Tag Archives: British Columbia

Oil, gas, coal industries want Washington, British Columbia as permanent home ports

Repost from SeattlePI
[Editor: Note that at the time of this posting, the link to SeattlePI is ok, but it carries an advertisement at top promoting Energy East Pipeline –  a project to bring nasty Western Canadian tar sands oil to Eastern Canada.  Supposedly all the “facts” and “benefits” of this tar sands disaster.  Ironic, eh?  – RS]

Oil, gas, coal industries want Washington, British Columbia as permanent home ports

By Joel Connelly, June 4, 2015

Shell’s exploration fleet is due to depart Seattle soon for the Arctic, but other energy industries are planning their own home ports up and down the West Coast, from the Columbia River to the Salish Sea to British Columbia’s North Coast.

The public’s attention will wane at its peril.  Public understanding of the gains and pains of Big Oil and Big Coal’s plans for the Northwest is strongly advised.

Spill response boats work to contain fuel leaking from the bulk carrier cargo ship Marathassa, anchored on Burrard Inlet, Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia. The City of Vancouver warned that the fuel is toxic and should not be touched. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)

The waters of Puget Sound, Georgia Strait and the Inland Passage are fast becoming a chosen path for shipment of coal, liquid natural gas, and — if many in Congress have their way — oil to China and other fast-developing Asian markets.

The drilling rigs Polar Pioneer and Noble Discoverer will almost certainly be in Alaskan waters when legal and administrative challenges to Shell Oil’s Seattle home port are heard in July.

In recent months, the resistance to Shell has overshadowed the proposed oil train terminus in Vancouver, Washington, the coal port and refinery proposed for Longview, the growing number of oil trains through Seattle, and the enormous pipeline terminus and oil export port proposed just east of Vancouver, B.C.

The invasion of the energy industry has drawn sporadic public attention. A crowd of 2,300 showed up for a Seattle meeting to scope out the Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental studies of the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal north of Bellingham.

Ignored south of the border, more than 100 demonstrators were arrested last November at a park on Burnaby Mountain, just east of Vancouver, B.C. They were protesting sample drilling by a Houston company that wants to make Burnaby the terminus of a pipeline carrying Alberta tar sands oil.

The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline, beginning in Edmonton, has at least 890,000 barrels a day a higher capacity than the vastly more-publicized Keystone XL project in the Midwest.

A sight that won't be stopped by sit-ins and City Council resolutions:  A coal train passes an oil train after tanker cars derailed in Magnolia this morning.  Oil and coal could become the Northwest's "supreme shipping commodities" crowding our trade dependent economy..

The oil would not stay in British Columbia.  Thirty-four tankers a month would carry it through the international waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Haro Strait, the boundary between the U.S. San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands.

Governments, on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, do not inspire public confidence.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, in recent safety rules on oil trains, proposes to allow three years — THREE YEARS — for explosion-prone, 1964-vintage DOT-111 tanker cars to finally be off America’s railroad tracks.

The USDOT is “laser focused” on safety, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.  Still, the DOT has sided with the railroads and rebuffed requests by first responders for full information on cargoes being carried from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through Puget Sound cities.

“Because of the detailed and sensitive nature of the safety and security analysis information, the federal government requires that the information be treated as Sensitive Security information that cannot be publicly disclosed,” Foxx told Cantwell.

Nor do the USDOT rules require removal of potentially explosive gases from tank cars carrying shipments of oil.

The situation is even more alarming in Canada. The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to turn the Great White North into a global petro power.  And that means bringing Alberta oil to tidewater for export.

Oil tanker cars derailed beneath the Magnolia Bridge in July of 2014.

The National Energy Board of Canada (NEB) has approved (with conditions) an oil pipeline that would carry Alberta tar sands crude to an oil port at Kitimat, at the head of the long, treacherous Douglas Channel in northern British Columbia.

The NEB is now considering the 890,000 barrels-a-day, $5.4 billion (Canadian) Kinder Morgan pipeline.  Vancouver and Burnaby are trying to get full information on environmental consequences. A major spill in Burrard Inlet could cost Vancouver as much as $1.25 billion.  However, the British Columbia government has barely intervened with the project.

While watching hockey’s Stanley Cup playoffs, American viewers have been exposed to pro-pipeline propaganda on Canadian TV.  The government promises “world class” marine safety.  A stud-muffin Kinder Morgan employee talks about how much he loves the out-of-doors.

Don’t believe Canada’s claims for a New York minute.

While pushing an oil port, the Harper government has shut down the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base in Vancouver and is in the process of closing the Coal Harbor marine traffic and communications center.  The oil would be routed to Burnaby, while Coast Guard operations are being moved to Victoria.

The vast Alberta oil stands project, along with oil development in North Dakota, is outstripping the capacity of North America's pipelines.  Hence, oil is increasingly being moved by rail.  A disaster in Quebec raises questions for the Northwest. (Getty Images)

The British Columbia government has its sights set on something else — development of huge liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals on the coast. The gas would be exported to China.

An Indian band near Prince Rupert recently rejected a $1 billion, long-term deal to roll over and allow an LNG terminal.

The B.C. government is more pliable.  It is pledging to freeze in place environmental and safety regulations for the duration of the LNG terminals’ operation.  It’s forging ahead with the big, nature-wrecking Site C hydro project on the Peace River to supply electricity to the LNG industry.

So far, the most sustained resistance has come from Native American and Aboriginal First Nations tribes.

The tribes have managed to unite across the border, understanding that disruption, oil spills and damage to natural resources will be felt on BOTH sides of the border.

The Swinomish tribe is challenging Anacortes-bound oil trains, which cross its reservation, in federal courts. The Lummi Indians have steadfastly resisted Gateway Pacific.

Newborn J51 with her mother J19 off San Juan Island. Photo: Dave Ellifrit, The Center for Whale Research.

Up north, the Tsleil Wauth First Nation, with land on Burrard Inlet, fielded a study by experts.  It found there is a 37 percent chance of a spill of 100,000 barrels or more, which could kill between 100,000 and 500,000 sea and shorebirds.

The basic point for residents of this much-envied corner of the Earth:

Full, accurate information on the real and possible consequences of major energy projects is not going to come from government.

Given the scope of the projects, two words of wisdom come immediately to mind: Question authority.

    California governor orders aggressive greenhouse gas cuts by 2030

    Repost from Reuters
    [Editor:  See also local coverage in The Contra Costa Times.  – RS]

    California governor orders aggressive greenhouse gas cuts by 2030

    By Rory Carroll, Apr 29, 2015 11:28pm IST 
    California Governor Jerry Brown looks on during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
    California Governor Jerry Brown looks on during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

    (Reuters) – California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order on Wednesday to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, a move he said was necessary to combat the growing threat of climate change.

    The targeted reduction was tied to 1990 levels and is “the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions,” Brown said in a statement.

    California operates the nation’s largest carbon cap and trade system. The state sets an overall limit on carbon emissions and allows businesses to hand in tradeable permits to meet their obligations.

    Achieving the new target will require reductions from sectors including industry, agriculture, energy and state and local governments, Brown said.

    “I’ve set a very high bar, but it’s a bar we must meet,” Brown told a carbon market conference in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday.

    Brown said the new target will position California as a leader in combating climate change in the United States and internationally.

    Brown said he has spoken to leaders in Oregon, Washington and Northeastern states about collaborating with California to cut their output of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Those states could potentially link to California’s carbon market in future years.

    He said he has had similar discussions with leaders in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, as well as in Germany, China and Mexico.

    Quebec is already linked to the California market. Leaders in Ontario this month signaled their intention to join the program.

    “This will be a local policy but it will be globally focused,” Brown told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the news and encouraged other states and cities around the world to also take action, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

    “California’s bold commitment to tackling climate change is a strong example to states and regions all over the world that they can join their national governments in taking ownership of this critical issue and in showing leadership,” Haq said.

    The plan for how California will achieve the 2030 target will be hammered out over the next year by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), which oversees the cap-and-trade program.

    “With this bold action by the governor, California extends its leadership role and joins the community of states and nations that are committed to slash carbon pollution through 2030 and beyond,” said Mary Nichols, chair of the ARB.

    (Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Susan Heavey and David Gregorio)

      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.