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News Article | February 5, 2016
Site: http://www.theenergycollective.com/rss/all

The company that lost a bid to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline (and has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government for $15 billion for lost profits) is eyeing to get its tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast another way: by sea. TransCanada is proposing a scheme that would start as a pipeline in Alberta terminating at Canada’s Bay of Fundy and then continue by supertanker moving tar sands through the Gulf of Maine, to Louisiana and Texas, with stops at major ports along the East coast and by the tip of Florida. So far, Canadian federal decision-makers are ignoring the risk that this proposal presents to U.S. coasts and fisheries even as the National Academy of Sciences has found that tar sands spills are more devastating than conventional oil to water sources and spill responders are unequipped for cleanups. But Canadian public opposition to the project is fierce as demonstrated by another major announcement that the City of Montreal and the Montreal Metropolitan Community representing 82 municipalities and nearly 4 million people are now officially opposed to the project. TransCanada hopes Americans won’t notice. They’re calling it “Energy East,” but let’s call it what it is: Keystone East. Energy East would carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day (bpd) from Alberta to New Brunswick; this is 35 percent larger than Keystone XL. The pipeline portion of the project would traverse Canada2,850 miles (4,600 kilometers). It would convert an aging natural gas pipeline in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario (1,860 miles in length), and build new pipe in Alberta, Quebec, and New Brunswick (930 miles in length). Based on an application submitted to Canadian regulators last month, most of the oil transported by Energy East would be loaded onto more than 280 oil supertankers carrying between 1 million and 2 million barrels that will travel down the U.S. east coast. Over the course of a year, this virtual pipeline by water would move up to 328 million barrels of tar sands oil down the east coast. This project would result in an increase five times more oil tanker traffic from current oil tanker traffic along the Atlantic seaboard every year. Therefore, TransCanada’s reincarnated Keystone plan–Energy East–is not just a new pipeline project. It is a pipeline-tanker scheme that would bring millions more barrels of tar sands oil to the United States. TransCanada first announced Energy East in 2013, but project changes have delayed the completion of the project’s application. Going forward, Canada’s National Energy Board must review the application to determine whether it is complete, a process expected to be complete in Spring 2016. To be clear, Canadian regulators have so far determined not to consider the risk of tar sands spills to the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. The NEB will have 15 months to complete its review of the project. TransCanada hopes to finish building Energy East in 2020. With Energy East adding hundreds of tar sands oil tankers to annual commercial vessel traffic on east coast waters, collisions would become more likely. Further south, tankers from Energy East are expected to navigate dangerously close to major population centers, entering the New York harbor en route to New Jersey refineries, and the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River en route to Delaware refineries. As the majority of tankers round the tip of Florida, they must travel close to the Florida Keys before entering the Gulf of Mexico, a pathway that could place the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary at risk, not to mention southern Florida’s significant tourism economy. Canada’s Bay of Fundy, where the tar sands supertankers would be loaded and launched, is famous for its hazardous conditions, including the world’s highest tides, dense fogs, and treacherous weather. A spill here could affect U.S. waters off Maine. Here’s what happens to tar sands oil spills in water: it sinks and causes long term toxic contamination. It is nearly impossible to clean up. This is according to the National Academy of Sciences whose December 2015 report confirms that tar sands oil (in its most common form–diluted bitumen) poses greater risks than other types of oil, leading to difficult spill response situations. The NAS concluded that first responders, governments, and industry lack the technology or expertise to effectively deal with tar sands spills. At the Canadian port of Saint John, just north of the border with Maine, Energy East would yield a near 75% increase in current outbound tanker traffic–from 380 tankers per year to 661. And the nature of the products transported would change significantly–from refined petroleum products to unrefined crude oil. This would place in harm’s way the critical feeding habitat for the 450 remaining North Atlantic right whales, as well as humpback, fin, Sei, and Minke whales, white-sided dolphins and harbor porpoises. These species are extremely vulnerable to noise pollution, ship strikes, and the threat of a severe oil spill from increased marine traffic. As Energy East’s tankers travel down the East Coast, they would move near other important habitat areas off the coasts of Cape Cod and Florida. The traffic created by the proposed pipeline places numerous ecosystems at risk, including the critical Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of Maine, the Acadia National Park, Cape Cod, and the Florida Keys. These areas host incredibly diverse wildlife that supports vibrant commercial fishing and tourism economies. Indeed, off the coast of Maine, lobstering is a multi-million dollar industry and a cultural icon for the region. But lobster are bottom-feeding organisms, and the threat posed by sinking tar sands oil to their health and the industries they support could not be more stark. Adding the equivalent of 7 million new cars to the road In addition to its effect on ocean habitat and coastal communities, Energy East stands to have significant climate consequences. In a report assessing the climate implications of the proposed pipeline, the Canadian-based Pembina Institute estimated that producing the crude needed to fill Energy East could generate up to 32 million metric tons of additional greenhouse gas emissions each year. On a lifecycle basis–from production to consumption–the oil moved by Energy East is expected to generate a staggering 220 million metric tons of greenhouse gases every year (equivalent to the annual emissions of 58 coal-fired power plants). Following the Paris climate negotiations and Canada’s support of a 1.5° Celsius warming target, Energy East’s construction would make it largely impossible for Canada to honor the emission reduction commitments this target will require. But the political landscape has changed since TransCanada publicly announced the project in 2013. Opposition to Energy East is growing in Canada, especially among First Nations, due to the pipeline’s negative environmental impacts and the risks it poses to local communities. In Quebec, where most of the new pipeline would need to be built, opposition is strong and growing. With the addition of the Montreal Greater community regional government, there are now 144 municipalities across the province in formal opposition. In neighboring Ontario, the government found the pipeline would pose significant environmental harm and bring no economic benefit to the province. Given the overwhelming opposition to the Keystone XL proposal, Americans along the East Coast–and around the country–need to better understand the ramifications of this project-including its potential impact to marine life and local industries such as commercial fishing and tourism. A tar sands spill in ocean waters from one of these massive crude carriers could devastate a local tourism economy, or a regional fishery or lobster population. It’s essential that we size up the potential risks this pipeline-tanker scheme could bring and weigh in, before it is too late.


News Article
Site: http://www.nature.com/nature/current_issue/

US President Barack Obama’s rejection on 6 November of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline may do little to directly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. But the long-awaited decision — a symbolic victory for environmental groups — signals Obama’s growing ambition to combat climate change despite strong political opposition. “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change,” he said in remarks at the White House. “And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.” The 1,900-kilometre pipeline was to have carried crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to existing pipelines in the US Midwest that run to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. The project, backed by pipeline firm TransCanada, was controversial in part because cumulative greenhouse-gas emissions from tar-sands oil are up to 20% higher than those from conventional crude, on average. Obama’s announcement comes less than a month before the start of United Nations climate talks in Paris, which are expected to produce a new international agreement to combat global warming. The timing pleases environmentalists, who have pushed the pipeline to the top of the US political agenda with a sustained campaign that included public demonstrations at the White House. “Rejecting the pipeline makes it tougher to dig up tar sands that would only add more fossil fuels to the fire,” said Lou Leonard, vice-president for climate change at the World Wildlife Fund in Washington DC, in a statement. “We hope it continues the momentum we’re seeing to ratchet up climate ambition for Paris and beyond.” Republican lawmakers have argued just as vociferously for the pipeline, accusing environmentalists of trying to kill jobs and drive up energy prices. Keystone XL vaulted into the US presidential campaign agenda in 2012, and its spectre will haunt next year’s race to pick Obama’s successor. Several Republican presidential candidates quickly vowed to reverse Obama’s decision on the pipeline if given the chance. “When I'm president, Keystone will be approved, and President Obama's backwards energy policies will come to an end,” tweeted Republican contender Marco Rubio, a Senator from Florida. Obama addressed his critics head on in his White House speech, arguing that there is no economic justification to approve Keystone XL. Oil production in the United States is at its highest level in years, he said, and oil prices have fallen sharply. Obama also noted that the US economy is growing even as greenhouse-gas emissions decline — due in part to his administration’s regulations to curb vehicle emissions of carbon dioxide. Some industry analysts argue that the cancellation of Keystone XL will have a minimal impact on the tar sands’ overall greenhouse-gas output, however, because energy companies can merely ship their product to market by rail or through other pipeline projects that are already in the works. “Keystone was a very prominent project given the symbolic nature it took on, but there are a lot of projects and options out there,” says James Burkhard, vice-president of the energy consultancy IHS Energy in Washington DC. His firm estimates that oil production from the tar sands could increase by up to 25% by 2020 compared to the 2014 level, based on projects that are already approved and under construction. The price of oil exerts the strong influence over oil-sands investment, Burkhard says — but the cancellation of Keystone XL boosts uncertainty about tar-sands development after 2020. And there is some evidence that this uncertainty is already having an impact: on 27 October, energy giant Shell cancelled its Carmon Creek tar-sands extraction project, citing the difficulty in shipping Canadian oil to markets. Another energy firm, Statoil, voiced similar concerns when it cancelled another tar-sands venture last year. Shell is not abandoning Alberta altogether, however. Hours after Obama rejected the pipeline, the company formally launched a project to capture and store more than 1 million tonnes of CO each year at an oil-processing plant in the province. But the Can$1.35-billion (US$1-billion) project relies heavily on subsidies, and there is as yet no plan to make such projects economically viable moving forward, says Simon Dyer, regional director for Alberta at the Pembina Institute, an environmental think-tank in Calgary. Dyer says that Obama’s decision on Keystone XL could help to reshape Canada’s climate policy. The country’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is a supporter of Keystone XL who has also pledged to combat climate change. And Alberta’s new premier, Rachel Notley, plans to release parts of a climate policy for the province before the UN Paris meeting begins. If Canada wants to develop markets for its oil, Dyer says, it has to create a credible climate policy and decide how much of its carbon budget should go to the tar sands. “This is an extremely controversial and polarizing thing to say in Canada, even though logically and scientifically it makes a lot of sense,” Dyer says. “The conversation is long overdue.”


News Article | February 5, 2016
Site: http://www.theenergycollective.com/rss/all

The company that lost a bid to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline (and has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government for $15 billion for lost profits) is eyeing to get its tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast another way: by sea. TransCanada is proposing a scheme that would start as a pipeline in Alberta terminating at Canada’s Bay of Fundy and then continue by supertanker moving tar sands through the Gulf of Maine, to Louisiana and Texas, with stops at major ports along the East coast and by the tip of Florida. So far, Canadian federal decision-makers are ignoring the risk that this proposal presents to U.S. coasts and fisheries even as the National Academy of Sciences has found that tar sands spills are more devastating than conventional oil to water sources and spill responders are unequipped for cleanups. But Canadian public opposition to the project is fierce as demonstrated by another major announcement that the City of Montreal and the Montreal Metropolitan Community representing 82 municipalities and nearly 4 million people are now officially opposed to the project. TransCanada hopes Americans won’t notice. They’re calling it “Energy East,” but let’s call it what it is: Keystone East. Energy East would carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day (bpd) from Alberta to New Brunswick; this is 35 percent larger than Keystone XL. The pipeline portion of the project would traverse Canada2,850 miles (4,600 kilometers). It would convert an aging natural gas pipeline in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario (1,860 miles in length), and build new pipe in Alberta, Quebec, and New Brunswick (930 miles in length). Based on an application submitted to Canadian regulators last month, most of the oil transported by Energy East would be loaded onto more than 280 oil supertankers carrying between 1 million and 2 million barrels that will travel down the U.S. east coast. Over the course of a year, this virtual pipeline by water would move up to 328 million barrels of tar sands oil down the east coast. This project would result in an increase five times more oil tanker traffic from current oil tanker traffic along the Atlantic seaboard every year. Therefore, TransCanada’s reincarnated Keystone plan–Energy East–is not just a new pipeline project. It is a pipeline-tanker scheme that would bring millions more barrels of tar sands oil to the United States. TransCanada first announced Energy East in 2013, but project changes have delayed the completion of the project’s application. Going forward, Canada’s National Energy Board must review the application to determine whether it is complete, a process expected to be complete in Spring 2016. To be clear, Canadian regulators have so far determined not to consider the risk of tar sands spills to the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. The NEB will have 15 months to complete its review of the project. TransCanada hopes to finish building Energy East in 2020. With Energy East adding hundreds of tar sands oil tankers to annual commercial vessel traffic on east coast waters, collisions would become more likely. Further south, tankers from Energy East are expected to navigate dangerously close to major population centers, entering the New York harbor en route to New Jersey refineries, and the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River en route to Delaware refineries. As the majority of tankers round the tip of Florida, they must travel close to the Florida Keys before entering the Gulf of Mexico, a pathway that could place the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary at risk, not to mention southern Florida’s significant tourism economy. Canada’s Bay of Fundy, where the tar sands supertankers would be loaded and launched, is famous for its hazardous conditions, including the world’s highest tides, dense fogs, and treacherous weather. A spill here could affect U.S. waters off Maine. Here’s what happens to tar sands oil spills in water: it sinks and causes long term toxic contamination. It is nearly impossible to clean up. This is according to the National Academy of Sciences whose December 2015 report confirms that tar sands oil (in its most common form–diluted bitumen) poses greater risks than other types of oil, leading to difficult spill response situations. The NAS concluded that first responders, governments, and industry lack the technology or expertise to effectively deal with tar sands spills. At the Canadian port of Saint John, just north of the border with Maine, Energy East would yield a near 75% increase in current outbound tanker traffic–from 380 tankers per year to 661. And the nature of the products transported would change significantly–from refined petroleum products to unrefined crude oil. This would place in harm’s way the critical feeding habitat for the 450 remaining North Atlantic right whales, as well as humpback, fin, Sei, and Minke whales, white-sided dolphins and harbor porpoises. These species are extremely vulnerable to noise pollution, ship strikes, and the threat of a severe oil spill from increased marine traffic. As Energy East’s tankers travel down the East Coast, they would move near other important habitat areas off the coasts of Cape Cod and Florida. The traffic created by the proposed pipeline places numerous ecosystems at risk, including the critical Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of Maine, the Acadia National Park, Cape Cod, and the Florida Keys. These areas host incredibly diverse wildlife that supports vibrant commercial fishing and tourism economies. Indeed, off the coast of Maine, lobstering is a multi-million dollar industry and a cultural icon for the region. But lobster are bottom-feeding organisms, and the threat posed by sinking tar sands oil to their health and the industries they support could not be more stark. Adding the equivalent of 7 million new cars to the road In addition to its effect on ocean habitat and coastal communities, Energy East stands to have significant climate consequences. In a report assessing the climate implications of the proposed pipeline, the Canadian-based Pembina Institute estimated that producing the crude needed to fill Energy East could generate up to 32 million metric tons of additional greenhouse gas emissions each year. On a lifecycle basis–from production to consumption–the oil moved by Energy East is expected to generate a staggering 220 million metric tons of greenhouse gases every year (equivalent to the annual emissions of 58 coal-fired power plants). Following the Paris climate negotiations and Canada’s support of a 1.5° Celsius warming target, Energy East’s construction would make it largely impossible for Canada to honor the emission reduction commitments this target will require. But the political landscape has changed since TransCanada publicly announced the project in 2013. Opposition to Energy East is growing in Canada, especially among First Nations, due to the pipeline’s negative environmental impacts and the risks it poses to local communities. In Quebec, where most of the new pipeline would need to be built, opposition is strong and growing. With the addition of the Montreal Greater community regional government, there are now 144 municipalities across the province in formal opposition. In neighboring Ontario, the government found the pipeline would pose significant environmental harm and bring no economic benefit to the province. Given the overwhelming opposition to the Keystone XL proposal, Americans along the East Coast–and around the country–need to better understand the ramifications of this project-including its potential impact to marine life and local industries such as commercial fishing and tourism. A tar sands spill in ocean waters from one of these massive crude carriers could devastate a local tourism economy, or a regional fishery or lobster population. It’s essential that we size up the potential risks this pipeline-tanker scheme could bring and weigh in, before it is too late.


News Article
Site: http://www.reuters.com

The provincial government estimated the plan, including a pledge to phase out pollution from coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 and a limit on emissions from the province's oil sands industry, would generate C$3 billion ($2.25 billion) in annual revenue. Backed by prominent representatives from industry and the environmental movement, Premier Rachel Notley said the province was trying to do the right thing for the future. Notley's left-leaning New Democratic Party took power earlier this year, ending 44 years of Conservative rule. "It will help us access new markets for our energy products, and diversify our economy with renewable energy and energy efficiency technology," Notley said in Edmonton. "Alberta is showing leadership on one of the world's biggest problems." Alberta has the world's third largest crude reserves, but its oil sands industry is also Canada's fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. That status has prompted fierce opposition from environmental groups to proposed pipelines that would allow the industry to access new markets, including the recently rejected Keystone XL pipeline, proposed by TransCanada Corp. U.S. President Barack Obama rejected that project on Nov. 6, explaining that "shipping dirtier crude oil" into the United States would not enhance the country's energy security. Alberta's energy sector has also been hammered with thousands of layoffs in recent months due to slumping global oil prices. The government said all oil sands operators would still be allowed to increase their combined annual carbon pollution from about 70 million tons to a maximum of 100 million tons per year under proposed legislation. It said this plan was endorsed by several major oil companies, including Suncor Energy , Cenovus, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and the Canadian division of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Environmental groups, including the Pembina Institute, Forest Ethics and Environmental Defence Canada, also endorsed the plan, the province said. The province estimated its new plan would cost the average household about C$320 per year in 2017 and C$470 per year in 2018. Notley will bring her plan into a meeting of Canadian premiers with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to prepare Canada's national strategy at the upcoming Paris climate change summit.


News Article
Site: http://www.reuters.com

The provincial government estimated the plan, including a pledge to phase out pollution from coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 and a limit on emissions from the province's oil sands industry, would generate C$3 billion ($2.25 billion) in annual revenue. Backed by prominent representatives from industry and the environmental movement, Premier Rachel Notley said the province was trying to do the right thing for the future. Notley will bring her plan into a meeting on Monday of Canadian premiers with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to prepare Canada's national strategy at the upcoming Paris climate change summit. Notley's left-leaning New Democratic Party took power earlier this year, ending 44 years of Conservative rule. "It will help us access new markets for our energy products, and diversify our economy with renewable energy and energy efficiency technology," Notley said in Edmonton. "Alberta is showing leadership on one of the world's biggest problems." Alberta has the world's third largest crude reserves, but its oil sands industry is also Canada's fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. That status has prompted fierce opposition from environmental groups to proposed pipelines that would allow the industry to access new markets, including the recently rejected Keystone XL pipeline, proposed by TransCanada Corp. Alberta's energy sector has also been hammered with thousands of layoffs in recent months due to slumping global oil prices. Several major oil companies, including Suncor Energy Inc , Cenovus Energy Inc, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and the Canadian division of Royal Dutch Shell Plc endorsed the government proposal to set a cap that would still allow overall oil sands emissions to grow by about 40 per cent. "This plan recognizes the need for balance between the environment and the economy - one that should provide greater flexibility for the industry and the province on a go-forward basis," said Murray Edwards, chair of Canadian Natural. Environmental groups, including the Pembina Institute, Forest Ethics and Environmental Defence Canada, also endorsed the plan. Greenpeace Canada described the plan as a "historic first step" to slowing growth of pollution, but said more needed to be done by all jurisdictions to prevent dangerous changes to the climate.

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