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Deconstructing CAPP's energy platform

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A natural gas well in Louisiana. Image: Daniel Foster/Flickr

Of all of the political parties running in this election, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) was the first to release its election platform. It wants your vote.

"But CAPP is not a political party," you might say. Successful governments in Alberta have been owned by CAPP for roughly 50 years. That is why the Alberta environmental agency is called the Alberta Energy Regulator. With the increase in fracking in B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba, CAPP has reason to believe they could and should own the federal government as well.

In a recent report titled Putting Canada on the World Stage: An Energy Platform for Canada, CAPP lays out a "National Vision for Oil and Natural Gas," where they deliver instructions to the next federal government on energy policy. CAPP believes that, in spite of evidence to the contrary, they are socially and environmentally responsible, can play their part in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and do so with the full endorsement of First Nations. 

In addition, CAPP has pointed out that there are increasing demands for "clean" energy abroad and that the Canadian fossil fuel industry is in a good position to fulfill those needs with liquefied natural gas (LNG), retrieved from fracked wells. Therefore, it is only right and proper that CAPP have the final say in markets, environmental regulations and Indigenous affairs.

With regard to market access, CAPP has instructed the next government to "work to increase and diversify access to markets." Specific actions include:

  • Become a domestic and international champion of Canada's oil and natural gas and ensure no government policies or decisions restrict access to global markets.
  • Implement policies that commit Canada to getting our oil and natural gas resources to markets in a timely manner. These include completing construction on the Trans Mountain expansion project by 2022 and supporting the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Create and support the conditions to complete four major LNG projects, on Canada's east and west coasts.

In a section of the report addressing "Indigenous Prosperity," CAPP asserts that it offers jobs, infrastructure and direct payments to Indigenous governments. In return, CAPP expects the Canadian government to honour the "role that oil and natural gas development has played in supporting Indigenous self-determination and reconciliation through economic opportunities." 

The Mikisew Cree and the Athabaskan Chipewyan, living downstream from the tar sands, might have a few different things to say about fossil fuel development.

In a section titled "Climate and Innovation," CAPP's goal is to replace coal with oil and fracked natural gas for export to foreign markets. It would like the next federal government to "develop and implement technologies to further reduce domestic emissions intensity from oil and natural gas production, and export our responsibly produced resources to global markets."

Just a guess, but I don't think this means that it intends to prevent methane leaks from fracked and orphaned wells. Nor does it mean it will shut down unconventional fossil fuel extraction, restore damaged lands and waters, and start developing renewables. 

CAPP's "Fiscal and Tax Policy" involves "creating a national fiscal framework that is globally competitive" and "critical for Canada's oil and natural gas sector." Apparently, the current tax regime has negative implications for the prosperity of fossil fuel corporations. The new Canadian government must "acknowledge that Canada's oil and natural gas sector is not subsidized." 

If only that were true.

Canadian government subsidies for the fossil fuel industry amount to billions of dollars every year. According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, "provincial subsidies include crown royalty reductions in Alberta valued at an average of $1.16 billion and deep drilling and infrastructure credits in British Columbia valued at an average of $247 million from 2015 to 2018."

CAPP boasts that it has 57 member corporations. Over 30 per cent of them are international. Their operations include coal, fracked natural gas, bitumen harvested from the tar sands of Alberta as well as conventional oil and natural gas.

Much has been made about the influence of SNC Lavalin on the current federal government. If one corporation could have this much influence on our federal government, how much more influential would an organization like CAPP be?

CAPP had considerable influence with Stephen Harper's Conservative government and some of the phrases from a CAPP letter to the Conservative government regarding regulatory "streamlining" ended up in the changes to the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Act in 2012.

CAPP has official third-party status in this federal election.

CAPP has persistently lobbied against Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, which restored the environmental regulatory framework destroyed by the Harper government in Bill C-38. C-69 requires impact studies on the effect of development proposals on public health, the environment and the economy. It requires genuine consultation with First Nations.

In the last 12 months CAPP lobbied the federal government 90 times. Many people believe that that Justin Trudeau's Liberal government caved under pressure from CAPP in lowering their GHG emissions targets to those of the Harper regime and in buying the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The fossil fuel industry is destructive, it hurts people, it makes pots of money for the unscrupulous and it is a dinosaur. It won't go down without a fight. 

The only real defense is at the ballot box. Choose wisely on October 21.

Yukon is full of artists, thinkers, eccentrics and rabble-rousing political trouble makers. From the windows of her Acting Out Studio, Linda Leon observes the view from North. Every good artist knows that you have to stand far away to get a full perspective. Linda is not now, nor has she ever been a member of any federal political party

Image: Daniel Foster/Flickr

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