Pembina Institute

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P.J. Partington — April 17, 2014

Oilsands emission performance doesn’t have to stay stuck in neutral. The roadmap to lower emissions intensity in oilsands is becoming apparent. But for that to become a reality, we need a policy framework that makes sure the cleanest technologies are also the smartest investment. Read more...

P.J. Partington — April 16, 2014

Proponents of oilsands expansion often repeat that missions per barrel have been reduced by 26 per cent between 1990 and 2011. The message implies that things are getting better all the time. Given the scale of oilsands expansion planned for the coming decades, it’s worth venturing past the talking point to better understand these emissions intensity improvements and whether or not they will continue. Read more...

Erin Flanagan — March 4, 2014

Last month, scientists from Environment Canada released a study citing research that estimated the rate at which tailings water is likely seeping from one lake (and into groundwater systems hydraulically connected to the Athabasca River). The research cited determined that rate to be 6.5 million litres per day. We discuss the study research in the context of oilsands expansion and how governments should respond to this information. Read more...

Eugene Mohareb — Feb. 13, 2014

The Government of Alberta has promised to make energy efficiency a priority. One of the key areas where improvements can be made is the energy efficiency in Alberta’s buildings. Read more...

Andrew Read — Nov. 15, 2013

Next week, an important piece of legislation will continue through its third reading in the Alberta legislature. Bill 31, the protecting Alberta’s environment act, would establish the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA) to obtain relevant scientific data and information regarding the condition of the environment in Alberta.

While the bill is essential to establish an independent monitoring agency — a goal we support — the proposed legislation has some basic flaws. Even more concerning, the government has been surprisingly closed-minded in responding to amendments proposed in the legislature that would enhance the bill. Read more...

Simon Dyer — Nov. 8, 2013

This week, the Pembina Institute reviewed a package of documents obtained under Alberta’s Freedom of Information legislation about future Alberta and federal greenhouse gas regulations. Read more...

Matt McCulloch — Oct. 31, 2013

“History repeating itself” isn’t typically a positive expression. It usually refers to a series of errors or oversights typically resulting from leaders failing to learn from past efforts. It is with this in mind that Alberta’s forthcoming innovation plans will want to avoid past mistakes and repeat what Alberta has done well. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Oct. 29, 2013

Last week, Environment Canada released its annual Emissions Trends report, projecting the path of Canada’s climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. This blog looks at what the report says and why it matters. Read more...

Chris Severson-Baker — Oct. 9, 2013

In a drastic move to contain an on-going and unstoppable bitumen blowout in Cold Lake, Alberta, the province’s department of environment has ordered Canadian Natural Resource Ltd. to drain two thirds of a 53-hectare lake. According to CNRL, some of the removed water will be stored in the remaining one third of the lake, with the rest piped to a nearby pit and wetland. Read more...

Erin Flanagan — Sept. 23, 2013

After eight years of deliberation, Alberta has essentially handed industry a free pass when it comes to compensating for the loss of wetlands in the oilsands region. Given the pressure the government is under to show its environmental scruples these days, you’d think it would have seized this opportunity. Instead, the policy gave the oilsands industry at least a two-year exemption from taking any responsibility for wetlands. Read more...

Ed Whittingham — Sept. 10, 2013

Judging from the many conversations that unfolded on Twitter over the past few days, there appears to be a lot of confusion around how fee-for-service consulting works and why an organization like the Pembina Institute is committed to producing some of the best sustainability consulting services in the business. As our clients know, our consulting work is one of various approaches that support our mandate — to lead Canada’s transition to a clean energy future. Read more...

Chris Severson-Baker — Aug. 7, 2013

Executives at Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) said little about an ongoing blowout at an underground oilsands extraction site until late last week, when the company held a conference call for investors and analysts, claiming it had identified the cause of the problem and the situation was under control. Yet, in that conference call, CNRL also confirmed that bitumen emulsion — a mixture of oilsands and water — is still escaping from the Clearwater formation 500 metres underground and following an unknown pathway to the surface where it is leaking out of the ground in four distinct locations at a rate of up to 20 barrels a day. Read more...

Chris Severson-Baker — July 29, 2013

A slow-motion disaster has been unfolding for months at an oilsands extraction site a few hours north of Edmonton. Provincial authorities and media reports have called it a series of “releases” or “spills”, but a more accurate description would be another uncontrolled — and so far unstoppable — blowout in the oilsands reservoir deep underground. Read more...

Benjamin Thibault — July 25, 2013

No other province in Canada has a longer history with wind energy than Alberta, which has 20 years of experience with utility-scale wind farms. Yet, unlike some parts of the country, we don’t tend to hear much about it. So we set out to discover what sorts of complaints officials in Alberta have received about wind energy projects from nearby residents. Read more...

Tim Weis — July 24, 2013

Alberta could implement a clean electricity standard that would create market-based incentives to encourage energy technologies with lower emissions than the current coal-powered system. A recent forum brought thought leaders together to discuss this opportunity. Read more...

Clare Demerse — July 9, 2013

While Calgary celebrates its resilience at a “Hell or High Water” Stampede, Toronto is drying out after a dramatic storm that saw more rain fall in two hours than the city usually sees in the entire month of July.

Even if you don’t live in Southern Alberta or Mississauga, floods are fodder for dinner table conversations across the country right now. And more and more Canadians are asking whether what we’re seeing is climate change. Read more...

Benjamin Thibault — June 17, 2013

Earlier today, the Government of Alberta launched a new “streamlined” regulator for energy projects in the province. While proponents say the move is an “exciting change” that will usher in “a new era” for energy regulation in Alberta, critics have compared the new single regulator to Frankenstein’s monster, arguing that the government is “building a new creature from old bones.” Read more...

Nathan Lemphers — May 23, 2013

Earlier this week, five CP Rail tank cars jumped the tracks just outside of Jansen, Saskatchewan, spilling more than 91,000 litres of crude oil. Last month, a similar derailment near White River, Ontario, resulted in a 63,000-litre oil spill.

While these trains were not carrying bitumen from the oilsands, it’s becoming increasingly common to move oilsands by rail, particularly as public opposition to various new pipeline proposals continues to grow and oilsands producers seek other shipping options. Read more...

P.J. Partington — May 14, 2013

As other countries face up to the climate challenge and begin curbing their demand for fossil fuels, will Canada be left waiting on the shore for tankers that will never come? Read more...

P.J. Partington — April 18, 2013

Each spring, as the tulips are starting to bloom in Ottawa, Environment Canada releases its annual compendium of greenhouse gas emissions data. Here are three stories that emerged from our first look at the report. Read more...

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