Tag Archives: Tar Sands

Sabotaging Pipelines is Reckless and Dangerous, but Not For Reasons You Might Expect

11 Jan

This article originally posted for Stop C-51: Toronto at www.stopc51to.org/blog

Syndicated with permission.

There’s an old adage: “Mess with a bull and you’ll get the horns.” I’ll expand that rustic logic with a further analogy: “Mess with a Canadian fossil fuel company and you’ll get the police state.”  December 7th, 2015 is a significant day in Canadian history. It may never make it into textbooks and it’s unlikely that the story of what happened will be echoed in the media anytime soon. That day marked the opening of a major new frontline in the struggle against corporations engaged in the destruction of the planet. It may also have marked the first significant material challenge to Canada’s new anti-terrorism legislation, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 (Formerly Bill C-51) since it became law this summer.

On December 3rd, after years of legal and political battles, Enbridge Inc. began moving crude oil through its controversial Line 9B pipeline system. Line 9B is a 40 year old pipeline that runs 640km from North Westover, ON to Montreal, QC. In the early hours of December 7th, three self-styled “anarchists” traveled to an Enbridge pipeline valve site on the Quebec/Ontario border near the community of Sainte-Justine-de- Newton.

Valves are surface infrastructure which control or moderate flow of oil in a pipeline. The valve in question was a manual type valve. The activists who attended the site proceeded to operate the valve and effectively shut the pipeline down. They then locked themselves to the valve wheel in order to prevent it from being easily reopened. The unplanned operation of the valve forced Enbridge to stop the flow of product in the pipeline, which remained closed for hours as activists were removed from the site. This shutdown presumably cost the company millions of dollars.

(Thanks to SubMedia.TV for the awesome Video!)

 

Why was this reckless and dangerous?

December 7th marked a radical departure from the previous phases of the fight against Enbridge’s controversial pipeline. The action effectively tied up the flow of crude oil to the east coast for 10 hours. By the activists’ own account published on Earth First Journal’s online platform the action was intended as a direct challenge to C-51, which became law in Canada in July 2015.

“This whole action was a test of Canada`s new anti-terrorism law C-51” –unnamed Quebec activist.

Over the last month there have been two further actions inspired by what I will call the “New Model Action”. The second action on December 21st occurred in Sarnia, ON. It followed the design of the first, and was staged by First Nations activists from Aamjiwnaang and their allies. In this second case, activists were slapped with draconian criminal charges including Mischief over $5000 and Mischief endangering life.

A third action on January 4th, 2016 was near Cambridge, ON and targeted Enbridge’s Line 7 that connects Sarnia to Hamilton, ON. In this case activists used a ‘block, lock and walk’ methodology. They shut down the valve, locked the wheel in place to slow Enbridge’s contractors down and left the site without any direct contact with the company or the police. The replicable and scalable idea of direct interference with fossil fuel infrastructure is obviously evolving.

That’s right, these awesome, heroic individuals are taking it upon themselves to ratchet up the rhetoric to meaningful action! It’s reckless and dangerous because nobody knows what the reaction will be when it comes to dealing with the repressive police state that C51 created. In an article later this week I’ll try to give some clues as to what we might be expecting. Until we see how the state reacts, this is all just emergent experimentation: messing with a bull. These actions are highly effective and definitely necessary, but as someone who works between both issue-spaces my honest advice: brace yourselves, the police state is coming.

From my perspective at the nexus of this issue, evolving sabotage actions are important because they challenge the hard-power of industry and state security. I believe in the value of these actions. Admittedly, I support them. STOPC51TO has also conferred its endorsement to the activists who were willing to test the law. We additionally believe it is important to support activists from First Nations communities like Aamjiwnaang or the Chippewas of the Thames as they express very legitimate concerns about infrastructure built and operated in violation of treaties and without either dutiful consultation or free, prior and informed consent.

More to come:

There’s a lot more which I can say and will say in the coming weeks and months as this issue unfolds. I’m looking forward to providing a more detailed analysis of the overlap between environmental activism and the police state as actions continue. Keep checking back to this space for new content and analysis on this or other issues. I’ll make every effort to keep you up to date at the cutting edge of the interplay between state security and environmentalism.

 

policestatememe

Same Company Building Keystone and Tennessee Pipelines

12 Apr

Two projects are currently being fought on the ground (and in the trees) halfway across the country from each other, and various sources (including an article in the Ecologist ) have confirmed that the same company is doing on-the-ground construction of both.

Michels Corp is a construction company that specializes in energy, transportation, telecommunications and utility infrastructure — especially pipelines. While Tar Sands Blockaders are busy stopping Michels from building the Keystone XL pipeline (which would bring more toxic tar sands into frontline communities in Houston), the coalition No Tennessee Pipeline is working to stop the same company from constructing a gas pipeline in Pennsylvania.

 

That means those of you living far from these pipelines’ construction sites now have twice the reason to get in touch with a Michels location near you and tell them what you think of their business decisions!

 

The fact that the same company is building these disparate projects draw an obvious connection between seemingly separate struggles. After all, working against a project that would destroy the places you love becomes an act of solidarity when that same company is also destroying the places that someone else loves.

 

On a deeper level, of course, all our struggles are connected. There are so many reasons to target infrastructure expansion: to act in solidarity with indigenous people across the continent and world; to stop evil corporations from making more money while impoverishing the rest of us; and perhaps most critically, because the very projects that Michels specializes in are the projects  needed to keep this death culture alive. Can there be any better reason for opposing them?

Republished from the Earth First! Newswire: http://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/same-company-building-keystone-tennessee-pipelines/

Pipeline Rejection Bad for U.S.-Canada Relations, says Redford: Alberta Premier in Washington Again to Advocate for Keystone XL Pipeline

12 Apr

Apr 10, 2013 – CP

If the Obama administration rejects the Keystone XL pipeline, it would be a significant thorn in Canadian-U.S. relations, Alberta’s premier said Wednesday.

Premier Alison Redford was in Washington for her fourth trip to lobby on behalf of a pipeline that Canada sees as critical to its economic well-being.

The Obama administration is considering whether to approve the pipeline, which would carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta across six U.S. states to the Texas Gulf Coast, which has numerous refineries. A decision is expected later this summer.

“It would become something that we would continue to talk about,” Redford said of a possible rejection during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “It would be a continuing issue.”

The pipeline has become a flashpoint in the U.S. debate over climate change. Republicans and business and labour groups have urged the Obama administration to approve the pipeline as a source of much-needed jobs and a step toward North American energy independence.

Environmental groups have been pressuring President Barack Obama to reject the pipeline, saying it would carry “dirty oil” that contributes to global warming. They also worry about a spill.

Obama’s initial rejection of the pipeline last year went over badly in Canada, which relies on the U.S. for 97 per cent of its energy exports.

Effect on Canada’s GDP

The pipeline is critical to Canada, which needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oilsands production from northern Alberta. The region has the world’s third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

Daily production of 1.5 million barrels from the oilsands is expected to increase to 3.7 million in 2025. Only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have more reserves.

A lack of pipelines and a bottleneck of oil in the U.S. Midwest have reduced the price of Canadian crude and have cost oil producers and the federal and Alberta government billions in revenue.

Canada’s central bank estimated lower prices for Canada’s crude reduced annualized real GDP growth by 0.4 percentage points in the second half of last year. Canada’s economy grew just 1.8 per cent in 2012.

Both the federal and provincial governments have increased lobbying efforts to get Keystone XL approved.

Alberta’s environmental record

Redford said she was in Washington to provide information on Alberta’s environmental record as the decision nears.

Redford and Alberta’s environmental minister met with Democrats and Republicans from Congress and Senate, as well as officials with the State Department.

“I find that people are still somewhat surprised at our record, whether it’s the fact that we’ve put a price on carbon or that we’ve put $1.2 billion into carbon capture and storage,” Redford said.

Redford has touted her province’s $15-per-tonne tax on carbon for heavy emitters, but her government has also acknowledged it’s falling far behind on its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Redford said the debate about Keystone XL has had glaring deficiencies “that are overshadowing the truth.”

She tried to put the Canadian oilsands in perspective during a speech at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday by saying the oilsands contribute to just 7 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse emissions and less than 0.15 per cent of the global total.

She said the oilsands operations produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the electric power plants in Ohio and Indiana.

“We see an awful lot of reaction of surprise. Not only is the footprint smaller, but also our long-term plan to deal with those issues are very aggressive and more aggressive than what we are seeing in the United States,” she said.

A number of anti-Keystone protesters repeatedly interrupted her talk at the Brookings Institution.

Redford said those opposed to the pipeline are trying to link the approval of the proposed pipeline to Obama’s legacy on climate change, but said she’s optimistic it will be approved because there is a strong regulatory system in the U.S.

“It’s one the reasons that there are 297,000 kilometers of pipeline infrastructure in the United States already. Keystone would only add one per cent in terms of linear distance,” she said. “The infrastructure exists. It works well.”

Republished from CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2013/04/10/calgary-alberta-alison-redford-washington-pipeline.html?cmp=rss

Province Pushes Keystone XL Pipeline With Another Round of U.S. Ads

12 Apr

By Bryan Weismiller, Calgary Herald April 7, 2013

CALGARY —  Alberta is releasing another series of advertisements in U.S. publications aimed at convincing Americans that approving the Keystone XL pipeline would benefit both sides of the border.

The advertisements, which carry a $77,000-price tag, are being rolled out in the Washington Post and news websites this week as Premier Alison Redford returns to Capitol Hill to pitch power brokers on the value of the controversial oil pipeline.

“These ads are targeted at key decision-makers in the Washington area,” Neala Barton, press secretary for Redford, told the Herald.

“We want them to know about the province’s strong environmental record and the huge potential for energy security and job creation that the pipeline would bring.”

The quarter-page Post ad, titled “Keystone XL: The Choice of Reason,” appeals to American patriotism, middle-class prosperity and neighbourly goodwill.

It’s almost identical to one that ran in a Sunday edition of the New York Times newspaper last month.

“America’s desire to effectively balance strong environmental policy, clean technology development, energy security and plentiful job opportunities for the middle class and returning war veterans mirrors that of the people of Alberta,” reads an advanced copy of the April 9 advertisement.

“This is why choosing to approve Keystone XL and oil from a neighbour, ally, friend, and responsible energy developer is the choice of reason.”

Barton noted new online ads, which are slated to run on political news sites — such as National Journal, Politico and Roll Call — will contribute to reaching an audience of more than 1.5 million people.

Advanced copies of the ads, obtained by the Herald on Saturday, tout industry restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, government funding for clean technology projects and vast stretches of protected land in Alberta’s oilsands.

“Blessed with natural resource. And a conscience,” read all three versions of the online ads.

Chris Sands, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute think-tank, expressed skepticism and characterized the Tory government’s sales pitch as a “teardrop in an ocean of political communication.”

“We’re bombarded by political ads from everybody all the time,” Sands said, in an interview from Washington.

“They just sort of wash over you.”

If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels a day of Alberta oilsands bitumen through many states to the world’s largest refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Calgary-based TransCanada PipeLines Ltd., the company behind the 1,800-kilometre oil pipeline, has faced fierce opposition from environmentalists and their supporters. Opponents say it’s fostering new fossil fuel consumption from the oilsands, which they believe is dirty oil with high greenhouse gas emissions.

On Sunday, a coalition of Keystone opponents launched a new national TV ad campaign, hitting many of the U.S. morning talk shows. The “All Risk, No Reward” coalition membership includes faith groups, environmental advocates, and landowners along the proposed pipeline route.

The U.S. Senate has previously backed construction on the pipeline, but a final decision must come from U.S. President Barack Obama, who has twice rejected the $7-billion project.

Sands questioned the Redford government’s decision to keep Keystone XL in the news when a likely favourable ruling on its fate is expected in coming weeks. It could, he warned, stir up pre-presidential election debates that pit environmentalists against pipeline proponents who say it’ll boost a sagging economy.

“If we go back to the rhetoric of that period it’s going to be harder for the president to make a low-key decision to move forward,” said Sands, an expert on Canada-U.S. business and economic relations.

“There’s a chance, not a guarantee, that would be one of the effects of advertising that way at this time.”

On Monday, Redford begins her three-day trip in Washington. It’s her second trip to the U.S capital in two months. She will be joined by Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations Cal Dallas and Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Diana McQueen.

In addition to meeting with legislators and administration officials on both sides of the Keystone debate, Redford will speak at the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution.

The entire cost of the mission is $34,000.

NDP Leader Brian Mason contended the Tory government should step up its environmental performance instead of trying to “convince the Americans that everything is rosy.”

While the ad boasts Alberta “was the first place in North America to legally require all large industry to curb greenhouse gas emissions,” Mason pointed to the Tory government’s acknowledgment it’s not close to meeting targets for reducing carbon emissions.

The province committed to slashing emissions by 50 megatonnes a year by 2020 but has averaged about 10 per cent of that since 2007.

“It’s extremely misleading if not false in describing Alberta’s environmental record,” Mason said of the New York Times advertisement.

With files from Darcy Henton and Amanda Stephenson, Calgary Herald

Republished from the Edmonton Journal: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/alberta/Province+pushes+Keystone+pipeline+with+another/8207735/story.html

More options for crude export in Canada may help Keystone XL’s case in U.S., consultant says

12 Apr

By Dave Cooper, Edmonton Journal April 9, 2013

EDMONTON – The push for tougher greenhouse-gas rules in Canada and plans for a new crude pipeline to Atlantic Canada may help make the case for the Keystone XL pipeline, says a Washington-based energy consultant.

In a research note, Robert Johnston of the Eurasia Group, said he expects approval of the northern leg of the Keystone XL between Alberta and Nebraska by late summer, despite the recent spill of Alberta heavy crude in Arkansas, which has been highlighted by critics of the proposed Keystone line.

Johnston said the bitumen spill on the ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline “created significant headline risk and could generate further delays” for U.S. federal approval. But this is balanced by recent proposals for stricter greenhouse-gas emission rules in Canada which are being pushed by the Alberta government, and further progress on TransCanada’s proposed “Energy East” pipeline which will deliver oilsands output to Atlantic Canada.

Johnston noted the Arkansas spill “has driven a strong response by the environmental community in Washington, which is virtually united in opposing Keystone XL.” He adds the spill “is being used to re-engage the administration following public comments by President (Barack) Obama in San Francisco last week that were interpreted as more favourable for Keystone XL approval.”

Johnston notes the Keystone will have a number of new “smart” systems to detect and respond to leaks, and will be built with better materials than those used in the 60-year-old Pegasus pipeline.

And the push for an eastern outlet, with TransCanada’s plans to convert one of its underused natural gas pipelines to carry crude and extend the line from Montreal to Saint John, N.B., with its large Irving refinery, has shown there is another option to Keystone XL.

That, in combination with Enbridge’s plans to reverse its existing line to Montreal so western light crude can reach the Suncor refinery there, will weaken the environmentalists’ argument that stopping Keystone will halt oilsands development.

“The Keystone XL alternatives are crucial as they underpin the argument that the GHG (greenhouse gas) impact of KXL itself will be neutral, as the oilsands will be produced and brought to market with or without the KXL project,” said Johnston.

However, using rail or the TransCanada line to the east are still not the best choices for many producers, since those options will be more expensive than using the Keystone line.

Eurasia notes the 45-day comment period on the draft of the U.S. environmental impact statement is set to expire on April 22 unless it is extended. If it expires, it will take an additional one to two months to prepare the final statement, which would then have to undergo an inter-agency review of up to 90 days.

“Sources contacted by Eurasia Group are divided over whether the White House would use most or all of that time. On balance, while approval remains highly likely, timing now looks more likely to be late summer versus late spring,” said the report.

Republished from the Edmonton Journal: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/energy-resources/More+options+crude+export+Canada+help/8218564/story.html

Redford argues Keystone XL Controversy Obscuring Truth About Alberta’s Environmental Record

12 Apr

By Darcy Henton, Calgary Herald April 10, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The polarized debate over the Keystone XL pipeline and global warming overlooks the fact that you can build the pipeline and still reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be good stewards of the land, air and water, Premier Alison Redford told a Washington think tank Tuesday.

Redford told the Brookings Institution that the dialogue over approval of the 1,800-kilometre pipeline between Alberta and the U.S. gulf coast “suffers from some glaring deficiencies, which cause essential truths to be overlooked.”

“The most basic truth is that the stark choice Keystone’s opponents have put at the heart of the debate is an illusion,” the Alberta premier said on the same day the province touted Keystone’s value in the Washington Post. “Too many of the arguments deployed against Keystone are far too far from reality. They proclaim that either you stand against the oilsands, or you write off the environment, along with any hope for a sustainable existence.That is completely wrong.

Redford, who met with Canadian ambassador Gary Doer Tuesday morning on the first day of her two-day visit to D.C., said Albertans want to be responsible stewards of their natural resources.

She said Alberta is home to some of the most environmentally friendly, progressive legislation in the world.

“You wouldn’t know that from the clamor of the debate,” she said. “We have nothing to hide, because the facts are on our side.”

The oilsands contribute 21 per cent of Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions, seven per cent of Canada’s emissions, and less than 0.15 percent of the global total, Redford told the gathering.

She added the Canadian oilsands, in total, produce less greenhouse gas emissions than the electric power plants in Ohio, in Indiana, and even less than the agricultural state of Iowa.

Redford noted that Alberta became the first jurisdiction in North America to require large industry to curb greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 and is reviewing its climate change policy to make it even stronger.

She said that since 1990, Alberta’s energy industry has reduced greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of oil produced by an average of 29 per cent, with some some facilities achieving reductions as high as 50 per cent.

Alberta’s coal-fired power plants have lowered their emissions by an amount equivalent to taking roughly 240,000 cars off the road, the premier added.

“We will close up to a dozen of our older plants over the next 17 years, so we can replace them with cleaner alternatives,” she said.

She said her government is providing $1.3 billion in funding for two large-scale carbon capture and sequestration projects, but didn’t mention that funding for two other programs has been cancelled due to poor economics.

“Alberta has a strong record to defend, a very persuasive case to make, and an undeniable need to make it,” she said. “The facts need to be on the table during the debate over Keystone.”

“We are a responsible energy producer looking to develop and market our resources in a sustainable and thoughtful way, to the benefit of both buyer and seller. That’s really the story.”

Redford said that while there’s much talk now in the United States about energy independence in the U.S., the only realistic way to see that is in terms of North American energy independence — integration between the two countries.

She pointed out almost 30 per cent of U.S. oil imports now come from Canada.

“Without Canada’s almost two million barrels per day from the oilsands, there is no prospect of North American energy independence,” she said. “It makes economic and environmental sense to get that energy from a trusted partner.”

She said more than 900 American companies supply oilsands firms with equipment, parts and services.

Keystone XL would add an estimated $6.9 billion per year to the U.S. economy over the next 25 years, and create or preserve more than 75,000 American jobs, Redford explained.

“Canadians would like to see a level playing field in the debate over Keystone XL,” she said. “The opponents of Keystone are, in effect, tilting the playing field in favor of Venezuela, which would be the biggest beneficiary in the absence of Keystone.”

Redford said Venezuela’s oil has the same carbon footprint, but the country doesn’t have the environmental policies and commitment that Alberta has.

She said Alberta has other options and that includes selling on the global market.

“We know that the developing world is thirsty for our energy,” Redford said. “I’ve been to China twice, and I’ll be leading another trade delegation there later this year, along with one to India. But it’s Keystone that offers the US the most direct and tangible rewards.”

Republished from the Edmonton Journal: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Alberta+Premier+Alison+Redford+argues+Keystone/8217845/story.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