Alberta Politics - started May 7, 2015

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voice of the damned wrote:

Al Gore vs. Naheed Nenshi...

Gore can say whatever he wants as far as I'm concerned, though I'm trying to imagine the reaction from Canadian progressives if it was Dick Cheney weighing in to support Notley, Trudeau, and Kenney.

I feel the same about Nenshi's comments as I do about what Notley is doing.

After all, her government is also doing this:

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..from an email

Beaver Lake Cree Nation - Tar Sands Trial - Big News

This is huge! Beaver Lake Cree Nation has launched a bold and brilliant legal move that stands to change the game in Canada’s tar sands. The Nation has asked the court to award them a portion of trial costs in advance, the same strategy that made it possible for the Tsilhqot’in to take their title case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Says Karey Brooks, legal counsel for the Beaver Lake Cree: “It’s been really difficult to get momentum. Now, if the Crown has to contribute to funding the litigation, they’re going to want to find the most efficient and quickest way possible. Right now, the incentive is the other way.”

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Oilsands Tailing Ponds Ticking Time Bomb for Canadians

Alberta has failed to protect taxpayers from billions in cleanup costs.

Having a mortgage is a hassle. All those pesky requirements like property assessments, down payments and monthly payments.

Imagine if you could just tell the bank how much money you think you owe them and that you’ll settle up 70 years after you move out. Wouldn’t that be easier?

That is essentially the deal Suncor has been granted by the Alberta government regarding the ballooning liability from their oilsands tailing ponds and related reclamation requirements.

Like all other operators in the industry, every year Suncor presents the Alberta taxpayer with an estimate of what the corporation thinks it will cost to reclaim the artificial lakes of toxic sludge it has created, in Suncor’s case since mining began in1967. No supporting documentation required.

But wait, there’s more! Last fall, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) approved a previously rejected plan from Suncor that allows the company 70 years after the mine closes in 2033 to sign off on its reclamation requirements....

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Alberta approves two more oilsands tailings ponds that don’t follow provincial rules


But there’s an even larger oilsands-related cost on the horizon: the more than $48 billion that will be required to clean up the ever-growing tailings ponds.

In fact, only a week ago — on May 23 — the Alberta Energy Regulator approved two more tailings management plans, this time for mines owned by Canadian Natural Upgrading Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of oilsands giant Canadian Natural Resources Limited.

That’s despite not knowing if the company will be able to clean up its tailings within this century, or what technology it plans to use, or what penalties the company will face if it fails.

In fact, the only thing the regulator appears to know definitively is that the volume of the company’s toxic tailings will skyrocket in coming decades, well past its supposed deadline for peaking and declining.

Alberta Energy Regulator using ‘kid gloves’ on tailings ponds

Due to clear “uncertainties and deficiencies” in the application, the Alberta Energy Regulator chose to only approve four to five years of tailings growth, requiring the company to submit amended applications in 2021 (for the Muskeg River Mine) and 2022 (for the Jackpine Mine). Think of it as a highly unusual grace period.

But Jodi McNeill, technical and policy analyst at Pembina Institute, expressed significant concern in an interview with The Narwhal that the approach of using “regulatory kid gloves” will only lock in a very risky future trajectory without any guarantee of treating tailings on time.

“We really would have liked to see the regulator be much more stringent about enforcing the regulations today so that we don’t end up in a situation where we’re locked in on a pathway that isn’t going to work,” McNeill said.


All four approvals under new regulation are non-compliant

The latest approvals of the tailings plans followed the regulator’s controversial decisions to give the go-ahead to tailings expansion at Suncor’s Millenium Mine in October 2017 and Canadian Natural Resources Limited’s Horizon Mine in December 2017.

These approvals happened as part of the regulator’s ongoing attempt to implement Directive 085, the province’s latest tailings management framework, which is considerably weaker than the previous Directive 074 — which all companies failed to meet.

McNeill said all four of the plans approved under the “incredibly flexible and malleable” Directive 085 have been non-compliant. Uniquely, the two approvals of the Canadian Natural Upgrading Limited mines included graphic illustrations of how quickly tailings waste will grow in coming years and contravene the rules.

“The tailings profile itself blatantly doesn’t meet the requirements, which means they’re just not treating aggressively or fast enough,” she said. “The AER included a profile of what they proposed and what the actual requirements would be that they would have to meet. It’s visually telling.”

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We have a plan for a wide-scale, industry-funded reclamation of Alberta’s aging and expired oil and gas infrastructure that puts thousands of workers back to work in every corner of the province.

By building a movement that takes on the world’s richest and most powerful industry, we can clean up Alberta’s environmental legacy of poorly regulated oil and gas developments and bring workable solutions to the climate crisis.


All over Alberta, there are hundreds of thousands of unfunded and aging oilfield liabilities — leaking into waterways and poisoning farm fields and rural towns.

Policy makers have ignored Alberta’s legacy of poorly regulated oil and gas developments for far too long. There are 450,000+ oil and gas wells, kilometers of pipelines longer than the distance to the moon and 110,000+ oil and gas facilities with no clean up plan.

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Beaver Lake Cree Nation's legal action to stop oilsands is a move to real reconciliation


As the executive director of RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values & Environmental Needs), a charitable non-profit organization that raises legal defence funds to assist Indigenous peoples to defend their constitutionally protected rights, I have witnessed first-hand the struggle that they often have in accessing justice through our courts. It’s not an easy decision for Nations to go to court. There is a significant imbalance of power in the resources between the parties, and familiarity with the system itself. But sometimes the Nation’s hand is forced, by destruction of their land, water, medicines, and animals for state-sanctioned industrial expansion that tramples their Aboriginal and treaty rights into dust.

Case in point — Beaver Lake Cree Nation in Alberta filed a legal action in 2008 against the governments of Canada and Alberta over the constitutional standing of numerous oilsands projects — one of the world’s largest and most carbon-intensive energy developments. The high-stakes action represents a precedent to the Canadian court. The Beaver Lake Cree case will be the first time a court is asked to draw the line defining too much industrial development in the face of constitutionally-protected treaty rights.

The conflict is between the promise in Treaty 6 signed back in 1876 that guarantees Beaver Lake Cree Nation the right to hunt, trap, fish and gather medicines in perpetuity throughout their traditional territory, and the government’s allowable ‘taking up of lands’ — also in the treaty. Here’s the thing: if a mega project or several are destroying all the elements underpinning the treaty, it shows you’ve got a serious constitutional problem on your hands.

And to indicate the seriousness of stakes, it took five years of beleaguered battling just to get the case to go to trial. Alberta and Canada are in a tough spot, having welcomed a veritable cavalcade of oilsands projects over the last couple of decades. So, Alberta and Canada as defendants fought every step of the way to have the claim dismissed as “frivolous, improper and an abuse of process.” But the courts disagreed — and said no further “delaying tactics” should be permitted lest the entire claim be “stonewalled at an early stage through excessive particularization.” Read: buried in paper and expensive motions.

To me this is an access to justice issue. We have characterized our work at RAVEN as reconciliation in action — although the term has now been somewhat co-opted. But in law, reconciliation has a specific meaning; it’s not a trite phrase borne of current circumstances in our history. It is a promise made to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada and enshrined in the Constitution Act, 1982.

RAVEN wants to be part of the transition from the colonial period to the reconciliation era, because the colonial period was characterized by Crown sovereignty being exercised without regard or respect for land and resources rights. The ‘reconciliation era’ we want to see via a legal theory of change is rooted in s.35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the model of forcing Crown governments to retreat through court-enforced orders.

If you'd like to learn more or get involved, you can check out the Tar Sands Trial video here.


I wonder if Rachel Notley was in attendance, as secretly she is probably a fan of Suzuki's climate change warnings. 

Despite protests, environmentalist David Suzuki receives honorary degree from University of Alberta

voice of the damned

I wonder if Rachel Notley was in attendance

I'm pretty sure she wasn't.

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What’s cheaper than a pipeline? An overhaul of the Alberta economy


Time for Alberta to diversify

The Trans Mountain pipeline or not, the oilsands are not a long-term strategy for Alberta. The province is already scraping the bottom of the barrel of its oil reserves and will export bitumen of increasingly deteriorating quality in the years to come.

At the same time, renewable energy is set to be consistently cheaper than fossil fuels in a matter of years. Short-term thinking due to election cycles is at least partly to blame for the blind commitment of Alberta governments to the oil sector.

One way to balance economic interests against today’s environmental imperatives consists in subsidizing the transition of the Alberta economy towards a more diversified and greener future.

Let’s do a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

According to the Alberta government, around 140,000 people were employed in mining, quarrying and oil-and-gas extraction in 2017. Suppose one wanted to retrain 25 per cent, or around 35,000 workers, over the next five years at a cost of $50,000 per worker. This seems generous, since part of the retraining costs could plausibly be shouldered by the private sector.

The pricetag of such a program would be $1.75 billion per year, and $8.75 billion in total. This is less than the sum Ottawa will have to spend to buy and expand the pipeline — $4.5 billion and an estimated at $7.4 billion respectively.




Unusual to see CBC support for the NDP and it must be very painful for them but The alternative is worse

voice of the damned

NorthReport wrote:

Unusual to see CBC support for the NDP and it must be very painful for them but The alternative is worse

I don't know if I would call that "support" for the NDP. It's just pointing out that the NDP will likely benefit if oil prices continue to rise.

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Alberta Regulator Approves New Tar Sands/Oil Sands Project Over Indigenous Objections

The Alberta Energy Regulator has approved a new northern Alberta tar sands/oil sands extraction project over the objections of local Indigenous communities concerned about its proximity to their traditional lands.

In a decision posted on its website, the Canadian Press reports, the AER has declared the 10,000-barrel-per-day Rigel project to be “in the public interest”.

At AER hearings earlier in the year, both the Fort McKay Metis Community Association and the Fort McKay First Nation declared their opposition to the project, saying it would put at risk a body of water long considered sacred by Indigenous peoples of the region. They’ve both now issued strong protests in the wake of the ruling.

Declaring itself unsurprised that the panel found in favour of Calgary-based Prosper Petroleum Ltd, the Fort McKay First Nation “has started legal action against the government of Alberta and the AER,” writes CP.


While the AER asserted that “social and economic issues and potential impacts on Indigenous and treaty rights were considered in its decision,” Fort McKay First Nation Chief Jim Boucher countered that “the AER interprets its mandate very narrowly with respect to protecting our rights as Cree and Dene people.”

The regulator ” dismissed the cumulative effects of the project and the constitutional promises made by the premiers of Alberta to enhance the protection of the Moose Lake area,” he added.


Boo friggin' hoo!

NDP’s cap on premium increases leaves auto insurers in 'crisis': industry

The insurance industry says some Albertans could end up without car insurance and some companies may pull out of the province because of the NDP government’s cap on premium increases.

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A Just Transition for Alberta’s Workers

In this week’s episode of Rank and File Radio – Prairies Edition, two guests speak with Emily Leedham about race and gender in Alberta’s oilsands, as well as organizing for climate justice.

The first guest is Dr. Angele Alook is proud member of Bigstone Cree Nation and currently works in the labour movement as a full-time researcher for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. She is also carrying out research with Parkland Institute on Indigenous experiences in Alberta’s oil industry and its gendered impact on working families. She is directing her research toward a just transition of Alberta’s economy and labour force and the impact climate change has on her traditional territory.

The second guest is Farid Iskandar is an organizer with Climate Justice Edmonton. Farid joined the climate justice movement in early 2018. In a previous life, Farid was dedicated volunteer for the Alberta NDP. Farid was born and raised in Egypt, and moved to Edmonton in 2007. Farid was one of the seven activists who rappelled mid air from Vancouver’s Ironworker’ s Memorial Bridge on July 3rd, forming a human drawbridge to block oil tankers from passing, in protest of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. They stayed there for 36 hours before they were arrested.


NorthReport wrote:

NDP’s cap on premium increases leaves auto insurers in 'crisis': industry

From the article: "But the province says it’s working to protect consumers while also ensuring a healthy insurance industry."

In Manitoba, consumers are protected, and the "insurance industry" isn't allowed to sell basic coverage - since 1971.

Could someone please inform the Alberta NDP of this tidbit of information? Perhaps during a coffee break, between sessions of producing and promoting diluted bitumen? Thanks in advance.

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'People on the path' aims to show not everyone is pro-pipeline, group says

A non-profit group is using art to send a message to politicians and the oil and gas industry that not everyone supports more pipelines in Alberta and Canada.

Climate Justice Edmonton put up eight-foot tall portraits in Whitemud Park at Fox Drive Sunday in a collective art installation called "People on the Path."

Hannah Gelderman, an organizer with the non-profit, said the provincial government consistently sends out the message that all Albertans are in favour of expanding pipelines.

"That everyone wants more pipelines, that everyone wants investment in oil and gas and that's absolutely not true," she said. "There are so many people here who want investments in renewables instead.".....

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Oil Sucks

A province of junkies.

I’m an addict. I use oil. We all do. That’s how we’ve wired our economy. But the fact that we’re hopelessly hooked doesn’t mean we shouldn’t confront the issue. The first step, after all, is admitting you have a problem.

Addicts don’t make rational choices. They specialize in denial and ignore the harm their addiction causes them and others. They’ll sacrifice just about anything or anyone for that next fix. Once addicted, the drug owns them. Quitting seems impossible.


Addicts don’t just ignore the harm their compulsions cause to friends and family. They ignore their own well-being.

Alberta has over 320,000 km of unreclaimed seismic lines riddling our landscape with erosion scars that choke streams and reservoirs with silt. Over 330,000 oil and gas wells penetrate our drinking water aquifers and leak methane into the atmosphere. More than 384,000 km of pipelines are slowly deteriorating underground. The tar sands region has over 220 km2 of toxic tailings ponds; nobody has a viable plan for reclaiming them, even though they already contaminate the region’s waters.

Oil industry flacks get paid to jump on statements like these with reassurances that wells and tailings ponds don’t leak and that industry’s environmental performance is improving. When it comes to glib assurances, Big Oil can out-tobacco Big Tobacco—another industry that profits from addiction. But guess what: cigarettes do indeed cause cancer and heart disease. And methane does in fact leak from oil wells. And those tumours in fish downstream from Fort McMurray are not actually natural.

Some will consider this column blasphemy coming from a fourth-generation Albertan. Looking back over those generations, however, I don’t see many oil jobs. My family has worked mostly in other sectors of the economy. That shouldn’t be surprising: there are actually other ways of making a living in Alberta. Farming and ranching come to mind. Installing wind and solar generation. Forestry, tourism, education, medicine, manufacturing, writing (well, maybe not writing)… the list goes on. But from the chatter in the opium den, you’d think oil was our only truth. Here’s a truth: The Alberta government actually collects more money from our other addictions—alcohol and gambling—than from oil and gas royalties. That’s because, after more than 20 cuts to royalty rates, oil and gas companies now pocket our share of petroleum profits. But as addicts, we’ll settle for crumbs as long as oil flows....