Joint Review Panel recommends approving the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, Dec 19, 2013
CALGARY ― The Joint Review Panel (the Panel) for the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project today recommended that the federal government approve the project, subject to 209 required conditions.
Based on a scientific and precautionary approach to this complex review, the Panel found that the project, if built and operated in compliance with the conditions set out in its report, would be in the public interest.
The Panel also recommended that the Governor in Council determine that the construction and routine operation of the project would cause no significant adverse environmental effects, with the exception of cumulative effects for certain populations of woodland caribou and grizzly bear.
In these two cases, the Panel found that cumulative effects as a result of this project and other projects, activities or actions are likely to be at the low end of the range of possible significance. The Panel recommended that these effects be found to be justified in the circumstances.
The Panel concluded that the environmental burdens associated with project construction and routine operation can generally be effectively mitigated and that continued monitoring, scientific research and adaptive management could further reduce adverse effects.
The Panel stated that “the environmental, societal and economic burdens of a large oil spill, while unlikely and not permanent, would be significant.” The Panel found that Northern Gateway had taken steps to minimize the likelihood of a large spill through its precautionary design approach and its commitments to use innovative and redundant safety systems. The Panel also found that, after mitigation, the likelihood of significant adverse environmental effects resulting from project malfunctions or accidents is very low.
The Panel found that “opening Pacific Basin markets is important to the Canadian economy and society.” The Panel also found that “the project would bring significant local, regional, and national economic and social benefits.”
After weighing all of the oral and written evidence, the Panel found that Canada and Canadians would be better off with the Enbridge Northern Gateway project than without it.
The Panel’s conditions, which would be enforced by the National Energy Board, include requirements for Enbridge Northern Gateway to:
Develop a Marine Mammal Protection Plan;
Implement the TERMPOL Review Committee Recommendations;
Prepare a Caribou Habitat Restoration Plan;
Develop a Training and Education Monitoring Plan;
Prepare an Enhanced Marine Spill Trajectory and Fate Modelling;
Develop a Research Program on the Behaviour and Cleanup of Heavy Oils;
Conduct Pre-operations Emergency Response Exercises and Develop an Emergency Preparedness and Response Exercise and Training Program.
The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is a proposal to build and operate two pipelines and a marine terminal. The pipelines would run 1,178 kilometres from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia, where the marine terminal would be built.
One 914 mm (36 inch) outside diameter line would carry an average of 83,400 cubic metres (525,000 barrels) per day of oil west to Kitimat. The other line, a 508 mm (20 inch) outside diameter pipeline, would carry an average of 30,700 cubic metres (193,000 barrels) of condensate per day east to Bruderheim. Condensate can be used to thin bitumen for pipeline transport. The Kitimat Marine Terminal would have two tanker berths, three condensate tanks and 16 oil storage tanks. Costs for the project are estimated at $7.9 billion.
The Joint Review Panel for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is an independent body, mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board. The Panel assessed the environmental effects of the proposed project and reviewed the application under both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and the National Energy Board Act.
The report, this news release, a backgrounder on the hearing process and a list of frequently asked questions can be found on the Panel’s website at: www.gatewaypanel.review.gc.ca
Canada’s “little Germany” has cut per-capita emissions 24% since 1990.
The Ontario government announced on Friday that it will introduce legislation next week to ban the burning of coal and the building of new coal plants. The Canadian province expects to have completely outgrown coal by 2014, thanks to a combination of efficiency, nuclear, natural gas and an ambitious renewables program – and to save C$4.4 billion per year (US $4.2 billion) in “externalities” like health costs, from having done so.
The province will end this year on a symbolic high-note as well, completing the conversion of its enormous Nanticoke Generation Station to run on biomass. The coal plant was at one point the single-biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, providing 4 GW of baseline electricity. Half its generating units have been decommissioned in recent years, and the station now operates as a “peaker” plant — idling for most of the day, and only ramping up in times of high electricity demand.
Ontario being a net exporter of electricity – it sold 10 TWh of excess electricity last year, about enough to power Hawaii – the announcement is great news for the lungs of families there, and in the surrounding provinces and states. Going forward, Ontarian children will only have to endure “second-hand smog” from coal burnt in nearby Michigan.
Digging into the statistics*, CleanTechnica found that from 1990 to 2011, Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped 3 percent – achieving only about half of Canada’s Kyoto commitment. But the province’s growth in the past 20 years means its per-capita emissions actually dropped a full 24 percent. Though the province had largely weaned itself off coal by then, the full phase-out should push the per-capita emissions reductions past the one-quarter mark (25 percent).
By comparison, Germany’s Energiewende has powered a 27 percent emissions reduction since 1990, and its stable population means per-capita emissions are down about 28 percent.
Canada’s “little Germany”
Referring to Ontario as a “little Germany” purely on account of its environmental progress would be to underestimate the parallels between the two.
Ontario is Canada’s manufacturing centre, and achieved its emissions reductions even as it began a nine-year run as North America’s top auto manufacturing jurisdiction. (That the province’s auto sector achieved this with high-skill, high-wage, unionized workers, despite lower-cost labour elsewhere, compares well with the German automotive experience.)
And though Ontario doesn’t dominate Canadian Confederation to the extent that Germany does the European Union, its size and influence mean it can be considered first among provinces; it hosts the country’s capital, after all.
The province’s Green Energy Act was partially modelled on the successful policies that drove the German Energiewende. Small surprise, then, that its implementation was only partially smooth. Several wind farm projects located near uncompensated individuals and communities, encountered fierce resistance from the aforementioned uncompensated individuals and communities.
As noted by a recent Dutch study, “people who benefit economically from wind turbines have a significantly decreased risk of annoyance, despite exposure to similar sound levels [as those who do not benefit economically].” Or, to translate from scientific to soundbite English, the Ontario government had forgotten the wisdom of turning local stakeholders into local shareholders.
The province was also judged to have violated World Trade Organization rules when it enforced local-content requirements for renewables to qualify for feed-in tariffs; and the politically-motivated cancellation of two natural gas plants may wind up costing the province one billion dollars.
For all these missteps, Ontario continues to move forward, slowly transforming its electricity, energy use, and economy. (“Little Germany,” indeed…) And while residential electricity rates have risen in recent years, they top out at a maximum 13 cents / kWh during peak hours, still on the low side of North American norms.
Meanwhile, in an alternate universe
One wonders whether Keystone XL and other pipelines would have already received their permits if Canada had followed Ontario’s lead, instead of Alberta’s. (Alberta is home to Canada’s tar sands.) Would counterparties be willing to help Canadian bitumen into international markets if the country could credibly claim to be using the one-time boon to swiftly transition off fossil fuels – developing expertise that could then be exported abroad?
The Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia – encompassing three-quarters of the Canadian population – have reduced per-capita greenhouse gas emissions 24, 17 and 11 percent respectively since 1990. And while Canada’s Kyoto commitments were based on absolute reductions, not per-capita reductions, most observers would acknowledge these achievements as a good start. Residents of the three provinces generate 10 to 13 tonnes of CO2 per year, in line with their German counterparts.
Alas, we don’t live in an alternate universe; and in our universe, the Canadian government has long since chosen to be bellicose and belligerent in pushing its bitumen interests. In addition to cutting climate research and muzzling scientists, the government has spied on pipeline opponents and gone out of its way to describe them in terms befitting the 9/11 terrorists**. During the 2008 election campaign, the ruling Conservative Party even created an online video showing a puffin repeatedly defecating on an opposition leader, and characterizing his carbon tax proposal as a “tax on everything.”
Ironically, investigative journalists have determined that Canada’s oil giants are quietly in favour of a carbon tax, which would reduce regulatory risks to their projects’ profitability. With Shell Oil’s recent announcement that it assumes a $40/tonne CO2 price for new projects, we can assume they’re among this group.
With the federal government set in its self-destructive ways, Canadians have been forced to look to the provincial and municipal levels for leadership on climate issues. And while hard-working stewards from across the political spectrum are working to create a cleaner, better future for community and country, Ontario’s leadership deserves special acknowledgement.
In phasing out coal, Ontario has let go of the 18th century, to better embrace the 21st. The government showed its citizens the willingness to take action to build the better future their children deserve.
Better still, the many other measures the province took leading up to this announcement emphatically proved that Energiewende-esque per-capita emissions reductions can be achieved, even in North America, and even without a price on carbon. Which gives hope – and perhaps even a hint of excitement – about the progress we’ll be able to make when governments begin pricing carbon, worldwide.
** In the fourth paragraph, Minister Oliver states, “these groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda” (emphasis added). In a post-9/11 world, the concept of radical hijackers universally brings to mind the terrorists from those terrible, tragic attacks. By extension, referring to one’s opponents as radical hijackers is to compare them, by analogy, to the 9/11 terrorists. This document being an open letter published on a government website, this slanderous characterization of pipeline opponents would have been approved by Minister Oliver and the messaging-obsessed Prime Minister as well.
Matthew Klippenstein is a professional engineer and plug-in electric vehicle enthusiast. A member of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, he lives with his family in the nearby suburb of Burnaby, tweets at @EclecticLip and blogs occasionally at http://www.eclecticlip.com. A thirteen-year veteran of the fuel cell industry with Ballard Power Systems, he was part of the micro-CHP product team which won the American Electrochemical Society New Technology Award in 2007, and co-authored the company’s white paper on the future of electricity (“electron-democracy”) for a McKinsey & Company essay series to which Steven Chu and Andy Grove also contributed. In roles spanning research, product design and production, he helped the company scale-up from discrete manual assembly to continuous, automated roll-to-roll processing, with the company manufacturing its 1,000,000th production-line MEA (membrane-electrode assembly) in 2010.
Canada is going to get a new 100MW solar power plant. The Grand Renewable Energy Park will be in Ontario, which is Canada’s most populous province and home to the city of Toronto (which is getting a lot of attention for other reasons right now). This Ontario solar PV power plant will add to existing PV capacity in the province, notably, the Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant which is a 97MW solar installation and at the time of its completion (Sept 2010) was the largest solar PV power plant in the world.
ABB will be supplying Canadian Solar Solutions — the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the plant — with about $80 million of balance of system (BOS) technologies “comprising a broad range of power and automation products, including ABB’s flagship automation platform for conventional power generation and renewable applications, Symphony™ Plus.” In addition, ABB will be in charge of engineering, electrical installation, commissioning, and performance testing of the plant.
This is a big project — one of the biggest solar power plants in the world. However, interestingly, this power plant is part of a much, much, bigger renewable energy project. It’s part of a behemoth $5 billion investment by Samsung Renewable Energy in solar and wind energy projects with a total power capacity of 1,369 MW (1.369 GW)!
Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.
The multiphase project, owned by the NaiKun Wind Energy Group, will consist of 550 square feet kilometres, with a total of 396 megawatts (MW) of energy is set for phase one.
A total of 110 wind turbines are planned, providing British Columbian residents a cleaner alternative, according to the website. This will cut 450,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year rather than using natural gas, and power 200,000 homes.
If wind projects continue to sprout up across Canada like this one, wind energy will no doubt continue it’s upward trend as a real choice to power Canada’s energy needs. In 2012 new Canadian wind projects were expected to increase by 20%, or 1,200 MW and a total of C$2.5 billion in new investments. However, British Columbia was not one of the three top provinces in new wind capacity in 2012. Ontario (2,000MW), Quebec (1,600MW) and Nova Scotia (1,000MW) led the way.
Will B.C.’s new offshore wind farm help catapult a province that is known more for hydro energy than wind? NaiKun Wind Energy Group certainly thinks it can’t hurt.
The Canadian success story on deficit elimination, debt reduction and significantly, strengthening the economy by adding jobs and improved economic performance during troubled economic times has been well-documented.
“Canada got every major decision right” in the past few years of global market turmoil. He lauded the strength of both the Canadian banking system and our economic leaders, who, he said, “got to grips with its deficit” and were “running surpluses and paying down debt before the recession, fixing the roof while the sun was shining.”
Cameron’s admiration for Canada’s relatively peachy fiscal position stands in stark contrast to his dim view of his Eurozone neighbours. On the topic of Europe and the U.S. getting their own houses in order, Cameron said; “This is not a traditional, cyclical recession – it’s a debt crisis…”
He went on to say;
“When the fundamental problem of the level of debt and the fear of those levels, then the usual economic prescriptions cannot be applied.” – MacLean’s Magazine.
“Finance officials bit their nails and nervously watched the clock. There were 30 minutes left in a bond auction aimed at funding the deficit and there was not a single bid.
Sounds like today’s Italy or Greece?
No, this was Canada in 1994.
Bids eventually came in, but that close call, along with downgrades and The Wall Street Journal calling Canada “an honorary member of the Third World,” helped the nation’s people and politicians understand how scary its budget problem was.
“There would have been a day when we would have been the Greece of today,” recalled then prime minister Jean Chrétien, a Liberal who ended up chopping cherished social programs in one of the most dramatic fiscal turnarounds ever.
“I knew we were in a bind and we had to do something,” Mr. Chrétien, 77, told Reuters in a rare interview.
Canada’s shift from pariah to fiscal darling provides lessons for Washington as lawmakers find few easy answers to the huge U.S. deficit and debt burden, and for European countries staggering under their own massive budget problems.
But to win its budget wars, Canada first had to realize how dire its situation was and then dramatically shrink the size of government rather than just limit the pace of spending growth.
It would eventually oversee the biggest reduction in Canadian government spending since demobilization after the Second World War. The big cuts, and relatively small tax increases, brought a budget surplus within four years.
Canadian debt shrank to 29 per cent of gross domestic product in 2008-09 from a peak of 68 per cent in 1995-96, and the budget was in the black for 11 consecutive years until the 2008-09 recession.
For Canada, the vicious debt circle turned into a virtuous cycle that rescued a currency that had been dubbed the “northern peso.” Canada went from having the second worst fiscal position in the Group of Seven industrialized countries, behind only Italy, to easily the best.
It is far from a coincidence that the recent recession was shorter and shallower in Canada than in the United States. Indeed, by January, Canada had recovered all the jobs lost in the downturn, while the U.S. has hardly been able to dent its high unemployment.
“We used to thank God that Italy was there because we were the second worst in the G7,” said Scott Clark, associate deputy finance minister in the 1990’s.
Canada’s experience turned on its head the prevailing wisdom that spending promises were the easiest way to win elections. Politicians of all kinds and at all levels of government learned that austerity could win.” read more…
For those unfamiliar with examples of successful austerity, Canada holds great promise. There are others to discuss in the coming days – which will illustrate austerity can actually lessen the unfavourable effects of decades of excessive spending by governments and improve the economic position of a nation.