Home » Posts tagged 'Tom Steyer'
Tag Archives: Tom Steyer
By Patrick Rucker and Nia Williams
WASHINGTON/CALGARY (Reuters) – Canada is running out of time to offer U.S. President Barack Obama a climate change concession that might clinch the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, as the country’s energy industry continues to resist costly curbs on greenhouse gas emissions.
Two years of negotiations between the Canadian government and the energy sector to curtail carbon pollution have not produced an agreement. Oil producers have balked at anything more than the 10-cents-a-barrel carbon tax imposed by the province of Alberta.
Late last month, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq pointed to “good progress” in the talks but was unable to say when a resolution might come.
Concessions from Canada would make the pipeline more palatable in Washington, experts say, since Obama has made fighting climate change a second-term priority and has said that Canada could do more to reduce carbon emissions.
By linking Alberta’s fields to refiners in the Gulf Coast, the 1,200-mile (1,900-kilometer) Keystone XL pipeline would be a boon to an energy patch where oil sands are abundant but lead to more carbon pollution than many other forms of crude.
Keystone’s foes say that burning fossil fuels to wrench oil sands crude from the ground will worsen climate change, and that the $5.4 billion pipeline, which could carry up to 830,000 barrels a day, would only spur more production.
Increasing oil sands production will put Canada on track to miss its target of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, according to a government report (full report:tinyurl.com/mgkghtc).
Keystone supporters say that is why Canada would be wise to offer a carbon-trimming plan before the White House decides the pipeline’s fate.
“If Canada were to volunteer new greenhouse gas restrictions, that would certainly help,” David Goldwyn, a former State Department official and energy consultant, told an industry conference in late October.
But the clock is running out. The U.S. State Department is finishing work on a report that will weigh the climate impacts of the pipeline in what could be one of last words before a decision. The White House is expected to rule on Keystone by next spring.
Canada and the United States have often moved together on climate policy, developing similar rules on auto and power-plant emissions while turning their backs on the Kyoto Protocol to limit climate change.
Regulating the oil and gas sector has been thornier, though, with oil sands producers particularly concerned that higher costs will erode their already narrow margins.
“Anything more stringent than today’s system will increase costs, possibly lowering investments and reducing production,” the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers wrote in a memo to regulators in March that was made public under a freedom of information request.
Canada’s fast-growing oil sands sector will soon exceed the capacity of existing pipelines, and analysts say producers will be forced to rely on trains, barges and other transportation alternatives if Keystone XL and related projects are rejected. Those options are generally costlier and less certain than pipelines.
Nevertheless, industry executives say they doubt yielding on tougher pollution regulations will help secure Keystone.
“I don’t know any policies in Canada with respect to (greenhouse gas) emissions that would have any sort of material impact on the approval process,” Russ Girling, president of TransCanada, the pipeline operator, said last month.
Even if Prime Minister Stephen Harper were to offer new greenhouse gas limits this year, the vagaries of the regulatory process virtually guarantee those plans will not be in place until after a Keystone decision.
Canada needed 12 months to finalize regulations curbing emissions from coal-fired power plants that were ratified last year, and the rules were significantly weaker in the end than originally proposed.
“Judging by what we saw with coal-fired power plants, there is a real risk that a proposal to limit oil and gas emissions could be watered down before it’s final,” said P.J. Partington of the Pembina Institute, a think thank that has opposed oil sands development, which reviewed the industry memos disclosed under the freedom of information request.
(Reporting by Patrick Rucker in Washington and Nia Williams in Calgary; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Douglas
WASHINGTON – A former Harper government appointee used a keynote speech at a Washington event Monday to trample Canadian authorities’ message on oil pipelines while describing the country as an environmental “rogue state.”
Mark Jaccard became one of the first people nominated by the Conservatives to the environmental file when he was named in 2006 to the federal government’s now-defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
Seven years later, the environmental economist delivered a lengthy rebuke of Canada’s climate-change performance at Monday’s event while the Obama administration grapples with whether to approve the Alberta-U.S. pipeline.
Jaccard, an adviser to different governments and a professor at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University, said he doesn’t want the oilsands shut down — he just doesn’t want them to grow.
“On climate, Canada is a rogue state,” Jaccard said.
“It’s accelerating the global tragedy … The U.S. government should reject Keystone XL and explain to the Canadian government that it hopes to join with Canada (on a global climate plan).”
That message stands in sharp contrast to that of the Canadian government, which has spent millions to publicize the benefits to both countries of developing the oilsands.
Jaccard was the headline speaker at a summit tied to a well-connected Democratic donor, the so-called “green billionaire” Tom Steyer, and attended by a number of U.S. media outlets.
Jaccard has become an increasingly bitter critic of the federal government. He was even arrested last year after joining a blockade on a train carrying U.S. coal from B.C.
His disenchantment with the Conservative government reached a boil after the 2011 election, Jaccard said in an interview after his speech.
He said he tried to work with the government — not only at the Round Table, but as an adviser to then-environment minister Rona Ambrose. But after the Conservatives won a majority in 2011, the rhetoric hardened, the Round Table vanished and it became clear they had no interest in tackling climate change, Jaccard said.
“In 2011, the gloves came off.”
In his career as an author, academic, and adviser to different governments since the Mulroney era, Jaccard also criticized the Liberals for a climate approach he still derides as a “labels-on-fridges-and-Rick-Mercer-ads” strategy to encourage behaviour changes.
More drastic policies are in order, he told his audience: greenhouse-gas emissions need to drop 50 to 75 per cent by 2050 to limit temperature growth to a 2C target — an impossible task with a growing oilpatch, Jaccard said.
The event, and the choice of location, were designed to arm-twist the Obama administration as it faces its Keystone dilemma.
Last June in Georgetown, President Barack Obama delivered a speech in June saying Keystone would not be approved if it significantly increases greenhouse-gas emissions.
The title of Monday’s event was, “Can Keystone Pass The President’s Climate Test?” One speaker after another suggested that, no, Keystone cannot be approved without a significant increase in carbon pollution as a result.
In the hallways, the many Obama supporters speculated about when the long-awaited decision might finally come down. And some suggested they’ve become increasingly hopeful the project will be blocked, given Obama’s choice of words.
Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm even allowed herself to daydream about what an eventual presidential rejection might sound like. A decision is expected in early 2014.
“I think he could deliver a speech that could give him a legacy he would be proud of,” Granholm, the event moderator, said from the stage.
Earlier, Steyer described Keystone as a logical investment for the oil industry that would drive up the value of Canadian oil and ramp up development — which is precisely why he believes it shouldn’t be allowed to proceed.
“(Keystone) is a literal and a figurative line in the sands,” Steyer said. “Keystone is the economic key to unlocking the tarsands and, as such, it fails the president’s test.”
The other side of the Keystone debate was not represented at the event. TransCanada boss Russ Girling (TSX:TRP) and Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., both declined to attend.
The federal government later issued a lengthy statement condemning the characterization as a “rogue state.”
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said that, whether or not Keystone goes ahead, the Canadian oil industry will represent a minuscule fraction of global emissions. His statement also noted that 62 per cent of Canada’s electricity is generated from renewable sources — first in the G8, compared with 12 per cent in the U.S.
Canada has taken action to shut down coal plants, the largest source of greenhouse gases in the world, he added. While the Obama administration has taken steps to impose emissions restrictions and is believed to be planning more, coal remains an important source of energy in the U.S.
TransCanada, for its part, derided Monday’s event as a sham.
It said the project had been reviewed for five years by nearly two dozen state and federal agencies and that the “professional opponents” of Keystone are obscuring the central question: “about where America wants to get a source of oil from that it clearly needs.”
Carol Browner said “there will be some twists and turns” in the political debate over the pipeline, but “at the end of the day [Obama] is going to say no,” according to The Hill.
Browner served as head of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration and headed the Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy for two years under Obama.
She made the comments at a Washington, D.C., meeting of the Center for American Progress, where she was joined on a panel by Van Jones, an environmental advocate with links to Obama, and Tom Steyer, a billionaire who has been on an anti-Keystone XL crusade.
Her comments come as Washington finds itself in the crossfire of the Keystone debate.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said last month that he would not “take no for an answer” on the pipeline.
Posters calling Canada “the dirty old man” of environmental issues have been popping up around Washington, part of artist Franke James’ campaign to stop oil sands shipments.
But the ads failed to impress those south of the border, according to a new report, and even left people puzzled over assertions that Canada is America’s best friend.
A government-commissioned Harris-Decima pre-testing report on the ad blitz earlier this year found that focus groups in Washington were befuddled by the campaign’s original tagline — “America’s best friend is America’s best energy solution.”
“Few would immediately assume this means Canada, despite certainly considering Canada to be a good friend,” says the $58,000, taxpayer-funded report, posted Wednesday on Library and Archives Canada.
“Some indicated that claiming you are one’s best friend comes across as something one does when one is about to ask for a huge favour.”
Others took issue with the word “solution” because it suggested “America had a problem that needed solving.” In a similar vein, “virtually all objected to the reference to Canada’s ban on dirty coal as it seemed to imply that Canada is doing more than the U.S.,” the report noted.
The U.S. advertising offensive has included promotions and ads in influential publications and a website for American viewers, gowithcanada.ca. The ads shine a job-friendly and environmentally sensitive light on a cross-section of Canadian resource industries.
TransCanada, which is building the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to an oil terminal in Cushing, Okla., says it expects a decision on the pipeline by March of next year.
- Former Obama Adviser Says President Will Nix Keystone XL Pipeline (247wallst.com)
- Anti-Keystone billionaire takes aim at Harper’s hard line on pipeline, links it to U.S. shutdown (ctvnews.ca)
- Battle of the Billionaires Erupts Over Keystone Pipeline (dailyfinance.com)
- Petition Pushes Obama Campaign Strategist To Drop Keystone XL Client (huffingtonpost.com)
- Gore: Keystone an ‘atrocity’ (politico.com)
- Keystone XL decision expected by March 2014: TransCanada (business.financialpost.com)
- Keystone Foes Pledge Sit-Ins If Pipeline Advances (bloomberg.com)
A prominent Democratic fundraiser’s claim that Canada is working with Republicans amidst the U.S. shutdown to get the Keystone XL pipeline project approved is “completely bogus,” says Canada’s ambassador to the U.S.
Gary Doer tells CTV’s Question Period that Canada is working with both U.S. political parties. He dismissed a claim by American billionaire hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer, a vocal opponent of the Keystone project, that Canada lobbied Republicans to add the project’s approval to its list of demands for ending the shutdown.
“We respect the process in the White House with the president’s authority on presidential permits, we respect the technical work that is done at the State Department, which has really pointed to the advantages of moving ahead with this pipeline,” said Doer….
- Ottawa using U.S. government shutdown to advance campaign for Keystone XL pipeline (thestar.com)
- Anti-Keystone billionaire takes aim at Harper’s hard line on pipeline, links it to U.S. shutdown (ctvnews.ca)
- Anti-Keystone billionaire accuses Harper of involvement in US government shutdown (mining.com)
- Keystone XL: Pipeline opponent challenges TransCanada boss to live debate (thestar.com)
- Anti-Keystone XL billionaire challenges TransCanada CEO to live debate (calgaryherald.com)
- Steyer challenges pipeline boss to debate (metronews.ca)