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Fri, 2014-04-11 10:56Carol Linnitt
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27 B.C. Climate Experts Rejected From Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Hearings

Kinder Morgan trans mountain Pipeline

This week a group of climate experts published a letter detailing the climate impacts of the proposed tripling of the Trans Mountain pipeline which carries oilsands diluted bitumen and other fuels from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver. The group represents 27 climate experts – a mix of economists, scientists and political and social scientists – from major British Columbian universities who were recently rejected from the pipeline hearing process because they proposed to discuss the project’s significance for global climate change.

According to Simon Donner, associate professor from the University of British Columbia and climate variability expert, “the government is ignoring the expertise of not just scientists, but policy analysts and economists.”

You'd have an easier time finding a seat at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals than an expert who thinks the energy policy is consistent with Canada meeting this government's own promised emissions target,” he told DeSmog Canada.

For Donner, the exclusion of climate experts from National Energy Board (NEB) pipeline hearings throws the legitimacy of the environmental assessment process into question.

The NEB and the federal government want to make a decision about the environmental and social impact of the pipeline expansion without considering one of the biggest long-term threats to the environment and society – climate change,” he said.

Wed, 2014-04-02 10:25Carol Linnitt
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Alberta Energy Regulator Report Links Oilsands Emissions to Negative Health Impacts in Peace River

peace river baytex energy

Families forced to evacuate their homes in Peace River, Alberta due to toxic fumes from bitumen development have finally received official recognition of their plight.

This week an Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) panel released a report confirming the odours released from a Baytex Energy Corp. oilsands processing facility may have been the cause of health complications, including chronic coughing, disorientation, nose and throat irritation, fatigue, weight loss, gray skin, and the formation of growths, that forced the families from their properties.

Oilsands deposits in the Peace River region are extracted using a relatively new method called Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand or CHOPS. The process involves pumping heavy oil from the ground to heated surface-level tanks that produce emissions plumes.

The Panel’s main finding in this section is that odours from heavy oil operations in the Peace River area have the potential to cause some of the symptoms experienced by residents; therefore, these odours should be eliminated,” the report states.

Tue, 2014-04-01 11:57Carol Linnitt
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All the Positive and Helpful Things in the IPCC Report No One Will Talk About

climate change, IPCC

If you’ve come across any of the recent headlines on the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, you’re probably feeling pretty low. The doom and gloom levels were off the charts. And understandably so. Major nations across the globe – especially Canada – are dragging their heels when it comes to climate change action. Canada, sadly, doesn’t have any climate legislation.

But maybe that’s because Canada was waiting for a group of the world’s most knowledgeable scientists to come up with a report for policy makers — you know, something to outline useful guidelines to keep in mind when looking to get your country out of the climate doghouse.

Well, Canada, you’re in luck. Here are some of the IPCC report’s most useful guidelines for responding to the multiple and growing threats of climate change:

Mon, 2014-03-31 20:31Carol Linnitt
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New IPCC Report: Climate Hazards a “Threat Multiplier” and the World is Not Ready

climate change, IPCC

Human interference with the climate system is occurring, and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems.” IPCC WGII AR5

Every five years or so thousands of scientists from around the world release a major report on the state of climate science. These reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are the most definitive source of information for understanding not only the planet’s geologic and climatic history, but how humans are now influencing earth’s systems, most notably by altering the composition of the atmosphere.

The second part of the most recent report, released today in Yokohama, Japan, focuses on the impacts of climate change and how well governments are adapting to those impacts. This newly-released portion of the report, from the IPCC’s Working Group II, does not bode well for the future of people on this planet. The report predicts massively negative effects on crops, extinction of species, devastating heat waves, acid oceans and geopolitical conflict.

And that’s being called a “conservative” outlook.

Tue, 2014-03-25 09:50Guest
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Massive Shellfish Die-Off in B.C. Heralds a Future We Can and Must Avoid

scallop

This is a guest post by Caitlyn Vernon and Torrance Coste.

The February 25th headline, “10 million scallops are dead; company lays off staff,” hit British Columbians like a punch in the stomach. The shellfish industry has been an economic powerhouse on central Vancouver Island for decades, providing hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue every year – over $30 million in average wholesale value. 

But when we talk about shellfish, we aren’t just talking jobs and economics. We are talking about food. Shellfish harvesting is one of our most robust local food systems, and the prospect of losing this industry makes us all feel, quite frankly, a little hungry.

Of the possible causes of the recent scallop die-off, ocean acidification seems the most likely. Ocean acidification is directly connected to climate change and to our runaway consumption of fossil fuels. In short, acidification occurs when carbon is absorbed into the ocean from the atmosphere, making the water more acidic. Acidification strips the ocean of carbonate ions, which marine species like scallops and oysters need to build their shells, therefore reducing the ability of these species to survive.

Sat, 2014-03-15 14:37Indra Das
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Debunked: Eight Things the U.S. State Keystone XL Report Got Wrong About the Alberta Oilsands

kris krug oilsands tar sands

Last week the Alberta government responded to the U.S. State Department's final supplemental environmental impact statement (FSEIS) on the Keystone XL project by emphasizing the province's responsibility, transparency, and confidence that the pipeline is in the “national interest” of both Canada and the U.S.

In a statement, Alberta Premier Alison Redford appealed to the relationship between the U.S. and Canada. Premier Redford pointed out that the FSEIS had “recognized the work we're doing to protect the environment,” saying that “the approval of Keystone XL will build upon the deep relationship between our countries and enable further progress toward a stronger, cleaner and more stable North American economy.”

Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Robin Campbell also issued a statement, mentioning Alberta's “strong regulatory system” and “stringent environmental monitoring, regulation and protection legislation.”

Campbell's reminder that the natural resource sector “provides jobs and opportunities for families and communities across the country” was similar to Premier Redford's assurance that “our government is investing in families and communities,” with no mention made of corporate interests.

In order to provide a more specific and sciene-based response to the FSEIS report on Keystone XL, Pembina Institute policy analyst Andrew Read provided counterpoints to several of its central claims.

Fri, 2014-03-14 10:01Carol Linnitt
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Joe Oliver Draws Criticism For Calling Canada a “21st Century Energy Superpower"

joe oliver responsible resource development

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is attending the East Coast Energy Conference this week, where he said: “Canada is emerging as a 21st century energy superpower – unmatched in reliability, responsibility and potential.” His comments bring Canada’s attempt to situate itself at the centre of North American energy security to the forefront.

The statement was made while addressing relations between Canada and the U.S., the world’s largest trade partnership exchanging $700 billion annually, according to a press release put out by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

As the global middle class grows, so too will global energy demand. Canada can meet that demand: we have solid economic fundamentals and unprecedented energy wealth,” Oliver said.

Mark Jaccard, professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, says the title “energy superpower” means little more than Canada’s reliance on fossil fuel exports.

Presumably it means that a country receives significant revenues from energy exports,” he told DeSmog Canada. “Linking this reality to the word ‘superpower’ might best be described by adjectives such as hubris and hype.”

Jaccard added that Canada’s rush to become an energy superpower “is like trying to become a major exporter of…social harms” because fossil fuels are the “primary cause of catastrophic climate change.”

Wed, 2014-03-12 12:58Carol Linnitt
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More than 1000 Jobs Lost, Climate Program Hit Hard in Coming Environment Canada Cuts

Alberta oilsands tar sands Kris Krug

Last year the Harper government’s decision to gut the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) led to the deft and unceremonious firing of more than 1,000 federal employees, many of them researchers, lab technicians and experts crucial to Canada’s understanding of marine science. Frontline stories of tearful staff meetings, where the devastating news was delivered en masse, convinced many Canadians we were in the midst of what is now popularly known as the ‘War on Science.’

That storyline continues today after a new Environment Canada report outlines the department’s plan to eliminate more than 1,000 jobs, a disproportionate amount of which will come from the climate change division.

The ‘plans and priorities’ report shows the department will reduce spending from more than $1 billion in 2014-2015 to $698.8 million in 2016-2017, reports the Toronto Star.

In addition program spending for Environment Canada’s climate change and clean air program will be reduced from $234.2 million in 2014-2015 to $54.8 million in 2016-2017.

Full-time equivalent jobs will drop from 6,400 this year to 5,348 in 2016-2017.

Fri, 2014-02-07 10:08Indra Das
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Proposed Energy East Pipeline Could Exceed Keystone XL in GHG Emissions, Finds Report

Climate Implications of the Proposed Energy East Pipeline: A Preliminary Assessment

A new report from Pembina Institute says that the proposed TransCanada Energy East pipeline could generate up to 32 million tonnes (Mt) of additional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the crude oil production required to fill it. Thirty-two million tonnes of carbon emissions is the equivalent of adding 7 million cars to Canada's roads, exceeding the projected emissions of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

The Keystone XL pipeline, in comparison, would generate 22 Mt of additional GHG emissions through oilsands production, according to a previous report by Pembina. The estimated emissions impact of Energy East is “higher than the total current provincial emissions of five provinces.”

The $12 million Energy East pipeline, proposed by TransCanada in August 2013, would have the capacity to transport 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of oilsands and conventional crude oil from Alberta to New Brunswick. According to the report, the volume of new oilsands production associated with Energy East would represent up to a 39 per cent increase from 2012 oilsands production levels.

Tue, 2014-02-04 10:58Indra Das
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Oilsands Air Pollution Emissions Underestimated, Finds University of Toronto Study

oilsands pollution photo by kris krug

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto has found that air pollution emissions released by oilsands operations in Alberta are likely two to three times higher than previously estimated.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed U.S. journal, modeled levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) released by oilsands bitumen extraction. PAHs are toxic air pollutants released by the burning of fossil fuels, and can be highly carcinogenic.

“When dealing with chemicals that have such great potential to harm people and animals, it is absolutely vital that we truly understand how, and how much they are being released into the environment,” said Abha Parajulee, co-author of the report, in a press release.

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