Downtown Eastside drop-in program an experience of ‘empowerment’ and building a voice for the women in the neighbourhood.
Corporations cannot regulate themselves. Their first priority is to maximize returns for their shareholders. Regulation is an accepted method in Canada to ensure private interest is not achieved at the expense of the public interest. Government steps in and establishes a regulatory framework to protect public health, safety and the environment as well as to attain objectives related to the nation’s economic and social goals.
Regulatory capture takes place when the regulator ceases to be independent and advances the commercial interests of the industry it is charged with regulating. The Board’s behaviour during the Trans Mountain hearing not only turned the process into a farce, it exposed the Board as a captured regulator.
Historically, the NEB had been an effective energy regulator, mindful of its obligations to the public interest. Significant erosion began to take place when Prime Minister Mulroney’s government altered NEB legislation in 1991. Among other changes, it required that the Board’s head office be relocated to Calgary and that its members be required to live in and around that city. The NEB became the only federal regulatory agency to be situated outside Ottawa.
Moving the NEB to Calgary dramatically altered the working of the Board. A large number of staff elected not to leave Ottawa and these were replaced by largely Alberta-based employees coming directly from the oil and natural gas industry. A close interaction between Board staff and industry representatives over the years has created a petro culture at the NEB—the goals and the aspirations of the industry became closely intertwined with those of the Board. The NEB has referred publicly to the industry as its partner.
Board members came from the Canadian energy industry, primarily from Alberta. There have been very few appointments that reflect other regions, professions, or interests outside Alberta and its pro-pipeline stance. Because of the Board members’ backgrounds, their objectivity and credibility is compromised. Past Board Chairs having been inducted into the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame and one acted as a consultant for Enbridge at Northern Gateway.
The funding of the agency by industry and close proximity, both geographically and professionally, with industry interests has compromised the Board’s logic.
The NEB replaced the federal Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (now Natural Resources Canada) as the energy policy advisor to government. It is not in the national interest that policy advice come from an agency so closely tied to industry.
Last year, Prime Minister Trudeau promised to conduct the Trans Mountain and Energy East reviews under a credible process because the NEB cannot be trusted to do so. The Charest affair has brought that message once again to the forefront. Canadians want the prime minister to make good on his promise, since it looks like Minister Carr didn’t receive the memo.
Canada deserves a new Board, relocated to Ottawa, with a wide representation that reflects the interests of Canada and Canadians. It should be publicly funded with its policy advisory function transferred to the Ministry of Natural Resources. Until the overhaul that was promised is in effect industry capture will continue and communities will withhold permission for any new pipelines to be built.
Hosted by Updates from Burnaby Mountain
September 19th: 10 am–4 pm Robson St.@ Beatty St.
There will be free meals, snacks, drinks, live musicians/DJ’s, workshops, games, a skate demo, and grassroots student organizing happening.
-Erica Violet Lee
… more to be announced soon
Itinerary for the day:
-10 am: Rally with speakers
-March begins once speakers are finished.
-The festival begins when the march reaches its destination.
Help us cover the costs https://www.gofundme.com/anti-pipelinesfest or etransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
This summer, a federal government panel toured BC gathering public input about the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The panel held public meetings in the middle of summer, during business hours, when many people were away on holiday or busy at work.
Have your say on Kinder Morgan TMX with 1 to 7 different options to get your message to the Kinder Morgan panel, Fed. & Prov. governments!!!! DO ALL 7 AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS! By 9/30/2016
Kinder Morgan REAL Hearings!
Go directly to Federal Government link to put your comments in writing by filling in the Natural Resources public questionnaire available until Sept 30, 2016 – http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/questionnaire/18721link to put your comments in writing by filling in the Natural Resources public questionnaire available until Sept 30, 2016.
Send a message to the Kinder Morgan Panel by Georgia Strait Alliance!!!
Use the form on our website to send a message to the three members of the Trans Mountain Ministerial Panel: Kim Baird, Tony Penikett and Annette Trimbee. Your comments can be short and from the heart, long and technical, or anywhere in between. Check out this fact sheet if you’re looking for a place to start.
Together we can show the government that Kinder Morgan has no social license in BC!
Add your voice to the City of VANCOUVER!!!! Its not worth the risk!!!!
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We Love This Coast Group
Sep. 13, 2016 – Oil Change International – By Lorne Stockman
The Dakota Access Pipeline would carry oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to Gulf Coast refineries and export terminals via Patoka, Illinois. With a maximum capacity of 570,000 barrels per day (bpd), it could carry more than 50 percent of North Dakota’s current oil production. Ultimately, the net greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of the pipe would depend on what future actions we take to end our fossil fuel addiction and address climate change.
Building a large, new pipeline that reduces the cost of delivering a large oil reserve to market would undermine our climate goals. Meeting the targets set out in the Paris agreement, now signed by more than 180 countries around the world, will not be possible if we continue to lock into new fossil fuel infrastructure like the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In response to the ongoing protests in North Dakota and the concerns raised regarding the approval process, construction of the project within 20 miles of Lake Oahe has been suspended, yet construction activities continue elsewhere on the route. The statement from the Departments of Justice, Army and Interior that ordered the suspension indicates that a review of the process by which the remaining permits can be considered will be conducted including “under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.” Given the White House recently issued guidance on how federal agencies should assess climate impact, it makes sense that a climate test should now be applied to this misguided project.
Happy American Horse attaching himself to an excavator at the construction site of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Aug. 31.
Rob Wilson / Bold Alliance
Putting aside broader market impacts for a moment, the total emissions that would be delivered by the pipeline are a factor of the average throughput and the emissions intensity of the crude oil it would deliver. We calculate that at typical utilization rates of 95 percent of capacity, total lifecycle emissions from producing, transporting, processing and burning the products derived from the oil would amount to 101.4 million metric tons of CO2e per year. These emissions are equivalent to 29.5 typical U.S. coal plants or the average emissions of 21.4 million U.S. passenger vehicles.*
How Pipelines Lock In Emissions
The first response of pipeline proponents to estimates of GHG emissions from North American pipelines, will be to claim that the crude will go by rail if there are no pipelines. By asserting that the oil would flow with or without a pipeline, proponents will try to argue that the additional GHG emissions would be zero.
This ignores both the market impacts of shifting from rail to pipe, as well as the potential for climate policy to alter the incentives for oil supply and demand.
First let’s look at the difference in costs to shippers between rail and pipe.
According to RBN Energy (behind pay wall), the Dakota Access Pipeline would reduce the cost of shipping Bakken oil from North Dakota to the Gulf Coast by $7 per barrel, with rail costing $15 compared to the pipeline charging $8. These are likely averaged tariffs and the difference may be greater or smaller according to specific contracts, committed volumes over non-committed, length of contract, etc.
This is a 47 percent reduction in shipping costs to the world’s biggest refining market, which nowadays also happens to be America’s main crude oil export point. There is no doubt that this is an attractive route for Bakken producers to get their oil to major markets at lower cost. And in an oil market that for some time now has seen prices hover between $40 and $50 per barrel, that $7 saving boosts profits and cash flow and can be put toward future investment in more drilling and more production. While the economics in the Bakken are very fluid, making it difficult to estimate with any precision how much more production is triggered by a $7 per barrel increase in netback, it is clear that it can only help producers.
An extra $7 per barrel could be the deciding factor for whether it’s worth drilling a new well or not. A good example of the impact a similar increase can have was recently discussed by Bloomberg in response to a presentation by executives at Apache Corporation.
In the presentation, CEO John Christmann explained how a rise in oil prices from $50 per barrel to $60 would enable Apache to drill more than 3,000 more wells at its Permian Basin acreage in Texas, a more than 300 percent increase on the $50 case. These figures may be unique to that acreage but it gives an idea of how an increase in the price a company can expect to receive from its operations can enable it to drill and produce more oil.
Locking in Capital, Locking in Carbon
Another respect in which pipelines impact climate compared to rail is that they lock in oil supply, because they have a higher ratio of capital expenditure (capex) over operational expenditure (opex). The Dakota Access Pipeline is estimated to cost $3.8 billion. In addition, the ETCO pipeline, which is the southern section of the system that would deliver the crude from Illinois to Texas and is mostly comprised of an old gas pipeline, will cost around $1 billion. All together that’s a $4.8 billion investment.
Shutting down a $4.8 billion pipeline investment before it’s paid off is rare. If markets change due to climate policy, perhaps because of new policies that reduce oil use or rapid market adoption of alternatives such as electric vehicles, companies are likely to keep the oil flowing by cutting tariffs. As long as tariffs are higher than the operating costs of pumping the oil, any capital losses for the pipeline owners will be reduced and any long-term profits increased. So in the climate-action scenario, the tariffs could go a long way below $8—perhaps as low as $1 or 2 per barrel. This will have a powerful effect in maintaining oil flows—and hence emissions—in spite of future climate action.
In contrast, rail terminals are comparatively cheap to build. A rail terminal built to load or unload crude onto and off of rail cars typically costs in the tens to low hundreds of million dollars to build, depending on the size. The capital is paid off quickly but the operational expenses are higher. The reason sending crude by rail is more expensive than pipeline, $7 per barrel more expensive in the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline, is the cost of running the operations. Loading and unloading rail cars, paying rail company freight charges, fuel surcharges, insurance, transporting the crude to and from the rail yard, all of these make rail transport an opex-intensive activity. In contrast to the pipeline, rail operators cannot significantly lower their tariffs, because operating costs are the dominant part of the economics.
The switch from rail to pipe has already played out in the Bakken with the decline in oil prices since 2014. Before the price drop, rail carried around 70 percent of the oil produced in North Dakota. That figure has now declined to less than 30 percent as prices dropped, margins narrowed and pipeline utilization rose to near capacity. Now pipelines carry nearly 60 percent, a figure that is bound to rise if the Dakota Access Pipeline is built (see Figure).
The Shift From Rail to Pipe in the Williston Basin
Nobody wants to see a decimation of an industry overnight, with the severe consequences for workers and communities that that entails. But it is a fact that we need to transition to a clean energy economy as soon as possible in order to address a climate crisis that itself will decimate communities and ecosystems forever. By continuing to build infrastructure that perpetuates our use of fossil fuels for decades to come, we are laying the foundations for disaster and not transition.
The Dakota Access Pipeline would be with us decades into the future. Once built and operating, the economic incentives to keep it going will be hard to overcome. Every year it will be the source of carbon emissions equivalent to nearly 30 coal plants. Even though it may be the case that those emissions would anyway occur this year or next year, or five years from now, it cannot be the case that those emissions can occur in 20, 30 or 40 years from now. Building the Dakota Access Pipeline would be yet another barrier to the path to climate safety.
*We used the Oil Climate Index for the life cycle emissions of Bakken crude oil and the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator for coal plant and vehicle equivalents. Ninety-five percent utilization equates to average annual throughput of 541,500 barrels per day.
September 6, 2016 – Vancouver Sun
VICTORIA — Recent developments on the national stage make it increasingly likely British Columbian’s are headed for another election where the proposed twinning of the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline will be a divisive issue.
Last week in Montreal, it took a handful of protesters less than an hour to disrupt national energy board hearings into the Energy East pipeline proposal, underscore a potential conflict of interest at the NEB, and cast further doubt on whether that project will ever secure support in Quebec.
Then came the news that the federal government was preparing to formalize a moratorium on crude oil tankers off the northwest coast of B.C. thereby making it impossible for the Northern Gateway pipeline to go ahead.
With Northern Gateway already in the morgue and Energy East in the regulatory equivalent of intensive care, that puts Kinder Morgan at the forefront as an all-Canadian option to get Alberta crude to tidewater.
The West Coast routing would dovetail with one of the themes of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s just-completed trade mission to China, the wish to do more business with Beijing particularly in energy products.
But this confluence of events on the national scene comes at a politically-charged time for the B.C. Liberals in their bid for a fifth term.
The country’s Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr is on record as saying that the federal cabinet will make the final call on Kinder Morgan before the end of the year.
Presuming the project were to be green-lighted with conditions — and it would be hard to reconcile outright rejection with the stated goal of getting more Canadian oil to world markets — that would put Kinder Morgan on the front burner heading into B.C. election 2017.
It also played a pivotal role in the 2013 campaign. New Democratic Party leader Adrian Dix came out against the project just 10 days after declaring he would await the outcome of regulatory hearings before taking a position one way or another. While some NDP supporters now downplay the significance of Dix’s flip-flop on Kinder Morgan, the party’s own post-mortem on a losing campaign left no doubt about the impact.
“Within three days, under withering fire in the media, our tracking registered the largest drop in our support we would see. Many analysts have since argued, fairly persuasively in our view, that this was the decisive moment of the campaign.
“It gave the Liberals an opening to turn our apparent inconsistency into a character issue about our leader … and it simultaneously allowed them to build on their argument that changing the government was too economically risky — their core case for re-election.”
For all that, the election did not really settle the question of support for or against Kinder Morgan. (Is anything ever settled in the B.C. political arena?)
Project opponents, including the mayors of Vancouver and Burnaby, carried on as if nothing happened. Environmental activists, while never reaching the panel-storming, police-summoning antics on display in Montreal last week, maintained a formidable protest campaign.
Nor did the re-elected B.C. Liberals treat the NDP defeat as an unqualified endorsement of Kinder Morgan. Rather they stuck by the position taken before the election, that provincial support for any pipeline to move heavy oil through B.C. was contingent meeting five conditions.
They reiterated the five conditions in May of this year when the National Energy Board gave qualified approval to the project. But the Liberals also admitted, “a significant amount of work has already gone toward establishing and meeting the five conditions.”
The biggest gap still to be closed is on the provincial insistence for a world-class regime to minimize the risk oil spills in the marine environment and to manage and mitigate same in the event any do occur.
There is also the requirement that British Columbia “receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy-oil project that reflect the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.”
On the former, federal approval is expected to include funding and regulatory commitments to put in place the necessary protection for the marine environment. On the latter, B.C. has floated the suggestion that Alberta agree to buy B.C. hydroelectric power as a way of reducing reliance on coal and natural gas fired generation.
One scenario would see Trudeau, Notley and B.C. Premier Christy Clark joining together in endorsing the pipeline as being in the national economic interest.
Such a deal could satisfy the prime minister’s agenda while allowing Notley to answer her critics at home and Clark to challenge the B.C. New Democrats for opposing a project essential to the survival of the only NDP government in the country.
With so many matters still to be sorted out on this file, it would take an extraordinary act of political will on the part of three governments to put such a national deal in place by next May.
More likely, B.C. is headed for another election with much talk about Kinder Morgan but no final resolution on whether the controversial twinning of the existing pipeline will actually go ahead.
Vancouver just got a small whiff of what a sevenfold increase in tanker traffic could mean for a place aspiring to be the world’s greenest city. On a calm afternoon in English Bay this week, a grain freighter at anchor apparently started leaking bunker fuel into the scenic waters off Stanley Park.
Local residents and their municipal government were not informed for 13 hours. The Coast Guard was ostensibly in charge of the cleanup, but its private sector partners at West Coast Marine Response Corporation took six hours to start skimming the oil and nine hours to put a boom around the leaking vessel.
Making matters worse was the apparently invisible response from the federal government. While the Vancouver Aquarium staff and police boats were doing what they could to pitch in, where were Transport Canada and Environment Canada?
Years of federal downsizing and program cuts have come home to roost. The Environment Canada Environmental Emergencies office in Vancouver was closed by the federal government in 2012 and moved to Montreal. Sixty staff nationwide specifically trained to deal with oil spills lost their jobs.
Meanwhile, Ottawa is cheerleading virtually every pipeline proposal in the country while gutting the National Energy Board to the point that citizens are now suing Ottawa for denying them due process in public hearings.
The bunker fuel now fouling the shores of English Bay is the barely refined dregs of crude oil and highly toxic. While officials maintain that almost all the oil has been recovered, the fact is that even a successful oil spill cleanup often recovers only about 15 per cent of what is spilled. Two days later and we still don’t know what exactly was in the oil, so residents and volunteers are being told to stay away from their beloved beaches, even to try to clean them.
A far worse scenario
Obviously, a larger spill would have catastrophic consequences for one of the most iconically beautiful cities in the world. Visitors from around the world are drawn to Vancouver’s magnificent waterfront, injecting some $4 billion into local businesses each year.
While bunker fuel is bad, diluted bitumen is far worse. Kinder Morgan wants to massively scale up tanker shipments through Vancouver of this hazardous mixture of volatile solvents and tar from Alberta’s oilsands.
A major difference is that bunker fuel floats, and bitumen typically doesn’t. A relatively small spill of diluted bitumen from an Enbridge pipeline into the Kalamazoo River in 2010 proved to be one of the most expensive inland clean up efforts in American history. Why? Because conventional recovery equipment designed for floating oil proved useless in recovering the thick bitumen that quickly sank once the toxic “diluent” began off-gassing in surrounding area.
This brings us to the second scary difference between bunker fuel and diluted bitumen. More than two-thirds of residents near the Kalamazoo spill began experiencing headaches, nausea, and dizziness after inhaling the toxic fumes from volatile solvents used to thin the thick tar so it can be pumped through a pipeline. Local health authorities declared a voluntary evacuation zone for people within a mile of the spill. What would be the public health implications of a diluted bitumen spill in the Lower Mainland, home to more than two million people? AFRAmax tankers now transiting through the region 60 times per year carry more than 30 times the volume of what spilled into the Kalamazoo River. Kinder Morgan wants to scale up these shipments to more than one per day if its TransMountain pipeline project is approved.
Rather than merely sitting at anchor in English Bay, these tankers must squeeze through the narrow shallow Second Narrows channel with less than two metres of under-keel clearance during a slack-water high-tide window lasting less than 20 minutes. What could go wrong?
Plenty. If a tanker ran aground or struck the pilings supporting the CN railway bridge, the results could be catastrophic for human health, the environment and our economy. Where could two million people flee if a cloud of toxic carcinogenic chemicals began filling the confined airshed of the Lower Mainland? I predict a several sailing wait at the BC Ferries…
Take a deep inhale
Exactly this kind of accident is what a group of local marine experts are worried about. In a letter to the National Energy Board, they estimated a one in 10 chance of a spill more than 8.25 million litres over the 50-year lifespan of Kinder Morgan’s project. That is about 2,500 times larger than the 3,000-litre spill that just happened in English Bay.
The chances of containing an accident like that are essentially zero, as evidenced by the bungled response to a relatively minor spill of comparatively benign bunker fuel. A large bitumen spill due to a bridge collision would quickly be carried out into the Strait of Georgia, propelled by a five-knot tidal current. This would be devastating for abundant local marine life. Just last month, a pod of orcas was spotted hunting off the Stanley Park seawall.
Worse still, Kinder Morgan is refusing to release details of its emergency response plan even to local governments, citing “personal, commercial and security reasons.” Naturally, our federal regulator sided with the company when the City of Vancouver petitioned the National Energy Board for this critical information.
While pipeline projects are portrayed as an economic imperative, an oil spill would be economically disastrous if it closed Canada’s busiest port for a protracted cleanup. Parts of the Kalamazoo River remained closed three years after the Enbridge spill as crews dredged the sunken tar from the river bottom.
Anyone who still thinks that bitumen tankers pose no risk to our coast, or that Ottawa sincerely cares about protecting our environment should go down to English Bay and inhale deeply. That could be the smell of our oily future.