Tag Archives: Pipelines

Enbridge Lawyers Question Opponents at Northern Gateway Pipeline Hearings

12 Apr

April 9, 2013 – CP

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. – Lawyers for Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) are getting their turn to question opponents of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline as hearings examining the project continue in Prince Rupert.

Enbridge spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht says company lawyers want more detail about research methods and evidence presented at the joint review panel hearings by groups critical of a twinned pipeline between Alberta and B.C.’s West Coast.

Giesbrecht says questions this week will focus on spill projections offered by environmentalists and First Nations, as well as the groups’ perceived impacts of the $6-billion project.

Enbridge wants to know more about how critics built their case against the 1,200-kilometre line, which would carry bitumen for shipment overseas, while condensate, a substance used to thin heavy crude, would be piped back to Alberta.

Lawyers cross-examined experts from the Gitga’at First Nation on Monday, questioning the group about the size of its population and how members believe the pipeline could impact their natural resources.

The joint review panel must hear interveners and federal government officials questioned under oath, in advance of final arguments slated for May. The panel report is due by the end of the year. (CFTK)

Republished from Yahoo News Canada: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/enbridge-lawyers-opponents-northern-gateway-pipeline-hearings-171011794–finance.html

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Another Oil Pipeline Spill on the Weekend, Where’s the Media Attention?

12 Apr

April 9, 2013 – Kevin Grandia

While clean up continues on the Exxon oil spill in Arkansas, another oil pipeline burst was detected over the weekend – this time in Houston, Texas.

The Shell Oil owned pipeline burst was detected Friday by the US National Response Center and has dumped an estimated 30,000 gallons of oil into a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico (as if it needed any more oil dumped into it!).

Operators of the Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary West Columbia pipeline, a 15 mile long, 16 inch diameter line, received warnings from the US National Response Center of a potential 700 barrel release (nearly 30,000 gallons) of crude oil on Friday, March 29.

Yesterday, representatives from the US Coast Guard acknowledged at least 50 barrels of oil had entered Vince Bayou, a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico.

So far this latest pipeline burst has received very little mainstream news coverage, likely because there has been so many spills lately (3 in the last week alone), that it is no longer considered “news.”

Of course, this all comes at a time that the Obama administration is under great pressure to make a final decision on the new Keystone XL pipeline that will complete a span of pipe from Alberta, Canada all the way to Texas. The Keystone pipeline will transport diluted bitumen (also known as dilbit or “junk crude”), the same type oil that spilled from a burst pipe last weekend in Mayflower, Arkansas.

Republished from Earth First! Newswire: http://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/another-oil-pipeline-spill-on-the-weekend-wheres-the-media-attention/

Did the Exxon Spill in Mayflower Just Sink Keystone XL?

6 Apr

Jamie Henn – April 4, 2013

If President Obama rejects the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Big Oil executives are likely to look back at last weekend’s tar sands spill in Mayflower, Arkansas as a key reason for their defeat.

In a rational world, President Obama would have rejected the Keystone XL pipeline long ago. The nation’s top climate scientists have declared it an environmental disaster, over 800,000 Americans have written the Senate and State Department opposing the project, more than 40,000 recently descended on Washington, DC to push for a rejection. Time Magazine has called Keystone XL the “Selma and Stonewall” of the environmental movement for good reason: more people have gone to jail and rallied in the streets over the pipeline than any other environmental issue in the last decade.

But it’s the images of tar sands oil submerging backyards, flowing down driveways, and contaminating entire streets of the Mayflower subdivision that may finally dramatize all the risks that come with Keystone XL. The ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline that ruptured in Mayflower carried about 90,000 barrels of tar sands a day, about 1/10th of tar sands that would flow through Keystone XL. Take the Mayflower spill, times it by ten, and superimpose it over one of our largest sources of fresh drinking water, the Ogallala Aquifer, and you’ll begin to get an idea of what a spill from Keystone XL would look like: a BP style disaster on land.

2013-04-04-mayflower.jpg

It was pictures like those coming out of Mayflower that helped fuel the last great surge of environmental activism in the late 1960s that led to the first Earth Day and the passage of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Then, it was the Cuyahoga River catching on fire, the massive oil spill off of Santa Barbara, and other local disasters that brought the “pollution crisis” to public consciousness. Now, it’s pictures of climate catastrophes like last summer’s massive wildfires in Colorado or the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, and videos of fossil fuel disasters like the Mayflower spill or last year’s tar sands spill in Kalamazoo River, that are causing people to connect the dots between the new extreme energy rush and the ever worsening climate crisis.

2013-04-04-mayflower1.jpg

This April 18, the State Department will host its one public comment hearing in Nebraska on the latest supplemental environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL pipeline, a review that was widely criticized by environmental groups and experts as seriously flawed and inadequate. 350.org is working with our allies to submit over 1,000,000 public comments and our friends at BOLD Nebraska are helping organize hundreds of farmers, ranchers, and landowners who will testify in person. Their words (and yours if you submit a comment) will make a difference – the State Department is required by law to count and review every comment submitted. But perhaps it’s the images out of places like Mayflower that will speak louder than all those words.

We’ve been given just a small glimpse of what our fossil fuel addicted future could look like: more spills, more climate disasters, more communities put at risk for industry profits. It’s a future that we, and President Obama, can and should reject. It doesn’t have to be this way. After all, as our friend Van Jones says, “You know what they call a solar spill? A sunny day.”

Republished from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-henn/mayflower-oil-spill_b_3016242.html

Harper Government Touts Northern Gateway Benefits While Announcing Trade Mission

6 Apr

By Peter O’Neil, Vancouver Sun April 3, 2013

 
Harper government touts Northern Gateway benefits while announcing trade mission
 Douglas Channel, the proposed termination point for an oil pipeline in the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, is pictured in an aerial view in Kitimat . The coastal city is now on the forefront of the province’s energy boom, which has been predicted to bring $181 billion in investment in natural gas to B.C. between 2012 and 2035.

Photograph by: Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press Files , Postmedia News

OTTAWA – The Harper government touted the benefits of Enbridge Inc.’s proposed $6.5 billion Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline to Kitimat while announcing in Vancouver Wednesday the launch of a new trade mission to Asia.

Trade Minister Ed Fast, speaking at the Pacific Energy Summit, said he and Minister of State Alice Wong will lead a mission of Canadian businesspeople to Japan and China April 7-12.

Fast said he will meet with his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, to discuss Japan’s recently-announced interest in joining negotiations leading to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with the U.S., Canada, Australia and a number of other Asia-Pacific countries.

Executives with 19 companies will join the trade mission in Japan, and 11 in China.

“The trade leadership shown by Japan’s new government truly is a positive sign for the entire global economy,” Fast is to say, according to a draft of the speech provided to The Vancouver Sun.

Fast also stressed in his speech B.C.’s potential to meet Asia’s energy needs with up to five Liquefied Natural Gas projects now being developed.

In addition to natural gas riches “Canada’s oil sands have enormous potential to fuel demand throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”

Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway project must still pass the “rigourous” joint National Energy Board-Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency review that’s due to be completed by the end of the year.

But if it does the project could deliver 525,000 barrels of oil a day to Asian markets.

“There is, therefore, considerable incentive on both sides of the Pacific to make oil pipeline and B.C.’s LNG projects work,” according to Fast.

“Canada does not currently export LNG to Japan and exports very little crude oil and petroleum products there.

“We want to change that. We must change that.”

Fast’s speech also stresses Canada’s vow to reduce by 2020 Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels, even though a Pembina Institute report Tuesday suggested that this goal will be almost impossible to meet given projected growth in oil sands and LNG production.

The Harper government has at times appeared cautious about making firm statements that suggest it backing any specific oilsands pipeline, and there are currently two being developed. Kinder Morgan is also pitching a $5.4 billion project to twin its existing pipeline from the Edmonton area to Burnaby.

Last summer, for instance, Heritage Minister James Moore criticized Enbridge after a scathing U.S. regulatory agency’s report on the company’s failures during a massive spill in Michigan in 2010.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver doesn’t tend to mention either project in speeches, even though he has long stressed the need for Canada to find a way to get diluted bitumen to markets other than the U.S.

However, Oliver also has shown no hesitation, when faced with direct questions, to promote the financial payoff if the projects pass environmental reviews.

“In respect to Northern Gateway what we see are tremendous economic benefits, the creation of tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions or billions of dollars to governments starting with the government of British Columbia and an opportunity for First Nations to participate in the economic and employment benefits,” Oliver said in Vancouver in February while replying to a question after a speech.

Republished from the Vancouver Sun: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Harper+government+touts+Northern+Gateway+benefits+while+announcing+trade+mission/8189060/story.html

Arkansas Spill Shows ‘Nightmare Scenario’ if Keystone Approved, Group Warns

6 Apr

By The Canadian Press – April 2, 2013

 
Arkansas spill shows ‘nightmare scenario’ if Keystone approved, group warns (with video)
 

Crude oil from a ruptured pipeline spills into a drainage ditch leading into Lake Conway in Mayflower, Ark. Residents may be displaced for weeks, officials said, as crews continued to clean up the thousands of barrels of oil and water.

Photograph by: Alan English , AP/The Log Cabin Democrat

CALGARY — A crude oil leak from an ExxonMobil pipeline in Arkansas comes at a particularly bad time for the Canadian company looking to build the contentious Keystone XL pipeline through the American heartland.

TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) hopes it is in the home stretch of a years-long process to win U.S. government approval for its multibillion-dollar project, which has been assailed by environmental groups for its potential impact on everything from fresh water sources to climate change.

The spill from ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline is likely the last thing TransCanada needed, with the U.S. State Department being months away from issuing a final decision on Keystone XL after repeated delays, said Queen’s University professor Warren Mabee.

“I think that just is another set of bad publicity that Keystone is going to have to overcome,” said Mabee, director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at the university in Kingston, Ont.

“As we move towards a decision, this just becomes another hurdle for a new project to overcome — the idea that maybe these pipelines aren’t as safe as they’re made out to be.”

The leak from the Pegasus pipeline in no way changes the facts around the safety of Keystone XL, said Mabee, yet “politically, this is a big problem.”

“If it was purely down to the facts, the decision would come down easily on the side of the Keystone. That project would be approved,” said Mabee.

“If you have a president or a State Department that is looking for excuses to either put this project on hold or to justify cancelling it, this works right into that argument, unfortunately.”

Jim Murphy, senior counsel at the National Wildlife Federation, said the Pegasus spill serves as a “sad illustration” of the risks associated with oil pipelines.

“I think it certainly highlights the nightmare scenario that’s playing out in a lot of minds along the (Keystone XL) route,” he said.

In Arkansas, it doesn’t appear at this point that the oil has reached any nearby water sources, said Murphy.

“We certainly hope there’s no impact to water, but the fact that this much oil was able to spill so near important water bodies I think really indicates that if that oil doesn’t reach water bodies, it’s more luck than anything else.”

Pegasus carries 96,000 barrels per day from Patoka, Ill. — a major destination for Canadian crude, including that from the oilsands — to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Keystone XL would dwarf that in size, with an initial capacity of 830,000 barrels per day.

ExxonMobil says as of Sunday, some 12,000 barrels had been recovered and crews continue to work on the cleanup.

Nearly three years ago, a major spill from an Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) pipeline in southern Michigan fouled parts of the Kalamazoo River.

Although the NWF has been pushing for stronger pipeline safety regulations and response procedures, Murphy says those projects should not be built at all.

“We still have not changed our bottom line that tarsands oil is too risky and is just too destructive a fuel source for us to be developing and transporting.”

TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard called the Pegasus leak an “unfortunate circumstance” that “demonstrates the pipeline industry must continue to focus on the safe, reliable operation of its energy infrastructure.”

“The fact remains that pipelines are the safest way to move oil and other products to markets to meet consumer demands and maintain our quality of life,” he said.

“TransCanada plans on building the most advanced, state-of-the-art pipeline that has been built to date using the latest technology, highest strength steel and most modern welding techniques.”

He said 57 new safety procedures, including remotely controlled shutoff valves and increased pipe inspections, should instill further confidence that Keystone XL will be operated safely.

The $5.3 billion Keystone XL pipeline would carry crude from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest and Nebraska, connecting with another $2.3-billion pipeline currently under construction between Oklahoma and the Texas. Those two pipelines were initially part of one project, but TransCanada decided to tackle them separately when Washington rejected its earlier proposal last year.

TransCanada refiled a new application with a reworked route through Nebraska, where there were concerns pipeline construction could damage a fragile ecosystem of grass-covered sand dunes and threaten a major aquifer.

A draft environmental report from the State Department last month flagged no major issues with the rejigged route. It will issue a final report after a comment period.

Republished from the Edmonton Journal: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/energy-resources/Arkansas+spill+shows+nightmare+scenario/8178079/story.html

The Harper government’s week of history-making blunders

2 Apr

The Panama registered bulk carrier  Azuma Phoenix is seen tied up at Kitimat harbour seen on the afternoon of Jan 9, 201. In March 2013. the federal government announced it was making the private port of Kitimat into a public port,  (Robin Rowland)

The Panama registered bulk carrier Azuma Phoenix is seen tied up at Kitimat harbour on the afternoon of Jan 9, 2012. In March 2013. the federal government announced it was making the private port of Kitimat into a public port. (Robin Rowland)

When the story of the Stephen Harper government is told, historians will say that the week of March 17 to 23, 2013, is remembered, not for the release of a lacklustre federal budget, but for day after day of political blunders that undermined Harper’s goal of making a Canada what the Conservatives call a resource superpower.

 Robin Rowland – March 25, 2013

It was a week where spin overcame substance and spun out of control.

The Conservative government’s aim was, apparently, to increase support for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project with a spin campaign aimed at moving the middle ground in British Columbia from anti-project to pro-project and at the same time launching a divide and conquer strategy aimed at BC and Alberta First Nations.

It all backfired. If on Monday, March 17, 2013, the troubled and controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway project was on the sick list, by Friday, March 23, the Enbridge pipeline and tanker scheme was added to the Do Not Resuscitate list, all thanks to political arrogance, blindfolded spin and bureaucratic incompetence. The standard boogeymen for conservative media in Canada (who always add the same sentence to their stories on the Northern Gateway) “First Nations and environmentalists who oppose the project” had nothing to do with it.

Stephen Harper has tight control of his party and the government, and in this case the billion bucks stop at the Prime Minister’s Office. He has only himself to blame.

All of this happened on the northern coast of British Columbia, far out of range of the radar of the national media and the Ottawa pundit class (most of whom, it must be admitted, were locked up in an old railway station in the nation’s capital, trying interpret Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s spreadsheets).

The story begins early on that Monday morning, at my home base in Kitimat, BC, the proposed terminal for Northern Gateway, when a news release pops into my e-mail box, advising that Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver would be in nearby Terrace early on Tuesday morning for an announcement and photo op.

I started making calls, trying to find out if anyone in Kitimat knew about Oliver’s visit to Terrace and if the minister planned to come to Kitimat.

Visitors to Kitimat

I made those calls because in the past two years, Kitimat has seen a parade of visitors checking out the town and the port’s industrial and transportation potential. The visitors range from members of the BC provincial Liberal cabinet to the staff of the Chinese consulate in Vancouver to top executives of some of the world’s major transnational corporations (and not just in the energy sector). Most of these visits, which usually include meetings with the District of Kitimat Council and District senior staff as well as separate meetings with the Council of the Haisla Nation, are usually considered confidential. There are no photo ops or news conferences. If the news of a visit is made public, (not all are), those visits are usually noted, after the fact, by Mayor Joanne Monaghan at the next public council meeting.

It was quickly clear from my calls that no one in an official capacity in Kitimat knew that, by the next morning, Oliver would be Terrace, 60 kilometres up Highway 37. No meetings in Kitimat, on or off the record, were scheduled with the Minister of Natural Resources who has been talking about Kitimat ever since he was appointed to the Harper cabinet.

I was skeptical about that afternoon’s announcement/photo op in Vancouver by Transport Minister Denis Lebel and Oliver about the “world class” tanker monitoring.

After all, there had been Canadian Coast Guard cutbacks on the northwest coast even before Stephen Harper got his majority government. The inadequacy of oil spill response on the British Columbia coast had been condemned both by  former Auditor General Sheila Fraser and in the United States Senate. The government stubbornly closed and dismantled the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. It’s proposing that ocean traffic control for the Port of Vancouver be done remotely from Victoria,  with fixed cameras dotted around the harbour.  Leaving controllers in Vancouver would, of course, be the best solution, but they must be sacrificed (along with any ship that get’s into trouble in the future, on the altar of a balanced budget).

The part of the announcement that said there would be increased air surveillance is nothing more than a joke (or spin intended just for the Conservative base in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Toronto suburbs,that is not anyone familiar with BC coastal waters). Currently the Transport Canada surveillance aircraft are used on the coasts to look for vessels that are illegally dumping bilge or oil off shore. As CBC’s Paul Hunter reported in 2010, Transport Canada aircraft were used after the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster to map where the oil was going after it erupted from the Deepwater Horizon.

Given the stormy weather on the west coast (when Coast Guard radio frequently warns of “hurricane force winds”) it is highly unlikely that the surveillance aircraft would even be flying in the conditions that could cause a major tanker disaster. Aerial surveillance, even in good weather, will never prevent a tanker disaster caused by human error.

I got my first chance to look at the Transport Canada website in late afternoon and that’s when a seemingly innocuous section made me sit up and say “what is going on?” (I actually said something much stronger).

Public port

Public port designations: More ports will be designated for traffic control measures, starting with Kitimat.

(Transport Canada actually spelled the name wrong—it has since been fixed—as you can see in this screen grab).

Screengrab from Transport Canada website

Kitimat has been one of the few private ports in Canada since the Alcan smelter was built and the town founded 60 years ago (the 60th anniversary of the incorporation of the District of Kitimat is March 31, 2013).

The reasons for the designation of Kitimat as a private port go back to a complicated deal between the province of British Columbia and Alcan in the late 1940s as the two were negotiating about electrical power, the aluminum smelter, the building of the town and the harbour.

For 60 years, Alcan, later Rio Tinto Alcan, built, paid for and operated the port as a private sector venture. For a time, additional docks were also operated by Eurocan and Methanex. After Eurocan closed its Kitimat operation that dock was purchased by the parent company Rio Tinto. The Methanex dock was purchased by Royal Dutch Shell last year for its proposed LNG operation.

The announcement that Kitimat was to become a public port was also something that the national media would not recognize as significant unless they are familiar with the history of the port. That history is known only to current and former residents of Kitimat and managers at Rio Tinto Alcan.

The port announcement came so much out of left field; so to speak, that I had doubts it was accurate. In other words, I couldn’t believe it. I went to Monday evening’s meeting of District of Kitimat Council and at the break between the open and in-camera sessions, I asked council members if they had heard about Kitimat being redesignated a public port. The members of the district council were as surprised as I had been.

Back from the council meeting, I checked the Transport Canada news release and backgrounders. I also checked the online version of Bill C-57, the enabling act for the changes announced earlier that day. There was no mention of Kitimat in Bill C-57.

Harper government outlines new tanker safety measures for west coast

Confirmation

Tuesday morning I drove to Terrace for Joe Oliver’s 9 am photo op and the announcement at Northwest Community College (NWCC) that the government had appointed Douglas Eyford as a special envoy to First Nations for energy projects, an attempt on the surface to try and get First Nations onside for the pipeline projects, an appointment seen by some First Nations leaders as an attempt by the Harper government to divide and conquer.

As an on site reporter, I got to ask Oliver two questions before the news conference went to the national media on the phones.

In answer to my first question, Oliver confirmed that the federal government had decided to make Kitimat a public port, saying in his first sentence: “What the purpose is to make sure that the absolute highest standards of marine safety apply in the port of Kitimat.” He then returned to message track saying, “we have as I announced yesterday and I had spoken about before at the port of Vancouver we have an extremely robust marine safety regime in place but we want to make sure that as resource development continues and as technology improves, we are at the world class level. As I also mentioned there has never been off the coast of British Columbia a major tanker spill and we want to keep that perfect record.”

For my second question, I asked Oliver if he planned to visit Kitimat.

He replied. “Not in this particular visit, I have to get back [to Ottawa] There’s a budget coming and I have to be in the House for that but I certainly expect to be going up there.”

The question may not have registered with the national media on the conference call. For the local reporters and leaders in the room at Waap Galts’ap, the long house at Terrace’s Northwest Community College, everyone knew that Kitimat had been snubbed.

Oliver confirms Kitimat to become a public port

Back in Kitimat, I sent an e-mail to Colleen Nyce, the local spokesperson for Rio Tinto Alcan noting that Joe Oliver had confirmed that the federal government intended to make the RTA-run port a public port. I asked if RTA had been consulted and if the company had any comment.

Nyce replied that she was not aware of the announcement and promised to “look into this on our end.” I am now told by sources that it is believed that my inquiry to Nyce was the first time Rio Tinto Alcan, one of Canada’s biggest resource companies, had heard that the federal government was taking over its port.

The next day, Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan told local TV news on CFTK the Kitimat community was never consulted about the decision and she added that she still hadn’t been able to get anyone with the federal government to tell her more about the plan.

Who pays for the navigation aids?

Meanwhile, new questions were being raised in Kitimat about two other parts of the Monday announcement.

New and modified aids to navigation: The CCG will ensure that a system of aids to navigation comprised of buoys, lights and other devices to warn of obstructions and to mark the location of preferred shipping routes is installed and maintained.
Modern navigation system: The CCG will develop options for enhancing Canada’s current navigation system (e.g. aids to navigation, hydrographic charts, etc) by fall 2013 for government consideration.

Since its first public meeting in Kitimat, in documents filed with the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel, in public statements and advertising, Enbridge has been saying for at least the past four years that the company would pay for all the needed upgrades to aids to navigation on Douglas Channel, Wright Sound and other areas for its tanker traffic. It is estimated that those navigation upgrades would cost millions of dollars.

Now days before a federal budget that Jim Flaherty had already telegraphed as emphasizing restraint, it appeared that the Harper government, in its desperation to get approval for energy exports, was going to take over funding for the navigation upgrades from the private sector and hand the bill to the Canadian taxpayer.

Kitimat harbour

RTA not consulted

On Thursday morning, I received an e-mail from Colleen Nyce with a Rio Tinto Alcan statement, noting:

This announcement was not discussed with Rio Tinto Alcan in advance. We are endeavoring to have meetings with the federal government to gain clarity on this announcement as it specifically relates to our operations in Kitimat.

Nyce also gave a similar statement to CFTK and other media. A Francophone RTA spokesperson in Quebec did the same for Radio Canada.

On Friday morning, Mayor Monaghan told Andrew Kurjata on CBC’s Daybreak North that she had had at that time no response to phone calls and e-mails asking for clarification of the announcement. Monaghan also told CBC that Kitimat’s development officer Rose Klukas had tried to “get an audience with minister and had been unable to.” (One reason may be that Oliver’s staff was busy. They ordered NWCC staff to rearrange the usual layout of the chairs at Waap Galts’ap, the long house, to get a better background for the TV cameras for Oliver’s statement).

Joe Oliver

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver (front far right) answers questions after his news conference at the Northwest Community College Long House, March 19, 2013. (Robin Rowland)

Monaghan told Kurjata, “I feel like it’s a slap in the face because we’re always being told that we’re the instrument for the whole world right now because Kitimat is supposed to be the capital of the economy right now. So I thought we’d have a little more clout by now and they’d at least tell us they were going to do this. There was absolutely no consultation whatsoever.”

By Friday afternoon, five days after the announcement, Transport Canada officials finally returned the calls from Mayor Monaghan and Rose Klukas promising to consult Kitimat officials in the future.

Monaghan said that Transport Canada told her that it would take at least one year because the change from a private port to a public port requires a change in legislation.

Transport Canada is now promising “extensive public and stakeholder consultation will occur before the legislation is changed,” the mayor was told.

On this Mayor Monaghan commented, “It seems to me that now they want to do consultation….sort of like closing the barn door after all of the cows got out!”

Transport Canada promises consultation on Kitimat port five days after announcement it will become public

Blunder after blunder after blunder

Blunder No 1. Pulling the rug out from Northern Gateway

Joe Oliver and the Harper government sent a strong political signal to Kitimat on Tuesday; (to paraphrase an old movie) your little town doesn’t amount of a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Not that attitude is new for the people of Kitimat. The Northern Gateway Joint Review panel snubbed the town, bypassing Kitimat for Prince George and Prince Rupert for the current questioning hearings. Publisher David Black has been touting a refinery 25 kilometres north of Kitimat to refine the bitumen, but has never bothered to meet the people of Kitimat.

There are a tiny handful of people in Kitimat openly in favour of the Northern Gateway project. A significant minority are on the fence and some perhaps leaning toward acceptance of the project. There is strong opposition and many with a wait and see attitude. (Those in favour will usually only speak on background, and then when you talk to them most of those “in favour” have lists of conditions. If BC Premier Christy Clark has five conditions, many of these people have a dozen or more).

Oliver was speaking in Terrace, 60 kilometres from Kitimat. It is about a 40 to 45 minute drive to Kitimat over a beautiful stretch of highway, with views of lakes, rivers and mountains.

Scenic Highway 37 is the route to the main location not only for the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline but three liquefied natural gas projects, not to mention David Black’s proposed refinery half way between Terrace and Kitimat.

Why wouldn’t Kitimat be a must stop on the schedule for the Minister of Natural Resources? In Terrace, Oliver declared that Kitimat was to become a public port, run by the federal government. Although technically that would be the responsibility of Denis Lebel, the Minister of Transport, one has to wonder why the Minister of Natural Resources would not want to see the port that is supposedly vital to Canada’s economy? You have to ask why he didn’t want to meet the representatives of the Haisla Nation, the staff and council of the District of Kitimat and local business leaders?

Oliver has been going across Canada, the United States and to foreign countries promoting pipelines and tanker traffic, pipelines that would terminate at Kitimat and tankers that would send either bitumen or liquefied natural gas to customers in Asia.

Yet the Minister of Natural Resources is too important, too busy to take a few hours out of his schedule, while he is in the region,  to actually visit the town he has been talking about for years.

He told me that he had to be in Ottawa for the budget. Really? The budget is always the finance minister’s show and tell (with a little help from whomever the Prime Minister is at the time). On budget day, Oliver would have been nothing more than a background extra whenever the television cameras “dipped in” on the House of Commons, between stories from reporters and experts who had been in the budget lockup.

According to the time code on my video camera, Oliver’s news conference wrapped at 9:50 a.m., which certainly gave the minister and his staff plenty of time to drive to Kitimat, meet with the representatives of the District, the Haisla Nation and the Chamber of Commerce and still get to Vancouver for a late flight back to Ontario.

On Tuesday, Joe Oliver’s snub pulled the political rug out from under the Northern Gateway supporters and fence sitters in Kitimat. Oliver’s snub showed those few people in Kitimat that if they do go out on a limb to support the Northern Gateway project, the Conservatives would saw off that limb so it can be used as a good background prop for a photo op.

Prince Rupert, Terrace and Smithers councils have all voted against the Northern Gateway project. Kitimat Council, despite some clear divisions, has maintained a position of absolute neutrality.  Kitimat Council will continue to be officially neutral until after the Joint Review report, but this week you could hear the air slowly leaking out of the neutrality balloon.

Oliver may still believe, as he has frequently said, that the only people who oppose Northern Gateway are dangerous radicals paid by foreign foundations.

What he did on Tuesday was to make the opposition to Northern Gateway in Kitimat into an even more solid majority across the political spectrum.

……..

Blunder No 5. LNG

There are three liquefied natural gas projects slated for Kitimat harbour, the Chevron-Apache partnership in KM LNG, now under construction at Bish Cove; the Royal Dutch Shell project based on the old Methanex site and the barge based BC LNG partnership that will work out of North Cove.

None of these projects have had the final go ahead from the respective company board of directors. So has the federal government thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into these projects? Will making Kitimat a public port to promote Enbridge, help or hinder the LNG projects? Did the Ministry of Natural Resources even consider the LNG projects when they made the decision along with Transport Canada to take over the port?

A Complete version of this article appears in NorthWest Coast Energy News: http://nwcoastenergynews.com/2013/03/25/4455/analysis-harper-governments-week-history-making-blunders/

Ducks Near Arkansas Oil Spill Found Dead After ExxonMobil Pipeline Rupture

2 Apr

Jeannie Nuss – April 1, 2013

Ducks Arkansas Oil Spill

A worker cleans up oil in Mayflower, Ark., on Monday, April 1, 2013, days after a pipeline ruptured and spewed oil over lawns and roadways. (AP Photo/Jeannie Nuss)

 

MAYFLOWER, Ark. (AP) — The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured last week.

“I’m an animal lover, a wildlife lover, as probably most of the people here are,” Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson told reporters. “We don’t like to see that. No one does.”

Officials are urging people in Mayflower, a small city about 20 miles northwest of Little Rock, not to touch any injured or oiled animals as crews clean up Friday’s spill.

About 12,000 barrels of oil and water have been recovered since ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline sprung a leak, spewing oil onto lawns and roadways and nearly fouling a nearby lake.

Dodson said he expects a few more oily birds to turn up in the coming days.

“I don’t expect a great number of them,” he said. “I’ll be thoroughly disappointed if there are.”

Investigators are still working to determine what caused the spill, which led authorities to evacuate nearly two dozen homes in a subdivision.

It’s not clear when residents will be able to return to their homes, but Dodson said it could be within days for some people.

“Our focus is to protect the community,” said Karen Tyrone, vice president of operations for ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. “We have air monitoring going on seven days a week, 24 hours a day … and to date, we have no indication that there’s a health impact on the community.”

Still, the air smells like oil, and area residents say it has for days.

“We live five miles out in the country and we’ve had the smell out there,” Karen Lewis, 54, said outside a local grocery store. Its parking lot, like much of this small city, is teeming with cleanup crews and their trucks.

Meanwhile, in the neighborhood where the pipeline burst, workers in yellow suits waded in an oil-soaked lawn Monday as they tried to clean up part of the area where the spill began.

The pipeline that ruptured dates back to the 1940s, according to ExxonMobil, and is part of the Pegasus pipeline that carries crude oil from the Midwest to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Exxon spokesman Charlie Engelmann said the oil is conventionally produced Canadian heavy crude.

“Crude oil is crude oil,” Dodson said. “None of it is real good to touch.”

Republished from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/ducks-arkansas-oil-spill_n_2994795.html