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Indigenous rights “serious obstacle” to Kinder Morgan pipeline, report says

Pipeline company downplaying major legal and financial risks of crossing unceded First Nations territory in British Columbia

Secwepemc activist Kanahus Manuel in front of a tiny house being built in path of Kinder Morgan pipeline’s planned route through her Nation’s territory in British Columbia, Canada.
Secwepemc activist Kanahus Manuel in front of a tiny house being built in the path of Kinder Morgan pipeline’s planned route through her Nation’s territory in British Columbia, Canada. Photograph: Ian Willms/Greenpeace

The controversial expansion of a pipeline that would carry tar sands crude from Alberta to British Columbia’s coast will be doomed by the rising power of Indigenous land rights.

That’s the message that Kanahus Manuel, an Indigenous activist from the Secwepemc Nation in central BC, plans to deliver to banks financing the project as she travels through Europe this week.

She’ll have in hand a report being released today by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, which argues that Texas-based Kinder Morgan has misled financial backers about the risks of expanding its TransMountain pipeline, almost half of which runs across “unceded” Secwepemc territory.

The project, whose cost has ballooned from $5.4 to $7.4bn, would nearly triple capacity on an existing pipeline to ship 890,000 barrels a day to Asian markets, locking in expanded production of one of the world’s most carbon-intensive oils.

The report details “significant legal, financial and reputation risks” that amount to “serious obstacles” it says have been downplayed by Kinder Morgan in its dealings with Canadian and international banks.

The key risks, identified by economists and lawyers based on the pipeline’s history, Canadian legal precedents, and financial documents, include Kinder Morgan’s plans to build on lands whose ownership is hotly contested.

The pipeline crosses 518km of Secwepemc territory over which the First Nations assert Aboriginal title, a type of land rights that the supreme court of Canada has recognized were never ceded or relinquished through treaties.

TransMountain pipeline’s route through the Secwepemc Nation in British Columbia, Canada.

The Secwepemc could not oppose the original Trans Mountain pipeline being built through their territory in 1951, because it was illegal at the time for Indigenous peoples to politically organize or hire lawyers to advocate on their behalf.

“[Kinder Morgan] either does not understand the diverse realities of Indigenous rights in Canada or they are wilfully ignoring the consequences of those rights for the project,” the report says. “Either way, it should be a major red flag for investors, lenders, and other financial backers.”

Kinder Morgan did not return a request for comment.

Banks are increasingly rethinking their investments in the tar sands – French bank BNP Paribas pledged last week to stop financing pipelines carrying tar sands oil, following similar moves by Dutch Bank ING and Sweden’s largest pension fund AP7.

The report also notes that the likelihood of increasing Indigenous protest has not been accounted for by the company.

Inspired by her time at the Standing Rock encampment, this fall Manuel and others finished constructing the first of several tiny houses – to be outfitted with solar-panels – that they will place in the path of the pipeline as an act of defiance.

“We will defend with all of our capacities our unceded lands and waters from this climate chaos-fuelling pipeline,” Manuel said from Europe. “The government has to follow the minimum standards laid out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – that includes free, prior and informed consent, which they have not gotten from us for the project. Instead Kinder Morgan is hiding the risks and the costs their backers will face when this pipeline doesn’t get built.”

Kinder Morgan’s initially estimated the pipeline would be in operation by late 2017, but delays have pushed back the date to spring 2020.

Each month of delay costs the company $5.6m in expenses and $88m in lost revenue, according to an affidavit Kinder Morgan filed in court during a stand-off near Vancouver in 2014, when 100 Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists were arrested trying to block exploratory drilling by the company.

The pipeline project has the backing of the Alberta government and prime minister Justin Trudeau, whose natural resources minister has previously suggested the government could call in the Canadian military to deal with protests, evoking the prospect of what First Nations leaders have labelled a “Standing Rock of the North.”

The Trudeau government approved the pipeline in 2016, but the recently-elected NDP provincial government in BC has said it “would employ every tool available” to stop it. Both governments have committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The BC government joined as an intervenor in federal court of appeal hearings last week, supporting legal challenges against the pipeline launched by First Nations closer to the coast, municipalities, and environmental organizations.

The report comes on the heels of TransCanada withdrawing its application to build Energy East, the largest proposed tar sands pipeline that would have carried 1.1m barrels daily to the east coast.

It was hobbled by political protests, as well as the recent introduction of a “climate test” that would evaluate how the project might impact Canada’s overall carbon emissions.

Research by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has found that Canada cannot build new tar sands export pipelines and expand production and still hope to meet its Paris accord climate commitments.

See article here……


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See you in court, Kinder Morgan

West Coast Environmental Law : September 15, 2017 by Eugene Kung, Staff Council

See you in court, Kinder Morgan

StopKM Rally - Sept 2017
   We Still Say No Rally – September, 2017  – Vancouver Art Gallery   

On October 2, 2017 – in just over two weeks – the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) is scheduled to start the longest hearing in its history, for the consolidated challenges to the National Energy Board (NEB) and Federal Cabinet approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Project. The current record-holder for longest FCA hearing is Gitxaala vs. Canada, also known as the case that killed Enbridge Northern Gateway. That case was heard almost exactly two years prior to the Kinder Morgan hearings.

In a refreshing moment of (legally required) honesty, Kinder Morgan acknowledged the risks associated with the FCA case and others when it stated in its May 25, 2017 prospectus:

In the event that an applicant is successful at the Federal Court of Appeal, among other things, the NEB recommendation or Governor in Council’s approval may be quashed, permits may be revoked, the Trans Mountain Expansion Project may be subject to additional significant regulatory reviews, there may be significant changes to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project plans, further obligations or restrictions may be imposed or the Trans Mountain Expansion Project may be stopped altogether(at p.29, emphasis added)

Of course, it’s impossible to know with certainty what the outcome of the case will be. What we do know is that the FCA consolidated six challenges to the NEB’s May 2016 recommendation with nine challenges to the November 2016 Federal Cabinet approval, which relied heavily on the NEB recommendation and adopted its 157 conditions without any changes.

So what are the cases all about?

Here’s what Kinder Morgan says about the cases in its prospectus:

Trans Mountain Expansion Project Litigation

The petitions seeking judicial review of the recommendation of the NEB and subsequent decision by the Governor in Council allege, among other things, that additional consultation, engagement or accommodation is required and that various non-economic impacts of the Project were not adequately considered. The remedies sought include requests that the NEB recommendation be quashed, that additional consultations be undertaken, and that the order of the Governor in Council approving the Project be quashed. A decision by the Federal Court of Appeal is subject to potential further appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. 
(at p.F-29)

A flawed NEB process

Most of the parties in the consolidated cases challenge the adequacy of the NEB’s flawed process, which we have written about before (herehere and here).

Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Living Oceans Society (represented by our friends at Ecojustice) argue, among other things, that the NEB and Cabinet failed to uphold the Species at Risk Act with respect to endangered southern resident orca whales, despite finding significant adverse effects to those orcas.

The Cities of Vancouver and Burnaby argue, among other things, that the NEB process failed to consider alternatives to the project, and that it breached a duty of procedural fairness, didn’t adequately test evidence, and provided insufficient reasons for its recommendation. As a result, they say the NEB was unable to understand the risks associated with the project, the brunt of which will be disproportionately borne by the cities.

Seven First Nations filed ten legal challenges which assert many of the procedural and substantive errors above, and also challenge the adequacy of the NEB’s review with respect to each Nation’s unique circumstances and interests, in particular regarding impacts on their Aboriginal Rights and Title. This is a separate issue from assertions of flawed consultation leading up to the Cabinet approval.

The seven First Nations are: Tsleil-Waututh Nation; Squamish Nation; Musqueam Indian Band; Coldwater Indian Band; Aitchelitz, Skowkale Shxwa:y Village, Soow Ahlie, Squiala First Nation, Tzeachten, Yakweakwioose, Skwah, Kwaw-Kwaw-Aplit & Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe et al (Sto:lo); Upper Nicola Band; and Stk’emlupsemc Te Secwepemc.

Canada’s marine shipping flip flop?

The Tsleil-Waututh Nation has repeatedly argued that the NEB’s failure to consider marine shipping as part of the project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012 (CEAA 2012) was a legal error. Of course, the ability to ship oil overseas in tankers is the main purpose of the project – and this presents a plethora of risks.

Tsleil-Waututh raised this issue at the NEB hearing and again in its appeal of the NEB’s initial hearing order. That case was dismissed on procedural grounds, with the substantive legal issues specifically preserved for a future case.

The NEB did review marine shipping under the National Energy Board Act, but not under CEAA 2012 which would have added further legal requirements. As Tsleil-Waututh states in its Memorandum of Fact and Law, “Without marine shipping, the Project would constitute the proverbial ‘pipeline to nowhere.’ Marine shipping from the Terminal through Burrard Inlet is essential for the pipeline to have any utility.”

The government of Canada has consistently argued that it was okay to exclude marine shipping from the Kinder Morgan review. However, in its May 31, 2017 submission to the NEB panel reviewing the Energy East pipeline project, Canada stated the exact opposite:

The Government of Canada takes the position that project-related marine shipping within Canada’s territorial sea is integral to the Project and that the environmental effects of marine shipping activities should be considered by the NEB’s environmental assessment of the Energy East project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA, 2012).

This about-face did not go unnoticed, and Tsleil-Waututh filed a motion to have Canada’s submission to the Energy East panel included in the record. That motion will be heard by the FCA. [Update: The FCA dismissed Tsleil-Waututh’s motion on Sept 18th, 2017]

With the Energy East and even Enbridge Northern Gateway reviews considering the effects of marine shipping, why then, is it okay to exclude it from the Kinder Morgan review? All three projects are substantially similar in their purpose of accessing tidewater for export markets.

The implications of this inconsistency could be significant, not just for the review of marine shipping impacts of the project, but also in the assessment of Canada’s conduct in discharging its constitutional duties to First Nations, which is grounded in the honour of the Crown.

Inadequate consultation with First Nations

It shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the main issues raised by each First Nations applicant are the deficiencies in constitutionally-required Crown consultation.

It is important to note that each First Nation’s legal challenge is based on unique facts relating to its specific territory, rights and title. This raises an independent duty to consult and accommodate each individual First Nation. In other words, the extent and content of consultation is specific to the facts and circumstances for each First Nation, and satisfying the duty to consult and accommodate one First Nation does not guarantee that the duty has been fulfilled for another. Success on any one of the First Nations’ (or other parties) legal challenges could delay or stop the project.

The legal challenges submitted by First Nations highlight issues of constitutional, administrative, procedural and statutory law. They allege, among other issues:

  1. that the government failed to address concerns raised repeatedly by First Nations, constituting a breach of the constitutional duty to consult and accommodate. For example, the Coldwater Band’s concerns are focused on the impact of the project on their drinking water, which could have been addressed with a change in the route;
  2. that the government unjustifiably infringed claimed Aboriginal rights and title; and
  3. that the government breached its fiduciary duty to consult the affected First Nations.

Each of the First Nations’ legal challenges at the FCA argues that the highest level of consultation is required, and the level of consultation has been inadequate. Three months before consultation ended, the federal government agreed that the duty to consult requires a high level of consultation.

Two of the applicant First Nations (Musqueam and Sto:lo) have already confirmed fishing rights at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in waters directly affected by the project. Most of the legal challenges assert that the applicant First Nation has unextinguished Aboriginal title or rights over the proposed pipeline and tanker route, invoking both the leading SCC case on Aboriginal title, Tsilhqot’in, as well as the duty to consult and accommodate and seek consent.

It seems investors have learned a lesson from the Enbridge case – with one commenter stating:

The plethora of claims should deeply concern Kinder Morgan investors. The plaintiffs simply need to win one of the 15 claims in order to significantly delay the project. Kinder Morgan must win every single one. The odds, in other words, are stacked against the company. To make matters worse for Kinder Morgan, the provincial government was granted intervenor status to formally join the legal challenges against the Expansion.

BC and Alberta intervention

The new BC government has committed to “employ every tool available to defend BC’s interests in the face of the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and the threat of a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on our coast.” West Coast has published a Legal Toolbox to Defend BC from Kinder Morgan, to outline a number of key tools available to the BC government.

One of the first tools deployed was hiring renowned Indigenous rights lawyer Thomas Berger to oversee the Kinder Morgan file. BC followed by applying to intervene at the FCA case, and was granted approval on August 29, 2017. As Justice Stratas stated in his reasons for allowing the late intervention:

Two provinces are most directly affected by these proceedings, Alberta and British Columbia. The public interest of Alberta has been given a voice in these proceedings. The public interest of British Columbia deserves a voice too. (para 35)

Interveners do not have the same rights of participation as parties to the litigation, but they can play an important role in assisting the court to understand the legal issues. As stated in the BC intervention decision:

In this Court, interveners are guests at a table already set with the food already out on the table. Interveners can comment from their perspective on what they see, smell and taste. They cannot otherwise add food to the table in any way. (para 55)

Hamlet of Clyde River and Chippewas of the Thames

Two other recent cases heard by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) have addressed the role of the NEB in discharging the Crown’s duty to consult First Nations, and have important implications in the legal challenges over Kinder Morgan.

When it was announced that the SCC would release its decisions in the Clyde River and Chippewas of the Thames cases this summer, the parties in the Kinder Morgan cases were given an extension to incorporate the decision into their legal arguments. The SCC overturned the NEB’s decision in Clyde River v. Petroleum Geo-Services Inc. and upheld the decision in Chippewas of the Thames First Nation v. Enbridge Pipelines Inc., adding a little more clarity to the issue of adequate consultation.

Canadian courts are slowly unveiling what the minimum standard of consultation – the floor – looks like. However, in the era of reconciliation, and with commitments to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), when the honour of the Crown is at stake, do we want our elected officials to aim for the floor, or something higher?

The Federal Court of Appeal (at 701 W. Georgia St., Vancouver) is scheduled to hear the consolidated Kinder Morgan case from October 2-13, 2017.  From what we’ve seen in the fight to stop Enbridge Northern Gateway, it’s clear that these legal challenges could have profound impacts on the Trans Mountain project and whether it’s permitted to go ahead.

Eugene Kung, Staff Counsel

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B.C. “asleep at the wheel” on Kinder Morgan monitoring: economist

National Observer by October 13th 2017

A B.C. economist accuses the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office of being “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to monitoring the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project.

Robyn Allan, an economist and former intervenor in the Trans Mountain expansion review, expressed alarm over what she viewed as a weak response from B.C. over the pipeline company’s apparent violation of conditions required to build the project.

“It appears to me that BC EAO is asleep at the wheel,” she said. “Where have they been? Is it really doing its job?”

The pipeline expansion project, if built, would triple the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline to carry up to 890,000 barrels of diluted bitumen from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C. Proponents of the project say thousands of direct and indirect jobs and millions in tax revenue would be created by the project, but the project has been met with significant opposition in parts of B.C. due to factors such as a nearly seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic to the Burrard Inlet.

Allan said B.C. doesn’t seem to be doing its part to ensure the company meets conditions it promised to fulfill for the pipeline expansion.

B.C., federal regulations distinct but connected

On Sept. 22, Kinder Morgan received letter from the federal pipeline regulator, the National Energy Board, ordering it to stop putting down special mats in B.C. streams meant to keep fish out of the way of future construction around the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline.

The company was violating the National Energy Board Act by starting construction before all the conditions had been met for the project, the letter said. Even though the project received both B.C. and federal approval, it still needed to meet 157 conditions required by the NEB, and another 37 conditions from the B.C. government.

One of these many conditions, outlined in section 8 of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Certificate, was that the company had to notify the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office within 72 hours (at the latest) after being made aware of non-compliance.

Allan mentioned this condition in a letter to B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman in late September, but says she didn’t hear back. This week, the BC EAO confirmed the company never notified it about the anti-spawning mats or the warning from the NEB.

“(The company) had not contacted the EAO regarding installation of spawning deterrents along the pipeline route,” B.C. environment ministry spokesperson David Karn told National Observerin an email on Thursday. He added that the EAO is nevertheless aware of the anti-spawning mats, and is in contact with the company.

He said the NEB conditions and the BC environmental assessment certificate are “distinct documents” issued by Ottawa and B.C. respectively, and that “noncompliance with the NEB certificate does not necessarily suggest a similar noncompliance of the provincial (environmental assessment certificate).”

Allan said this argument makes little sense, noting that then-Premier Christy Clark signed an equivalency agreement stating that the NEB’s review process and conditions would become B.C.’s own. Although B.C. was eventually required to conduct its own assessment, she said violating the federal conditions should be something the company has to report to provincial authorities.

“Every tool” in the toolbox?

Allan said the BC EAO’s lukewarm response to Kinder Morgan’s actions shows a mismatch between the government’s rhetoric and its actions regarding the proposed pipeline expansion. Both the BC NDP and BC Green Party stated opposition to the pipeline expansion during the campaign, and Premier John Horgan has promised to use “every tool in the toolbox” to fight it.

“British Columbians have been led to believe by our newly elected government that it will do everything possible … to protect our environment,” Allan said. “We now have a clear admission that Kinder Morgan has violated conditions by using the anti-spawning mats before it was given permission to do so. … We were told the province would do everything it could. Why aren’t they revoking the (environmental assessment) certificate? What’s B.C. going to do about this?”

She said one of the “tools” B.C. can use is to revoke the environmental assessment certificate on grounds that Kinder Morgan violated conditions. But she said there’s little indication the province would take that step.

Environment ministry spokesperson Karn said the BC EAO has recently written to the company to “clarify the requirement for plans to be accepted prior to pipeline construction, and to request clarification … regarding the ongoing compliance of the project” with the environmental assessment certificate.

Kinder Morgan declined to respond to provide further information on its procedures.

See article here…….

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Frustrations mount over dwindling B.C. orca population at DFO symposium

Department of Fisheries and Oceans to spend $7.2 million to monitor noise; environmentalists want more action

CBC News by Jon Hernandez: Oct 11, 2017 

A female resident orca whale breaches while swimming in Puget Sound. Scientists and government officials are in Vancouver this week to discuss ways of protecting southern resident killer whales which number less than 80.

A female resident orca whale breaches while swimming in Puget Sound. Scientists and government officials are in Vancouver this week to discuss ways of protecting southern resident killer whales which number less than 80. (Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press)

Environmentalists invited to Vancouver’s orca symposium left frustrated after hearing few solutions from the federal government to restore B.C.’s dwindling killer whale population.

Six orcas along the B.C. South Coast have died over the last two years, reducing the total population to 77. Last month, a young killer whale was spotted malnourished along the south coast. Researchers believe it has also died.

“We haven’t heard anything from the government yet about what they’re going to do this week, next month, in the next six months, to protect the orcas — and that’s what we’re waiting to hear,” said Christianne Wilhelmson executive director of the Georgia Strait Alliance.

More than 200 stakeholders were in attendance at the event, which runs until Thursday.

Orcas Vessel Slowdown

An orca whale breaches with Mount Baker in the background. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) (Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press)

Wilhelmson says immediate measures discussed by experts in attendance included closing chinook salmon fisheries, and reducing tanker traffic along the Salish Sea.

DFO invests $7.2 million

Officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have yet to commit to either policy, however, the federal government has reaffirmed its promise to monitor waters along the South Coast.

On Wednesday, the DFO announced $7.2 million in funding for hydrophones and oceanographic radars to monitor noise pollution in key habitats along the B.C. coast. The money will go to the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada.

“We’re making investments in science, so that we can make better decision making when it comes to actual objectives that we’re trying to meet like protecting the southern resident killer whales,” said Terry Beach, parliamentary secretary for the DFO.

“We’re actually putting more science in the water over the last number of years than we have in the last decade.”

Orcas Exhaled Breath

A female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle. (Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press)

Beach says the DFO hopes researchers in attendance of the symposium will present actionable plans that could be taken back to Ottawa.

‘Be courageous’

Wilhelmson says the research commitments from the DFO are welcomed, but that industry and the federal government need to take concrete steps to begin to help orcas now.

“The reality is there aren’t enough fish in the sea for the orcas, and we continue to fish the chinook — so that only makes things worse for them,” she said.

“We don’t know what the long term impacts of a [chinook fishery] closure will be, but we’ll never know to what extent it will benefit the species unless we do it.”

“We all have to be courageous if we say we really value the species.”

See article here…….


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How the oil industry created a ‘deep state’ in Canada

The former leader of the Alberta Liberal Party warns that democratic institutions in Canada are falling under the sway of the oil industry.

McLeans by Kevin Taft – October 6, 2017

Oilsands development in Northern Alberta (Shutterstock)

Kevin Taft is author of Oil’s Deep State (James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 2017) and former leader of the Alberta Liberal Party.

You may have heard the term “deep state” in recent months, especially out of the United States. It is a powerful term, but in Canada its meaning is getting stripped. Up here, “deep state” is in danger of becoming just another term for bureaucratic inertia and a resistant civil service. That distorts the concept, so let’s take a look at this term, and an example of a deep state in Canada.

Democracy depends on a wide range of institutions: political parties; courts, police, and media; non-partisan civil servants and arms-length regulators; and universities with experts who pursue truth wherever evidence may lead. A key feature of democracy is that these institutions are genuinely independent. They are not beholden to any private interest, and are instead loyal to the public interest and obedient to the rule of law.

But what happens when public institutions lose their independence? Even more, what happens when a whole series of democratic institutions falls under the sway of one private interest? This would occur, for example, when the governing party, the opposition party, the civil service, universities and regulators all follow the lead of the same private interest.

When several key democratic institutions are captured and held by the same private interest, a “deep state” forms. A deep state is an unofficial system of government that arises separately from, but is closely connected to, the official system. It is a public-private hybrid that operates outside public view. In a modern democracy like Canada, a deep state typically comprises leading owners and executives of major private interests and their allies, together with a selection of politicians and bureaucrats tied to the success of those private interests. A successful deep state captures and harnesses the institutions of democracy for its own use.

Very few private interests have the resources to establish a deep state. In Canada, one that does is the oil industry.

Deep states tend to arise when powerful interests are threatened. What’s the threat to Canada’s oil industry? Global warming. The link between fossil fuels and global warming has been known since the 1980s, and so has the solution to global warming: phasing out fossil fuels. Rather than accepting the science and adapting to other sources of energy, the oil industry has developed an aggressive campaign to obscure the science and advance its own interests.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, healthy democracies like Canada’s responded as they should to global warming. University and government scientists conducted research; civil servants prepared plans and legislation to reduce emissions; political parties committed to action; and Canada’s Parliament endorsed international climate change agreements.

Then the oil industry went into action, and one by one these democratic institutions succumbed. The Harper Conservatives became clients of the oil industry, withdrawing from the Kyoto accord and silencing federal scientists. The federal Liberals and Alberta NDP committed to expanding pipelines and oil sands production. The National Energy Board was tarred by conflicts of interest and the Alberta Energy Regulator was chaired by a former oil executive, while millions of oil dollars flowed to universities. Enough public institutions were captured by the oil industry that a state within a state was created: a deep state. Meanwhile, the hazards of global warming predicted by science came at us like zombies in a horror movie.

Let’s look at how oil’s deep state is unfolding right now. In July 2017, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) published A competitive policy and regulatory framework for Alberta’s upstream oil and natural gas industry. A central recommendation of the strategy needs to be quoted at length:

CAPP recommends that the province [of Alberta] adopt a whole-of-government approach and mandate to strengthen Alberta’s investment attractiveness while achieving government policy objectives. This approach could be supported by a Sustainable Prosperity Steering Committee, comprised of senior representatives from the regulated community [i.e. the oil industry] and the province – notably the Premier’s Office, the ministries of Energy, Economic Development and Trade, and Environment and Parks and the Alberta Energy Regulator. The intent of the committee would be to provide government and industry oversight to steward reform initiatives and drive performance on key files, with a view to minimizing cumulative costs on industry while still achieving government outcomes.

CAPP’s strategy then tied this approach to “political engagement” with the federal government to ensure “streamlined policies” for the industry, specifically naming the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

In short, Canada’s staggeringly powerful oil industry wants “oversight” (their word) of political, civil service, and regulatory institutions in both the Alberta and federal governments. Do the words “deep state” start to take on more meaning now?

Oil’s deep state is a triple threat to Canada. First, the environmental devastation brought on by the industry is piling up liabilities that far outweigh the gains to most Canadians. The cost of reclaiming over 300,000 oil and gas wells in Alberta likely exceeds $70 billion, and the cost of cleaning up the toxic tailings ponds and other damage at the oil sands could reach similar levels. There is nothing close to adequate funding in place to pay these costs, much less the forbidding costs of global warming.

The second threat is economic. Alberta’s oil sands royalty system is so tilted toward the industry that the Alberta government now earns more revenue from gaming and liquor than from bitumen royalties. (You read that correctly.) So the public benefits of expanding bitumen production are tenuous. On top of that, the world is working hard to end its dependence on oil, so hitching the country’s economy to an industry that must be phased out is recklessly short-sighted.

Finally, we have the cost to democracy. As the country’s political parties, regulators, civil servants, universities, and other institutions come increasingly under the sway of the oil industry’s “whole-of-government” strategy, democracy itself begins to fail and we increasingly sacrifice the public interest of Canada to the interests of oil corporations.

The interests of Alberta and Canada are not the same as the interests of the oil industry—sometimes they overlap, and sometimes they are in direct conflict. The hard truth is that in coming decades the oil industry must be phased out in Canada and around the world if we are to avoid catastrophe from global warming. A healthy democracy can rise to that challenge; a country run by oil’s deep state cannot.

See article here……..

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TransCanada ends bid to build Energy East pipeline after ‘careful review of changed circumstances’

TransCanada’s pipeline was to take Alberta oilsands production to Quebec and New Brunswick.

The Star.com by Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017

The proposed route of the Energy East pipeline was shared with the media at an Aug. 2013 press conference with TransCanada officials.  (Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS)  

CALGARY—The premiers of Alberta and New Brunswick say they’re disappointed by TransCanada’s cancellation of the Energy East pipeline, which would have connected their two provinces.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her government has always supported Energy East because of the new jobs, investments and markets it would create.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant also said Energy East would have been good for his province’s economy and generated future revenue for his government.

Energy East had been proposed as a way to move Alberta oilsands production as far east as an Irving Oil operation in Saint John, N.B.

The Calgary-based company had announced last month that it was suspending its efforts to get regulatory approvals for the mega project.

It announced Thursday that it will no longer be proceeding with its applications for the mega project “after careful review of changed circumstances.”

Supporters of Energy East said the pipeline was necessary to expand Alberta’s markets and decrease its dependency on shipments to the United States. Detractors raised questions about the potential environmental impact.

“We are deeply disappointed by the recent decision from TransCanada,” Notley said in a statement.

See article here……


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Feds ’never did the work’ to understand Indigenous concerns on pipeline: lawyer