Pembina Institute: The oilsands in a carbon-constrained Canada

The collision course between overall emissions and national climate commitments

The oil and gas industry has made big contributions to Canadian society: providing jobs, technology and research excellence, while warming homes, fuelling cars and powering our electricity grids. Today, the oil and gas sector is facing unprecedented pressures. While dramatic fluctuations in the price of energy commodities are not new, increasing automation, adoption of new disruptive technologies, shifting market demands, and climate commitments are reshaping the future of this sector. Business-as-usual no longer applies — significant changes are necessary.

In a continuing effort to depolarize the conversation, this report seeks to help establish a basic, commonly agreed-upon set of facts about Alberta’s oilsands, their emissions performance and trajectories, and what Canada’s commitment to achieve deep decarbonization will mean for the sector.

Download the full report, or read the Executive Summary below.

Executive summary

Alberta’s oilsands are at a crossroads.

The oil and gas industry has made big contributions to Canadian society: providing jobs, technology and research excellence, while warming homes, fuelling cars and powering our electricity grids. Today, the oil and gas sector is facing unprecedented pressures. While dramatic fluctuations in the price of energy commodities are not new, increasing automation, adoption of new disruptive technologies, shifting market demands, and climate commitments are reshaping the future of this sector. Business-as-usual no longer applies — significant changes are necessary.

In a continuing effort to depolarize the conversation, this report seeks to help establish a basic, commonly agreed-upon set of facts about Alberta’s oilsands, their emissions performance and trajectories, and what Canada’s commitment to achieve deep decarbonization will mean for the sector.

Key points:

  • Carbon emissions from the oilsands sector are the fastest-growing source of emissions in Canada. This continuing upward trajectory not only reduces the country’s ability to meet its 2030 reduction commitments, but is on a clear collision course with Canada’s plan to become carbon-neutral by 2050. (Figure 1.)
Graph: Share of the oilsands emissions in national carbon budget to meet Canada’s 2030 targetFigure 1. Share of the oilsands emissions in national carbon budget to meet Canada’s 2030 target

  • Oilsands products are not homogeneous and there is a wide range in performance when it comes to carbon emissions intensity. As a result of variations in bitumen quality and extraction technologies, the range between the highest and lowest upstream emissions intensity per barrel is nearly threefold.
  • The oilsands industry has worked toward decreasing the emissions intensity of its products in the past decades. Continuous improvements have reduced the carbon intensity of specific oilsands products, ranging from a 4% to 21% reduction since 2009.
  • Despite these improvements in carbon intensity, absolute carbon emissions from the oilsands continue to increase overall, as growth in production outpaces gains from reductions in per-barrel intensity.
  • Studies reviewed for this report consistently find oilsands products to be more carbon intensive than lighter, conventional oil sources. Recognizing limitations of emissions intensity research and the challenge of comparing studies, the best estimate currently available suggests a barrel of oil produced in Canada is associated on average with 70% more GHG emissions than the average crude produced globally.
  • Acknowledging oil demand will not disappear overnight, most outlooks predict demand will plateau or decline within the next decade. Subsequent global shifts toward lower-intensity energy options are likely to put more carbon-intense crudes — such as the bulk of oilsands products — at risk over the next decade.
  • The rapid development and deployment of breakthrough technologies — as opposed to incremental improvements — is needed for the sector to decrease its absolute carbon emissions in line with our climate commitments, and to remain competitive as global energy systems change.

Recognizing the improvements that the oilsands industry has made to date and the commitments leading companies have announced to achieve ambitious targets in the future, there is still a need for the sector to embrace its responsibility to reduce overall carbon emissions in accordance with Canada’s 2030 and 2050 targets.

The Pembina Institute calls for both the Alberta and federal government to recognize the willingness of leading companies to adopt aggressive decarbonization targets, as well as mounting investor pressure to decarbonize the sector, and implement policies that will drive toward carbon-neutral — or even carbon-negative — oilsands production.

It’s time to have a national conversation about how to reconcile oilsands emissions with Canada’s goal to decarbonize its economy by 2050. The intention of this report, carefully and explicitly supported by available evidence and research, is to further fact-based dialogue, as we all embark on this tough, but necessary Canadian conversation.

Recommendations to improve oilsands climate performance

1. Establish strong regulations to decarbonize the industry

Intentional effort is required to encourage a shift toward low- and zero-carbon production, by creating strong incentives for the development and deployment of breakthrough innovation. Recognizing the willingness of leading companies to adopt aggressive decarbonization targets, as well as mounting investor pressure to decarbonize the sector, governments need to implement policies that will drive carbon-neutral — or even carbon-negative — oilsands production.

2. Define and enforce sector emissions targets for 2030 and 2050, with five-year increments

Meeting our 2030 and 2050 climate targets will require all sectors of our economy — and all Canadians — to do their fair share to contribute to the global effort of limiting the average temperature increase to 1.5°C. Decreasing GHG emissions reduction targets need to be set for the oil and gas sector, in five-year increments that would allow Canada to meet its 2030 national objective and its pledge to become a net-zero carbon emitter by 2050.

3. Support an innovation ecosystem to deliver breakthrough technologies

A robust ecosystem to support innovation, research and development, needs to be funded and fostered so it can deploy solutions aimed at delivering breakthrough reductions — beyond incremental improvements — in emissions of current oilsands projects, as well as non-combustion uses of Alberta’s oil and gas resources.

4. Improve emissions monitoring and reporting

Existing measurement, monitoring and reporting processes for oilsands emissions must be reviewed, strengthened and standardized in order to produce coherent data and enhance the transparency of the sector. As well, further analysis looking at existing and upcoming technology pathways is required to better situate oilsands products’ carbon intensity on the global supply curve.

5. Appoint credible and effective energy regulators

Effective energy regulators are needed both provincially and federally. They must be transparent and independent, with the ability to incorporate robust environmental and climate considerations into their decision-making, while having both the mandate to enforce regulations and the capacity to follow through on that enforcement. SOURCE

11 things you need to know about the oilsands as Teck abandons plans for Frontier mine

Image result for 11 things you need to know about the oilsands as Teck abandons plans for Frontier mine

As the mining giant walks away from its controversial open-pit project proposal, nearly a decade in the making, some say the news is proof of the oilsands’ end. But the Alberta resource, home of 96 per cent of Canada’s oil reserves, may not be going away any time soon

This was supposed to be the week when the federal government made a decision on a massive new oilsands mine — one that, no matter the outcome, was sure to aggrandize a roiling, existential debate over the future of the oilsands themselves.

There has been no shortage of headlines swirling around Alberta’s oilsands and the fate of the Frontier mine: Some warned that approval would “kill [Canada’s] emissions targets.

Others, like Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, said a rejection meant Canada is aiming to “phase out” the oilsands.

On Feb. 23, with just a few days until the decision deadline, Teck Resources, one of Canada’s largest mining companies, pulled out.

It was an unexpected move, even though Teck itself had long raised doubts about whether the Frontier project would ever be built, approval or not — particularly as it relied on oil prices that are much higher than current market reality.

In a letter to Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s minister of environment and climate change, Teck’s CEO Donald Lindsay offered myriad reasons for the decision, including that “global capital markets are changing rapidly and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change.”

Advocates, political leaders and pundits were quick to weigh in.

For Premier Kenney, the surprise pull-out was a result of “federal regulatory uncertainty and the current lawless opposition to resource development.”

For Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, it was “devastating news” and a result of the way “Justin Trudeau’s inaction has emboldened radical activists.”

Alberta’s former NDP Minister of Environment Shannon Phillips said the company pulled out of the proposal because “Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan has been dismantled” by the UCP.

For others, it was a “a signal victory,” a result of “unprecedented public backlash” and “great organizing” — or the logical outcome, because “high-cost, high-carbon projects are no longer economically realistic in [a] world that is taking climate change seriously.”

With so much political spin swirling around this latest development, we thought it was a good time to pull back for just a minute and recap what else is going on in Alberta’s oilsands.

We hear so much about them, both across the country and around the world.

Few of us have seen them for ourselves.

Read on for an overview of just how much oil the oilsands produces, how much carbon pollution it emits, what’s actually happening on (and under) the ground, how the whole thing fits (or not) into Canada’s climate goals — and a little tidbit on another time a massive oilsands project was cancelled at the 11th hour.

1. Does all of Canada’s oil come from the oilsands?

Whether through conventional wells, fracking, or off-shore drilling, Canada’s vast oil reserves can be accessed in a myriad of ways. But 96 per cent of Canada’s proven oil reserves are located in the oilsands, according to Natural Resources Canada.

The oilsands accounted for 64 per cent of Canada’s total oil production in 2018 — that’s 2.9 million barrels per day.

2. So, what does oil production in the oilsands actually look like?

The Alberta oilsands are most well-known for their massive open-pit mines and associated tailings ponds. They are criticized as being “the largest (and most destructive) industrial project in human history” and for looking “like a war zone.”

Open-pit mining in the Alberta oilsands requires digging up boreal forest in order to extract vast quantities of bitumen. The Frontier mine would have covered an area of 292 square kilometres roughly 110 kilometres north of the oilsand’s industrial heart near Fort McMurray. Photo: Louis Bockner / Sierra Club BC

But not all oil from the oilsands comes from the open-pit mines for which the industry is famous — it’s actually just under half of production.

Currently, more than half — 53 per cent — of oil produced from the oilsands is extracted through another method: in-situ technology, which is very different from open-pit mining. In-situ oil development involves drilling two horizontal wells deep below the surface. In steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), the most common in-situ method used in the oilsands, steam is pumped into one well and oil is pumped out the other.

Nexen Long Lake SAGD oilsands

Bitumen from the Alberta oilsands is extracted using steam assisted gravity drainage or SAGD, an in-situ method, at Nexen’s Long Lake facility. Photo: Jason Woodhead / Flickr

In-situ production typically involves a lot less land disturbance (no strip mining), but is responsible for more carbon pollution per barrel produced.

Only 20 per cent of the oil reserves found in the oilsands can be accessed through open-pit mining. The other 80 per cent is too deep below the surface for open pit extraction so it is accessed through in-situ production.

3. What was the Frontier mine project, again?

There are already seven open-pit mining projects in the oilsands. Had it been approved, Teck’s Frontier oilsands mine would have been the eighth.

The Frontier mine was one of the largest, if not the largest, oilsands mines ever proposed in Alberta.

Open-pit mining requires the removal of what’s known in the industry as “overburden.” In northern Alberta, the overburden consists of boreal forest, wetlands, peatland and soil.

The Frontier project would have involved permanently stripping away 14,000 hectares of wetland, 3,000 hectares of peatland and 3,000 hectares of old-growth forest.

Proposed site of Teck's Frontier Mine 30 km south of Wood Buffalo National Park. If built, it would be the largest mine ever constructed in Alberta's oilsands.

A small body of water at the proposed site of Teck Resources’ Frontier Mine, 30 kilometres south of Wood Buffalo National Park. It would have been one of the largest mines ever constructed in Alberta’s oilsands. Photo: Louis Bockner / Sierra Club BC

4. So, the tailings ponds situation. What’s that all about?

Since the oilsands started operations in the 1960s, an estimated 1.5 trillion litres of tailings — a mixture of waste water, clay, sand and petrochemical residues — have accumulated in containment ponds built near oilsands operations.

Tailings ponds, contained behind large dams, are designed to prevent industrial waste water considered highly toxic, including arsenic, benzene, lead and mercury, from contaminating the local environment.

Alberta’s tailings pond are enormous, spanning some 220 square kilometres, nearly a quarter the size of the city of Calgary or twice the size of Vancouver.

One single tailings pond, located at a Syncrude operation, is contained by the largest dam in the world, holding 540,000,000 cubic meters of material.

Tailings ponds in the oilsands are unlined and there have been documented cases of contamination leaking from these pits into the Athabasca River. NAFTA even conducted an investigation into the threat tailings ponds pose to the environment.

There are currently no known methods for cleaning up the tailings ponds, although industry has considered ‘capping’ the unlined pits with fresh water to create ‘end pit lakes,’ a proposal that has been heavily criticized.

The group Environmental Defence advocates against the creation of any new tailings ponds in the oilsands, “until industry successfully demonstrates that it is capable of properly reclaiming them.”

In the last 50 years, Alberta’s oilsands companies have only received reclamation certificates for about 0.1 per cent of the total land disturbed, according to the Pembina Institute. Industry reports it has put reclamation efforts into about seven per cent of land affected by tailings — but it has not yet received final regulatory certification to confirm that.

Alberta’s tailings pond are enormous, spanning some 220 square kilometres, nearly a quarter the size of the city of Calgary or twice the size of Vancouver. Photo: Alex MacLean

5. What impact do the oilsands have on the climate?

Crude oil produced in the oilsands is the most emissions-intensive oil in North America.

The Oil-Climate Index, which ranks various sources of crude oil on the continent, consistently places Canada’s Athabasca sweet synthetic crude oil at the top of its ranking of oil sources arranged by carbon emissions per barrel of oil produced.

According to the government of Alberta, the oilsands are currently responsible for 70 megatonnes of emissions annually.

To put that in the national context, in 2017, Canada’s total carbon pollution was just over 716 megatonnes, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the group representing the oil and gas industry, says on its website that oilsands developments “account for 10 per cent of Canada’s [greenhouse gas] emissions.”

The Canadian Energy Research Institute — funded in part by industry associations — estimates the oilsands will be responsible for 100 megatonnes of emissions by 2026, a substantial increase when the country has committed to a dramatic overall reduction.

But, increasingly, estimates of oilsands carbon pollution provided by the provincial government and industry are being called into question.

6. Are oilsands emissions estimates accurate?

It depends on whom you ask.

There are concerns that the Alberta government and industry are underestimating the total carbon pollution coming from the oilsands.

Recent reports suggest that the federal government disputes Alberta’s estimates of emissions stemming from the oilsands, pegging the total at 87 megatonnes this year, nearly 30 per cent higher than Alberta government estimates.

study published last April in the journal Nature, led by air-quality scientists with the federal government, also found the emissions associated with oilsands production were much higher than industry reported.

Using aircraft to collect on-site data, the researchers found significant “discrepancies” — to the tune of 30 per cent — between what they were measuring and what companies were reporting.

“The overall impact of the differences between measured and reported [greenhouse gas] emissions found here is large,” they wrote.

Canada has set ambitious targets to reduce nationwide carbon pollution — goals which will leave the oilsands behind if rapid changes aren’t made.

Rising steam and smoke at the Syncrude Mildred Lake upgrade refi

Syncrude’s Mildred Lake refinery in the oilsands. Photo: Alex MacLean

7. What are we doing about all this carbon pollution?

Canada’s climate commitments peg our mid-century greenhouse gas emissions target at 80 per cent below 2005 levels, which is the equivalent of a total national greenhouse gas emissions budget of 150 megatonnes by 2050.

This means the oilsands, if changes aren’t made, could account for more than one-half of the country’s entire carbon budget.

A December poll found 76 per cent of Canadians think the country needs to be “doing more” when it comes to climate change, while 64 per cent said “Canada should capitalize on the global need for fossil fuels.”

Climate change was reported to be the number one issue in the most recent federal election.

But climate action is tricky in Canada, where the provinces exercise jurisdiction over natural resource projects and their environmental impacts. Canada has requested Alberta impose provincial restrictions on oilsands emissions but the province has been slow to respond (see #8).

Syncrude's upgrading facility at the company's Mildred Lake oilsands site. Photo: Alex MacLean

Syncrude’s upgrading facility at the company’s Mildred Lake oilsands site. Photo: Alex MacLean

8. Wasn’t there talk of capping the total emissions of the oilsands?

Yes, but there’s a catch.

Alberta’s previous NDP government passed legislation in 2016 introducing a 100-megatonne cap on total emissions from the oilsands.

But no regulations were ever introduced to set that cap in motion. Kenney originally made it clear he intended to scrap the cap, but has since said he’s “prepared to be pragmatic.”

The government of Alberta’s website still says it will “seek the advice of the industry, regulators, environmental organizations and Indigenous and Metis communities on the implementation of the 100 megatonne limit,” although there are still no plans in place for regulations.

Wilkinson recently told CBC, “if you take all of the various projects that have already been approved in the oilsands and you assume all of them get built, you’re talking about 130 megatonnes.” He is pushing for regulations to be developed to ensure this doesn’t happen.

As former Natural Resources Minister Amerjeet Sohi put it, “a cap without regulations is meaningless.”

Just last week, Wilkinson asked his provincial counterpart in Alberta to “follow through and fully implement its legislation to limit emissions to 100 million tonnes from the oilsands.”

But even if emissions from the oilsands were capped at 100 megatonnes, they would still take up two-thirds of Canada’s total emissions budget by 2050.

9. Is the industry getting better at reducing carbon pollution?

You’ve heard it once and you’ll hear it again. The oil and gas industry and its supporters (like the Alberta government) say the emissions intensity of oil produced in the oilsands is decreasing.

That was stated in an open letter signed by the CEOs of three major oil and gas companies last year. “We’ve reduced the emissions intensity in the oilsands by about 30 per cent over the past two decades,” they wrote, adding “a number of oilsands operations are producing oil with a smaller greenhouse gas impact than the global average.”

But the truth is more complicated.

As Macleans magazine put it in a 2019 article about emissions trends in the oilsands: “in the race to tell a better story, oilsands advocates — including the ones elected to political office — will reach for the best-sounding proclamations they can extract from the sludge of data.”

Yes, the oilsands have become more efficient at producing usable crude from the thick sludge that is mined at the oilsands — a process companies have been working on for half a century.

How the carbon pollution from a barrel of oilsands crude compares to crude oil from other parts of the world is a different question, which has been studied more extensively in recent years.

As a 2019 article published in the journal Science put it, “extraction and processing of heavy oils and oilsands with current technologies is very energy and carbon-intensive.” And, the authors noted, “the ability to reduce the intensities is challenging.”

The same paper found oil produced in Canada (remember that the majority of Canadian oil comes from the oilsands) was far more carbon intensive than the global average.

Canada’s oil ranked fourth in the world in terms of emissions intensity, trailing only behind Venezuela, Cameroon and Algeria.

Decisions by investors, from central banks to pensions to global investment funds, to pull out of oilsands projects have revolved around the relative intensity of emissions from oilsands crude.

10. Is producing oil from the oilsands economical?

Producing oil from Alberta’s oilsands is expensive, and some economists have their doubts about how long it will remain profitable.

“One thing that many people fail to realize is just how important the global price of oil is for the level of economic activity in Alberta’s oil and gas sector,” Jennifer Winter, assistant professor of economics at the University of Calgary, told The Narwhal last year.

As Jeff Rubin, former chief economist with CIBC World Markets, previously told The Narwhal, it all depends on world oil prices, which are by no means guaranteed.

“Look at the returns you’ve gotten from the oilsands over the last five to six years,” Rubin said. “And consider how viable that resource will be if, in fact, the world does mitigate climate change.”

He noted that global action on climate change in the long-term could further reduce world oil demand, pushing prices lower.

Alberta oil doesn’t do well when prices are low. It’s more expensive to produce than in other jurisdictions, like Saudi Arabia.

Rubin also told The Narwhal that oil in other jurisdictions like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will be economically viable for much longer than Alberta’s high-cost oilsands. “That’s the kind of oil that’d be the most commercially sustainable, if in fact we’re going to mitigate climate change,” he said.

All of this leaves the economic future of Alberta’s oilsands up for debate.

Open-pit mining Alberta oilsands

Heavy haulers in the oilsands mines carry loads of up 400 tons and cost approximately $5-6 million each. Hauler tires, with a lifespan of about on year, cost $50,000 each. Photo: Alex MacLean

11. Isn’t this all kind of … déjà vu?

Yep.

“The Canadian government … is totally responsible for the failure of the [oilsands project],” wrote a Globe and Mail reader in 1982. At that time, the country was up in arms about the recent cancellation of the Alsands oilsands mine, first proposed in December 1978 and approved in 1979. The company said economic concerns were responsible for the cancellation.

The reader went on: “Almost no one expected the government to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, but kill it they did. Now what? How much longer is the Canadian public going to put up with an interventionist government that has a growing adversary relationship with business?”

The Alsands project had promised thousands of jobs and billions in economic revenue.

Almost forty years later, it’s hard not to see some parallels between that ill-fated project and Teck’s proposal to build the massive Frontier oilsands mine in northern Alberta.

Like Frontier, Alsands was hailed as a cure to economic woes. Its success was seen as a litmus test for the future of huge oil projects. And it failed.

A 1983 article in the Globe and Mail blamed the project’s cancellation, at least in part, on “a deteriorating world oil market.”

Headlines about Alsands project ran in papers across the continent, including the New York Times, which wrote, “Alsands was one of several projects that Canada was counting on to revive its lagging economy.”

And sweeping statements about the future of the oilsands were common, too. The 1982 headline in the Edmonton Journal asked if this meant the “end of megaprojects.”

Here we are again — but this time the project cancellation comes in the midst of a much larger and potentially game-changing debate about how the oilsands fit into Canada’s plans to combat the growing climate crisis. SOURCE

Just Transition: Can oil and gas workers adapt to a green energy future?

There were times when I was taking home about $3,500 a week.” That was in the oil sands, during the boom before 2014. Lliam Hildebrand was a young welder who had come to the Athabasca oil sands for work.

Before that, the Victoria, BC, native spent his first eight years after high school in heavy machinery repair and steel fabrication, often on oil field equipment such as flare stacks and rig platforms. He says serving the oil field’s needs was “the bread and butter” of his work, with an occasional job building renewable-energy equipment such as parts for a biofuel facility.

“I really loved that job,” he says, but opportunities in the North called and he spent the next half dozen years in the oil sands, doing similar work, primarily during spring and autumn, when sites get set up and stripped down. He found it exciting, interesting—and lucrative.

Then came the downturn. As international market forces sent the price of Western Canada Select plummeting from close to $100 per barrel to at times less than $20, oil sands operations struggled to survive, especially as the break-even price for many operations was as high as $80 per barrel. The opportunities that brought thousands like Lliam north evaporated.

“It was crazy,” he says. “Every single day in the lunchroom we were having conversations about who was getting laid off… and when would we be laid off?”

Worldwide, the price crash saw more than 440,000 petroleum jobs disappear. Bloomberg UBS predicts that between a third and as many as half of those 440,000 jobs will never return. In Canada 46,000 oil and gas workers were laid off, mostly in Alberta. Pipeline purgatory and the spectre of fossil fuels’ decline dominate public and political rhetoric on the subject.

What hasn’t been at the forefront is talk of an escape plan for tens of thousands of oil workers. In the past, when industries from carriage makers to cod fishers suddenly crumbled, workers were abandoned. Now the hope is for a “just transition.” The concept of just transition holds that when an industry or sector declines, particularly if that decline is mandated by government policy, the workforce is entitled to planned support to move people to new gainful employment, ideally in their own community.

In theory it’s a grand concept and one of the best ways to gain support for climate change policies from the affected workforce. In practice, “just transitions” have had mixed results.

Alberta and Canada had a practice run in coal. Canada’s coal phase-out got its start in 2012 when the Harper government imposed emissions limits for coal-fired power plants that effectively guaranteed their shutdown. Technological solutions that would sufficiently lower emissions at these generators weren’t cost-effective, especially in the face of coal’s declining competitiveness worldwide.

Alberta followed suit in late 2015 when the Notley government announced similar limitations as part of its Climate Leadership Plan and soon after mandated that at least 30 per cent of Alberta’s electricity grid be powered by renewable energy by 2030. At the time, coal fed over half of the province’s electricity needs, and its production here was greater than all other provinces’ combined. Coal directly supported roughly 3,150 jobs in Alberta, mostly in mining and processing rather than plant operations. Coal workers include engineers, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators and maintenance staff. The economies of some 20 communities were tied tightly to the industry.

Pipeline purgatory and the spectre of fossil fuels’ decline dominate public and political rhetoric.

Hanna is one of those coal towns, and perhaps the poster child for the phase-out thanks to its vocal mayor, Chris Warwick, and the town’s concerted efforts to meet the phase-out head on.

Hanna’s population is 2,500, 210 of whom work in the nearby Sheerness coal mine and power plant. The mine operations prop up the town’s economy, inflating incomes above what would be expected in a remote farming community, allowing business and public services to thrive where they likely wouldn’t otherwise.

While Warwick’s efforts have focused on the town’s economic transition, councillor Connie Deadlock devotes her time to the workforce. “There have been a lot of conversations about just transition from the provincial and federal governments, as well as everyone else,” she says. The mine and the power plant are still operating, but the town is already affected by the inevitable changes, and residents are anxious.

“Not only do we have to worry about the direct job losses, there is no other industry, so many people and families will have to relocate,” Deadlock says. “Housing prices have already been declining, our schools are affected, our businesses, and the list goes on and on.”

She says that because the power plant will convert to run on natural gas, not everyone will lose their jobs, but the new operation will require far fewer employees.

Immediately after the phase-out announcement in 2015, Hanna’s leaders scrambled to find a way not only to keep the town alive but to maintain its quality of life. They contracted Calgary’s Urban Systems to make an analysis of the town’s predicament and attributes and outline a path forward. The resulting Cactus Corridor Economic Opportunities Report has good news and bad for the little town.

“Be realistic,” it recommends. “Living in a community/region can make one unrealistic about its potential.” Also, expect some decline, because “it’s unlikely high wage primary industry jobs can be replaced. If workers in these industries want to stay in the community, they may have to accept a reduction in income and work with less status.” Don’t rely on ongoing subsidies or bailouts, it adds; don’t look for a panacea; establish a sense of urgency.

Coupled with the phase-out, Hanna, like many coal communities, is also rural. It is already subject to the pressures of rural decline, making it even harder to replace coal in its economy.

Hanna does have some business opportunities. Urban Systems points out it has some of the best solar power potential in the country, and likely good wind power possibilities too. As a farming community, it is surrounded by arable land and a fair water supply.

Government hasn’t abandoned Hanna and other coal towns, either. In addition to setting an end date for coal, the NDP government had the foresight to consider the transition—especially important given the phase-out only had 50 per cent public support province-wide. The government wanted widespread support as it made major changes to the way Alberta dealt with climate change issues.

The provincial government gave Hanna $450,000 to set up community action teams and help establish an economic plan. Unfortunately, Hanna was left off the list when the government committed funding at the end of 2018 for the municipal training centres many people say are integral to a successful labour transition.

“Our community has so many ideas for business and expansion, but no funds to bring them to fruition,” says Deadlock. “The employees at the mine don’t feel they will benefit very much from any programs that are offered. There needs to be some significant changes.”

Disconnect between what workers say they need and what the transition programs actually offer is a pervasive problem in Canada’s just transition efforts for the coal industry. “The most requested thing is for the government to offer training and other programs while people are still employed, [but] none of the programs are a benefit while still working,” says Deadlock. “Employees feel that if they could do some upgrading, training or education while still working and having an income, they would have a better chance.”

In response to how initial transition programs were designed, Jamie Kirkpatrick of Blue Green Canada says, “I think that was stupid.” Blue Green is a collaboration of labour unions and civil and environmental groups that has spent the past 10 years advocating for workers affected by environmental issues. It has primarily focused on the fate of Canada’s coal workers as coal-fired electricity comes to an end. Kirkpatrick says requiring workers to lose their jobs before they can begin retraining for a new career sets them back from the start. He and Deadlock agree the reason transition programs often don’t resonate with labour is because many of the plans were made without on-the-ground consultation.

“You actually learn more talking to people who are going to be affected by this than telling them what’s going to happen,” Kirkpatrick says.

Governments issuing decrees rather than including affected groups in the decision-making has been a major sticking point among workers and labour unions throughout the phase-out, seriously eroding any support the decision may have garnered from those most immediately affected by it.  MORE

Action on climate change can build national unity

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announces the launch of a public inquiry into foreign-funded anti-Alberta energy campaigns. Image: Government of Alberta/Flickr

Image: Government of Alberta/Flickr

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney warned that the worst election result would be a Liberal minority backed by the NDP. On October 21, his nightmare came to pass.

Rather than accept the will of the 63 per cent of Canadians who voted Liberal, NDP, Bloc and Green for climate action, Kenney fans the flames of western separatism to try to overturn the election results.

Canadians feel sympathy for the plight of Albertans who are hurting from the 2014 oil price bust.

But be careful not to fall for Kenney’s emotional blackmail.

The high Conservative vote in Alberta was normal, not a blow to Canadian unity. Conservatives got 69 per cent of the vote, 5.5 per cent above their average in the five previous federal elections, when their vote ranged from 60 to 67 per cent. Federal Tory dominance in Alberta dates from John Diefenbaker in the 1950s.

Many Albertans have lost their jobs, their homes, fear for the future and are angry. But, many misdirect the object of their anger. Big Oil hasn’t been their friend.

Kenney portrays himself as Albertans’ champion. He isn’t. His government is spending $32 million on a war room and public inquiry to combat what he calls a foreign environmentalist conspiracy against Alberta. Kenney is right about a foreign campaign, if not quite a conspiracy. And it harms Albertans.

But Kenney gets the culprits wrong. Big Foreign Oil, not foreign environmentalists, have harmed Albertans by locking Alberta into narrowly exporting oil derived from oilsands bitumen, one of the world’s most toxic, high carbon-emitting resources.

Since the 1970s and ’80s, Shell and Exxon knew their business plan caused climate change. Yet they and other Big Oil corporations talked Alberta and Ottawa in the 1990s into giving them a sweetheart, next-to-zero royalty regime and low corporate taxes. It left Alberta’s finances in a lurch and an undiversified economy.

Alberta’s oil sands are a very poor job creator. $1.3 million in investment in the oil sands produce one job. The oil industry across Canada directly employs only 63,000 workers, 0.3 per cent of all Canadian jobs. Indirect jobs from the oil industry are double that number. Thus the oil industry accounts for about one per cent of all Canadian employment.

Now Big Oil corporations are shedding workers to maximize profits. Cenovus Energy executive vice-president Kiron McFadyen wants to “de-man” the entire industry to achieve “zero manning.”

Alberta’s oil sands have no future. Big Foreign Oil knows it. In 2016, they began to cut and run. Norway’s Statoil and U.S.-based Devon Oil fully pulled out. Other foreign corporations partly pulled out: France’s Total S.A., Holland’s Shell Oil and U.S.-based ConocoPhillips, Koch and Murphy Oil.

Divestment from the oil sands and many conventional oil sites and pipelines within Alberta have stuck Albertans with over $250 billion in environmental liabilities — orphan wells and toxic tailing lakes. If they fail to make Big Oil polluters pick up the tab for the mess they created, Albertans and other Canadians will have to clean it up at public expense.

This year more wells were decommissioned in Alberta than new wells drilled.

Companies and industries that aren’t moving toward zero-carbon emissions, warned Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, will be punished by investors and go bankrupt.

As the world awakens to the climate emergency and moves off fossil fuels, the Kenney government and Big Oil hold Alberta in a fossil-fuel belt. It may soon resemble the rust belt — that swath of Midwest U.S. states of abandoned factories and broken dreams.

If he truly advocates for Albertans, Kenney will embrace the future by joining with Ottawa to manage a rapid phase-out of the oil sands in ways that support oil workers and their communities’ shift to new industries and jobs. Canadians everywhere would support that.

The best way to forge national unity is around a plan to get Canada to a post-carbon future, not by holding on to the fossil-fuel past. SOURCE

 

 

Norway’s largest pension fund pulls out of Alberta oilsands, removes four Calgary-based companies

Oilsands, Suncor, Fort McMurray
A hopper moves dirt in Suncor’s Millennium mine in the oilsands in Fort McMurray, Alta., on June 13, 2017. (CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

CALGARY – The largest pension fund in Norway has removed four Calgary-based companies from its investment list in an effort to cut ties with Alberta’s oilsands and meet worldwide greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP) has removed Cenovus Energy Inc., Suncor Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Ltd. and Husky Energy.

The fund, which administers more than $81 billion USD in assets, said a full exit from the oilsands is “great news” for environmentally friendly customers.

CTV News Chief Financial Commentator, Pattie Lovett-Reid, says the decision was made to reduce the fund’s tolerance threshold for companies with interests in the oilsands.

“What they have indicated is they will not be investing in companies that derive more than five per cent of their revenue from the oilsands,” said Lovett-Reid. “The reason being cited here is it’s not in line with oilsands activity with the Paris Climate Agreement.”

KLP CEO Sverre Thornes is proud of the decision.  “By going coal and oilsands free, we are sending a strong message on the urgency of shifting from fossil to renewable energy.”

The move is not sitting well with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).

President and CEO of CAPP, Tim McMillan, said attempts to stifle Canadian production by restricting financing will mean countries with lower environmental standards will fill the void.

McMillan said Canadian oil and natural gas producers “operate under one of the most stringent regulatory systems in the world”, adding that the International Energy Agency forecasts that natural gas and oil will remain in the major sources of global energy in 2040. MORE

RELATED:

Calgary-based Encana plans to move base to U.S., change name
End of En(ergy)Cana(da) — why one of Canada’s oldest oil and natural gas producer is moving to the U.S.
Thunberg shames Norwegian leaders

 

Evidence Shows Exxon Hid Risks to Canada Tar Sands Assets, New York AG Argues

 

New York argues in fraud trial that Exxon hid climate risks to its tar sands assetsThe New York attorney general alleges Exxon misled investors about the value of its assets in the Canadian oil sands. Photo credit: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Exxon’s investment in the Canadian tar sands were far more at risk from climate change than the company had previously indicated, according to testimony and emails presented by the New York attorney general’s office Monday in the case against Exxon for climate fraud. The trial has now entered its second week in New York Supreme Court.

Testimony and emails showed that Exxon updated its greenhouse gas cost and applied it to the Canadian assets soon after. That update was made in its DataGuide, an internal planning document, shortly after the company’s greenhouse gas manager shared a presentation indicating the company had “implied” in its 2014 Energy and Climate and Managing the Risks reports to shareholders that it used its proxy cost of carbon when evaluating investments. In fact, according to Exxon, it used a different number—the greenhouse gas cost—when evaluating investments.

The company contends the alignment of the two numbers was based on the world’s progress on climate change and its anticipation of a global agreement on the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. But when it did that, the company did not announce the update to shareholders or issue a change or correction to its previous disclosure.

New York Attorney General Leticia James alleges that Exxon deceived investors and violated the state’s powerful Martin Act by using different sets of climate risk numbers for its own calculations and for shareholders.

Exxon doesn’t deny it used different numbers, but says it used what it refers to as its proxy cost of carbon to determine future energy demand and the separate greenhouse gas cost to evaluate investments. The oil giant says those are different calculations and maintains it has made accurate disclosures about the two numbers to investors.

The Martin Act does not require the NY AG to prove Exxon intended to mislead investors, just that they were misled.

The AG alleges that when the greenhouse gas cost was aligned and applied to evaluate investments, Exxon planners soon discovered the company’s Canadian oil sands assets, which at the time accounted for about 25 percent of its total resource base, were at a much greater risk from climate change than previously understood.

In western Canada, the risk was “very material,” according to an email sent by Jason Iwanika, development planner for Canadian-based Imperial Oil, to Guy Powell, Exxon’s greenhouse manager, in 2014. Exxon has a controlling interest in Imperial Oil.

“The new [greenhouse gas cost] has an impact on [certain oil sands] opportunities in the magnitude of [a] 0.5-1%  [decrease in cash flow],” Iwanika wrote.

“This being significant certainly drew my attention and I wanted to get it right,” Iwanika testified.

The AG alleges that to hide the risk, Exxon did not apply the aligned greenhouse gas cost as outlined in the DataGuide, but instead applied the lower cost of existing regulations, thus making its oil sand assets—which are highly vulnerable to climate risk—appear more valuable than they would otherwise be.

Exxon has said the greenhouse gas cost listed in its DataGuide serves only as an estimation to be used when exact regulatory costs are unknown. It maintains that planners are encouraged to consult local experts and to use existing greenhouse gas emission-related legislation and policies when available.

The AG’s office presented the court with emails indicating Iwanika and others responsible for Exxon’s Canadian assets were concerned about the effects of the aligned greenhouse gas cost. Those emails requested guidance on how to best proceed in light of the resulting decrease in the value of company assets.

One email said when applied, the aligned greenhouse gas cost would “result in enough additional [operating expenses] to shorten asset life and reduce gross reserves.”

Another said it would “result in large write-downs” of Exxon’s Alberta assets. Yet another said proved reserves at its Cold Lake field was reduced by about 20 million barrels when calculated with the aligned greenhouse gas cost. MORE

Lawsuit: Exxon accused of lowballing oil sands climate risk


A flare stack lights the sky from the Imperial Oil refinery in Edmonton Alta, on Friday, December 28, 2018. File photo by The Canadian Press/Jason Franson

Alberta’s oilsands are at the centre of a court battle in New York this week that legal experts say could affect future climate lawsuits in Canada.

“The evidence that’s coming out through this case is absolutely relevant to other lawsuits,” said Martin Olszynski, a University of Calgary professor who teaches environmental law.

New York’s attorney general is accusing Exxon Mobil of misrepresenting the risks oilsands operations face as governments move to fight climate change.

In the case filed a year ago, the state claims Exxon told investors that it was evaluating projects based on a carbon price that was much higher than the one used in calculations. That led investors to believe they faced a lower risk and also inflated evaluations of Exxon’s oil reserves.

Exxon has tried twice to block the case. The company’s lawyer, calling the accusations bizarre and twisted, argued Tuesday that Exxon did nothing wrong.

Although the lawsuit deals with a wide array of the multinational’s operations, the oilsands feature prominently as Exxon is a major player through its subsidiary Imperial Oil.

“In these parts of its business, Exxon often applied a much lower price per ton to a small percentage of its (greenhouse gas) emissions … and held those lower costs flat far into the future,” court documents say.

“Exxon in effect … create(d) the illusion that it had fully considered the risks of future climate change regulation and had factored those risks into its business operations … The company was exposed to far greater risk from climate change regulations than investors were led to believe.”

The documents allege Exxon lowballed by $30 billion the impact of carbon pricing on 14 Alberta oilsands projects. They claim carbon costs at the Kearl project in northern Alberta were understated by 94 per cent.   MORE

Norway public pension fund severs final link with Canada’s oilsands


Steam generators at Cenovus Energy’s Foster Creek site in northeastern Alberta. Photo by company

Norway’s municipal employees pension fund, the country’s largest, has sold its last remaining stakes in companies with operations in Canada’s oilsands, saying holding them does not align with efforts to keep global heating below internationally agreed-upon targets.

The fund, Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP), last year dumped stocks that drew more than 30 per cent of their revenue from oilsands operations, but on Monday said they can no longer tolerate even those that have five per cent exposure.

KLP, which manages the pensions of Norway’s 900,000 nurses, firefighters and other employees of local governments and state-owned enterprises, said in a statement that it had jettisoned US$33 million worth of equity holdings and US$25 million in bonds from Canada’s Cenovus Energy, Suncor Energy, Imperial Oil (majority owned by ExxonMobil) and Husky Energy, as well as Russia’s Tatneft PAO.

Jeanett Bergan, head of responsible investments at KLP, said in a phone interview that “the message we really would like to get across is that companies and fund managers and investors all need to start managing this risk and making sure that they’re doing everything they can to be part of the transition that all societies need to do.”

Norway, much like Canada, has a sizable oil and gas industry that creates economic activity but also contributes to unsustainable levels of global carbon emissions. The oil and gas sector in Canada is the largest contributor to the country’s carbon pollution profile, contributing over a quarter of all emissions, or 27 per cent according to federal estimates.

“From the emission numbers and everything that is happening around the world, nothing is moving fast enough,” Bergan said. “We’re not close to the 1.5 degree (Celsius) target, we’re not close to the 2 degree target. We’re far from it,” she said, referring to commitments made as part of the Paris Agreement, signed in 2016, to keep global warming from rising more than 1.5 or 2 C above pre-industrial levels.

“Companies and fund managers and investors all need to start managing this risk,” says @JeanettBergan of @KLPkvitrer. “And making sure that they’re doing everything they can to be part of the transition that all societies need to do.”

A centrifugal plant under construction at Syncrude’s Mildred Lake facility. Suncor Energy and Imperial Oil are the two biggest stakeholders in the joint venture near Fort McMurray in Alberta. Photo courtesy of Syncrude Canada Ltd

Canada Pension Plan board looking at fund’s pollution

Global temperatures have so far risen roughly 1 C since humans began building factories and using mechanized manufacturing techniques more than 200 years ago. Human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels has caused all planetary heating since midcentury.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), a Crown corporation, manages over $400 billion including hundreds of millions of dollars worth of oil and gas companies such as Enbridge ($385 million), Suncor ($240 million) and Pembina Pipeline ($95 million).

The corporation could not say whether it was considering axing its fossil fuel holdings when contacted by National Observer. It also does not have a stated, specific plan to cut exposure to companies of a certain emissions intensity.

In fact, the fund has just started to ask the question of how much carbon pollution its holdings emit at all.

CPPIB’s 2018 sustainability report looked at 34 per cent of total holdings, the fund’s stake in each emitting company, and determined it emitted 15.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (125 tonnes of CO2e per C$1 million invested and 220 tonnes of CO2e per C$1 million of revenue).  MORE

Upcoming national election is crucial for Canada’s energy sector

Ontario – Energy and the environment is arguably the key policy area that will decide the election—and most agree the outcome of the vote will, in turn, be crucial for Canada’s energy sector.

Image result for alberta tar sands pipeline

In Alberta, political differences have become personal, particularly after the 2014 crash in petroleum prices. And while a CBC poll tracker shows the opposition Conservatives holding a slim lead over the ruling Liberals – neither is projected to win a majority government.

But in Alberta, a Tory landslide is predicted, with the Conservatives holding a nearly 45 percent lead over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. After the 2015 national election, Alberta was already feeling the effects of the turn-down in oil and gas prices from the previous year. Unemployment in the province was 10 percent.

“I think the federal government has a specific hate on” for Alberta, Robyn Moser says, according to The Guardian. “We have a federal government that wants to choke the Alberta economy for its own political reasons.” She is referring to Trudeau, who has tried to walk down the middle of the road, playing to both sides of the climate issue and Alberta’s failing energy sector.

Conservative candidate Andrew Sheer at a gathering in Langley B.C. this week.

Conservative candidate Andrew Sheer at a gathering in Langley, B.C. this week. Andrew Sheer
Oil sands very existence is on the ballot

While Trudeau and his supporters argue that Canada can become a global oil superpower and a leader in fighting climate change – his main challenger, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, accuses Trudeau of abandoning a pipeline through British Columbia, failing to push through another line to Canada’s east coast and passing a law that they say will make major energy projects impossible to approve, reports BNN Bloomberg.

And voters have not forgotten a comment Trudeau made at a town hall meeting back in 2017 when he said the country “needed to phase out the oil sands.”

“Do we want our energy industry to be a global player, or do we want our industry to go into hibernation and we’ll just slowly shut it down?” Derek Evans, chief executive officer of oil-sands producer MEG Energy Corp., said in an interview. “That’s the point we’re at.”

Athabasca oilsands in Alberta Canada.

Athabasca oilsands in Alberta, Canada.
Howl Arts Collective (CC BY 2.0)

It is true that the region around Fort McMurray contains the world’s third-largest crude reserves, but to get the thick bitumen to market requires pipelines, and that is a contentious subject in today’s world of environmental awareness. With limited pipeline capacity, discounts to Canadian oil, and delays to projects like TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, the future is not looking good.

Trudeau did not win friends or influence people when his government ended up buying the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline that was being held up with legal challenges, protests and a British Columbia government pledging to block its construction. The only thing to come out of this move was that Trudeau earned the nickname “Justin Crudeau.”

Naomi Klein, the prominent Canadian writer, and activist said the purchase highlights the “utterly hypocritical” position Trudeau has taken since coming to power, allowing the oil sands to expand while claiming to make Canada a climate leader.

Green Party Canada

@CanadianGreens

We’re the only party standing firmly against any fossil fuels.

In a climate emergency, that’s the only position endorsed by science.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-11/green-who-wants-to-abandon-oil-may-be-canada-s-next-power-broker 

Green Who Wants to Abandon Oil May Be Canada’s Next Power Broker

Elizabeth May has been the lone green voice in Canada’s legislature for most of the eight years since she became her party’s first elected member of parliament.She may soon have more company. Polls…

bloomberg.com

How will the vote go?

It will be a close race and as the polls suggest, Canada could very well end up with a minority Liberal government. Even so, there will be seats for the environmentally-minded Green Party and the New Democratic Party – and this could end up being bad news for oil sands advocates.

Green leader Elizabeth May sees the election as a referendum on climate and Canada’s last chance to take the lead in fighting climate change. “We can’t negotiate with the global atmosphere to say, ‘We need a bit more time,’” said May, whose campaign platform displays a photo of her being arrested protesting against the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Karel Mayrand, the director of the David Suzuki Foundation for Quebec and Atlantic Canada, a non-profit environmentalist organization, says “You could say ‘Alberta can export its oil, and Quebec can export its electricity and everyone shakes hands. But the problem is that for a growing share of the population, in Canada as well as in Quebec, accepting this means throwing all of Canada’s climate goals out of the window.” SOURCE

Behind the Scenes and Elections: Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada

Image result for koch industries tar sands
Photo by NRDC

As we know, big lies can run free across borders with few joining the dots.

For example, no media reports that China’s growing dispute with Canada is based on Canada’s enforcement of the Trump administration’s unilateral and illegal embargo against oil-competitor Iran. A cynical reply is that this is predictable. Canada attacks any designated US Enemy in junior partnership with global corporate command.

But this time there is a new twist. Canada is attacking itself without knowing it.

A US Big-Oil backed juggernaut of Conservative provincial governments and the federal Opposition are well advanced in a Canada campaign to reverse longstanding parliamentary decisions, environmental laws, climate action initiatives, Supreme Court directions, first-nations negotiations, and bring down the government of Canada.  Yet no-one in public or media circles has joined the dots.

Canada’s vast tar-sands deposits are world famous as surpassing Saudi Arabia oil-field capacities in total barrels of potential yield. Great Canada! Yet few notice that over two-thirds of the entire tar-sands operations are owned by foreign entities sending their profits out of Canada, and almost all its raw product is controlled for refining and sale in the US.

What is especially kept out of the daily news is the incendiary fact that the infamous, election-interfering Koch brothers have a dominant stake in the toxic crude of the Alberta tar-sands seeking a massive BC-pipeline out to their US refineries.

Koch-owned industries have already extracted countless billions of their near $100-billion fortune from the tar-sands and deployed their well-known voter-manipulations to change the balance of power in Canada as they have done in the US.

The objective is the same in both cases – ever more tax-free, publicly subsidized and state-enforced control by US Big Oil of Alberta’s massive oil resources with no government regulations or interferences in the way.

A Short History of the Background Facts 

Prior to the wide-mouth pipelines of toxic Alberta crude planned through BC mountains, lands and waters to US processors, oil has to be extracted from the tar-sands first. This demands a continuous gargantuan depleting and polluting of the great Athabaska Lake, River and watershed to steam-boil the tar out of the vast open-pit mines. The immense open-pit mines are not formed or pumped out of desert as in the Middle East. They are torn in state-size chunks out of the earth’s mantle by monstrous wrecking machines ripping out the boreal forest lands by the roots to destroy the carbons sinks and water-hold stabilization they provide in the Northern region as well as pump out ever more climate-changing gases.

NASA Lake Athabasca.jpg
Lake Athabasca (Public Domain)

To boil the tar out of the endless open-pit mines already demands the equivalent of twice the amount of water the entire City of Calgary uses and recycles in a year. But water consumed by the tar-sand boiling is permanently polluted and wasted, and its fresh- water take from the great Athabaska watershed will only increase as the tar-sands ‘development’ is maximized, accessible oil fields are exhausted and prices rise. So too the annihilation of the boreal forests acting as a sink for carbon and holding the watershed together will be permanently lost.

Yet this is only the beginning of what ends up being the biggest single point-source of carbon pollution and climate destabilization in the world. It pollutes 2.5 times more carbon gases than natural oil. Extraction mechanisms cost almost 8-times more fossil fuels than natural oil, and use overall almost as much energy as is produced!

For many years now, the Kochs have made most of their vast fortune from processing billions of barrels of tar-sand crude in the US, not Canada. This is why their octopi funding fronts have relentlessly pushed for ever more pipelines through others’ lands (including Dakota’s indigenous Standing Rock) to control this bigger and safer business than tar-sand extraction itself.

This is also why the Kochs have led the huge financing of climate change denial against the known science, in which tar-sand extractions and burning produce far more toxic carbon gases than high-grade oil. Most of all, the Kochs have acted out of sight to ensure control over elected governments that might regulate and control their above-the-law activities. They spent more than the Republican Party itself on the 2012 US elections.

They invented and funded the Congress-upending Tea-Party, and finance endless attack ads against all resisters to their will to dominate the US Congress and Senate (and behind the scenes the Trump presidency).

Canada’s Love-in With US Big Oil as ‘Alberta’ and ‘National Unity’

In Canada, the governing corporate media and parties have had such a media-transmitted love-in with Big Oil that even Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley militantly demanded over years that the US-dominated tar-sands mega project receive ever more rights and public subsidies to run its toxic tar-sand crude over neighboring BC mountains and the inland whale-inhabited ocean channels as a moral obligation to Alberta. MORE