Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Tar Sands

“It’s our environment and our economy”

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A guest post by Andy Shadrack

If Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Trudeau think that they can dictate to British Columbians on the basis of whose economy and environment is more important, then they need to think again.

We have an important sport and commercial salmon fishery, and a coastline that is the envy of every tourism operator in the country. And yet Ms Notley and Mr Trudeau think we should sacrifice our economic interests for theirs.

First, no amount of money could fix a crude oil spill. Just ask the Alaskan fishermen and First Nations people impacted by the Exxon Valdez spill. So we are not talking about exporting twinkies, lumber, natural gas or even coal. We are talking about a substance that could severely damage or destroy our marine ecosystem.

BC has only one marine ecosystem and no amount of money could help rebuild it. Question: why are Alberta and Ottawa not supporting refining tar sands crude where it is being mined?

That way we could all benefit from purchasing Canadian refined oil products and end the importation of foreign oil. The answer I keep getting is that it is too expensive and not a viable economic solution.

Well, guess what, exporting crude oil through BC’s fragile marine ecosystem is not a viable economic alternative either. Nor do we want to be held hostage to Alberta’s economic needs.

We in BC have as much right to protect our environment and economy as Albertans. So, Ms Notley, a little less of “it’s our right” and “the federal government has made adecision”, as Mr Trudeau also promised us that the impacts of resource extraction would be balanced against the needs of protecting the environment.

It’s our environment and our economy that’s at stake here, so please start by respecting us and that fact. After that, we can negotiate as equal partners in confederation and not from some subservient position of just because you mined it, you have a right to export it.

Andy is someone I met when I joined the Green Party of BC. He posted this on his facebook page today. I decided to copy and paste it here.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 13, 2017 at 5:25 pm

Dire Straits

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The increase in shipping traffic if the TransMountain pipeline expansion is actually implemented poses a quite extraordinary threat to the Salish Sea. I heard on the CBC yesterday that the ships used to load at pipeline terminal in Burnaby are smaller than optimal, so they will be running a shuttle service to supertankers moored off the coast somewhere for transhipment. And do not forget that we are talking about diluted bitumen: this is a heavy mixture of tar and sand mixed with natural gas condensate to get it to flow. In the event of a spill, the lighter fractions quickly evaporates, and the bitumen sinks. That means it is for all intents and purposes irrecoverable. Indeed, I think, as campaigners against the pipeline, we need to take a lesson from Jordan Bateman and repeat “dilbit sinks” whenever anyone talks about what a great idea tar sands exports are.

The following is a letter that Susan Jones has sent to our politicians. She copied it to Fraser Voices and has given me permission to reproduce it here.


 

The Right Honourable Justin P. Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Members of Parliament    Ottawa, Canada, K1A 0E4

Have you any idea of what you have just approved with the Kinder Morgan pipeline in British Columbia?

Your statistics and statements of fact are not correct and should be referenced.

According to the website below:

“ More than 10,000 vessels transit  the lower Strait of Georgia, Boundary Pass and  Haro  Strait each year. But that includes  tugs, fishing boats, private  yachts and  ferry boats.  There are about  3,000 large tankers, container ships and  bulk carriers that pass the same way each year.  Adding  another 400 tankers would increase  the total traffic to about  ten ships a day, a bit less than  one every hour,  coming  or going.”

http://www.tideflats.com/oil-tankers-in-haro-straight/

This is not 1% increase as stated by the federal Liberal Government.  It is more than a 13% increase in large ships.

Also, you have not included other planned increases as outlined in the article referenced below.  If all proceed, there will be a 40% increase in large vessels through the narrow shipping lane from Vancouver to the Pacific  This is also the route traveled by the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcas) which you are entrusted to protect.

http://www.islandtides.com/assets/reprint/oil_20140306.pdf

The information you have broadcast is not “evidence based” and it is not “safe” for the amazing environment of the Strait of Georgia, Boundary Pass, Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Just take a look at the maps below and see how narrow the shipping passes are from Vancouver to the Pacific.  In addition, the passage from the Juan de Fuca Strait to the Pacific is dangerous and subject to strong winds, and powerful currents.  The area, also known as the Big Eddy is rich in nutrients supporting entire food chains – from plankton to whales.

Take a look at the route below and think about the impact of even a minor accident or spill.  Even without an accident, the noise impact of increased numbers of large ships interferes with whale communication leading to mortality.  The impacts of increased numbers of large vessels cannot be effectively mitigated.

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screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-10-33-27-amDownload this map in .pdf format

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Living Oceans

 

Written by Stephen Rees

December 1, 2016 at 10:44 am

Vast majority of carbon reserves must stay in the ground to meet 1.5C target.

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The current news about the PM and the Mayor of Montreal having meetings about pipelines – and the not public hearings into Kinder Morgan’s desire to exapnd the TransMountain pipeline – both miss the most important point. These things must not be built. They are both designed to increase the use of the tar sands, and thus are not consistent with the undertakings Canada made in Paris. The following is a News Release put out by GreenPeace which I doubt will be printed by much of the mainstream media, so I am putting it here.

NEWS RELEASE

Seventy-four North American groups call on the prime minister and premiers to take swift action to meet Canada’s new climate goal.

Vast majority of carbon reserves must stay in the ground to meet 1.5C target.

January 27, 2016

On the eve of a meeting of Canada’s environment ministers in Ottawa to talk about the national climate strategy, 74 organizations – representing millions of people in Canada and the U.S. – sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada’s premiers outlining the steps Canada needs to take to fulfill its international commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 C, as agreed to by 195 countries at the Paris climate summit.

The letter explicitly states that new tar sands pipelines like Energy East and Kinder Morgan cannot be built if Canada is to meet its commitment. Instead, the prime minister and the premiers must work to decarbonize Canada’s economy and speed the rapid uptake of renewables, efficiency and sustainable transportation options.

“Canadian decision makers have the opportunity to be real climate leaders in the clean energy era – but they must accept the science to do it. There is simply no room for major new pipelines in a safe climate future,” says Steven Guilbeault of Équiterre. “The science is demanding we keep the carbon in the ground and start the transition. That is a reality that our premiers and the prime minister need to embrace.”

“We’re reminding the Canadian and provincial governments of the tremendous work that needs to be done for Canada to meet its global climate commitment,” said Mike Hudema, Climate and Energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “One and a half degrees Celsius is a level vital for the survival of millions of people and the safety of all life on the planet. We don’t have much time to make the transition to 100% renewable energy and we can’t afford to build new pipelines that send us in the opposite direction.”

As the federal and provincial governments collaborate on the design of a new national climate plan in the 90 days following the Paris Agreement, the repositioning of Canada as a global climate leader has never been more important. An ambitious, just, science-based plan aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees will require all provinces and the country to decarbonize their economies and keep the vast majority of remaining carbon reserves in the ground.

“To have a decent chance at limiting global warming to even 2 degrees, 80% of fossil fuel reserves globally must stay in the ground. The 1.5 degree limit requires us to go even further faster,” says Hannah McKinnon of Oil Change International. “This is especially true in a country like Canada that is home to the third largest oil reserves in the world. We cannot lock ourselves into decades more of unwanted pollution by expanding pipelines and production in places like the Alberta tar sands. Instead, we need to move the other way.”

“What we need now is leadership on a pathway towards energy and economic diversification, not more short-sighted attempts to force pipelines across our country – Canadians didn’t stand for it before and we won’t stand for it now,” says Graham Saul, Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa.  “Canada has exceptional opportunities in the clean energy economy. We could completely redefine ourselves as a renewable energy superpower, create tens of thousands of jobs from coast to coast to coast, and show the world what it means to responsibly transition to zero-carbon within a few short decades. This is what will build a strong economy, not saddling ourselves to decades more of last century’s dirty energy.”

The letter concludes with the signatories stating their commitment to working with federal, provincial and municipal governments, along with First Nations, Metis and Inuit leaders and the growing climate movement to meet these challenges and move beyond oil.

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The full letter and signatories can be seen here www.one-point-five.ca

Written by Stephen Rees

January 27, 2016 at 7:42 am

The West Coast Tar Sands Invasion

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I am reproducing below the text of a press release received this morning from The Natural Resources Defense Council and Forest Ethics. It seems to me to be written for the US market, but no doubt there will also be a version seen on Canadian media. The Press Release contains a link to the NRDC web page and from there to 21 page PDF report with 216 citations.   This illustrates what they are concerned about.

West Coast Tar Sands Threat

West Coast Tar Sands Threat

I did not draw this map of course. I would have included the BC/Alaska border, the Chevron refinery in Burnaby and labelled the TransMountain pipeline as a proposed expansion.  

The local opposition is currently being concentrated on the risks of spills in the marine environment, due to recent events in English Bay. The report looks at broader implications. And the list of endorsements includes many familiar logos

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NEW STUDY: TAR SANDS TO SKYROCKET WEST COAST’S CLIMATE AND AIR POLLUTION

New Tar Sands Industry Plans Threaten Millions, Putting Hundreds of Communities, Waterways, and Natural Landmarks at Risk

SACRAMENTO (April 28, 2015) – The Pacific coast faces a looming health, climate, and environmental crisis posed by an influx of tar sands fuel from oil interests in Alberta, Canada, according to new analysis released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), NextGen Climate America, ForestEthics, and a coalition of 27 partner organizations. The tar sands industry’s long term goal to triple production will require flooding both Gulf and West Coast heavy crude refineries with tar sands crude in coming decades. The increased transport of tar sands by rail, pipeline, barge, and ocean tankers will threaten the water and air quality of hundreds of communities, heighten the risk of tar sands oil spills and explosions, and reverse decades of public health, energy, and climate successes from California to British Columbia.

“The West Coast is about to fall victim to a tar sands invasion, unless our leaders choose to protect the health and safety of our communities and say no to Big Oil,” said Anthony Swift, Deputy-Director of NRDC’s Canada Project. “New tar sands proposals on the West Coast would increase the region’s carbon emissions and create more than two and a half times the carbon emissions of San Francisco. At a time when the nation is moving toward a clean energy future, there is no reason to welcome the dirtiest oil on the planet into our communities.”

The report, West Coast Tar Sands Invasion (http://www.nrdc.org/land/west-coast-tar-sands-threat.asp), examines the spike in oil infrastructure, climate pollution, and public health risks that will result from oil industry proposals to expand tar sands refining and export capacity on the West Coast. The report finds that new oil industry proposals would result in the following:

* A greater than tenfold increase the amount of tar sands moving into and through the North American west coast by more than 1.7 million barrels per day

* Increase the region’s carbon pollution by up to 26 million metric tons – the equivalent of adding 5.5 million cars to the road

* Create1,500 miles of new pipelines in British Columbia

* Increase tanker and barge traffic twenty-five fold, from 80 to over 2,000 vessels along the Pacific west coast, on the Salish Sea, and down the Columbia River

* Increase tar sands at West Coast refineries by eight-fold, from 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 800,000 bpd by 2040

* Create a dozen new rail terminals that would significantly increase the region’s crude-by-rail traffic

* Place hundreds of communities, critical waterways and other environmentally-sensitive areas at risk of a tar sands oil spill

* Put fenceline communities and millions of West Coast residents at greater risk than ever to increased toxic air pollution, derailments, explosions, and other accidents that harm public health along with air and water quality

“Across North America people are saying no to the oil industry’s plans to move the world’s dirtiest, most explosive crude to the West Coast,” says Todd Paglia, ForestEthics executive director. “Tar sands threaten the safety of millions of Americans who live in the oil train blast zone, our drinking water supplies, and our coastlines. For oil companies with razor thin margins on this expensive oil, it’s safety last. But we are organized to fight and stop the oil trains, pipelines, and tankers that carry this explosive, toxic, unnecessary crude oil.”

The report also finds the proposed tar sands expansion puts iconic places such as Washington’s San Juan Islands, the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the Sacramento Watershed, and the San Francisco Bay at risk to spills and accidents. Tar sands spills have proven to be more damaging than conventional spills, as heavy tar sands bitumen sinks below the water surface making it even more difficult to contain or recover should a spill occur in one of the hundreds of rivers, streams and critical watersheds across the West Coast vulnerable to expanded tar sands pipeline and rail traffic. A spill could devastate local economies, harm human health, kill critical species, damage First Nation territories, devastate pristine wilderness, and lead to an especially costly and challenging cleanup.

The study had clear recommendations for decision-makers: States should aggressively pursue clean energy strategies that discourage dirty fuels like tar sands while decreasing the region’s dependence on oil, including policies that spur low carbon transportation and energy solutions such as broadened electric vehicle use and the development of clean fuels.

“As a nation we are at a critical juncture. We do not have to expose hard-working Americans to the health and safety risks of oil trains running through the heart of our communities,” said Tom Steyer, President of NextGen Climate America. “Instead, we can choose to support forward-thinking climate policies, like those being proposed by Governor Brown and the legislature here in California. Together we can build a safer, cleaner, healthier and more prosperous energy future – one that does not depend on tar sands and other dirty fossil fuels.”

Additionally, decision-makers must reject new major tar sands infrastructure projects and ensure all proposed fossil fuel infrastructure go through a thorough public health and environmental review process. State and federal regulators should enact safety, spill response, and air pollution standards that ensure the risk of a tar sands spills is eliminated, the public is safeguarded from derailments, and communities are protected from toxic refinery emissions.

“Dirty crude needs to stay in the ground, and we need to protect our communities and our planet from increases in carbon emissions and from these dangerous projects that are being proposed by the oil industry,” said Nile Malloy, Northern California Program Director at Communities for a Better Environment. “Environmental justice communities from Richmond in the San Francisco Bay Area to Wilmington in Los Angeles have been put in harm’s way for too long, and we are united to fight against this injustice towards creating meaningful and lasting solutions. We need a just transition away from fossil fuels and aggressive investments in a new thriving inclusive clean energy economy.”

Written by Stephen Rees

April 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Posted in energy, Environment

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Greenpeace ad takes aim at Harper’s tar sands greenwash

This post is courtesy of Peter Louwe of Greenpeace who was kind enough to send me a Press Release. I do not watch much tv these days, and when I do I pick non-commercial channels when I can. Which is a shame when you miss things like this. I hope they do go viral on social media and perhaps this will help.

The Harper government’s performance on the environment in general and the tar sands in particular is hard to satirize. Its a bit like Tom Lehrer said, when they gave Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize, it is now really hard to do satire.

Actually this is the first of three and Greenpeace wants to raise funds to put all of them on the air. You can help, of course. As usual, these things come with a plea for cash – or signatures on a petition.

Greenpeace lampoons government ads that “greenwash” tar sands

6 June 2013 – Greenpeace Canada launched a satirical television ad campaign today aimed at debunking the Harper government’s campaign to “greenwash” the tar sands.

The 30-second ad stars comedic actor Peter Keleghan, known for his work on “18 to Life” and “The Red Green Show,” as Environment Minister Peter Kent. In the ad, he complains that “being the kind of environment minister who makes big oil companies clean up their mess isn’t easy – but buying ads is!”

At issue are the federal government’s “Responsible Resource Development” ads, which depict the tar sands industry as environmentally friendly. First aired in 2012, Ottawa will spend $16 million in tax dollars this year to keep the ads running on television.

Greenpeace will promote the ad on social media before it airs the week of July 8th on CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. The organization is appealing to viewers to sign a petition aimed at Prime Minister Harper as well as contribute a donation to run the ad more widely.

“This project gave me the opportunity to help Greenpeace make an important statement on how the federal government is spending our money to promote the oil industry,” said Keleghan. “It richly deserves being lampooned.”

In addition to the television spot, Greenpeace made two longer skits featuring Sheila McCarthy and Richard Blackburn, who respectively play a sly assistant and exuberant Harper.

All three videos (available at http://www.stopgreenwash.ca) were directed by Michael Kennedy, whose work includes the hit sitcom “Little Mosque on the Prairie.” Kennedy said he jumped at the chance to direct the videos: “Serious issues deserve serious attention, but sometimes humour works best when you’re trying to reach people.”

“There is no throne so high that it can’t be shaken by laughter from beneath,” echoed Greenpeace Climate and Energy Coordinator Keith Stewart. “Let’s laugh those government ads off the air!”

Keleghan, who has shown his comedic talents in episodes of Seinfeld and Cheers as well as in starring roles in The Newsroom and Billable Hours, previously appeared as Minister Kent in Greenpeace’s “Polluter Harmony” video two years ago.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 6, 2013 at 8:30 am

Regulatory Capture

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I went out to UBC to-day to hear Andrew Nikiforuk. His lecture at the School of Journalism was sponsored by and advertised in The Tyee (he is now their writer in residence) as ‘Who Regulates Canada’s Oil Patch, and for Whom?’

I am afraid I was a few minutes late and missed the start of his talk. This was because my research before I left home showed there is a pub opposite the Sing Tao building, where I could get lunch first. That was true but UBC does not follow any of the conventions of other places and the pub is neatly hidden. There were signs – which ultimately were truthful, if not exactly helpful, in gaining access. Someone needs to explain the principles of “street presence” to UBC planners.

In fact he did not just speak about the Canada’s Oil Patch: he spoke about the role of regulators in the US gulf, the BC Peace River and the Alberta tar sands. The theory of regulatory capture is associated with Nobel laureate economist George Stigler, one of its main developers. (wiki) Nikiforuk said that what happens in reality is corruption “an abuse of entrusted power for private benefit” – and in the three areas he spoke of it is clear that is exactly what has happened.

In the Gulf of Mexico, where the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Minerals Management Service, which had regulatory responsibility for offshore oil drilling, has been widely cited as an example of regulatory capture.[8][9][10] (also from the same wiki page as cited above)

In fact the Minerals Management Service was cited three times by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG – there are actually many of these but his citation of Earl Devaney meant I could track it to the Department of the Interior). MMS was supposed to be concerned about safety but also the collection of royalties – and was funded 50% by direct levies on the industry. DOIOIG found in 1990 that the industry had offered MMS staff drugs, sex and gifts. In 2008 he noted that there was a “culture of substance abuse – and an unstructured system for dealing with royalties”

“The reports portray a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch.”[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17] (again lifted from wiki)

The drilling rig in question had been exempted from an environmental review immediately before the explosion. There were in fact only 60 inspectors trying to cover 4,000 rigs. In 2010 the OIG noted the ease of movement of personnel between the industry and government – what Nikiforuk referred to as the “revolving door” – and an atmosphere where it was “permissible to fraternize and provide gifts”. Evidence of “capture” meant the MMS was replaced by three separate organizations with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Enforcement taking over the regulatory aspects of drilling. It took a crisis to reform a regulatory body which had been taken over by the industry.

In Canada there is a similar case to be made against the National Energy Board and Enbridge – the promoters of a proposed new pipeline from the tar sands to Kitimat, BC. This will, if built, move 500,000 barrels of bitumen a day for export to China – [with condensate being imported in the opposite direction in a parallel pipe to be used to get the bitumen to flow]. This creates “extra-ordinary liabilities” – such as stream crossings – and Enbridge’s record of pipeline safety is cautionary. NEB is funded 90% by the companies it regulates $56m a year from 166 companies of which Enbridge is probably the largest contributor. There is a similar history of exchange of personnel between NEB and the companies it regulates. Moreover NEB does not say no to pipelines [any more than the BC Environmental Assessment process turns down projects].

The Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations (CAEPLA) is Canada’s “foremost and leading association of landowners who have a direct and ongoing interest in the way government and energy regulators define, and then influence, the relationships that exist between landowners and various aspects of the energy sector.” [Their web page has a link to regulatory capture at the NEB] CAEPLA made a Freedom of Information request to NEB – to which they responded with 300 blank pages. And nothing else. They note too that the NEB refers to the oil industry as “partners”.

The Oil and Gas Commission of BC is a similar case. This body is responsible for the regulation of shale gas in northern BC. It was established ten years ago by Brad McGuinness who had just left CAPP – an industry lobby group.  OGC is 100% funded by industry – $35m based on levies on production.  “How can the regulators work in the public interest if they are paid for by the oil companies?” The biggest contributor is EnCana who have 2m acres of land leased in BC. The Commission has a Board of just two people – the Deputy Minister MEMPR and someone from the oil and gas industry. “Ben Mitchell-Banks – who was then the commission’s compliance and enforcement director – was seconded to Encana on May 10, 2004.” (Public Eye on line) The Medical Health Officer of Northern Health recently reported that the rapid growth of gas drilling “has outpaced our understanding of the health impacts” of this activity. One farmer has been quoted as saying that th OGC “acts more like a facilitator than a regulator”.  He had slides from a presentation – which i have not yet been able to locate – which describes oil and gas as “great goose habitat” – in other words the oil and gas industry is the goose that lays the golden eggs. Royalties – at $2 to 3 billion a year – are now the number one revenue earner for BC.

He recommended the use of Pro Publica specifically for their investigation of gas drilling and its environmental impact in the US. (“ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.”) Getting gas out of dense shale requires huge amounts of water and a “secret sauce” of chemicals to fracture the risk to release the gas. There are now thousands of cases of contamination of drinking water due to migration of these chemicals. In Canada there has been a history of regulatory neglect of shale cracking. In 2002 the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment called for the creation of a baseline of hydrological data on aquifers in areas proposed for gas drilling, in order to be able to measure the subsequent impacts. This was, of course, ignored. 56% of the water usages in BC for gas drilling were found to be in noncompliance – although the regulator gave them all a passing grade as they cleaned up the problems once they were identified. This system whereby everybody passes and no-ne fails has been identified by the Auditor General of BC as a process that “needs improving”(2008 report on Oil and Gas Site Contamination Risks link is to a pdf of the report)

The Energy Resources Conservation Board of Alberta was the third case examined – and this is the one that looks at the tar sands extraction process directly. Once again, 63% of their funding comes from industry. One of the ten spin doctors employed by ERCB likens the source of funding as parallel to the way that citizens pay for the police through their taxes. However, this neglects to note that while everyone (millions of us) pays the taxes that pay police, only 100 companies produce 90% of Alberta’s oil and gas. Once again there is a revolving door for people to move between the ERCB and industry.

“Cupid’s arrow pierces energy regulator” was the headline of a story by Valerie Fortney in the Calgary Herald on February 21, 2009. Unfortunately the Herald’s own web page does not serve up this story but a blog does

…the provincial energy regulator’s announcement Thursday that it was suspending an ongoing and contentious energy application due to a “personal” relationship between a Petro-Canada employee and a board employee–the latter who made the bombshell admission 72 hours after Valentine’s Day.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board has been holding public hearings since Nov. 12 on Petro-Canada’s controversial proposal to drill 11 sour gas wells and build a pipeline in the Eastern Slopes west of Longview.

The regulator has approved a sour gas pipeline through a First Nations reserve, but on the condition that every house has a “safe room” where the residents can go in the event of a leak.

He spoke of the rapidity of the growth of the tar sands project, which has not been matched by a comparable growth in staff at ERCB on the ground at Fort McMurray. The size of the problems are enormous: for example there are now 170 sq kms of toxic waste in tailings ponds – where the water left over from oil extraction from the sands is left – originally in the hope that it would “settle out for further use” – a hope which is unfulfilled. These ponds now hold 6 billion barrels – an estimated $10 to $20 billion liability. They are held back from rivers by a system of dykes – for example along the bank of the Athabasca River – but as CEAA noted in 2009 – “there is no data on seepage” .  While these projects have been underway for twenty years it was not until 2008 that  ERCB produced performance standards for tailings and even then they gave exemptions to Syncrude.

One method used to separate oil from the sands is Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage.  One such project produced a catastrophic event on May 18 2006 – the report on which did not appear until four years later.

Nikiforuk did have some prescriptions for reform. He said that “we should start by doing what is necessary” – that is separating industry from the regulators and introducing transparency. one problem he acknowledged was that many journalists who had covered the oil patch are now employed as PR people by the industry. “People who know about the game are not talking about the game”. he suggested a series of anti-capture strategies including rotation of staff within offices, disqualification for employment within the regulator of people recently in the industry – and from the regulator to industry. He also thought that there should be formal whistle-blower protection to encourage information flow. It is clear, he said that the OGC is not working in the interests of the people of BC, and that the first thing to do is “take the money off the table”. Oil and gas royalties should not go into current expenditures (thus allowing for tax cuts or increased spending) but into an investment fund. There has to be a provincial strategy for investing resource wealth for the future. It was essential that we slow down the process of extraction and “behave like an owner not a tenant”. (Peter Lougheed)

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
C. S. Lewis

“People do not want to be sold soap and wishful thinking. That is why they do not read newspapers any more.”

==============

The lecture was videoed – and I am told may even be available on YouTube shortly.

A couple of points from my own story. Firstly, I decides to cover this event because we rely so heavily on oil for transportation – and the movement of  Alberta crude through our province and our ports has to be of direct concern to us.

I worked for the Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources in Victoria for two and a half years. The first course that I was sent on  by that ministry was run by CPPI. As indeed were all new entrants to that ministry at that time. Most of the information that we have about oil and gas comes from the industry itself.

I applied for a job at NEB after I left Translink. Indeed, it was only because I did not get that job that I was able to use the federal Privacy Act to determine that officials at Translink were breaking a formal agreement (negotiated by their re-employment consultant) by giving me a poor (indeed false) reference. It seems to me now that I dodged a bullet!

Written by Stephen Rees

September 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent

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This book is currently being offered for free as a pdf download

co-published with Greystone Books and
the David Suzuki Foundation

Because we at Greystone Books think author Andrew Nikiforuk’s message about the environmental, political, and economical implications of this dirty resource is so important, we’re offering you the entire book for free.

Download Tar Sands for free!
[4.6 MB]

This offer expires on March 20.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 17, 2009 at 7:02 am

Posted in energy, Environment

Tagged with