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Time Not Right For A National Carbon Tax: Brad Wall
Published by: Daily Oil Bulletin
By: James Mahony
While not opposed in principle to a carbon tax, the politician many Albertans call the defender of Western Canada’s oil and gas sector said this is not the time.
Saskatchewan PremierBrad Wallwas responding to suggestions theJustin Trudeaugovernment might move to bring in a federal carbon tax, in addition to Alberta’s provincial tax on carbon.
“Now is not the time,” he told reporters after a speech Wednesday to industry executives in Calgary. “Any kind of carbon tax or levy, by definition, is going to hit the more carbon-intensive industries, [including] oil, mining and maybe even agriculture. Especially for oil and mining, this is not the right time.”
Earlier, during his speech to theExplorers and Producers Association of Canada(EPAC), Wall acknowledged the industry is “undergoing a huge challenge,” due to low crude oil prices and the ongoing industry downturn.
At the same time, he would not rule out “some sort of national initiative” on carbon emissions, without elaborating on the matter. More to the point for his audience, he compared the industry’s current situation to the downturn Canada’s auto-manufacturing experienced in 2009.
“Can you imagine if we’d been advocating for a special tax on car-manufacturers in 2009?” he said. “We just wouldn’t do it. We’d have said, ‘maybe, when the industry’s all strong and healthy again. [But] our [oil industry] isn’t, so now is not the time for the levy, but I’ve said publicly that that’s the model we’ll use when the time is right.”
Also on Wednesday, Wall acknowledged Canada has more work to do in terms of cutting greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions, but said this country represents just 1.6 per cent of emissions worldwide.
“We’re not off the hook, but shouldn’t we be focused on the 2,400 coal-fired [power] plants that are being built around the world? Can we find a technology to clean those up?” In particular, Wall challenged the thinking of Canada’s climate change scientists, including those who publicly oppose proposals to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Canada to Asia.
“I do not understand that,” he said. “If we know that, if there’s more natural gas in Asia, there will be [fewer] coal plants, … why wouldn’t we want to export much cleaner gas from Canada — from British Columbia and Alberta, maybe — to Asia, and displace coal?”
Wall is not the first to argue that exporting Canadian LNG to Asia would go far in displacing coal as a fuel in Asian markets, and give Asian industries, especially in coal-reliant countries like China, another reason to cut coal usage. Yet, he was surprised that many scientists and environmental activists seem to miss the point entirely, focusing instead on stopping LNG development.
“Common sense seems to be missing from [their] argument.”
Yet, he said a more urgent threat than climate change comes from an “ever-growing matrix” of Canadian activists with an axe to grind, in particular those associated with the LEAP Manifesto, which recently provoked debate in the federal wing of theNew Democratic Party(NDP). Among authors of the document isNaomi Klein.
Wall said “profound snobbery” is at the heart of the manifesto, which proposes expanding some sectors of the economy, such as care-giving, education and the arts, where jobs are “more worthy — that is the implication.” Yet, he pointed out that public money underpins these sectors, and that money usually comes from taxes, which often come from the resource sector, including the oil and gas industry.
“Grim Leapers,” he said, “just aren’t comfortable that [Canada has] all this oil, and what [it] might mean.” Yet, the industry is also threatened by others who would like to shut it down completely, he added.
LEAP activists aside, he also cited the divestment movement, which he said consists of pension funds, universities and faith-based organizations who are “trying to direct investment away from [the oil and gas] sector based, I think, on not-entirely factual evidence. They are responding to the call that we move rapidly to a ‘post-carbon economy.’”
The latter, he said, would simply not happen, at least not at the rate activists hope for. “There will be no quick transition to the post-carbon world. The transition is occurring, and we should be a part of it, but by 2040, theInternational Energy Agencypredicts fossil fuels will still account for 75 per cent of [global] energy consumption.”
Acknowledging there will be more wind- and solar-based power generation in Canada over time, he said there are still clear limits to what these power sources can achieve, in terms of generation, notwithstanding improvements in technology.
Crude oil pipeline debate
Wall also joined the conversation over oil pipelines, saying it’s important that Canada get oil to market in a safe and sustainable way. In most countries, he said, this debate would not even happen. “If they had a third of Canada’s oil reserves, in most countries, there wouldn’t be this intractable, interminable delay and debate about whether we should even get the product to tidewater.”
Should Canada fail to approve a pipeline to tidewater, the result will be that this country will continue with just one customer: the United States. “It’s remarkable that we’d be satisfied with a situation where one country’s good enough, and we’re selling [oil] at a discount … because we can’t get the Brent price, which is always a little bit higher than WTI.”
He credited Canadians with being able to respond to “the facts” in the pipeline debate. “If [they] thought, ‘Well, we could buy oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan or … from a country that has beheaded more people than ISIS, I think they’re going to make a decision in favour of Canadians,” he said. “There’s some common sense I believe Canadians have.”
Also following his speech, Wall was asked whether he was content with the Trudeau government’s approach to pipeline development, namely, waiting for theNational Energy Board(NEB) to complete hearings and issue a formal decision, but then deciding the matter in the murkier political realm.
“I’ve said publicly – and to the prime minister, privately — that I think he could be a champion [here]. [Trudeau] has a lot of goodwill across the country. He’s very popular, and he has the solid support of a base that might have concerns about a pipeline, so if he were to lay out some of the facts, and be a champion for them, I think it would be a game-changer. I hope he does that.”
Yet, overall, Wall is concerned the oil and gas industry is losing the battle for public acceptance. He acknowledged that recent events, such as Vancouver MayorGregor Robertson’s very public stance against the proposedKinder Morgan Inc.Trans Mountainpipeline expansion, seem only to reinforce the feeling that the industry is falling behind in public support.
“We’re in the middle of a battle, and frankly, we haven’t been winning very many. When I say ‘we,’ I mean [the oil and gas] sector and the resource importance of Western Canada, and I fear we’re in danger of losing more battles, if we’re not vigilant. We’re at a disadvantage in some ways.”
While the industry has “the facts” on its side, and evidence to offer, he said it’s nonetheless important to present its case at every opportunity. “[We] need to redouble our effort to disseminate the facts, [and] become ever-more determined purveyors of the truth about this sector... We have to keep making the case [and] presenting the facts.”
Dining habits cook up greenhouse gas storm
On the air-pollution scale, consumers have a counterpart to the oilsands, only bigger—much bigger. Call it the skeleton in the kitchen. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) exposes the startling results of rich eating and drinking habits in a report titled The Role of Fossil Fuels in the U.S. Food System and the American Diet.
“Use of fossil fuels to produce the foods and beverages consumed by Americans in 2007 accounted for 13.6 per cent of economy-wide CO2 emissions from fossil fuels,” says the 90-page document.
“Domestic fossil fuel use linked to U.S. food consumption produced 817 million of the nearly six billion metric tons of CO2 emissions economy-wide,” it says.
The role of everyday American grub in the exhaust blamed for global climate change is 12 times the current annual oilsands contribution of 70 million tonnes and exceeds the Canadian total from …
By Kenneth P. Green, Elmira Aliakbari and Ashley Stedman - The Fraser Institute
Published: Fort Nelson News
TransCanada Corp. recently pulled the plug on Energy East, its proposed 1.1-million-barrel-per-day oil pipeline between Alberta and New Brunswick, a month after the company said it would conduct a "careful review" of the cost impacts of changes in National Energy Board regulations.
It was the latest in a chain of bad news for Canada's energy industry, and further evidence that Canada's growing regulatory barriers may be damaging our investment climate.
Plunging oil prices and the approval of competing pipelines such as Keystone XL certainly contributed to the cancellation of Energy East.
But governments, by continuing to pile on new taxes and create unclear regulations, are killing existing projects and driving investment away from Canada.
A 2016 Fraser Institute survey of energy executives and managers found that Al…
Written By: Tim Ball, PhD, is a Victoria-based climatologist, author and lecturer, and professor emeritus, University of Winnipeg. In March 2007 Dr. Ball met with leading U.S. senators, representatives and chiefs of staff in Washington, D.C. He also testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources' Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Published: Pipeline Observer Magazine, Winter Edition New book by the Canadian climatologist who advised Trump examines the motivations behind climate-change claims
I studied weather as aircrew and an operations officer with the Canadian Air Force. I learned how little we knew and how bad the forecasts were. They were almost useless beyond 48 hours then, and sadly it is the same today.
Despite this, similar computer models are used to make climate forecasts that tell us with 95 per cent certainty it will be warmer 50 years from now. What is going on? A massive deception is the simple answer.