Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for May 29th, 2008

Help Stop the “Gateway to Global Warming”!

with 7 comments

Forwarded at the request of Ben West

Our Environment Minister in BC may be close to signing the environmental certification for the Gateway mega -project.

If Barry Penner signs the certification for this project his legacy would be that of the Environment Minister that gave the green light to the most counter productive and in fact destructive transportation mega-project of our generation!

On Minster Penner’s website he claims “The BC Government is working to aggressively address global warming and climate change” he even goes on to clearly state “there is still more work to be done if we are to meet our legally-mandated goal of reducing BC’s greenhouse gas emissions by 33% by 2020“. How he could say this one day and then rubber stamp what many are calling “the gateway to global warming” is unconscionable.

Concerned British Columbian’s are writing letters and emails to the minister of the environment and the Premier insisting that the environmental assessment not be signed and that genuine consultation take place. This is your chance to have your voice heard and tell Barry Penner and Gordon Campbell to do the right thing.

Here are just a few key points to consider:

The various elements of the Gateway plan will drastically increase the lower mainlands contribution to green house emissions that cause global warming and pollution levels in the region. The tripling of shipping vessels and heavy truck traffic off delta port will feed into new induced traffic that will be find its way onto the SFPR, the Twinned Port Mann Bridge and then the widened highway 1 and then into the heart of the lower -mainland. To make things worse the Gateway Project will induce car dependent suburban sprawl that leads to further global warming emissions and less healthy community.

The South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR) will harm and maybe kill off Burns Bog, the lungs of the lower mainland our carbon sink!

The expansion of Delta port on Roberts Bank has serious impacts on migratory birds such as the Sandpiper that relies on the region to survive as they fly north. Also Port expansion at Delta Port may severally impact Orca Whales whose population in the area are already dwindling.

The Gateway Project as a whole would impact 1000 hectares of farmland, some of B.C.s most fertile.

The Gateway mega project contradicts the last democratic community planning process that was held around the region, the Livable Region Strategic Plan. Gateway induces car dependent sprawl and starves public transit by monopolizing billions of dollars in public transportation funding.

All of this while not examining the impact of rising fuel prices on the feasibility of the project compared to other options. In fact it has recently been un-covered through a freedom of information request that the project managers used the price of $0.80 a litre in their models for studying the project over the length of the contracts which is the next 25 – 40 years!
No contracts can be signed until Barry Penner signs the environmental assessment.

No meaningful public consultations have yet to be held with the Premier, the Environment Minister or the Transportation Minister. The open houses and community meetings that have taken place have been well orchestrated Public Relation campaigns that were more like focus groups than a genuine attempt to decide the fate of this multi-billion dollar mega -project based on the public will. Make sure they hear your feedback. Send an email today!

Minister Penner
101, 7388 Vedder Road
Chilliwack, BC
V2R 4E4

Premier Campbell

3615 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V6R 1P2

Please CC a copy of your letter to .

If you would like to stay informed about the campaign to stop “the gateway to global warming” and the campaign to get transit before freeways email with the subject line ADD ME.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 29, 2008 at 10:40 am

Posted in Gateway

Sapphire Energy turns algae into ‘green crude’ for fuel

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LA Times Business Section

I suspect we are going to be seeing more and more of stories like this one. A newly formed company says that is can produce “green crude” using algae, CO2 and sunshine, and that it is three years away from commercial production at costs comparable to “artificial crude” from the tar sands.

I have no idea of the veracity of any of this but I notice that the people interviewed are cautious as opposed to optimistic: they want to know what the greenhouse gas effects of the entire process are, probably due to being bitten by that issue by other biofuels. Then there is the question of tailpipe emissions. If it is just like the fuels we use now in that respect, then perhaps local air quality will suffer. So it’s not a magic bullet. And of course there are other promising technologies too. One of the great things about  $135 per barrel oil is that a lot of people now have some real financial incentives to get creative.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 29, 2008 at 10:38 am

Posted in alternative transportation fuel

Tagged with

Canada’s biofuel mandate

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Bill C-33 would allow the government to ensure all gasoline produced for domestic consumption has an average renewable fuel content of five per cent by 2010 and that diesel and heating oil have an average renewable fuel content of two per cent by 2012. The motion, carried by a vote of 173 to 64, must be debated in the Senate before passing into law.

It’s the size of the majority that bothers me. And the Senate is unlikely to do be much different.

There are 20 biofuel plants in operation or under construction in Canada, which will use more than a million tonnes of wheat and nearly 2.5 million tonnes of corn annually.

And, of course, the people who are most pleased about this are not even mentioned. Canada’s farmers. Rural votes have always been much more valuable than urban votes, and though farmers are doing well now that is a bit of a change form previous years. And there is the continuing power of myth – that Canada is mostly rural and agricultural.

On the other hand we also know what the US ethanol mandate has done to distort grain prices, and controversial role it has been playing in its contribution to world hunger and high food prices. The obscenity of fat Americans filling their gargantuan SUVs while poor little kids go hungry has a “made for tv” quality about it that the ethanol lobby spin doctors have not been able to erase.

Mostly, for me, it is the dubious science. There is little doubt in my mind that in the full cycle analysis which includes the impact of fertilisers and the use of fuel to farm, transport and process the crop that the claimed savings in ghg emissions are at best overstated, and at worse the reverse of the truth.

I would like to blame the Conservatives but obviously I can’t. The lobbyists have worked both sides of the house successfully. Renewables would be a good idea if we had a source that was based on what is otherwise a waste product – which can be the case for both ethanol and biodiesel but at present, isn’t. Corn and wheat are food crops. There is plenty of woodwaste and straw – and land that could grow switch grass that would not support food crops. But there are no industrial sized plants producing cellulosic ethanol. It would be nice to think that Mr Harper might hold off on the implementation of this Bill until there is, but it seems extremely unlikely.

UPDATE May 30 Another UN report

Written by Stephen Rees

May 29, 2008 at 10:18 am