Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Is This the Line in the Sand?

Crunch time. How far will Trudeau go to placate Alberta? Premier Kenney may just have drawn the line in the sand. He has said that the federal government faces a stark choice. It can either approve Teck Resources' Frontier Mine or risk leaving the country's oil industry "with no way forward."

The proposed mine is a 292-square-kilometre open-pit bitumen-mining operation 120 kilometers north of Fort McMurray, projected to produce 260,000 barrels of oil a day. It will be the largest open-pit tar sands mine in our history, adding six megatonnes of climate pollution every year. The tar sands are already the fastest-growing source of carbon emissions in the country. To quote avid environmentalist Tzeporah Berman, "All the current national climate policies, including a carbon tax and coal phase-out, would be overwhelmed by this carbon juggernaut."

But it will be hard to resist. Tech has done its homework, signing support agreements with all 14 local Indigenous communities. And big bucks will flow. According to a joint panel of officials from the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the federal government would receive about $12 billion in taxes over the project's lifespan, while Alberta would make over $55 billion in taxes and royalties.

Earlier this year the panel recommended that the project receive federal approval. Nonetheless it recognized problems, reporting. "The project, in combination with other existing, approved, and planned projects, is likely to result in significant adverse cumulative environmental effects to wetlands, old-growth forests, wetland- and old growth-reliant species at risk, fisher, Canada lynx, woodland caribou, the Ronald Lake bison herd, and biodiversity." It also recognized that, "If the project is approved and constructed, it may make it more difficult to achieve Canada's targets and commitments under the Paris Accord." Indeed. The federal cabinet has until the end of February to decide.

Kenney is optimistic. After a friendly meeting with Trudeau, he reported, "At least we have a federal government, a prime minister, that's willing to listen to our case and he indicated an openness." Those can't be words welcome to the ears of environmentalists.

Kenney is oil all the way. His attitude is incompatible with the urgency required to deal with climate change. If Trudeau is serious about dealing adequately with global warming, sooner or later he will have to challenge him. This may be the moment.


the salamander said...

.. hmm .. Yet another astonishing tar sands venture.. and a rarity actually, as an open pit operation & not in situ. Surely the likely suspects, Kenney, Trudeau.. their lieutenants & attendants like Matt Wolf, Gerald Butts.. or respective Ministers, provincial and federal can respond in laymen's terms to some simple questions for taxpayers & voters.. you know, the uh.. citizens these 'public servants' are employed & paid by by.

OK ..
- who owns and controls this Bitumen mine ?
- who will buy the diluted bitumen produced ?
- who supplies the fresh water, electricity, natural gas required per the extraction ?
- how will the dilbit be delivered and to where ?
- what subsidies are involved ? Taxpayer $ of course
- what remediation plan is guaranteed and financially certain ?

Since 96 % of Canada's vast 'oil' reserves are actually tar sands Bitumen
presumably this project fits, helps fulfill Trudeau's odd premise or promise
that Canada must increase emissions to lower emissions
and its the astonishing profits flowing from the 'twinned' TMX pipeline
that will pay for the lowering of the increased emissions..
Can taxpayers see the long term contracts ?
Or at least get a name or two of who the projected buyers are ?
Hopefully they are not the anonymous, never named eager Asian nations

Does that sound like Trudeau & Kenney make a sound business case ?

The Disaffected Lib said...

The warnings about this project are dire and for good reason. They're certainly sufficient to invoke the operation of the "precautionary principle."

The precautionary principle is as sound as it is straightforward:

"The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is [not] harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action. ...The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result."

That principle is also the law of Canada.

In 2015, the Federal Court of Canada upheld the precautionary principle as part of the substantive law of our country. The Supreme Court of Canada has also applied the precautionary principle.

The Liberal government is wary of invoking the precautionary principle lest its own dubious decisions run headlong into its injunction.

This is not the party of Wilfred Laurier, Louis St. Laurent, Lester Pearson or Pierre Trudeau. The party of Ignatieff and Justin is, to the once great Liberal party, as today's Republicans are to the party of Lincoln. The Canada we so joyously celebrate every July 1st is not the Canada whose greatness we honour.

Bill Longstaff said...

Interesting about the courts. I wasn't aware of that. But of course it's only good sense.