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Tue, 2015-03-31 11:39Carol Linnitt
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Pipeline Industry Promises to Review Disclosure Rules After Kinder Morgan Secrecy Scandal

pipeline spill Jimmy Jeong

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) is working hard to undo damage caused by pipeline company Kinder Morgan’s refusal to release oil spill response plans in British Columbia. The company's lack of disclosure angered the province of B.C., especially when it was revealed that Kinder Morgan released detailed spill response plans in Washington State for portions of the pipeline that extend across the border.

The pipeline association recently announced it would form a task force to address the issue, hoping to waylay growing public concerns by developing “guiding principles” for disclosure.

A number of our members have faced significant public pressure to disclose all information contained in emergency response plans. The CEPA task force will work to support that by establishing clear principles and guidelines that seek to find the right balance between the public’s right to know, the privacy of personal information and the security considerations also required for public safety,” Jim Donihee, chief operating officer with CEPA, said.

Mon, 2015-03-30 10:02Emma Gilchrist
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UVic Report Calling for Updates to Charities Law Creates Stir

CRA charity audit charity chill, UVic, ELC report

The release of a University of Victoria study calling for updates to Canadian charitable law created quite a stir last week.

The study, prepared for DeSmog Canada, was covered by the Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, Victoria Times Colonist, Canadian Press, Macleans, The Tyee, Yahoo! News and CFAX.

The report called for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to clarify rules around “political activities” — defined as any activity that seeks to change, oppose or retain laws or policies — and to provide a more generous limit on allowable policy advocacy in line with other common law jurisdictions such as Australia and New Zealand. It also called for the creation of a politically independent charities commission to remove the potential for political interference in audits.

The findings were raised in the House of Commons by Victoria NDP MP Murray Rankin, who stated the report “analyzes the alarming lack of clarity in the rules governing political activities for charities.”

Wed, 2015-03-25 04:00Emma Gilchrist
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Canada’s Charitable Law Urgently Needs Reforming: New UVic Report

Calvin Sandborn

A report released today by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre calls for sweeping reform of Canadian charitable law in line with other jurisdictions such as the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and England.

Current rules around “political activity” — defined by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as any activity that seeks to change, oppose or retain laws or policies — are confusing and create an “intolerable state of uncertainty,” the report says.

This has created a confused and anxious charitable sector and detracts from them carrying out their important work,” Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the Environmental Law Centre, said.

The report — prepared for DeSmog Canada — comes as 52 charities are being targeted in a $13.4 million audit program launched by the federal government in 2012 to determine whether any are violating a rule that limits spending on political activities to 10 per cent of resources. Those charities include Environmental Defence, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty, Ecology Action Centre and Equiterre.

Mon, 2015-03-23 11:47Carol Linnitt
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Citizens Take Constitutional, Free Speech Challenge Against National Energy Board to Supreme Court

A group of citizens fighting to speak about climate change and the oilsands at National Energy Board (NEB) reviews of pipeline projects, like the current Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, are taking their battle all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The group, comprised of landowners, academics, owners of business and many others, filed a constitutional challenge against the NEB’s restrictive policies that limit public participation and prevent discussion of climate and upstream oil and gas activities.

The purpose of taking the challenge to the Supreme Court “is to ask that Court to direct the NEB to do its job properly,” David Martin, legal counsel, explained in a statement.

The NEB's claim that it cannot consider scientific evidence regarding the long term impacts of the export of bitumen is simply wrong,” Martin said.

“Instead the NEB is making a misguided choice to adopt an unconstitutionally narrow interpretation of its jurisdiction so as to avoid having to address the real competing public interests that pipeline approval applications necessarily entail.”

Thu, 2015-03-19 15:44Justin Mikulka
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Science vs Spin: Dilbit Sinks in the Real World, But Not in Studies Funded by Oil Industry

EPA Kalamazoo River Cleanup

Once the oil started to sink, it made things a lot more difficult on our recovery.”

Those were the words of Greg Powell of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during his presentation on March 10th at the National Academy of Sciences conference on the Effects of Diluted Bitumen on the Environment. Powell was one of the people involved in the response and clean up of the Kalamazoo River tar sands dilbit spill in 2010 where an Enbridge pipeline cracked and spilled approximately one million gallons of diluted bitumen into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

Tue, 2015-03-03 10:05Carol Linnitt
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CSIS “Can Neither Confirm Nor Deny” Spying on Me (Or You For That Matter)

When I asked the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) whether it has files on me or DeSmog Canada, I got a response that's been used as a non-answer by government spokespeople and celebrity publicists for 40-plus years: We can “neither confirm nor deny” the records exist.

The intelligence body doesn't have to disclose such information because it's exempt from Canada’s Access to Information legislation since it relates to “the detecting, preventing or suppressing subversive or hostile activities.”

Hmph. Some part of me was expecting them to simply say “no.” While non-denial denial responses like this are pretty par for the course when dealing with intelligence services — the phrase was first conjured up during a clandestine CIA submarine operation in the 1970s — it's disconcerting in light of the federal government’s proposed anti-terrorism bill C-51, which would increase the powers of CSIS and its role in government-sponsored spying.

As others have pointed out, bill C-51 will allow dangerously strong measures to be taken against even perceived terror threats or individuals that pose a threat to Canada’s critical infrastructure, such as pipelines, or the nation’s financial security.

Sat, 2015-02-28 13:05Judith Lavoie
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Oil Tankers Pose Serious Risk to Under-Studied Minke Whales Off B.C. Coast, New Research Shows

A small, shy whale, may be one of the rarest marine mammals along the coast of B.C., but remarkably little is known about minke whales and the threats they face in the north-east Pacific, according to Jared Towers, research director with the Marine Education and Research Society.

Seldom-seen minke whales  unlike the splashier and much-studied killer whales and humpbacks found in B.C. waters  have no special protection, either in Canada or the U.S, and, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, more research is needed.

Information is essential if minkes are to be protected from hazards such as oil spills and vessel strikes, Towers said.

Numbers in B.C are likely to be about 388, with another 478 animals off the Washington, Oregon and California coast, Towers said.

The numbers are really much less than expected…Their numbers are probably much less than the number of killer whales,” he said.

Tue, 2015-02-10 15:07Derek Leahy
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Canada's Pipeline Review Process Broken But Still Important, Critics Say

The National Energy Board (NEB), Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, has come under tremendous public criticism over the last three years for limiting public participation in its review of major oil pipeline proposals. In recent years the board has denied hundreds of Canadians an opportunity to voice their concerns on projects like Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 9.

TransCanada’s Energy East, Canada’s largest proposed oil pipeline, is the newest project to land on the NEB’s desk. Despite major barriers to participation in the public hearing process, Canadians are preparing to apply in droves, even if just for the opportunity to be officially rejected from the process.

We can’t sit back and we can’t afford the luxury of despair,” Donna Sinclair of North Bay, Ontario said. “We need to resist efforts to shut us out of the process.”

Sinclair, who was denied the opportunity to submit a letter of comment regarding the Line 9 pipeline project in 2013, plans on applying to participate in the NEB review process for Energy East.

Wed, 2015-02-04 19:18Emma Gilchrist
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Five Poll Results That Are Gonna Cause Oil Execs Some Headaches

Alberta Oil Magazine just published its National Survey on Energy Literacy, the culmination of 1,396 online interviews of a representative sample of Canadians conducted by Leger.

The results are particularly interesting coming from Alberta Oil, a magazine destined for the desks of the energy sector’s senior executives and decision-makers.

Summing up the survey’s findings about “The Issues,” Alberta Oil editors write that opposition to energy projects is “not just for West Coast hippies anymore.”

Indeed. There are quite a few nuggets in the survey’s findings that are probably causing a headache or two in Calgary’s corner offices this week. We round up the Top 5.

1) Opposition to the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline is just as serious as opposition to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline — if not more so, according to the survey. What’s more, the more highly educated citizens are, the less likely they are to support Trans Mountain or Northern Gateway. Hmph, maybe the anti-pipeline crowd isn’t all unemployed hippies after all?

Mon, 2014-12-29 10:15Emma Gilchrist
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Top 10 Climate and Energy Stories of 2014

Suncor tailings pond

With 2014 drawing to a close, DeSmog Canada decided to take stock of its most popular stories of the year.

Readers came in droves for our in-depth reporting on climate change, oilsands and oil pipelines, but they also loved articles about potential solutions to our climate change woes. Indeed, two of our Top 10 posts are on Canada’s geothermal potential.

Without further ado, here are DeSmog Canada’s Top 10 articles of 2014. Thanks for reading!

1. Bill 4 Passes: B.C. Parks Now Officially Open…To Pipelines and Drilling. More than 10,000 citizens wrote letters and signed petitions to try to stop the B.C. government from passing Bill 4, which allows for industry (and others) to carry out “research” in provincial parks related to pipelines, transmission lines, roads and other industrial activities that might require park land.

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