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The energy industry compromised, but green activists have not
Author: Mark Milke
Published: The Globe and Mail
Every so often, two seemingly unrelated events occur near to each other and illustrate the nub of a problem.
Consider the recentpanelcreated by the Alberta government to examine ways to cut oil sands carbon emissions. The panel includes appointees from major energy companies, one First Nation, representatives from a few non-government organizations, the Pembina Institute and ForestEthics/Greenpeace alumnus Tzeporah Berman.
Now, ponder TransCanada Corp. president and chief executive Russ Girling, whomused out loudlast week about the association between efforts to gain “social licence” and approval for major resource projects. The link, he said, was “not evident at the current time.”
Mr. Girling is correct, but he and other executives in major Canadian industries might be waiting a long time for a demonstrable link. That’s because it’s a mistake to assume reasonable efforts will mean something to activists who disdain real-world choices. Such activists seem to demonstrate the opposite: They prefer generalities to rational cost-benefit analyses.
Think I’m exaggerating?
Recall that Alberta was the first province to regulate greenhouse gas emissionsin 2003and instituted the first carbon tax in2007.Quebecwas next later that year, andBritish Columbiaimplemented its version in 2008.
Such efforts did little to ward off the anti-energy crowd. Consider some past positions from a select few appointed to the newly created Alberta emissions panel: The Pembina Institute opposed Shell’sJackpineoil sands expansion, Kinder Morgan’s plan to twin in its Trans Mountain pipeline; it alsoexpressed disappointmentwhen the federal joint review panel recommended approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline project in 2013. Pembina alsourgedU.S. President Barack Obama to kill Keystone XL, which he did.
Or consider Ms. Berman. Last July, after the activisttweetedabout the risk of transporting crude oil by rail,I askedwhether her position against transporting oil by rail meant she was now reconciled to the safer pipeline alternatives, specifically Keystone XL, Energy East and others.
Herresponse: The answer is to produce and use less oil, not to use pipelines or rail. Renewables, efficiency, public transit.
This was a dodge – the environmental equivalent of preferring motherhood and apple pie. It avoids facing practical necessities and current realities.
It is marvellous to advocate that entrepreneurs keep inventing greener technology – they will.
If some technological innovation replaces much of the demand for oil or gas, so be it, even if that means some local economies decline while others flourish. That’s what consequential inventions do – they reshape the economic landscape.
But in the meantime, there is no renewable product available to replace the95.3 million barrelsof oil the world uses each day. There is no amount of wind power that can replace the internal combustion engine. There is no way for solar power to replace thenatural gasand oil used in the production of plastics formedical uses.
Such realities require choices – say, between transporting oil by pipeline or rail.
But regardless of our actual energy needs or industry’s unrequited acceptance of social licence, the opposition continues apace. Canadian-based activists and Hollywood actors such as Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio seem as firmly opposed as ever to oil sands development and pipelines.
Not only is there no apparent link between social licence and project approvals, Canadians face an even more basic problem from anti-energy activists: their refusal to acknowledge our energy realities.
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 …
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.
As Albertans, we know that we live in
one of the most beautiful provinces in one of the best countries in the world. From
the spectacular Rocky Mountains, through the foothills, the boreal forests and
into the grasslands of the prairies, we have it all, except a coast line of
course. We are blessed with impressive natural
resources that are the envy of many, that provide, through development and
export, a great bounty for all Canadians. It should be no surprise that the 3
provinces that contribute substantially through equalization payments to the
rest of the other provinces and territories of Canada are Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan,
all with a high natural resource economic profile. There are challenges however living,
working and playing in northern latitudes due to the extremes in weather
conditions and difficulty to access those resources for portions of the year, but
with a population that is small, relative to the vast expanse that is Canada, we
have become leaders …