments, arguing the move would remove red tape for industrial development and streamline regulation.

Environmentalists and opposition parties accused the Harper government of absolving itself of their environmental responsibilities.

The omnibus bills were condemned by every First Nation and Metis group in Wood Buffalo.

While the objectives behind the nation-wide Idle No More protests differed for many aboriginal communities, the majority of Alberta’s indigenous community opposed the omnibus bills.

On two occasions, protesters blocked Highway 63 north of Fort McMurray. One roadblock had traffic in both directions backed up for nearly two kilometres. Traffic was allowed to flow in short bursts.

Courtoreille said the ruling should serve as a warning to governments, and that First Nations will defend themselves in court if they feel their treaty rights have been violated. His band has successfully done so in the past.

In 2005, MCFN successfully argued in front of the Supreme Court of Canada that Ottawa had failed to adequately consult with them over plans to add traditional territory to Wood Buffalo National Park.

The band is currently lobbying UNESCO to list the park as an endangered ecosystem due to encroaching industrial development.

The pace of industrial expansion should also slow down, he argued, blaming a rush to hastily extract resources as the reason behind the omnibus bills.

“We don’t want to ignore government or have them be afraid of us. And nobody wants to keep dragging the government to court,” he said. “The First Nations have valuable contributions and knowledge on these important issues.”

Representatives from aboriginal affairs and Environment Canada could not be reached on Friday or Saturday for comment. Ottawa has 30 days to appeal the ruling.





Fracking Moratorium Could Force Corridor Resources out of NB

20 12 2014

Hundreds of jobs at stake near Sussex, government says mine has other options

CBC News Posted: Dec 20, 2014 1:11 PM AT Last Updated: Dec 20, 2014 1:11 PM AT

A fracking moratorium in New Brunswick could affect hundreds of jobs by forcing Corridor Resources to leave the province, according to the natural gas and petroleum company.

President and CEO Steve Moran says Corridor Resources is still gauging the impact of the moratorium, but says if it lasts for a long period of time, the company may have to relocate outside of the province.

“We’ll have to move our capital and our expenditures elsewhere. We really don’t want to, but we’ll have no choice,” Moran said.

 Corridor Resources has been fracking near Sussex for a decade. The company co-owns a pipeline with PotashCorp that carries fracked gas to the new potash mine in Penobsquis, where about 450 people work.

The moratorium will prevent Corridor Resources from fracking for more gas to continue supplying the mine, according to Moran.

Premier Brian Gallant introduced the moratorium on Thursday,explicitly outlining five conditions that must be satisfied before the moratorium is lifted.

The moratorium will not be ‘grandfathered’ for companies with projects already underway.

“It’ll be up to them to see if there’s other ways to be able to continue their operations without the process of hydraulic fracturing,” Gallant said.

Energy Minister Donald Arseneault says the mine has other options.

“PotashCorp has other means as well to access gas as they’re connected to the Maritimes Northeast pipeline, ” Arsenault said.

The Maritimes and Northeast pipeline connects natural gas from developments from offshore Nova Scotia to markets in Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States.

Arseneault also says Corridor Resources has several active wells that don’t need to be fracked in order to supply the PotashCorp mine.





Stanford: Pathways to 100% Renewable Energy

19 12 2014





UPDATED: Liberals imposing moratorium on All fracking activity

18 12 2014

T&T   DEC 18

ADAM HURAS Legislature Bureau
December 18, 2014

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant.Photo: James West/THE CANADIAN PRESS

FREDERICTON • New Brunswick’s Liberal government plans on imposing a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

Premier Brian Gallant said the moratorium is on all hydraulic fracturing activity – water and propane included.

Gallant said that the move will require amendments to the oil and natural gas act, expected to be introduced in the legislature on Thursday afternoon.

He stressed the move is not a ban and that it could be lifted in the future.

But the moratorium has a series of conditions that need to be met before being lifted, including a process to consult with First Nations, a plan for wastewater disposal and credible information about the impacts fracking has on health, water and the environment.

“We have been clear from Day One that we will impose a moratorium until risks to the environment, health and water are understood,” Gallant said. “We believe these conditions to be very reasonable.”

Gallant said he also wants the development of a royalty structure and a “social licence’” ensuring that the public accepts fracking before the moratorium would be removed, though he acknowledged that has yet to be defined.

He said his government supports job creation but added that it needs to be done in a diversified and sustainable way.

“We’re not interested in putting all of our eggs in a single basket,” he said.

But the moratorium is strictly on hydraulic fracturing, meaning exploration for shale gas could continue.

Companies can continue work, as long as they don’t frack.

“We’ll certainly also always listen to businesses that may have concerns and try to mitigate some of the impacts if they believe (them) to be negative on their operations,” he said.

Fracking is a process whereby a pressurized fluid is injected into shale rock in order to crack the rock and release underground natural gas deposits.

In making the announcement, Gallant is carrying out another of its cornerstone commitments.

The Liberal election campaign platform pledges to impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing “until risks to the environment, health and water are fully understood.”

“Any decision on hydraulic-fracturing will be based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence and follow recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health,” it states.

The move risks killing an industry that has already invested hundreds of millions in New Brunswick.

It also raises the danger of multi-million dollar legal action from the companies that were granted licences by both Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments in the province over the last decade.

But it erases the threat of environmental risks that have been hotly debated across the country and around the world.

New Brunswick’s move follows moratoriums in Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

It turns it back on joining provinces such as British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan with a history of hydraulic fracturing having embraced industry development.

THE DEBATE

The arguments, reports, and studies for and against the well-stimulation technique are many.

The Fraser Institute has stated the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing are real but manageable with existing technologies and regulation, noting that stopping shale gas development is squandering a good economic opportunity.

A group of university and private sector analysts released a report on shale gas that included an economic study that predicted New Brunswick could create between 5,900 and 7,900 full-time jobs, both directly and indirectly, if the industry annually drilled between 150 and 200 wells.

That would translate into between $1.4 billion and $1.8 billion in economic growth.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said in September that a total of 44,266 oil and natural gas wells have been hydraulically fractured in Saskatchewan.

There were 1,380 wells fracked there last year, without incident.

“There are simply not the incidents that some who oppose fracking are pointing to,” he said.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark maintains that her province has “never had a single incident of water contamination reported in British Columbia after doing this for 50 years.”

The David Alward Progressive Conservatives went all in on the industry in a failed re-election bid that urged New Brunswickers to “say yes” to what the Tories said would be $10 billion in short-term investment.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Premier Philippe Couillard ruled out exploiting Quebec’s shale gas reserves.

Quebecers are largely against hydraulic fracturing and exploiting the natural resource in today’s market is not economically viable, he said.

Couillard made the comments shortly after Quebec’s environmental review board concluded the ecological and social risks associated with hydraulic fracturing outweigh the financial benefits.

Nova Scotia has moved ahead with legislation to ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing for onshore oil and gas. Only three test wells have been hydraulically fracked in Nova Scotia since 2007, all of them in the Kennetcook area, where Denver-based Triangle Petroleum failed to make the natural gas there flow.

The government there won’t consider lifting the ban until it is convinced fracking can be done safely under a set of stringent new rules and regulations.

The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, which represents 22 community organizations, called on the Gallant government earlier this week to “put people before politics” when it comes to the shale gas industry.

“We recognize that the government is under significant pressure from the oil and gas lobby, in both public and private, to reverse or weaken its decision (for a moratorium), and its promise to the electorate,” said alliance spokesman Jim Emberger at a news conference in Moncton. “This is no less than a direct attempt by industry to subvert the will and voice of the people and therefore, is also a direct attempt to undermine our democratic process.”





Shale gas moratorium details unveiled by Brian Gallant

18 12 2014

Five conditions will need to be met before government lifts moratorium on all forms of fracking

CBC News Posted: Dec 18, 2014 9:35 AM AT Last Updated: Dec 18, 2014 3:27 PM AT

Premier Brian Gallant and Energy Minister Donald Arseneault announced a moratorium on all forms of hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick on Thursday.

Premier Brian Gallant and Energy Minister Donald Arseneault announced a moratorium on all forms of hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick on Thursday. (CBC)

A moratorium on all forms of hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick is being put in place by Brian Gallant’s government.

The bill to impose the moratorium is to be introduced in the legislature on Thursday afternoon.

“We have been clear from day one that we will impose a moratorium until risks to the environment, health and water are understood,” said Gallant.

Gallant told a news conference the moratorium will be applied to hydraulic fracturing through any means, regardless of whether the process uses water, propane or another substance to extract natural gas from shale rock beneath the earth’s surface.

The moratorium won’t be lifted until five conditions are met, said Gallant.

Those conditions include:

  • A “social licence” be established through consultations to lift the moratorium;
  • Clear and credible information on the impacts on air, health and water so a regulatory regime can be developed;
  • A plan to mitigate impacts on public infrastructure and address issues such as waste water disposal is established;
  • A process is in place to fulfill the province’s obligation to consult with First Nations;
  • A “proper royalty structure” is established to ensure benefits are maximized for New Brunswickers.

Gallant said there will be no `grandfathering’ of projects already underway that allows fracking to take place outside of the moratorium.

Shale gas companies will be permitted to continue with exploration activities such as seismic testing or drilling wells. But they will not be permitted to frack those test wells while the moratorium is in place.

Gallant had stated earlier the moratorium bill would be introduced in the legislature before Christmas. The last sitting day before Christmas for the legislature is expected to be Friday or next Tuesday.

Gallant has long promised a moratorium that would prohibit hydraulic fracturing to produce shale gas until more is known about any potential risks to people’s health, the water supply and the environment.

The moratorium announcement drew praise from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

“We’re proud of Premier Brian Gallant and his cabinet for standing firm to protect water and clean air,” said Stephanie Merrill, the environmental organization’s freshwater protection program co-ordinator.

“Placing a moratorium on shale gas development shows that premier Gallant is serious about protecting the environment, particularly our water.”

The moratorium was a key plank in the campaign platform that lifted Gallant’s Liberals to victory in the provincial election in September.

It was held out in contrast to the Progressive Conservative promise to pursue shale gas development and the development of other natural resources to create jobs.

Hydraulic-fracturing is a method of extracting natural gas from shale rock formations beneath the earth’s surface.

It involves injecting a mixture of sand, chemicals, and water or some other stance into the earth under high pressure to fracture the rock and capture natural gas that is otherwise not attainable.

Opponents fear the process could endanger the groundwater supply and potentially have other harmful environmental effects.





NBASGA Says Put People First in Shale Gas Moratorium

17 12 2014
Anti-Shale Gas Alliance wants government to put people first
COLE HOBSON TIMES & TRANSCRIPT

NBSGA  2014The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance has renewed a call for government to “put people before politics” when it comes to the shale gas industry.   “We recognize that the government is under significant pressure from the oil and gas lobby, in both public and private, to reverse or weaken its decision (for a moratorium), and its promise to the electorate,” said alliance spokesman Jim Emberger, in a press conference held Tuesday at Capitol Theatre in Moncton.“This is no less than a direct attempt by industry to subvert the will and voice of the people and therefore, is also a direct attempt to undermine our democratic process.”   Emberger noted that the alliance’s representatives from 22 community organizations have continued working to educate the public about the negative impacts of shale gas over the past four years and still continue to do so.   He said they have also talked with many MLAs who admit they don’t have a thorough understanding of the issue.   “Along with the disinformation that the industry is pushing through the media, the Liberal caucus needs to hear the compelling research coming from scientists and economists with no ties to the industry,”he said, noting the alliance has“the ability and willingness”to supply that research.   Emberger said they are pleased to see the government standing by the commitment to enact a moratorium, but said it “must be a moratorium that reflects a clear understanding of the many concerns and issues; one that protects all people in New Brunswick, particularly those who live in the targeted lease areas.”   Denise Melanson, a New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance spokeswoman, said there is a growing amount of peer-reviewed science that details the potential dangers of the shale gas industry. She highlighted the “Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking” published and updated by the concerned Health Professionals of New York, as one source of concerning information that is “very current, very appropriate.”   The alliance criticized the recently published book Shale Gas In New Brunswick, Towards a Better Understanding, released by the Canadian Institute for Research on Public Policy and Public Administration.   Melanson said this book didn’t contain enough factual evidence and peer-reviewed science and didn’t go into any detail about critical aspects like the industry’s potential impact on air quality.   “This decision is difficult to understand since air pollution has emerged as one of the greatest problems related to this industry and the one that possess the greatest immediate threat to health,”she said.   The alliance also used its press conference to tout the values of developing a clean energy sector in the province, noting there are good returns on investment available, as well as significant job creation opportunities.   Recommendations were made to the Gallant government to help kick-start such an industry, by implementing policy to have every building in the province become energy efficient over time; implement policy to generate 1,200 MW of power via renewable energy by 2020 and also to fund the Energy Institute to research and develop opportunities in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sector.   “If we pursued making every building in our province energy efficient with the same vigour the Alward government pursued shale gas, we would see gains and improvements in our fiscal situation and see significantly more people employed in this province,”said alliance spokeswoman Liane Thiboudeau .   “By ignoring the green energy sector, New Brunswick is losing out on tremendous opportunities. We can’t afford to continue missing out on these opportunities.”

Denise Melanson and Jim Emberger of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance. PHOTO: GREG AGNEW/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT