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June 6, 2014 The costs of losing social licence
The degree to which Canadians and others will grant social licence to resource development proposals and proponents will largely hinge on whether — and how — industry and governments choose to implement these solutions to environmental performance and carbon emissions.
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.
Sept. 30, 2013 Joint climate action for Keystone fails to persuade
It’s been a few weeks since news broke that Stephen Harper had written to Barack Obama about the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, offering “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector” in exchange for his approval of the project.
So far there is little evidence that the Obama Administration is interested in accepting Harper’s offer. If Harper did fail to catch Obama’s interest with his letter, it’s worth asking why.
May 23, 2013 Moving oilsands to market — by pipeline or rail?
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.
May 14, 2013 Scientists offer much-needed reality check on climate implications of Ottawa’s resource agenda
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?
April 12, 2013 What Minister Oliver didn’t read
Canada’s Natural Resources minister, Joe Oliver, recently shared his views on climate change and energy with La Presse. The Minister is quoted that he did not read the climate change section of the IEA report or their warning about locking into a path to dangerous climate change. To hopefully inform his next briefing, I’ve summarized the two scenarios below.
News broke this week that Alberta is considering strengthening greenhouse gas regulations on the province’s energy industry. The so-called “40/40” plan proposed by the Environment Minister Diana McQueen would increase Alberta’s intensity-based emissions target and its carbon price. The very mention of such a move has kicked off a long-overdue conversation about what it’s going to take to curtail greenhouse gas pollution and develop Alberta’s resources responsibly.
With consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal heading into the home stretch, a parade of Canadian politicians have been making the trek to the U.S. to try to convince the Obama Administration of the pipeline’s merits.
The good news is that the recent visitors — from Premiers Redford and Wall to federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver — now acknowledge that Canada’s environmental record is crucial to the upcoming U.S. decision.
The bad news is that there are some gaping holes in that record.
March 7, 2013 While Ottawa claims environmental leadership, legal group calls for investigation into oilsands pollution
On the same day that Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver assured the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that “Canada is a global environmental leader … and yes, that includes the oilsands,” the reputable and independent legal group Ecojustice released a report calling for a full federal investigation to determine if oilsands operators are in violation of the Fisheries Act.
March 5, 2013 Draft U.S. environmental assessment understates significance of Keystone XL for oilsands expansion and climate emissions
Late last Friday, the U.S. State Department released its draft assessment of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s environmental impacts, marking a significant milestone toward the impending White House decision on the project’s fate.
Jan. 17, 2013 Climate concerns are key in Keystone XL pipeline debate
To help inform the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline, the Pembina Institute has produced a backgrounder about the climate impacts associated with the proposed pipeline. The backgrounder features new analysis showing that producing enough bitumen to fill the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and inhibit Canada’s ability to meet its climate targets.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Though originally written as a social criticism of the period leading up to the French Revolution, Charles Dickens’ words seem an equally appropriate characterization of the past year for energy and environment issues in Canada.
Last week I testified at the joint review panel hearings into Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline in Prince George, B.C. It was my second time in front of the panel presenting research, on behalf of the environmental group ForestEthics Advocacy, that the Pembina Institute had conducted on the proposed pipeline and tanker project.
If Canadians could have voted in the U.S. presidential election, the majority likely would have re-elected Barack Obama, according to polling from the BBC on global attitudes toward the two candidates. But now that President Obama has returned to the White House, many Canadians are wondering what his second term could mean for Canadian interests, particularly oilsands development.
Despite the controversy over the federal government’s overhaul of environmental laws in Bill C-38, which recently passed third reading in the House of Commons, federal ministers have stuck to the script, insisting that cutting back on federal environmental oversight is the key to ensuring resource development happens in an efficient and “responsible” manner. However, the recent revision of an application by Shell Canada to expand an oilsands mine illustrates the type of sensible environmental protection and sober reflection Canadians risk losing as a result of the changes outlined in the federal bill.
May 1, 2012 Weaker federal laws will increase pressure on Alberta to deliver on environmental management
Last week, the Harper government outlined its plans to weaken virtually every major piece of federal environmental legislation in Bill C-38, the omnibus budget implementation bill. Among other things, the changes outlined in the bill would repeal the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) and replace it with a new version of the bill. CEAA 2012 will shift responsibility for many environmental assessments to the provinces (even though some, like Alberta, have been ill equipped to do the job).
March 30, 2012 Budget 2012: Canada won’t spare a penny for clean energy
Over the past several years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government have been doggedly selling Canada as a “clean energy superpower”. While those words have always rung hollow to anybody tracking the global rise of the $1 trillion clean energy economy, after yesterday’s federal budget they simply ring false.
This morning I appeared before members of the U.S. Congress to speak about the role of technology and government oversight in Canada's oilsands. As policy director at the Pembina Institute, I was invited along with several others to testify at the "American Energy Initiative" hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, part of the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee.
As the pipeline debate on this side of the border shifts to the fate of the Northern Gateway proposal, the U.S. government’s rejection of the Keystone project shows that Canada faces real barriers in getting oilsands to market — and, despite what some pundits say, those barriers are not just political.
The Obama administration’s surprise decision to deny the proposed Keystone XL pipeline created quite the media storm yesterday, and for good reason.
In defending the decision, the president highlighted the risks the project could pose to “the health and safety of the American people and [to] the environment,” and the need to adequately review those concerns. And while a wide range of responses surfaced from the Republicans, Democrats, public opinion leaders and local interest groups, one story in particular caught our eye.
Jan. 16, 2012 The truth about our funding
An open letter from the Pembina Institute to Canadians
As you may have noticed, the Harper government and the “Ethical Oil Inc” front group have been working to discredit groups like the Pembina Institute and our work on energy issues by claiming that we are a “foreign-funded,” “radical” organization advocating against the best interests of Canadians.
Allow us to set the record straight.
Dec. 6, 2011 Raising the bar on the Gateway pipeline
With the U.S. Department of State's decision on the Keystone XL pipeline delayed until 2013, much of the attention in Canada has been shifting west towards Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline to the B.C. coast. After the Keystone XL announcement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quick to threaten to ship oilsands crude to Asia — a point the Prime Minister will likely repeat when he meets with President Obama tomorrow.
Sept. 26, 2011 Oilsands protests driven by lack of progress
Today’s protest in Ottawa and the sit-in at the White House this past month send a strong signal to Canadian and U.S. decision makers that the environmental risks and impacts from expanding oilsands development and associated pipelines are not being adequately addressed.
Sept. 22, 2011 Thinking outside the pipeline: Why American decision-makers must consider the true costs of Keystone XL
The clock is ticking for the U.S. State Department to evaluate the proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.
In a meeting last April with the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, then-environment minister Jim Prentice said: "in terms of reducing our emissions of greenhouse gas as well as other pollutants, the more natural gas we can bring on in this country, the more desirable it is."
But a new report released today by the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation challenges that assumption.
As consultations continue for the Lower Athabasca Integrated Regional Plan (LAIRP), it's time for the Government of Alberta to raise the bar on standards for oilsands development. With this in mind, we've just released a new report that identifies a comprehensive package of environmental policies to reduce the impacts of oilsands operations that can help Alberta improve its international reputation.
It's early days yet, but this spring's federal election campaign has already made one thing abundantly clear: there are a lot of political junkies working at the Pembina Institute.
Despite some very serious distractions (like those irresistible new daily Nanos numbers) we managed to tear ourselves away from our Twitter feeds long enough to put together a checklist for the kind of party platforms we'd like to see in this campaign.
The recent wave of instability in the Middle East and the corresponding increase in oil prices have refuelled the debate in Washington, D.C. over the role Canada's oil should play in meeting American energy demand.
Earlier today, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a speech focusing on America's energy security, and his bottom line was this:
"The only way for America's energy supply to be truly secure is by permanently reducing our dependence on oil. We have to find ways to boost our efficiency so that we use less oil. We have to discover and produce cleaner, renewable sources of energy with less of the carbon pollution that threatens our climate. And we have to do it quickly."
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has shed new light on the dangers of shipping raw oilsands through pipelines today.
This major U.S. environmental organization's findings have implications for both the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S. and the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal, and should be heeded by governments and the public alike.
Nov. 25, 2010 Top 10 blogs of the year
To celebrate one year of Pembina blogging, we've put together this Top 10 list based on page views. The contents of this list also just so happen to double as a convenient year in review of Canadian energy and climate issues.
At first glance, François Paulette, George Poitras and Marty Cobenais may not appear to have that much in common. They speak different languages, and were raised with distinct customs and values. But as aboriginal leaders, they share a common burden that has led them to Washington, D.C., to meet with U.S. officials, whose decisions could have a profound effect on the wellbeing of their communities.
Sept. 7, 2010 Our Message to Madam Speaker
It's not every day that the third most powerful U.S. politician comes to visit Ottawa. It's even more rare when a big part of her visit focuses on a key environmental issue — the mismanagement of the oilsands. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's visit coincides with growing U.S. opposition to a massive oilsands pipeline called the Keystone XL, something she, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, is being pressured to investigate by many in her party.
We are encouraged that Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Edward Markey, Chairman of the influential Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, have chosen to reach out to environmental and First Nations representatives in addition to politicians and industry spokespeople.
Our organizations, the Pembina Institute and Environmental Defence, will have an opportunity to meet with her tomorrow to put forward our perspective on how regulators in Ottawa and Edmonton are failing to do their job with regards to the environmental impacts of the oilsands industry, and what U.S. political leaders can do about it.
A vigorous debate is occurring in the U.S. over the use of oil from oilsands and particularly about a proposed pipeline, the Keystone, that would transport that oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf coast. As the debate unfolds, an appropriate question to be asking is: How should Canada respond?
June 29, 2010 We can't count on environmental assessment process for a fair decision on Enbridge Gateway oilsands pipeline
As the Enbridge Gateway oilsands pipeline proposal lurches toward the environmental assessment process, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is on record saying: "Enbridge has a proposal which is going through a process . . . It will include the most rigorous environmental regime there is anywhere in North America."
While it sounds nice, the reality is that the increasingly controversial pipeline will be reviewed by a Joint Review Panel established by the National Energy Board and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. And if the Mackenzie Gas Project is any indication, there are some very real problems with how the federal government is making decisions about major energy projects.
June 1, 2010 Dispatch from the Great Bear Rainforest: On the scene of a battle shaping up to be bigger than Clayoquot Sound
Kitamaat Village, B.C. — Sometimes it takes tar balls washing up on beaches, as the people of the Gulf coast are experiencing due to the BP oil spill, before we really get the environmental risk we've allowed to threaten our land, air and water.
But that's not the case here on B.C.'s North Coast, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest and home to a growing opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.
Jan. 29, 2010 Pipeline assessment needs to include upstream impacts
The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would carry bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to the B.C. coast. Its construction would enable an expansion in oil sands production, which would result in significant new environmental impacts "upstream" from the pipeline.
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