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Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research

Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research.

Global Research, March 07, 2014
Big Brother: America's Police State Mentality in the Electronic Age

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed two complaints today against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The complaints allege that the two agencies illegally monitored and spied on the peaceful and democratic activities of community groups and First Nations opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. These groups include ForestEthics Advocacy, Dogwood Initiative, LeadNow.ca, the Idle No More movement, and others.

The BCCLA alleges that the RCMP and CSIS interfered with the freedoms of expression, assembly and association protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by gathering intelligence about citizens opposed to the Enbridge project through a range of sources. The complaints also claim that the spying activities potentially included illegal searches of private information. The complaint against CSIS further alleges that the spy agency broke the law by gathering information on the peaceful and democratic activities of Canadians, which it is banned by law from doing. The documents released made clear that none of the groups under surveillance posed any threat to the National Energy Board hearings or public safety.

“It’s against the law and the constitution for police and spy agencies to spy on the lawful activities of people who are just speaking out and getting involved in their communities. That’s why we have filed these complaints,” said Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA. “This is bigger than an environmental debate – it’s a question of fundamental human rights. There are plenty of undemocratic countries where governments spy on people that they don’t agree with. That’s not supposed to happen in Canada, and when it does, it can frighten people away from expressing themselves and participating in democratic debate.”

“It’s intimidating for people to learn that they’re being spied on by their own government,” said Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director for ForestEthics Advocacy, one of the groups that was spied upon. “Regular people are being made to feel like they are on a list of enemies of the state, just because they are speaking out to protect their community from a threat to their health and safety or trying to do what’s right in the era of climate change.”

One incident recorded in the intelligence-gathering was a Kelowna, B.C. volunteer meeting co-hosted by the advocacy organization LeadNow.ca and the Dogwood Initiative, a community action group based in Victoria. Jamie Biggar, the Executive Director of LeadNow, said, “Government spies should not be compiling reports about volunteers literally gathered in church basements to hand-paint signs – and then sharing that information with oil companies. That puts the interests of a handful of corporations ahead of the privacy rights of Canadians. It’s just wrong – period.”

Will Horter, the Executive Director of the Dogwood Initiative, added: “We are helping Canadians engage in their communities and in public decision-making processes for Enbridge and other projects. There is something deeply wrong when holding a story-telling workshop attracts heat from spies and police forces. It’s democracy, not a national security threat.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who attended one of the meetings that was spied upon, stated: “I was shocked and disgusted to learn that the police and the National Energy Board colluded to keep track of First Nations people who are simply speaking out, including those who participate in Idle No More. This is the kind of thing we’d expect to see in a police state, and it’s a violation of our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”

Some of the intelligence gathered appears to have been shared with the National Energy Board, including information about ForestEthics Advocacy which was an intervening party in the Board’s hearings, as well as with Enbridge and other oil and energy companies. The complaint against the RCMP alleges that this could compromise the fairness of the Enbridge hearings. West added: “You can’t have a fair hearing when the police secretly gather information about our activities and then provide secret evidence to the National Energy Board and Enbridge, one of the other parties.”

The activities of CSIS and the RCMP outlined in the complaints originally came to light through an access to information request filed by Matthew Millar of the Vancouver Observer. It is unclear whether covert surveillance, wiretaps or other means were used in gathering the intelligence.

Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research

Canada’s RCMP and Secret Service (CSIS) Spy on Enbridge Pipeline Opponents, Native Groups, Environmentalists | Global Research.

Global Research, March 07, 2014
Big Brother: America's Police State Mentality in the Electronic Age

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed two complaints today against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The complaints allege that the two agencies illegally monitored and spied on the peaceful and democratic activities of community groups and First Nations opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. These groups include ForestEthics Advocacy, Dogwood Initiative, LeadNow.ca, the Idle No More movement, and others.

The BCCLA alleges that the RCMP and CSIS interfered with the freedoms of expression, assembly and association protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by gathering intelligence about citizens opposed to the Enbridge project through a range of sources. The complaints also claim that the spying activities potentially included illegal searches of private information. The complaint against CSIS further alleges that the spy agency broke the law by gathering information on the peaceful and democratic activities of Canadians, which it is banned by law from doing. The documents released made clear that none of the groups under surveillance posed any threat to the National Energy Board hearings or public safety.

“It’s against the law and the constitution for police and spy agencies to spy on the lawful activities of people who are just speaking out and getting involved in their communities. That’s why we have filed these complaints,” said Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA. “This is bigger than an environmental debate – it’s a question of fundamental human rights. There are plenty of undemocratic countries where governments spy on people that they don’t agree with. That’s not supposed to happen in Canada, and when it does, it can frighten people away from expressing themselves and participating in democratic debate.”

“It’s intimidating for people to learn that they’re being spied on by their own government,” said Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director for ForestEthics Advocacy, one of the groups that was spied upon. “Regular people are being made to feel like they are on a list of enemies of the state, just because they are speaking out to protect their community from a threat to their health and safety or trying to do what’s right in the era of climate change.”

One incident recorded in the intelligence-gathering was a Kelowna, B.C. volunteer meeting co-hosted by the advocacy organization LeadNow.ca and the Dogwood Initiative, a community action group based in Victoria. Jamie Biggar, the Executive Director of LeadNow, said, “Government spies should not be compiling reports about volunteers literally gathered in church basements to hand-paint signs – and then sharing that information with oil companies. That puts the interests of a handful of corporations ahead of the privacy rights of Canadians. It’s just wrong – period.”

Will Horter, the Executive Director of the Dogwood Initiative, added: “We are helping Canadians engage in their communities and in public decision-making processes for Enbridge and other projects. There is something deeply wrong when holding a story-telling workshop attracts heat from spies and police forces. It’s democracy, not a national security threat.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who attended one of the meetings that was spied upon, stated: “I was shocked and disgusted to learn that the police and the National Energy Board colluded to keep track of First Nations people who are simply speaking out, including those who participate in Idle No More. This is the kind of thing we’d expect to see in a police state, and it’s a violation of our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”

Some of the intelligence gathered appears to have been shared with the National Energy Board, including information about ForestEthics Advocacy which was an intervening party in the Board’s hearings, as well as with Enbridge and other oil and energy companies. The complaint against the RCMP alleges that this could compromise the fairness of the Enbridge hearings. West added: “You can’t have a fair hearing when the police secretly gather information about our activities and then provide secret evidence to the National Energy Board and Enbridge, one of the other parties.”

The activities of CSIS and the RCMP outlined in the complaints originally came to light through an access to information request filed by Matthew Millar of the Vancouver Observer. It is unclear whether covert surveillance, wiretaps or other means were used in gathering the intelligence.

The Northern Gateway Pipeline Does Not Warrant Illegal Activism | Mark Milke

The Northern Gateway Pipeline Does Not Warrant Illegal Activism | Mark Milke.

Activists in British Columbia have responded to the National Energy Board’s approval of the Northern Gateway oil pipeline with threats of illegal activism reminiscent of the 1990s. Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema, for example, said his group will “do what it takes” to ensure the pipeline is never built (and he specifically mentioned civil disobedience).

Given the nature of the NEB’s process, such civil disobedience would be inappropriate, and detrimental to society. It would overturn the assumption that people are free to engage in lawful commerce if they obey the rules, without an endless process of protests, lawsuits, and smear campaigns.

Others, however, disagree. One Vancouver writer has argued that potential civil disobedience against the oil pipeline is akin to historical protests in favour of female suffrage, slavery, indentured servitude, and against clear-cutting forests.

Civil disobedience has an honourable history; the question is whether a particular group on a particular matter is justified in such actions. Such steps are, after all, violations of the law, whether property rights, trespassing, and so on.

Where people’s rights are systematically violated, where they are denied recourse to the courts, or to their elected representatives, the case for civil disobedience is clear.

But the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal does not represent such a violation, and there has already been a rather extensive process of discussion and consultation.

The consultation and regulatory process conducted by the National Energy Board spanned four years, cost some $500 million, involved 180 days of hearings, worked through 9,400 submitted letters and took oral testimony from nearly 1,200 people. That process may not have been perfect but even perfection would not have satisfied those opposing the pipeline: their opposition is absolute. They are not interested in whether Northern Gateway is safe or not, or economically helpful to Canada; they oppose it, period.

Threatened civil disobedience over Northern Gateway rather trivializes the idea of civil disobedience. Another pipeline is hardly an existential threat to Canada’s (or B.C.’s) environment, much less anyone’s civil rights. Already, 825,000 kilometers of pipelines criss-cross Canada, with about 40,000 km in British Columbia (as of 2011). Another 1,200 km is hardly earth-shattering.

Then there is another other argument made by some activists: that civil disobedience in the early 1990s against the forest industry did not collapse B.C.’s economy the last time environmental activists upped the ante, so neither will it this time. But economies need not collapse to harm some people and kill off opportunities for others.

Consider one example. The 1990s-era decision to ban mining in the Tatshenshini-Alsek region of northern B.C. — the Windy Craggy deposit, a claim owned by Geddes Resources. The mine potential (in 1992 estimates) of $15 billion in copper, silver and gold extraction was at stake, with 500 direct jobs then valued at $78,000 each annually, along with another 1,500 indirect jobs.

Rather than accept a mine proposal that amounted to 1,100 square km out of 958,000 square km in total — barely more than one-tenth of one per cent of the Tatshenshini-Alsek region — a 1993 decision by the provincial government killed off the potential mine. Tourism jobs could have co-existed with mining jobs in the Tatshenshini; instead, the current tourism potential in a remote corner of the province has not and never will match the high-paying jobs of the long-scuttled $15 billion mine ($22 billion in current dollars).

This absolutist positioning is an ongoing problem in Canada. In his 2000 book on the conflict in B.C.’s forests in the 1990s, then-UBC Professor William Stanbury noted the vandalism, sabotage, ignored court injunctions, and international boycott campaigns organized by some green activists. As Stanbury wrote, “one of the more disturbing issues raised in the course of this study is that there appears to be declining respect for rationality in making major public decisions in B.C. relating to environmental issues.”

Indeed. And we see a replay of the irrational, absolutist problem now with violent protests over pipelines and violent protests over hydraulic fracturing. We will probably see more such protests should Northern Gateway receive federal approval.

Threatened protests over Northern Gateway are not your grandmother’s civil disobedience where great injustices were challenged by brave people willing to suffer jail, violence, and more to right those wrongs that afflicted the daily lives of millions.

The current and predicted protests are, instead, the reflex action of absolutists who would destroy opportunities for others regardless of how one of the world’s better-functioning democracies allows for companies to engage in lawful commerce. There is nothing noble about such “resistance.” It instead has the distinct whiff of unnecessarily severe Puritans in more modern, green attire.

This blog was co-written by Kenneth P. Green, Senior Director, Natural Resource Studies at the Fraser Institute.

Enbridge Northern Gateway Approved By Review Panel

Enbridge Northern Gateway Approved By Review Panel.

TORONTO – A panel reviewing a proposed pipeline to the Pacific Coast that would allow Canada’s oil to be shipped to Asia is recommending the Canadian government approve the project.

On Thursday, the three-person review panel recommended approving the pipeline with 209 conditions.

Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver said the government will thoroughly review it and consult with affected aboriginal groups before making a decision on the contentious pipeline.

There is fierce environmental and aboriginal opposition and court challenges are expected.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has staunchly supported the pipeline after the U.S. delayed a decision on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that would take oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The Northern Gateway pipeline would be laid from Alberta to the Pacific to deliver oil to Asia, mainly energy-hungry China.

 

Canadian oil production to rise 75% by 2035, NEB says – Business – CBC News

Canadian oil production to rise 75% by 2035, NEB says – Business – CBC News.

Demand forecast to increase by 28 per cent over the same period

CBC News Posted: Nov 22, 2013 1:04 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 22, 2013 2:41 PM ET

Thermal operations superintendent Ginette MacIsaac poses in handout photo from Shell Canada in Peace River, Alta. A National Energy Board report says Canadian oil production will increase 75 per cent by 2035.Thermal operations superintendent Ginette MacIsaac poses in handout photo from Shell Canada in Peace River, Alta. A National Energy Board report says Canadian oil production will increase 75 per cent by 2035. (Phillip Chin/Canadian Press)

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Canadian oil production will increase by 75 per cent and gas production by 25 per cent by 2035, according to a report by the National Energy Board.

Its energy supply and demand projections report, released Friday, projects Canadian crude oil production of 5.8 million barrels a day by 2035.

The report predicts a steep rise in production of crude from oilsands and from shale, areas that are currently drawing millions in investment by companies such as Encana, Suncor and Royal Dutch Shell.

The figures from the federal regulatory agency come out the same day a poll shows Canadians are coming around to the federal government’s position that oil and gas are the key drivers to the economy.

The NEB says Canadian demand for oil and gas will increase by 28 per cent in the same period, with fossil fuels remaining the primary source of energy for transportation and home heating.

Emissions standards for automobiles should slow consumer need for fossil fuels, the report said.  At the same time, there will be improved energy efficiency across nearly all sectors, allowing the economy to grow more quickly than energy demand.

“By 2035, the energy used per unit of economic output is projected to be 20 per cent lower than in 2012, due to improvements in energy efficiency,” the report said.

 

Power generation will shift away from coal toward gas and renewables at the same time.

But the slow growth of Canadian demand amid rising supply will force the industry to develop export markets.

And that will increase pressure for pipeline development and improved rail development, especially to the U.S. market and the West Coast. The NEB argues infrastructure is a bottleneck to developing export markets.

“Growth in export markets and the infrastructure to access them are key uncertainties in this report’s projections,” the NEB said in its report.

According to the Oil & Gas Journal, Canada ranks third globally in terms of proven oil reserves, behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Canada has an estimated 171 billion bbls, 98 per cent of it in oilsands.

Canada has more energy than it needs

“Canada has vast energy resources – more than enough to meet Canada’s growing energy demand,” said Gaétan Caron, chair of the NEB, adding that oil and gas are a “key driver of the economy.”

The NEB says the “most likely” price for West Texas Intermediate crude will be about $110 US a barrel, about $15 more than it is now. However its report does not predict new policies or political developments that could sway oil prices or affect demand.

The report comes the same day environmental groups are warning that firms investing in the oilsands are running out of room to store the contaminated water that is a byproduct processing crude.

Several firms have obtained permission from provincial authorities to flood abandoned tar sand mines with a mix of tailings and fresh water, but the impact of these toxic lakes on the environment is unknown, the Pembina Institute says.

 

Pipeline safety incident rate doubled in past decade – CBC News – Latest Canada, World, Entertainment and Business News

Pipeline safety incident rate doubled in past decade – CBC News – Latest Canada, World, Entertainment and Business News. (source)

Pipelines regulated by the federal government — which include some of the longest lines in the country — have experienced a swell in the number of safety-related incidents over the past decade, documents obtained by CBC News suggest.

In recent months, a spate of oil and gas spills both from train derailments and pipelines have raised questions about what mode of transport is the safest.

The pipeline industry has touted its record as it seeks support for numerous controversial projects across the continent, including TransCanada’s Keystone XL to the U.S. Gulf Coast and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway to the B.C. coast.

However, according to figures from a National Energy Board (NEB) data set obtained under access-to-information by CBC, the rate of overall pipeline incidents has doubled since 2000.

By 2011, safety-related incidents — covering everything from unintentional fires to spills — rose from one to two for every 1,000 kilometres of federally-regulated pipeline. That reflects an increase from 45 total incidents in 2000 to 142 in 2011.

Pipeline watchers like Pembina Institute associate Nathan Lemphers suggest the rise may be a worrisome sign of aging infrastructure.

“The pipelines that are in the ground are getting older and in some cases there’s more products flowing through them so you’re going to see increasing incidents and increasing defects in those pipelines unless they’re properly maintained,” Lemphers said.

The NEB documents give detailed information about 1,047 pipeline safety incidents from Jan. 1, 2000 until late 2012.

The federal regulator oversees any pipeline that crosses provincial or international borders, which includes about 90 companies that own about 71,000 kilometres of pipelines. The data does not include smaller pipelines monitored by provinces.

The National Energy Board attributes the rise in incidents to heightened awareness among companies about what they need to report.

“We’ve been out there talking with industry associations and the companies themselves to ensure that they are fully aware of what the reporting requirements are and I think that’s why we’re seeing an increase right now,” said NEB’s business leader for operations, Patrick Smythe.

Leaks, spills triple

Each company overseen by the NEB must report safety issues including the death or serious injury of a worker, fires, explosions, liquid product spills over 1,500 litres and every gas leak.

Among the other findings based on NEB’s pipeline database is that there’s been a three-fold increase in the rate of product releases spills and leaks — ranging from small leaks and spills  to large — that have been reported in the past decade.

hi-pipeline-oil-yellow-flagB.C. saw the most reported incidents for a single province, followed by Alberta and Ontario (John Rieti/CBC)

More than four reportable releases happened for every 10,000 kilometres in 2000, or 18 incidents in total, according to NEB data. By 2011, that rate had risen to 13 per 10,000 kilometres, or 94 incidents.

Those numbers include any oil or natural gas releases companies are required by law to report.

Carl Weimer, executive director of U.S. advocacy group Pipeline Safety Trust, says each small leaks may not  be significant on its own, but taken together they provide a better picture when looking at safety trends.

“It shows how really carefully they are taking care of the pipelines,” said Weimer.

British Columbia experienced the most pipeline safety incidents for a single province, with 279 recorded events from 2000 to 2012 in the data set. Alberta came in second with 244 incidents, followed by Ontario with 146.

The community with the highest number of incidents in its vicinity is the remote town of Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, which has seen 71 events.

NEB concerned about severe incidents

CBC News turned the NEB data set into a user-friendly map that allows Canadians to explore pipeline incidents using filters such as the nearest community, year, company, pipeline or substance spilled.

It provides an unprecedented bird’s eye view of safety issues plaguing pipelines over the past decade and also gives users the ability to drill down into the details of each report.

NEB’s Smythe says that the regulator has not seen an alarming increase in the “significant, serious or major incident over the last little while.”

Recent documents published by the NEB show that they have expressed some concern over rising numbers.

“Notwithstanding the safety record of NEB-regulated pipelines, the board has noticed an increased trend in the number and severity of incidents being reported by NEB-regulated companies in recent years,” one 2012 report states.

Another 2011 document citing the same concern also notes the need for NEB to “enhance data collection” in order to tackle that problem and other troubling trends in the industry.

It goes on to say that a reduction in the numbers ultimately “depends on actions taken by the industry.”

Brenda Kenny, president of the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association, which represents major companies, says there’s an industry-wide commitment to “get to zero incidents.”

“We’re driving that out very hard through our risk-based management approach at the industry level that involves a lot of best practices, integrity, management, technology and these indicators,” said Kenny.

“The Canadian pipeline industry is one of the very safest in the world second to none in terms of actual results,” said Kenny.

Pipelines have faced unparalleled attention in recent years as global demand fuels a production boom across the continent, resulting in a rise in pipeline proposals.

“Pipelines were very much out of sight out of mind until recently,” said Ian Goodman, a U.S. energy consultant who works with regulators and community groups across North America.

The pipeline debate is not generally “front-page news day after day … the way it now is. That’s a new development.”

If you have any pipeline-related stories, please email us at pipelines@cbc.ca.

 

 

 

 

New environmental review rules anger oilsands critics – Technology & Science – CBC News

New environmental review rules anger oilsands critics – Technology & Science – CBC News. (source)

A Suncor oilsands mine facility seen from the air near Fort McMurray, Alta., on Sept. 19, 2011. In-situ oilsands developments, which involve melting oil directly out of the ground rather than being mined and then processed later, will not be required to undergo federal environmental assessments.
A Suncor oilsands mine facility seen from the air near Fort McMurray, Alta., on Sept. 19, 2011. In-situ oilsands developments, which involve melting oil directly out of the ground rather than being mined and then processed later, will not be required to undergo federal environmental assessments. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Many oilsands projects will not have their potential environmental impacts reviewed by the federal government under updated rules announced today, environmentalists warn.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency released lists Friday outlining changes to the types of resource development and infrastructure projects that will routinely require a federal environmental assessment. The federal review is intended to look at possible environmental impacts under federal jurisdiction, such as impacts on waterways or greenhouse gas emissions.

One concern that environmentalists have with the new rules is they won’t require environmental reviews for a growing type of oilsands development.

CANADIANNATURAL/
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.’s Primrose Lake facility near Cold Lake, Alta., is an in-situ oilsands development. (Reuters)

In-situ oilsands developments — projects where the oil is melted directly out of the ground rather than being mined and then processed later — were not specifically addressed in the previous list of projects requiring federal environmental assessments, said Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaign coordinator and energy policy analyst for the environmental group Greenpeace. And now, they are not included in the new list of projects requiring them.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s announcement lists the types of projects that once required a federal environmental assessment that no longer do, including:

  • Groundwater extraction facilities.
  • Heavy oil and oilsands processing facilities, pipelines (other than offshore pipelines) and electrical transmission lines that are not regulated by the National Energy Board.
  • Potash mines and other industrial mineral mines (salt, graphite, gypsum, magnesite, limestone, clay, asbestos).
  • Industrial facilities (pulp mills, pulp and paper mills, steel mills, metal smelters, leather tanneries, textile mills and facilities for the manufacture of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pressure-treated wood, particle board, plywood, chemical explosives, lead-acid batteries and respirable mineral fibres).

The government also released a list of projects that did not specifically require a federal environmental assessment before but now do, including:

  • Diamond mines.
  • Apatite mines.
  • Railway yards; international and interprovincial bridges and tunnels.
  • Bridges that cross the St. Lawrence Seaway.
  • Offshore exploratory wells.
  • Oil sands mine expansions.

Focus on ‘major projects’

The government said the changes were made so that the agency’s work is focused on “major projects” that have the “greatest potential” to generate negative environmental impacts under federal jurisdiction, such as impacts on waterways, and other projects would not be “unduly burdened” with extra work.

CANADIANNATURAL/
A leak at the Primrose Lake oilsands project had released an estimated 1.5 million litres of bitumen into the environment as of the end of September. (Reuters)

The federal government heard from a wide range of stakeholders, including industry and environmental groups, before deciding what would be covered under the new rules.

Stewart said that while the government acknowledged environmental groups’ concerns, it did not make changes based on those concerns.

Most notably, he said Greenpeace is concerned about the lack of routine environmental assessments of in-situ oilsands developments. He noted that this type of project is the source of a huge bitumen leak Northern Alberta. As of the end of September, the leak near Cold Lake had already released 1.5 million litres of bitumen – a mixture of oilsands, heavy crude and water into the environment. The Alberta government has ordered the project operator, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., to drain two-thirds of a lake in an effort to stop the leak.

Stewart said 80 per cent of known oilsands deposits are so deep that they are only accessible with in-situ technology.

“Yesterday, Environment Canada released report which projected that by 2020, this type of oilsands development will be generating more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the Maritime provinces put together today,” he added.

“They’re exempting themselves from environmental oversight over what’s going to be the biggest source of new pollution in the country in coming decades.”

The group that represents oilsands producers said developments will still face provincial environmental reviews.

“The province still has a mandate to do an assessment, so this eliminates two layers of doing the same thing — the provincial government will still do its review and it will be equally as comprehensive,” said Geraldine Anderson from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

While acknowledging that provincial environmental assessments will still be required for some projects, Stewart calls the permitting process for in-situ oilsands development in Alberta “a rubber stamp.”

In 2012, the federal government announced a major overhaul of the federal environmental assessment program, introducing fixed timelines for major projects and reducing the number of departments and agencies that can do environmental reviews from 40 to just three.

 

Line 9 protests see hundreds converge in downtown Toronto – Toronto – CBC News

Line 9 protests see hundreds converge in downtown Toronto – Toronto – CBC News. (source)

What was to be the final day of hearings in Toronto on the controversial Line 9 pipeline was cancelled Saturday, as hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets to oppose energy company Enbridge’s plan to reverse the oil pipe and increase its capacity to carry crude.

 

Enbridge Pipeline Hearings 20131019Protesters demonstrating against Enbridge’s application to reverse it’s Line 9 pipeline rally outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Saturday, where the National Energy Board was originally scheduled to hold hearings. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

“They try to make it seem like we’re not going to have a spill. And it’s very likely that a spill will happen somewhere along this line,” said protester Nigel Barriffe, who lives near Line 9 in northwest Toronto.

Enbridge was to make its closing submissions to the National Energy Board on its plan to reverse the line, so it would flow from Southern Ontario to Montreal, and increase its capacity to move crude oil.

But the National Energy Boardannounced late Friday that Saturday’s hearings were off, saying the way the previous day’s hearings ended raised concerns about the security of participants. Protesters were out in force for Friday’s panel hearing, but there was no violence during that demonstration or Saturday’s rally.

On Friday, protesters, many gathered under the banner of the Idle No More movement, first milled outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to rally against the Line 9 pipeline and to show solidarity with demonstrations at New Brunswick’s Elsipogtog First Nation against a shale-gas project. They were eventually allowed in slowly, after the NEB determined that there were enough seats.

Line 9 protesters in TorontoSaturday’s demonstration saw a crowd of hundreds of people winding through downtown Toronto. (CBC)

After an anti-Line 9 deputant completed her official submissions to the NEB panelists, the demonstrators began chanting and moving up to the front of the room toward the panel.

 

There was a brief scuffle with security. Then the NEB panel members were escorted by security and police out of the room, as was an Enbridge representative.

The NEB didn’t provide a date for when Enbridge will present the closing arguments that had been slated for Saturday.

Protest organizer Amanda Lickers said the NEB should have found a way to let Enbridge make its case in support of the reversal.

“I think that if they were really concerned about security, they could have still done it over the web…. There could have been ways to make the presentation happen.”

Critics cite environmental risks

The panel heard this week from interveners stating the reversal would put First Nations communities at risk, threaten water supplies and could endanger vulnerable species in ecologically sensitive areas.

Jan Morrissey of a Toronto residents’ group showed up early Saturday morning for the hearing, only to learn it was cancelled.

Morrissey said she’s disappointed she won’t get to hear Enbridge’s final reply to arguments made to the board by critics of the reversal.

Enbridge Pipeline Hearings 20131018The day before, protesters overtook the public hearings on Line 9, as NEB panel members were escorted out by security and police. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)

“It’s sort of like reading a book and not getting to see the last chapter,” she said.

The pipeline reversal would increase the line’s capacity to 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day, up from the current 240,000 barrels.

Enbridge has also asked for permission to move different types of oil, including a heavier form of crude from the Alberta oilsands.

Opponents say the crude Enbridge wants to transport is more corrosive and will stress the aging infrastructure and increase the chance of a leak.

But Enbridge has said what will flow through the line will not be a raw oilsands product — although there will be a mix of light crude and processed bitumen.

Line 9 originally shuttled oil from Sarnia, Ont., to Montreal but was reversed in the late 1990s in response to market conditions to pump imported crude westward.

Enbridge is now proposing to flow oil back eastward to service refineries in Ontario and Quebec.

The company has experienced several devastating spills on its pipelines, including one in Michigan that leaked 3.3 million litres of oil into the Kalamazoo River and has already cost the company more than $1 billion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes there is at least 684,000 litres of bitumen still in the river.

 

TransCanada Pipeline Leak Being Investigated

TransCanada Pipeline Leak Being Investigated. (source)

CALGARY – Service on a natural gas pipeline that feeds oilsands producers in northern Alberta has been mostly restored after being disrupted by a leak.

“TransCanada (TSX:TRP) has confirmed that its response personnel successfully isolated the pipeline break section that occurred earlier (Thursday) on our North Central Corridor system, and has now resumed delivery of natural gas to most of its industrial customers in the area,” said spokesman Shawn Howard.

“TransCanada will be working with its remaining customers to restore full service.”

Howard said a drop in pressure on the line, 140 kilometres west of Fort McMurray, was detected about 2:50 a.m. Thursday.

At least one oilsands producer in the area was affected by the leak. A Suncor spokeswoman said its operations have been slowed, but that it was too early to say by how much.

No public safety threat was expected from the leak in the 92-centimetre-wide pipe. It carries sweet gas, which is low in poisonous hydrogen sulphide.

The nearest residence is about 50 kilometres away. Although a work camp is a couple of kilometres from the site, it was not evacuated.

“Natural gas, particularly sweet natural gas, does tend to dissipate quite quickly into the atmosphere,” said Rebecca Taylor, spokeswoman for the National Energy Board.

“You wouldn’t see pooling of product on the ground.”

First Nations in the area were notified of the leak, she added.

A spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board said the agency was aware of the leak and was following up with the company to gather more information. No decision had been made by Thursday afternoon to send investigators.

Howard said the cause of the line break is not yet known and will be determined during a subsequent investigation.

Energy board investigators were on site.

 

B.C. officially opposes Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline – British Columbia – CBC News

B.C. officially opposes Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline – British Columbia – CBC News.

 

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