Political stumbles, savvy activists knock Canada’s oil sector to its knees

WINNIPEG, Manitoba/VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A decade ago, Canada’s oil sector was growing so fast it was predicted to become a global energy superpower, but a series of political missteps and formidable environmental activism has created a dysfunctional system requiring OPEC-style government intervention to move its oil to market.

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 Greenpeace protestors (C) occupy an oil storage tank at Kinder Morgan Energy’s pipeline terminus in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Andy Clark/File Photo

…But Ottawa has failed under two governments to effectively counter the strategy of environmental activists to attack the oil sector’s heart by choking its arteries – pipelines. Roughly 35 million barrels, twice the normal amount, of Western Canadian crude used to produce diesel, gasoline and jet fuel is stuck in storage. MORE

Melting Arctic ice is now pouring 14,000 tons of water per second into the ocean, scientists find

A new survey finds that the region has contributed almost an inch to rising seas since 1971

A melting iceberg floats along a fjord leading away from the edge of the Greenland ice sheet near Nuuk, Greenland, in 2011. (Brennan Linsley/AP)

new scientific survey has found that the glaciers of the Arctic are the world’s biggest contributors to rising seas, shedding ice at an accelerating rate that now adds well over a millimeter to the level of the ocean every year.

That is considerably more ice melt than Antarctica is contributing, even though the Antarctic contains far more ice. Still, driven by glacier clusters in Alaska, Canada and Russia and the vast ice sheet of Greenland, the fast-warming Arctic is outstripping the entire ice continent to the south — for now.

However, the biggest problem is that both ice regions appear to be accelerating their losses simultaneously — suggesting that we could be in for an even faster rate of sea-level rise in future decades. Seas are rising by about three millimeters each year, according to NASA. That’s mainly driven by the Arctic contribution, the Antarctic and a third major factor — that ocean water naturally expands as it warms. MORE

Electoral Reform Didn’t Fly. Here’s Another Way to Fix Our Democracy

Greens and NDP need to merge, and we need to do more to stop the election spending race.

John Horgan and Andrew Weaver handshake
Greens and New Democrats are going steady under Premier John Horgan and Green leader Andrew Weaver. If they want to win under first-past-the-post, they need to tie the knot. Photo from John Horgan, Facebook.

The voters have spoken. We can now leave proportional representation in the hands of countries like Sweden and New Zealand.

“Under FPTP, parties build their coalitions before the election. Under PR, they build their coalitions after the election.”

But the basic problem with first-past-the-post remains: against a fragmented opposition, even a party supported by a minority of voters can enjoy a landslide victory. And if that minority has rich supporters, it can stay in power a long, long time. MORE

Industry-hired experts downplay impacts of major projects: UBC study

A review of 10 recent environmental impact assessments in B.C. found professionals hired by companies generally find ways to diminish the significance of health and environmental impacts

When experts, such as engineers and geoscientists, submit reports on a project to B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office, the generally accepted idea is that their information will reflect environmental standards and identify problems, allowing a project design to be changed or rejected if necessary.

But, that is not what happens in B.C. according to a study by University of British Columbia researchers that looked at 10 recent environmental impact assessments. MORE

CleanBC vs LNG. Here’s the ‘missing chart’ that explains the gap

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From right: BC Premier John Horgan at the unveiling of BC’s new climate plan with Environment Minister George Heyman, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall (with new baby Zavier) on Dec. 5, 2018. Photo by Michael Ruffolo

The British Columbia government has recently made two big decisions that are pulling the province in opposite directions in the climate fight — approving LNG Canada and rolling out the new CleanBC climate plan.

The LNG Canada project is massive. It will sprawl from new fracked gas wells in northern B.C., across the coast mountains via the hotly-contested, 650 km “Coastal GasLink” pipeline, to a new liquefaction terminal in Kitimat. From there, the gas will be loaded onto supertankers and shipped to Asia. The LNG terminal is designed to be built in two phases, each of which will produce 13 million tonnes of liquid natural gas. The first phase is now going ahead.

If both phases get built it will become the “biggest capital project in B.C. history.” And probably the most climate polluting as well, with projections for up to 10 million tonnes of climate pollution (MtCO2) per year. For scale, that’s more than the emissions from all passenger cars, trucks and SUVs in the province today. MORE