Another Northern Gateway Pipeline Update

Sometimes, the regina mom wonders why she bothers to write her long blogposts, when others do it excellently with a short quote and video or are capable of piecing together a few headlines about the HarperCons’ visit to China, the trade trip on which the Enbridge CEO has accompanied the Prime Minister presumably to tout the pipeline projected to forever change the BC coastline, coastal communities and eco-system when the first tanker spill happens.

Meanwhile, back on the Canadian ranch, the HarperCon MPs spew slick rhetoric. Kady O’Malley’s citations from the Hansard regarding MP Larry Brown’s statements about Sharon Carstairs, Allan Rock and Hitler proves to be a very interesting, if frightening read.  It makes trm believe the PMO is using the Karl Rove’s playbook (PDF).

Open file has a bit of a who’s who on the Northern Gateway issue but forgot to mention one of Canada’s treasures, Franke James, who is still awaiting confirmation for a meeting with her MP, Joe Oliver.  Remember him?  He’s the oily MP who offered to meet with environmentalists, the one whose whose slippery words really got the ball rolling on this campaign.

 

Oh, Those ‘Radicals’!

Today the HarperCons stepped into the cesspool polluted waters tarsands issue to announce a water monitoring project which will take 3 years and $50 million to fully implement.  the regina mom agrees with Halifax NDP MP Megan Leslie; this is a PR stunt.  And, trm shares Edmonton MP Linda Duncan’s concerns that First Nations’ communities were not adequately consulted and that many more tarsands projects could be approved before this monitoring begins. trm considers this announcement to be a reflection of the great work the ecojustice community “radical groups” are doing to educate citizens on the issues.  Well done, radicals!

One radical, Andrew Nikiforuk, declared a political emergency regarding the tarsands years ago.  His latest piece at The Tyee cites a “detailed analysis” submitted to the National Energy Board by Robyn Allan who is the former president and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.  Ms Allan’s report “concludes that “Northern Gateway is neither needed nor is in the public interest.

“I assumed that it would be a wealth generating project,” the 56-year-old retired investment and financial affairs economist told the Tyee. “But when I started digging none of those assumptions held. The project is an inflationary price shock to the economy.”

Allan, once rated by the National Post as one of Canada’s top 200 CEOs, says she started to study the economic case for the project after a query by her son. That was when she discovered that Enbridge’s economic benefit models were based on “misleading information, faulty methodology, numerous errors and presentation bias.”

trm‘s readers can download Allan’s full report, “An Economic Assessment of Northern Gateway” at the Alberta Federation of Labour’s website. Note that, according to Nikiforuk, “Allan’s report supports the findings of Dave Hughes, a retired senior analyst with Natural Resources Canada. He described the pipeline as a risk to Canada’s economic and energy security” a report to which trm has previously linked.

Further commentary comes from the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada which also says that the Gateway pipeline is unsustainable, based on a report they commissioned from Informetrica Inc.

The brief points out that two major refinery closures in Ontario and Quebec have created even more of a dependency on foreign suppliers for refined petroleum products: gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil.

“Canadians should also be alarmed that, while Canada exports most of its bitumen to foreign sources, Atlantic Canada and Quebec import 90% of their oil, and Ontario imports 30%,” says Coles.

“Without access to the increased supply of Western Canadian crude, Eastern Canada has suffered a loss of refining capacity, a loss of jobs and gasoline supply problems. Meanwhile, hundreds of workers where thrown out of high-skill, well paying jobs and many additional direct and indirect jobs have been lost.

The primary CEP document is here.

Andrew Frank, the former ForestEthics employee fired for his whistleblowing and about whom trm has previously reported, now suggests a “middle way” to avoid the polarization the Gateway debate has created. Though his suggestions are valid, trm has concerns that they are premised on the continued operation of the tarsands.  trm does not necessarily agree that they must continue.  Still, she also wants to encourage dialogue among Canadians and so, presents his points in abbreviated form:

  1. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline should not be built.
  2. Regulation needs to catch up with production.
  3. Oil sands production should match a rate that climate change scientists say is safe.
  4. Slowdown production to extract the maximum value and develop a royalties system that will look after Canadians long after the oil sands are gone.

Related to the Frank matter was the Notice of Motion filed by Ecojustice on behalf of four so-called radical groups. If you recall, dear Reader, it was the prelude to the HarperCons’ knickers-in-a-knot InfoAlert last Friday. Earlier this week, Ecojustice reported that their motion was denied, but welcomed the “declaration of independence” from the Joint Review Panel. They go on to say that,

Given the impact the proposed pipeline would have on our country, Ecojustice and our clients believe it’s absolutely critical that this review process remain objective, representative of all interests and conducted with integrity and fairness. This isn’t just an ethical issue — it’s about the legal principles of due process.

In its response, the Panel is making a promise to all Canadians to evaluate the Northern Gateway project based on evidence provided by all sides of the issue. This includes evidence that the pipeline and the risk of an oil spill it brings could irreversibly damage our forests and coasts — and all the species that depend on them.

An oil spill wouldn’t just devastate the environment. Our coastal economies like fishing and ecotourism are at risk, too. Is that a fair trade-off for short-term jobs?

Furthermore, the devastation of that environment would also devastate First Nations who have lived on the coast for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Still, Enbridge says it has agreements with 20 First Nations communities.  But Enbridge has not produced names or evidence to that effect.  First Nations spokespeople suggest Enbridge is stretching the truth, or worse, lying.  They accuse Enbridge of a lack of due diligence.

The theme of lack of due diligence and/or misrepresentation by Enbridge recurs among members of northern First Nations when speaking about Enbridge. Members the Haisla, the Gitxsan, the Wet’suwet’en and the Haida gave no credence to Stanway’s claim that “more than 20 groups who in recent weeks have fully executed and endorsed equity participation agreements deals with Enbridge.”

As trm suggested earlier this week, Enbridge doesn’t necessarily tell the truth, but she’ll let you, dear Reader, be the judge.

Finally, an item for which trm is sure to be lambasted by a certain regular reader.  Amnesty International has released an Open Letter to the Prime Minister, calling on him “to take a strong stand for human rights in China” during his visit there.  As trm has stated numerous times over the years, Canada should not be trading with any nation whose human rights record is so very sketchy.  And, Canada should also be cleaning up in her own back yard!

Oily in Canada, eh?

Franke James, the artist who was blacklisted by the HarperCons, lives in Joe Oliver’s riding.  She was excited to learn that he is open to meeting with environmental groups.  So, she’s issued a public letter, taking him up on his offer and requesting a meeting with him.

Today in the House Halifax New Democratic Party MP Megan Leslie wanted an answer from  Oliver. She didn’t get it.  Nor does he, apparently, get it.  Here’s the video version which is really worth the 6:29 minutes of your time. Leslie is brilliant!

And speaking of the NDP, the regina mom received an email from Nycole Turmel, interim leader of the NDP, today.  The message responded to an email sent to Turmel and other politicians regarding the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.  Turmel’s is the first response.

Interestingly, one must ask themselves: whose interests are the Conservatives representing? Canadians or the interests of the American and Chinese companies who will profit from the pipeline?

For our part, we have been consistent in our call for the government to ban oil tanker traffic on the BC coast. Building on NDP past work that included a motion calling on the government to ban oil tanker traffic on the BC coast, in June 2011 NDP MPs Fin Donnelly and Nathan Cullen laid out a legislative proposal for a permanent ban on oil supertanker traffic off the north coast of British Columbia.

We have long felt that these supertankers are all risk and no reward – it’s all about shipping raw bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands to Asia. Additionally, banning oil tanker traffic would effectively stop any move by Enbridge to ship oil through its planned $4.5 billion Northern Gateway Pipeline.

Her letter also pointed to the NDP Platform on tackling climate change, to Section 4.2, specifically. That section, Ensuring Canada Becomes a World Leader in Renewable Energy, addresses how an NDP government will move subsidies from non-renewable energy sources such as oil and gas to subsidies for renewable energy sources so that a fairer system exists.  trm likes that the NDP have a plan for change.

And change is certainly needed!  Yesterday (or very early this a.m.) trm reported that the fossil fuel industry receives billions of dollars in subsidies from governments worldwide.  Today, trm learned that ExxonMobil raked in $41.06 billion in profits in 2011.  That’s the equivalent of $1,300 a second! Talk about greed!  Exxon owns Imperial Oil which operates Esso and Mobil in Canada.  Why do corporations making this kind of cash get any subsidy at all?  And who is funding the mouthpiece for the greedy industry, Ethical Oil (sic)?

And why is the HarperCon government hell-bent on doing business with a regime that engages in murder and torture, anyway? Why is Canada doing business with China?  Terry Glavin has a go at that one:

How well I recall the days when Canada’s mere possession of a national energy program and the establishment of our own state-owned oil enterprise, Petro-Canada, was a free-market sin that cried out to heaven for vengeance. Now China is doing the nationalizing of our energy resources, and it’s Chinese state-owned corporations intruding into our oilsands wealth. Sinopec revenues last year exceeded the tax revenues of Canada’s federal government. We’re supposed to behold the glories of the free market in this?

We don’t even have a Foreign Investment Review Agency anymore. China’s version of FIRA – preferential bank loans to dozens of outfits like Sinopec that are run by Chinese Communist Party politburo appointees; draconian restrictions on foreign investment to favour the government’s own enterprises; privileges granted to state-owned corporations at the expense of thousands of Chinese businesses they’ve driven into bankruptcy in recent years; labour-law exemptions gifted to Beijing’s monopolies and their foreign joint-venture buddies; grotesque tariffs and duties imposed on imports to the advantage of the multinational corporations Beijing owns and runs – all this makes us looks very much like the chumps we are.

Chumps and radicals, that’s what Canada’s made up of, eh?  Well, there is a good news side to this horrid tale.  Minister Oliver’s open letter to Canadians, the letter that moved trm into action, has moved others into action, too.  They’re digging into their pockets and sending donations to those “radical” environmental groups.

“We’ve seen an unprecedented surge of support,” said Emma Gilchrist of the Dogwood Initiative, a B.C.-based group which has received $12,000 in unsolicited donations since Oliver’s letter.

“We’ve got cheques that say, in the memo section, ‘Thanks to Joe Oliver.”‘

Dogwood also got nearly 25,000 new signatures on its anti-tanker petition — more than it got all of last year. Traffic to its Facebook site increased 10,000 per cent.

“We’re quite disappointed to hear the things coming out of the federal government, but it has brought people together,” Gilchrist said.

Here’s another example of generosity:  John Oliver, composer and performer, is offering free copies of his new song, Pumpin’ Oil.

How Canadian, eh?

Canada’s #enemygate open for questionable business

the regina mom‘s amassed a number of links about the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline and, though other bloggers have moved on to the HarperCon’s potential attack on Old Age Security (OAS) [See Alison@Creekside], trm‘s staying on this issue a bit longer.  Now, let’s see where those links take us.

First, let’s note that this fiasco has been dubbed “EnemyGate” by none other than one of Canada’s finest wordsmiths, Margaret Atwood, according to the stream #enemygate on Twitter.  trm thinks it a very apt term.

A case in point.  Marc Jaccard is one of those environmental people the HarperCons would likely paint as an enemy.  He’s a sustainable energy researcher and over at the Vancouver Sun he points out the HarperCons promise, in 2007 and recently re-confirmed. that Canada will reduce her greenhouse gas emissions 65 per cent by 2050.  He says that in order for that statement

 

… not to be a lie, Harper cannot allow expansion of tarsands and associated pipelines, and he must require a growing market share of near-zero-emission vehicles. He knows this because his analysts are privy to the work of the world’s leading researchers. Canadians on all sides of the issue should read a 20-page report from MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change entitled Canada’s Bitumen Industry Under CO2 Constraints … The report shows how and why the Canadian tarsands must contract as part of a global effort to prevent a 4 degree increase in temperatures and catastrophic climate change.

Is our PM banking on us not figuring this out?  On not knowing this?  On us not putting two and two together?  Jaccard concludes,

 

The facts are simple. Our political leaders are lying to us if they aid and abet the expansion of tarsands while promising to take action to prevent the imminent climate catastrophe. If you love this planet and your children, and are humble and objective in considering the findings of science, you have no choice but to battle hard to stop Gateway and other tarsands pipelines. It is time to face up to this challenge with honesty and courage.

We already know the HarperCons are dishonest and that our PM is a bully and that bullies lack courage, so is it even realistic to expect the PM to act with honesty and courage?  trm notes that the PM was not courageous enough to announce his major policy shift for Canada on Canadian soil.  Instead, he used his time at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to announce, among the previously mentioned OAS attack, that

energy policy will be dictated by the need of the economy, not environmentalists, First Nations and other “adversaries” to development. New mines and energy projects would be expedited and regulatory red tape cut in Harper’s brave new world order.

A member of the First Nations community in Canada, Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, says that’s a bunch of bullshit, that First Nations are not adversaries to development. He said it more politely, though.

Madahbee said Canada is missing out on an opportunity to be seen as a leader on the world stage. “The National Chief has told Prime Minister Harper that a comprehensive action plan would add $400 billion to the Canadian economy, and eliminate $150 billion in social costs. There are 400 million Indigenous peoples around the globe – over a million in Canada. We are the fastest growing population. We are the students and workers of the future. Why do governments constantly overlook us?

“If financial self-sufficiency of First Nations” is truly the “end-goal” of the Canadian government, they need to be talking to us about the treaty promises and resource revenue-sharing. This is the only way to create certainty for corporate projects. They can no longer expect to barge into our territories without dealing with First Nations peoples.”

Marc Lee, at the Progressive Economics Forum, has something to say about the economic side of things, too, and in some detail.  Go ahead and read the full piece; it’s very informative.  But, trm will cut to the chase:
Bottom line: the Enbridge pipeline makes odious profits and they must be weighed against the costs of GHG emissions and oil spills. Privatize gains, socialize losses. Which is why the industry and their government make no reference to either the profits to be gained or climate change. While there will be some jobs created along the way, they are very small in number. Governments get a cut, too, through royalties and taxes (though the latter are being phased out for people fortunate enough to be corporations), but these are like the royalties on export of blood diamonds.
And why are we singing to China’s tune, anyway? Terry Glavin’s been doing some damned fine research and writing on that issue.  He says we’ve been hoodwinked:

Over the past decade, Canadians have sunk more than $20-billion of mostly public money into port, rail and highway infrastructure on the West Coast, all to expand Canadian trade into Asian economies. The whole point was to diversify our markets and reduce our reliance on the United States. But none of it has worked out like we were told. We’ve been hooped.

Ten years and $20-billion later, it’s all China, all the time. China plays by its own trade rules and everybody’s let them get away with it. The result is that in 10 years the annual value of Canadian exports to Japan hasn’t budged, and last year, as a destination for Canadian exports, India (the largest country on Earth) was overtaken by Norway. As a Canadian trading partner, Taiwan is now down there with Algeria.

Canada’s collective $20-billion Pacific “gateway” investments have ended up transforming Canada’s West Coast transportation infrastructure into the portal that has enabled Beijing to flood North American markets with goods manufactured in sweatshops where they’ll chuck you in prison if you even wonder aloud what it might be like to belong to an independent labour union. As for free elections or political parties, don’t you dare even think about it.

 

The HarperCons are going against everything Canada has stood for in the global community.  As the headline writer at the Times Colonist points out, “Oil policy [is] turning good guy Canada into global bad boy.”

And we, who dare challenge their edicts are enemies of the state.  Can you say fascism?