Tag Archives: Alberta

Ontario confirms it will join Quebec, California in carbon market

Repost from San Francisco Chronicle, SFGate

Ontario backs California’s carbon market

By David R. Baker, April 13, 2015 3:59 pm

Ontario plans to join California’s cap-and-trade market for reining in greenhouse gases and fighting climate change, the Canadian province’s premier, Kathleen Wynne, said Monday.

If the country’s most populous province follows through, it would greatly expand the size of the market, which California launched on its own in 2012. Quebec joined last year.

“Climate change needs to be fought around the globe, and it needs to be fought here in Canada and Ontario,” Wynne said.

Cap and trade puts a price on the greenhouse gas emissions that the vast majority of climate scientists agree are raising temperatures worldwide.

Companies in participating states and provinces must buy permits, called allowances, to pump carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the air. The number of permits available shrinks over time, reducing emissions. Companies that make deep cuts in their emissions can sell spare allowances to other businesses.        California officials always wanted other states and provinces to join the market. In 2008, six other states and four Canadian provinces (including Ontario and Quebec) agreed in principle to create a carbon market, one that could possibly expand to cover all of North America.

But one by one, California’s potential partners dropped out, and congressional efforts to create a national cap-and-trade system collapsed in 2010. California officials decided to go it alone.

Wynne gave few details Monday about Ontario’s effort. Instead, she signed an agreement with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard to   collaborate on crafting Ontario’s cap-and-trade regulations. For Ontario to join the market, officials with the California Air Resources Board would need to certify that the province’s cap-and-trade rules mesh with California’s. Gov. Jerry Brown would also have to approve.

Brown on Monday welcomed Wynne’s announcement.

“This is a bold move from the province of Ontario — and the challenge we face demands further action from other states and provinces around the world,” Brown said. “There’s a human cost to the billions of tons of carbon spewing into our atmosphere, and there must be a price on it.”

Much like California, Ontario has a significant clean-tech industry, estimated   to employ about 65,000 people.

While Quebec and now Ontario have pursued cap and trade, British Columbia chose another route to pricing greenhouse gas emissions. The province in 2008 established a carbon tax on fuels, using the revenue to cut other taxes.

Alberta, home to Canada’s controversial oil sands, also has a carbon   tax on large emitters, although critics consider it too limited and low to be effective. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee last year proposed a carbon tax on heavy emitters, only to meet with resistance from both political parties.

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    Top 10 Questions About Oil Trains: Industry Lobbies for Weak Rules While Derailment Fire Rages

    Repost from The Huffington Post

    Top 10 Questions About Oil Trains: Industry Lobbies for Weak Rules While Derailment Fire Rages

    By Todd Paglia, ForestEthics, 03/19/2015 1:59 pm EDT
    DERAILMENT
    DERAILMENT Marvin Beatty via Getty Images

    On Friday, March 6, while an oil train explosion in Illinois was still sending flames and black smoke into the air, railroad agents were in Washington, DC lobbying to weaken new train safety standards. Safer brakes are “extremely costly…” they told White House officials, and explained in great detail why speed limits are impractical. Like the auto industry resisting seatbelts, the rail industry is on the wrong track when it comes to safety.

    In the last month, there have been six derailments of crude oil trains in the U.S. and Canada — three of them ignited, sending flames and mushroom clouds hundreds of feet into the air. Luckily, these were in relatively remote locations and no one was killed.

    These disasters are not an aberration — oil train traffic is skyrocketing, which means more derailments and more explosions. The oil and rail industries hope to increase further the amount of crude oil barreling down the tracks in the coming years. Before that happens, ForestEthics has some questions we’d like to see the Obama administration ask the army of lobbyists who are trying to push the bar on safety even lower than it already is:

    When did trains start exploding?
    Rail transportation of crude oil is growing rapidly and dangerously — from fewer than 10,000 carloads in 2008 to nearly half a million in 2014 — for two reasons: Bakken oil from North Dakota and Canadian tar sands. The North American boom means oil companies are trying to tails and mine more of this extreme oil, crude that is high in carbon, difficult and expensive to produce, and dangerous to transport.

    Are cities and towns with rail lines safe?
    With the exception of Capitol Hill (the rail industry seems to be sparing Washington, DC) most routing is done specifically throughout cities and towns. No, the oil and rail industries are probably not purposely targeting us, it’s just that the rails in populated places tend to be better maintained and rated for heavier cargoes. The sane thing to do would be to stop hauling crude oil if it can’t be transported safely. A far distant next best is to make these trains as safe as possible and require rerouting around cities and water supplies.

    What is the government doing?
    Not nearly enough. While 100-plus car trains full of an explosive crude roll through our towns, the U.S. government is barely moving, bogged down by nearly 100 of Washington’s most expensive K-Street lobbyists. In fall 2014, ForestEthics, Earthjustice, and the Sierra Club sued the Department of Transportation to speed up new safety standards on oil trains. We called the trains an imminent danger to public safety. The federal government responded by once again delaying their decision on new rules that have been in the works for years.

    What is the slowest speed at which an oil explosion could happen?
    An oil tank car can catch fire and explode in an accident at zero miles per hour. Assuming a slightly raised rail bed, an oil car that tips over while standing still (this can and has happened on poorly maintained rails) will strike the ground going approximately 16 miles per hour — more than fast enough to breach the tank, spark, and ignite if it hits a rock, a curb, any hard protrusion.

    Do firefighters know when and where oil trains are moving?
    First responders do not know when, where, how much oil, and what kind is coming through their town. The US Department of Transportation ordered that railroads and oil companies make this information public. But only for trains carrying more than a million gallons of Bakken crude, and even this information is not being made public on a consistent basis.

    How do you extinguish oil train fire?
    You don’t put out an oil train fire; nobody does. Oil fires require specialized foam, which fire departments do not have in nearly sufficient supply to fight the fire from even a single 30,000 gallon tank car. All firefighters can do is evacuate those in danger, move outside the one mile blast zone and let the fire burn out, which can take days. In Illinois, firefighters unloaded their equipment to fight an oil train fire, realized the danger and left behind $10,000 in equipment getting out of harm’s way. You can prevent these fires by banning oil trains — but you can’t fight these fires once they happen.

    The older oil cars are definitely unsafe, what about the newer ones?
    The antiquated DOT-111 tank cars make up 80 percent of the fleet in the U.S. — U.S. rail safety officials first called them “inadequate” to haul crude oil more than 20 years ago. The jury is now in on the newer CPC-1232 tank cars and they are not much safer. The derailments and explosions in West Virginia and Illinois were 1232s traveling at or below the speed limit. In fact, the former head of the federal rail safety agency said in a radio interview that the recent derailments and fires were “the last nail in the coffin” for the CPC-1232 as an alternative to DOT-111 for oil transport.

    We know that Bakken crude explodes; does tar sands explode?
    Ordinarily it might not, but to move tar sands by rail (or pipeline for that matter) you have to mix in highly flammable, toxic diluents (light petroleum products like propane.) So if it’s on a train or in a pipeline the flashpoint for tar sands crude is lower than for Bakken oil. The oil train explosion on February 16, 2015 in Ontario, Canada occurred in -40 degrees F weather — proving that this stuff can ignite even in arctic cold. So not only is tar sands the dirtiest oil on Earth, but also it may well be the most dangerous too.

    Do I live in the Blast Zone?
    ForestEthics used oil rail routes from industry, Google maps, and census data to calculate that 25 million Americans live in the oil train blast zone — the dangerous evacuation zone in the case of an oil train derailment and fire. You can use the map to see if your home, office, school, or favorite natural area, landmark or sports stadium is in danger. Visit www.blast-zone.org.

    What’s the solution?
    The solution is to ban oil trains. If you can’t do something safely, you shouldn’t do it at all. This cargo is too dangerous to our families, our cities, our drinking water, our wildlife and our climate. The extreme crude carried on trains is only a tiny fraction of the oil we use each day as a nation. So while we transition our economy to clean energy and get beyond all oil, we should leave this extreme oil from Alberta and North Dakota in the ground.

    See original post on ForestEthics.org and share your concern with President Obama on rail safety here.

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      Video documentary: Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail

      Repost from Vice News
       [Editor: The best-yet video on oil by rail – an excellent 23-minute documentary on the North American crisis in oil production and transport.  Primary coverage of dangers in the Pacific Northwest, but also giving an overview of the massive increase in Bakkan production, DOT-111 rail cars and industry lobbying against federal and local attempts to regulate.  Highly recommended.  To embed this video elsewhere go to its Youtube location.  – RS]

      Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail

      It’s estimated that 9 million barrels of crude oil are moving over the rail lines of North America at any given moment. Oil trains charging through Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, and Canada’s Quebec, New Brunswick, and Alberta provinces have derailed and exploded, resulting in severe environmental damage and, in the case of Quebec, considerable human casualties.

      A continental oil boom and lack of pipeline infrastructure have forced unprecedented amounts of oil onto US and Canadian railroads. With 43 times more oil being hauled along US rail lines in 2013 than in 2005, communities across North America are bracing for another catastrophe.

      VICE News traveled to the Pacific Northwest to investigate the rapid expansion of oil-by-rail transport and speak with residents on the frontline of the battle over bomb trains.

      Find out if you live in a “bomb train” blast zone here.

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        Do You Live In A “Bomb Train” Blast Zone?

        Repost from Vice News
        [Editor: This excellent ForestEthics interactive map shows oil train routes throughout the U.S. & Canada.  Just click on the map – be sure to zoom in close enough to see your own street’s name!  Note that the map seems to have been updated to more accurately show the blast zone in and around the Valero Benicia refinery and the Benicia Bridge.  – RS]

        Do You Live In A “Bomb Train” Blast Zone?

        By Spencer Chumbley, July 28, 2014

        It’s estimated that 9 million barrels of crude oil are moving over the rail lines of North America at any given moment. Oil trains charging through Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, and Canada’s Quebec, New Brunswick, and Alberta provinces have derailed and exploded, resulting in severe environmental damage and, in the case of Quebec, considerable human casualties.

        The map below provides a striking visualization of where crude oil is traveling by rail throughout the United States and Canada. ForestEthics, the environmental group that created it, used industry data and reports from citizens who live near oil train routes to provide one of the first comprehensive visualizations of how many people are at risk from oil trains, and where.

        The group estimates that some 25 million Americans live within the one-mile evacuation zone that the US Department of Transportation recommends in the event of an oil fire. Do you live in the blast zone of a bomb train?

        Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail. Watch our documentary here.

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