pembina institute

Permit to Pollute: Dodging New Law, Agency Approves Alberta Coal Plant

In Alberta, coal was first mined near Edmonton as early as 1850, and commercial coal operations took off in 1874. After the coal rush where hundreds of mines popped up across the province, the “black rock that burns” fell out of favour by the mid 1950s with the advent of natural gas.

While no new coal plants have been approved in Alberta in over a decade, it seems history is repeating itself. On June 30th, the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) approved the Milner Expansion Project, a 500Mw coal-fired generating facility to be built west of Edmonton. The final decision by the AUC to approve the coal plant is a serious black eye for the AUC and its ability to protect the public interest.

The project gives Calgary-based Maxim Power Corp. license to produce some of the filthiest power on the planet for 45 years while emitting 3Mt per year of greenhouse gas emissions. Alberta’s filthy tar sands are already the scourge of the planet, and this approval adds insult to injury.

Canadians Embarrassed (Again) After Government Overestimates Its Carbon Reductions

The Canadian government is again being called out for providing misleading information about its commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) has released its fifth annual report [pdf] analyzing government efforts to follow through with its obligations to reduce its carbon pollution, as set out under the 2007 Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (KPIA).

The findings are disturbing and show that Canada’s emissions reduction policies are only about half as effective as advertised. The recent analysis shows that government policies aiming for 54 million tonnes of carbon reductions by 2012 will only yield around 27 million tonnes of reductions.
 

Spill Baby Spill? The 5,000 Alberta Oil Spills Industry Would Prefer You Did Not Know About

Right now, the oil and gas industry is holding its breath as the approval of two major tar sands pipelines hang in the balance. The $13 billion Keystone XL pipeline would significantly increase the Canadian export of of dirty tar sands bitumen to the U.S. by as much as 510,000 barrels a day. And, on this side of the border, the ferociously debated $5.5 billion, 1,170 kilometre Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline would carry dirty tar sands bitumen to Kitimat, B.C., where it would be loaded onto supertankers bound for growing energy markets in Asia. 

As the decisions near, a series of major oil spills in the last year have highlighted the dangers these two pipelines pose, particularly given the major expansion of tar sands production they would enable. 

This week, a pump-station equipment failure at a TransCanada pipeline caused 80,000 litres of oil to spill in North Dakota. The Keystone system has suffered 12 leaks since it opened last June, all of them related to equipment failures at pump stations. Despite the frequent spill record, the pipeline is due to resume operations on Saturday

China gets it: The future belongs to low carbon industries

The international fight on climate change is a contest for economic development space, China’s chief climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua said recently.

Xie, who is also China’s vice-minister for the National Development and Reform commission, said:

“Countries with low-carbon industries will have a developmental advantage. Some people believe this is a global competition as significant as the space race in the cold war. “

This, woefully, is a message lost on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is fighting to keep Canada “an emerging energy superpower” devoted to one of the most carbon-intensive energy industries on earth.

Hmmm? I wonder who’s going to come out ahead here?

Canadian ENGO Reaction: Suzuki and Pembina Weigh in on Climate Summit

Statement from Dale Marshall, Climate change policy analyst

September 22, 2009 “Presidents and prime ministers met here in New York. These are people who make decisions on behalf of the world’s citizens. It was an opportunity for Canada’s Prime Minister and other leaders to embrace opportunities in the clean energy economy and at the same time take responsibility for our impact on the environment.

BC NDP endorsed carbon tax at 2007 Provincial Convention

Prior to the BC Liberal government introducing a carbon tax last year, the NDP seemed to like the policy. At the 2007 Provincial NDP party convention [pdf], they adopted unanimously a sustainability report stating that:

“Effective Climate Change Initiatives: apply carbon taxes to motivate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring that of fossil fuels reflect the environmental and social costs of their production and use, while building in “just transition” measures to minimize impacts on low-income households.”

Since then, the website where the NDP originally posted this statement has been revised to:

“apply carbon pricing to motivate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring that prices of fossil fuels reflect the environmental and social costs of their production and use, while building in “just transition” measures to minimize impacts on low-income households”

The Sustainable BC report was originally drafted by the NDP Standing Committee on the Environment for an Ecologically and Economically Sustainable Future (SCOEE).

Environment think tank hits back on NDP's National Roundtable claim

The Pembina Institute, a top Canadian environmental think tank, released a statement late last week in reaction to the BC NDP’s claim that a recent report released by National Roundtable on Environment and Economy supports their intention to scrap the BC carbon tax.

Matt Horne, Director of BC Energy Solutions for the Pembina Institute said: 

“The National Round Table report says that Canada needs an economy-wide price on carbon as soon as possible. Experts agree that this could be accomplished through either a carbon tax or a cap and trade system. The Round Table is opting for cap and trade only to align with federal government policy.

The B.C. NDP’s proposal for a limited cap on industrial emitters would only cover up to 32 per cent of B.C.’s pollution, whereas B.C.’s carbon tax covers 76 per cent. So rather than being consistent with the Round Table’s call for an economy-wide price, the NDP’s proposal would take B.C. in the opposite direction.”

The NDP’s assertion that a carbon tax would cost more than a cap and trade system is simply wrong, and is not supported by the Round Table report.” (my emphasis)

Polling the Politicians On Alberta Oil Sands

Looks like the tables have been turned on political hopefuls in Alberta. Instead of them polling us, for once the politicians are being polled on their views of the Alberta oil sands development.

Launched by the Pembina Institute, the 5 minute online poll has been sent to all the candidates running in the current Alberta provincial election.

Mum Harper seen backing Bush effort to undermine international climate-change pact

The Prime Minister is under fire from both Liberals and New Democrats for remaining non-committal on whether Canada will back a proposal by Germany for a post-Kyoto agreement when G8 nations meet in Germany next week. China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa will also be part of the discussions.

Oil sands exec. says Kyoto targets won't hurt industry

Gordon Lambert, Senior Vice President for sustainable development at Suncor, one of Canada's largest oil producers, told a House of Commons committee yesterday that Kyoto targets will not affect their business.

Lambert stated: “We don't predict job losses or impact on the economy (because) of meeting Kyoto. We're focussed on what we can do as a company about the problem.”

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