About Duncan Noble

Duncan Noble explores #sustainability #climate & #carbon. Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act. Tell the Truth and Live the Truth.

Energy East: A Bad Deal for Ontario

Originally published by Patrick DeRochie at Environmental Defence on December 19, 2016

What considerations should be taken into account by the Ontario government regarding the proposed Energy East pipeline? The answer to this question is a long one. But the short answer is: Ontario should listen to the advice of its own energy regulator’s assessment of the pipeline: Energy East is a bad deal for Ontario.

oeb-ee-pipeline-map-through-ontario

Photo credit: Ontario Energy Board

Ontario is undertaking a review of its Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), studying everything from electricity supply and demand, to fuel pricing, to microgrids, to conservation and efficiency. As part of the LTEP review, it also asked for feedback on the position it should take on Energy East. Last week, Environmental Defence, along with our allies from Équiterre, Ontario Rivers Alliance and Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County, took this opportunity to remind the provincial government of the pipeline’s environmental and economic risks to Ontario.

In fairness, we just told the provincial government what its own energy regulator, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), already told it in a comprehensive report from 2015: the risks of Energy East outweigh the potential benefits for Ontario, which have been exaggerated by TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline proposal.

TransCanada’s application does not meet the seven pipeline principles adopted by the province in 2014. Energy East could have adverse impacts on the natural environment and pipeline safety in Ontario. And the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Energy East would be inconsistent with Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan and the provincial and federal government’s commitments under the Paris climate agreement.

Our LTEP submission includes the following key points about the approach Ontario should take to Energy East:

  • Environmental Impacts: TransCanada’s pipeline application doesn’t show that Energy East won’t cause adverse environmental effects in Ontario. The application lacks adequate emergency response plans, presents no evidence that the proposed route through Ontario is appropriate for an oil pipeline, and fails to consider reroutes to avoid oil spills or other risks;
  • Pipeline Safety: Energy East does not satisfy the pipeline safety principles set out by the Ontario government, due to inadequate in-line inspection tools and an absence of details regarding valve placement, leak detection and emergency response;
  • Economic Impact: The economic analyses commissioned by TransCanada were limited and suggestive. The pipeline’s economic benefits to Ontario are small and likely inflated. Energy East would result in only modest economic benefits for Ontario that do not outweigh the environmental risks.
  • Climate Change: An analysis by the Pembina Institute concluded that Energy East would result in upstream GHG emissions of between 30 and 32 megatonnes annually, equivalent to the emissions from all of the cars on Ontario roads in 2014.
  • Ontario’s Climate Leadership: Ontario should be commended for its climate leadership, including the province’s phase-out of coal plants, its Green Energy and Economy Act, its cap-and-trade program and Climate Change Action Plan, and its ambitious GHG reduction targets. But Ontario must explain how Energy East aligns with its vision for a low-carbon economy. It doesn’t make sense for Ontario to support high-carbon pipeline projects while simultaneously committing to meet ambitious provincial and national climate targets. The expansion of the tar sands that Energy East would permit means that other provinces and sectors, including Ontario and its industries, would need to go even further in their own emissions reductions in order to meet Canada’s targets. This is neither fair nor economical for Ontario.

Energy East is not in the best interest of Ontarians. The provincial government should publically highlight the environmental and economic risks of Energy East to Ontario and call on the National Energy Board and the federal government to reject the proposed pipeline.

Contact Patrick if you’d like to read our full submission to the LTEP discussion paper.

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Why the Energy East Pipeline Should Not Proceed

Originally published by The Council of Canadians on November 7, 2016.

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The Bonnechere River in Renfrew (Source: Wikipedia)

The Council of Canadians Mississippi Mills chapter will be co-sponsoring a public forum on the Energy East pipeline featuring Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and climate justice campaigner Daniel Cayley-Daoust.

In an email to our supporters in the Renfrew area, Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara provides the details:

When: 7:00 p.m. on November 17
Where: Renfrew O’Brien Theatre, 334 Raglan St. South, Renfrew
Tickets are $15.00 and are available in advance at the O’Brien Theatre in Renfrew.

Calzavara adds, “This event is part of the Need To Know Speakers Series.”

Following this event, Need to Know will also be holding a public forum on December 1 with David Sword (the Ontario advisor for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers) and Jeff Gaulin (the vice-president of communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers) titled, Pipelines – Their need and the value of getting Canada’s energy to market”.

Renfrew is located about 95 kilometres west of Ottawa. With a population of just over 8,200 people it is the third largest town in Renfrew County after Petawawa and Pembroke.

Ottawa Community News reports, “More than 2,000 kilometres worth of pipeline would run through Ontario, more than any other province. In the Ottawa area, the pipeline would run through Pembroke and Renfrew, cut south east through Stittsville, cross the Rideau River south of Kars and north of Kemptville and then follow the St. Lawrence River east. It would then cut north and cross the Ottawa River near Lachute, Que.”

The Ontario Rivers Alliance notes that the pipeline would intersect with approximately 1,174 streams, 873 lakes and 469 wetland areas in Ontario.

One of the waterways it would intersect is the Bonnechere River, which flows through Renfrew.

An oil spill into the Bonnechere River, the Petawawa River or the Madawaska River would have devastating consequences for the river and ecosystem, on residents, and the local economy. The Madawaska River flows from Source Lake in Algonquin Park and joins with the Ottawa River in Arnprior. The pipeline crosses the Madawaska River, which is used by the residents of Arnprior as their source for drinking water. Arnprior is situated about 30 kilometres east of Renfrew.

Barlow will be highlighting the argument she makes in her new book Boiling Point: Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse, and Canada’s Water Crisis.

She writes, The Energy East pipeline and the proposed western pipelines pose a clear and present threat to waterways and watersheds across the country. It would be irresponsible to expose thousands of lakes and rivers to spills of one of the dirtiest energy sources on earth. The Trudeau government must have the courage to say no to Energy East, which would also dramatically increase production in the tar sands, prolonging its productive life for decades and tying Canada into a fossil fuel energy future.”

In Boiling Point, Barlow also calls on the federal government to reinstate and improve the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Fisheries Act, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Local groups opposing the Energy East pipeline along with the Council of Canadians Mississippi Mills chapter include the Bonnechere River Watershed Project and Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County.

For more on our campaign to stop the Energy East pipeline, please click here.

Valley Residents Offer Climate Change Solutions

There was a great energy and discussion at the Town Hall consultation on climate change for 46 residents of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke on August 16 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Eganville, Ontario. The event, hosted by three community-based organizations: Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County, Bonnechere River Watershed Project, and Ottawa River Institute, raised awareness of climate change issues and provided an opportunity for local residents to propose actions that can be taken by governments, businesses and individuals to address climate change.

Over 150 ideas were suggested as the 46 participants – including about a half dozen local elected municipal officials – engaged in round-table discussions on the following topics and questions:

  • Mitigation: What are the solutions to reducing greenhouse gases that you would like to see governments, businesses, and communities implement?
  • Economy and Jobs: What are your ideas to support the economy and create good jobs while reducing emissions?
  • Innovation and Clean Tech: What are some ideas to promote innovation and new technologies in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
  • Adaptation: What can Canada do to better adapt to impacts of climate change on the environment and support affected communities, including Indigenous communities?
  • Putting a Price on Carbon

Key Messages

Several key messages emerged from the town hall meeting. Some of these are incremental changes to the status quo, while others would require dramatic and transformative change.  Key messages included:

  • Radically increase the sense of urgency about Climate Change;
  • Real change will require challenging basic assumptions (e.g., consumer society, endless growth, urban sprawl, need for population control, intellectual property rights vs. open source as barriers to innovation, etc.);
  • To speed the transition to a low carbon economy, governments should provide incentives for clean technologies and remove subsidies for dirty technologies (e.g., remove subsidies for fossil fuels);
  • Any climate change plan needs to address the unique needs of rural Canadians (e.g., lack of public transit, sparse population, poor access to some services, etc.);
  • More use of trains for passengers and freight should be encouraged;
  • Canada should emphasize and promote local solutions (e.g., local food and energy production) with local control;
  • Forestry and agriculture are promising climate change solutions; We need to promote the use of wood and other renewable feedstocks (e.g., hemp) for energy and materials;
  • Rural Canada can create opportunities by retaining/enhancing natural cover as carbon sinks;
  • Canada needs to keep some fossil fuels in the ground and stop building long lived fossil fuel infrastructure.

A complete list of all the proposed actions and comments by town hall meeting attendees is available here. These ideas were submitted to Environment and Climate Change Canada via http://letstalkclimateaction.ca/ideas on behalf of the 46 attendees, including about a half dozen local elected municipal officials.

Local Residents Talk Climate Change Solutions at RNP Town Hall #CANClimateAction

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Photo: Heather Park-Wheeler

There was great energy and discussion at the Town Hall consultation on climate change for residents of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke on Tuesday evening August 16 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Eganville. The event, hosted by three community-based organizations: Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County, Bonnechere River Watershed Project and Ottawa River Institute, raised awareness of climate change issues and provided an opportunity for residents to get involved in proposing actions that can be taken by governments, businesses and individuals to address climate change.

Many ideas were brought forward as the 46 participants (including about a half dozen local elected municipal officials) engaged in round-table discussions on the following topics:

  • What are the solutions to reducing greenhouse gases that you would like to see governments, businesses, and communities implement?
  • What are your ideas to support the economy and create good jobs while reducing emissions?
  • What are some ideas to promote innovation and new technologies in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
  • What can Canada do to better adapt to impacts of climate change on the environment and support affected communities, including Indigenous communities?
  • Putting a Price on Carbon.
DSCN0975

Photo: Heather Park-Wheeler

Some of the proposed solutions included:

  • Addressing the unique needs of rural Canadians;
  • Providing incentives for clean technologies and removing subsidies for dirty technologies;
  • Keeping some fossil fuels in the ground and stop building long lived fossil fuel infrastructure;
  • Promoting local solutions (e.g., local food and energy production) with local control;
  • Promoting the use of wood for energy and materials; and
  • Retaining/enhancing natural cover as carbon sinks.

Local climate activist Duncan Noble said that “we need to react to climate change with the same urgency as we did to WWII” and that the organizers were “very pleased with the turn out and the energy and enthusiasm of participants for climate change solutions”. According to Noble, it will take “many more conversations like the ones we had tonight to build and maintain the political will necessary to respond to climate change effectively”. Bonnechere Valley councillor Meredith Jamieson chaired the meeting and remarked that she was “inspired to see so many people engaged in making a difference”.

All of the proposed ideas are being compiled by the host organizations into a detailed report that will be submitted to the federal government as a contribution from RNP to inform Canada’s strategy on climate change. It will also be publically available on-line at http://letstalkclimateaction.ca/ideas. Residents can also submit ideas on how to address climate change by visiting this interactive website.

Thanks to all of those who organized and participated in this event for RNP. Together, we can make a real difference.

More photos from the event can be seen here, courtesy of Heather Park-Wheeler.

Local media covered the event here.

Climate Consultation for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke

The federal government is asking for public input on Canada’s national climate change plan. We are co-hosting a climate change town hall consultation for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke on Tuesday, August 16 at the Eganville Legion. It’s up to us to show up and speak up in support of an ambitious national climate strategy.

Date and Time: Tuesday, August 16 at 7:00pm

Location: Royal Canadian Legion, 57 Veterans Way, Eganville, ON  K0J 1T0

This location is wheelchair accessible and refreshments will be provided.

Please RSVP so we know how many people are coming and can plan accordingly.

You can RSVP for the event on Facebook here.

If you are not on Facebook, you can RSVP for the event here.

More information about the federal government’s climate change consultation process is available here.

During the consultation, attendees will have the opportunity to address the following questions:

What are the solutions to reducing greenhouse gases that you would like to see governments, businesses, and communities implement?

What are your ideas to support the economy and create good jobs while reducing emissions?

What are some ideas to promote innovation and new technologies in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

What can Canada do to better adapt to impacts of climate change on the environment and support affected communities, including Indigenous communities?

Pushing Back Against Pipeline Proponents

The following open letter was sent to Prime Minister Trudeau and Cabinet today by dozens of Canadian organizations, including Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County.

27 April 2016

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Cabinet members,

The economies and workforces of Alberta and Canada have been hit hard in recent months. There has been considerable pressure on the federal Liberal Cabinet to respond, including Premier Notley’s recent address in Kananaskis and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s public comments urging Cabinet members to ensure major pipeline projects are approved.

This most recent push for new tar sands, or oil sands, export pipelines exhibits a number of problematic arguments that deserve response. Adding new pipelines will not solve economic woes caused by instability in world oil markets and a world that is rapidly – and necessarily – transitioning away from fossil fuels in order to safeguard our climate for future generations.

We must proceed with a fair review of pipeline projects that includes all scientific evidence, welcomes public participation and puts in place a climate test that ensures Canada doesn’t build infrastructure that makes the 1.5 degree limit of global temperature rise impossible. The review must include true consultations with Indigenous communities and respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Oil to tidewater won’t fix tar sands troubles

As argued by Ross Belot, former senior manager with one of Canada’s largest energy companies, a new pipeline won’t solve Alberta’s woes because “…the problem a pipeline to tidewater was intended to address doesn’t exist anymore.”

The abundance of cheap fracked oil in the U.S. and the global oil crash have contributed to narrowing the price differential between North American crude (whose benchmark is West Texas Intermediate, “WTI”) and global crude (whose benchmark is Brent) to almost zero. As a result, the benefits Canadian tar sands producers once sought by trying to access higher returns on global markets have vanished. The discount that now exists for Western Canadian Select (WCS) relative to WTI is now due to inherent quality differences that make WCS more costly to refine. Building new pipelines to get tar sands crude to tidewater and foreign markets cannot overcome the quality discount.

New pipelines incompatible with our fair share towards a 1.5 degree world

The Kinder Morgan, Northern Gateway, Line 3 and Energy East pipelines would lock Alberta and Canada into producing and shipping heavy crude for many years to come, well beyond the 2050 deadline in the Paris climate agreement set as a goal for weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Building more pipelines conflicts with the expertise of more than 100 scientists who have publicly called for no further expansion in the tar sands.

With the realities of climate change intensifying, more people are demanding action and world leaders will need to respond. In an increasingly de-carbonized world, particularly carbon intensive forms of heavy oil, including tar sands crude, will become economic risks.

Uniting for the protection of our climate and water

These pipeline projects present significant risks not only to our shared climate, but to critical waterways along their paths. The proposed tar sands export pipelines would see diluted bitumen transported over, under and through critical waterways including the drinking water sources for millions of Canadians.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently released the most comprehensive study of diluted bitumen to date, affirming it substantially differs from other types of oil when spilled near or in water. Diluted bitumen creates a unique and complex spill scenario as bitumen sinks in water after a short period of weathering. The study concluded that special response strategies and tactics are needed to respond and cleanup diluted bitumen spills; however, these have not yet been fully developed in Canada or the U.S.

Respecting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

It has been suggested that Canadians must unite around a nation-building pipeline, and Prime Minister Trudeau must lead us to this, even before a fair review of these projects is complete. Doing so would require agreeing to force a pipeline through the lands of Indigenous communities that have raised clear concerns about the duty to consult, as well as the impacts these pipelines will have on their lands. Forcing a pipeline approval will be on a collision course with respect for the UN Declaration on the RIghts of Indigenous Peoples; be it Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan, Line 3 or Energy East.

Indicating support for one of these pipeline projects as requested would require ignoring the voices of major cities along the pipeline routes, countless communities wanting a fair review of these projects and stands to run in conflict with ongoing provincial reviews of certain projects.

There are solutions. Opposing new tar sands export pipelines isn’t anti-Albertan

Clearly workers and their families, even whole communities, are hurting in Alberta. No one wants this. But more of the same will not fix the problem.

A new poll asking Albertans how they would like revenue raised by a proposed carbon tax spent indicates that, by more than a two-to-one margin, people favour spending it on green energy projects, transit and energy efficiencies. 144,000 Albertan jobs can be created with government policies that encourage and invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transportation.

Let’s unite around a better future, one we can be proud to hand to our children and grandchildren’s children.

Sincerely,

Brandon/Westman chapter, Council of Canadians
Calgary chapter, Council of Canadians
Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada
ClimateFast
Climate Justice Saskatoon
Comox Valley chapter, Council of Canadians
Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal
Council of Canadians
Ecology Action Centre
Ecology Ottawa
Fredericton chapter, Council of Canadians
Georgia Strait Alliance
Greenpeace Canada
Green 13 Toronto
Kent County chapter, Council of Canadians
Leadnow
Les Citoyens au Courant
London chapter, Council of Canadians
Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition
Mid-Island chapter, Council of Canadians
Montreal chapter, Council of Canadians
Northwatch
Ottawa chapter, Council of Canadians
Oil Change International
Peace NB
People for Peace, London, Ontario
Pipeline Awareness Renfrew County
Peterborough and Kawarthas chapter, Council of Canadians
Transition Initiative Kenora
Quill Plains chapter, Council of Canadians
Quinte chapter, Council of Canadians
Quinte Water Watchers
Regina chapter, Council of Canadians
Saint John chapter, Council of Canadians
Saskatoon chapter, Council of Canadians
Sierra Club, BC
South Shore chapter, Council of Canadians
Sustainable North Grenville
Stand (formerly ForestEthics)
Tanker Free BC
Team Ecohealth
Thunder Bay chapter, Council of Canadians
Vancouver / Burnaby chapter, Council of Canadians
WaterWealth Project
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Wilderness Committee
350.org
350Vancouver

Bringing the Pope’s Encyclical to Renfrew County

In June 2015, Pope Francis released his encyclical on ecology out of his concern for the world. The encyclical argues persuasively that the environmental crisis and the social crisis are not separate, but instead are manifestations of the same underlying patterns.

Francis draws attention to climate change through the lens of human suffering and poverty, and deals with climate change as a moral issue. He builds on the works of previous Popes who have addressed ecological issues, and goes deeper and broader.

The encyclical is a “sweeping, radical and highly persuasive critique on how we inhabit this planet”. [Bill McKibben]

The message of the encyclical is urgent, yet the tone is full of compassion and extreme clarity, filled with hope as opposed to despair.

To help amplify the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical, we are reaching out to Renfrew County churches by presenting a summary of the encyclical, and encouraging deeper engagement. To support this effort, we have prepared this presentation. Please let us know if you have comments or would like to host a discussion about the Pope’s encyclical.

PARC presentation on Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home