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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...

Erin Flanagan — Feb. 6, 2014

Pembina has published a new report about the potential climate impacts associated with the proposed Energy East pipeline. Our research shows that producing the crude required to fill the pipeline would significantly increase Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and make it even more difficult to meet our climate targets. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Jan. 15, 2014

The federal government quietly released a new emissions report over the holidays. It projects a significant and sustained rise in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions unless we dramatically improve our climate policies. This post explores some of the other significant stories found in that report, particularly at the provincial level. Read more...

P.J. Partington — Jan. 10, 2014

Think Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions look bad today? Unfortunately, 2030 doesn’t look any rosier. In October, Environment Canada published projections estimating that current policies will see Canada miss the Harper government’s 2020 emissions target by 122 million tonnes. Now a new report offers us a glimpse of where Canada’s emissions are headed after 2020, adding projections for the next decade. Read more...

Clare Demerse — Jan. 7, 2014

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any slower, Ottawa has yet another rationale for delaying greenhouse gas regulations for oil and gas companies. Worryingly, this one comes straight from the top. 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...

P.J. Partington — Nov. 14, 2013

Earlier this year, Natural Resources Canada commissioned a study to evaluate aspects of the European Union’s Fuel Quality Directive. Canada has been lobbying very aggressively against the FQD, since fuels derived from natural bitumen (oilsands) would be assigned a higher carbon intensity value than those derived from conventional crudes.

The report was released on Wednesday but, despite the government's rhetoric, it offers nothing to discredit the directive. Rather, its findings seem to generally reinforce the defensibility of the Commission’s proposed approach. 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...

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 — 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 — June 4, 2013

Draft regulations tabled by the federal government would keep in situ oilsands development off the list of projects that require federal environmental assessment. By doing so, Ottawa is officially writing itself out of the process that would enable it to responsibly reduce the impacts of oilsands expansion before they occur. 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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