According to a new study to be released today the risks associated with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline are significantly higher than presented by the company in its project reporting. The study, conducted by Simon Fraser University's School of Resource and Environmental Management, found that in three categories - tanker transport, marine terminal facilities, and pipelines - oil spill predictions based on an international oil spill model (the US Oil Spill Risk Analysis, OSRA) are vastly greater than those based on Enbridge estimates.
In the category of tanker transport, the analysis predicted British Columbians can expect to see one oil spill every 10 years. Enbridge estimated such spills would only occur once every 250 years.
According to Enbridge, pipeline spills are only expected to occur 25 times over a 50-year span. The new analysis predicts 776 pipeline spills over the same period - 31 times more frequently.
After months of testing the waters, TransCanada Corporation recently announced that it will begin taking commitments from parties interested in using its natural gas pipeline to transport crude oil from Alberta to refineries in eastern Canada.
The proposal is comprised of two parts: First, the company wants to modify existing pipelines to carry western crude oil instead of natural gas. Second, it hopes to extend the route through Quebec and possibly as far as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The project would convert roughly 3,000 kilometres of pipeline for the transport of crude oil, and would construct up to 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline. The process would also involve the construction of several new terminals.
Restrictions on public participation in energy decisions may actually backfire on the federal government.
Last week DeSmog Canada reported residents of Ontario and Quebec have to apply for permission to voice their concerns about Enbridge's plans to ship oil and bitumen from Alberta's tar sands through the 37-year old Line 9 pipeline.
People who manage to receive approval can only comment on issues the National Energy Board (NEB) – Canada's independent energy regulator – considers relevant to the pipeline. Climate change, tar sands industry expansion or air pollution from refineries are not relevant to Line 9 according to the NEB.
These public-participation restrictions were introduced in last year's federal omnibus bill C-38 to ensure pipeline projects are approved quickly. Things might not work out that way.
It's not every day you get a self-described "outlaw hip-hop harmonica player" and "beatbox poet" waging a war of words against the masterminds behind the tar sands, oil pipelines and super tankers. But then CR Avery doesn't just live in the every day.
If anything CR Avery is living in the all-too present day of climate disruption, where citizens, students, grannies and punks are uniting against the companies with a vested interest in maintaining the fossil fuel status quo. Enbridge and Kinder Morgan - two companies planning on building new pipelines in B.C. to transport tar sands crude to the Canadian coast - are two of this poet's chosen targets. The risks they pose to neighbourhoods, natural systems and the climate add fuel to the spoken-word fire.
Beautifully crafted and masterfully-filmed by Ethan Miller, this 5 minute short will bring a little passion and clarity back to the cause.
Or as CR says, "With big oil manipulating government's decisions lays firm cause to pause for further inspection…"
A tax loophole exempting tar sands pipeline operators from paying an eight-cent tax per barrel of oil they transport in the US is costing the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund millions of dollars every year. With expected increases in tar sands oil production over the next five years, this loophole may have deprived US citizens of $400-million dollars worth of critical oil-spill protection funds come 2017.
According to a report by the US Natural Resources Committee the federal government pays for immediate oil-spill response from the Liability Trust Fund which is supported by an excise tax on all crude oil and gas products in the US.
But in 2011 the Internal Revenue Service exempted tar sands oil from the tax, saying the substance did not fit the characterization of crude oil.
This exemption has come under scrutiny this week after Exxon Mobil's Pegasus pipeline ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, releasing 300,000 litres of tar sands oil and water into a residential neighbourhood and surrounding wetlands. Because the line carried tar sands-derived oil from Alberta, Exxon was exempt from paying into the spill liability fund for the corrosive fuel's potential cleanup.
Amidst the controversy surrounding the Joint Review Panel hearings on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, Enbridge reached out directly to some of its most vocal opponents on Twitter, including Vancouver-based author John Vaillant, activist Bill Hiller and UBC mathematician Mark Maclean.
The company claimed it had a report that would give the final word on whether dilbit sinks or floats in seawater: "crude oils, including diluted bitumen are less dense than water and therefore float."
This claim was a direct contradiction to observations described in the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) report on the 2010 Kalamazoo River spill, which observed, “Once the crude oil mixture (oil and diluents) enters the environment, weather factors, volatility, and physical agitation affect the composition, thus allowing some of the oil to sink into river sediments and collect on the river bottom.”
A scheduled 'integrity dig' on Enbridge's Line 21 or Norman Wells Pipeline has alerted the company to contaminated soil in two locations along the line, according to an Enbridge news release, raising concerns the aging line may be leaking along its 870 kilometre route.
"The pipeline was shut down as a precautionary measure until repair sleeves were installed," the release reads. "Further investigate is being conducted at each site."
At kilometre post 457 along the line, near Fort Simpson, roughly 30 cubic metres of hydrocarbon tainted soil were removed from the area. At kilometre post 391, near Wrigley, between 60 and 70 cubic metres of soil were quarantined, the approximate equivalent of 6 or 7 dump truck loads. Enbridge has not indicated the cause of the leaks at this point.
The British Columbia government has plans to double or even triple the amount of natural gas produced in the province in order to meet growing international demand. Although the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is a key issue of concern to British Columbians, widespread fracking for unconventional gas presents another significant challenge that should be on the public's radar, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
As the CCPA reports, BC's gas production targets all but ensure the province will fail to meet its own 2007 emission reductions targets as laid out in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act. Exported gas from BC is expected to contribute the emissions equivalent of putting 24 million new cars on the road, and all for a 0.1 percent projected increase in provincial jobs.
In an interview with CBC, Keith said the research institute has been unable to balance corporate interests with its environmental research. Keith also told the CBC that the University of Calgary removed one of its academic employees after bowing to pressure from Enbridge.
"That just fundamentally misconceives the university's role," said Keith, who now works at Harvard University.