Tag Archives: Stephen Harper

Paul Wells: Harper’s plugged pipeline policy – Time to change the agenda again?

I quite enjoyed this article by Paul Wells in Macleans.ca – So for your reading pleasure here it is –

“What if the major policy initiative of Stephen Harper’s majority mandate is a non-starter?

This will take some explaining. Let’s begin with a pop quiz. You’re in charge of a big pipe that carries liquid a long distance. One day you notice the pressure inside the pipe is dropping. What on Earth could be making the pressure in your pipe fall?

If it takes you less than 17 hours to answer, “hole in the pipe,” then you would have been much too clever to work for Enbridge in July 2010, when more than three million litres of diluted bitumen gushed out of that company’s pipeline and into the wetlands and rivers near Marshall, Mich. That’s an amount of ethical oil roughly equivalent to the amount of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The oil kept spilling for 17 hours after the initial alarm. By Enbridge’s own rules, the response to a pressure drop should have been to shut the line down until the cause was known, but, you know, whoopsie.

“While there have been larger onshore oil spills, in this case, Enbridge Incorporated is responsible for the release that has been the most expensive to clean up,” said Debbie Hersman, the chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Bureau. “According to a recent Enbridge SEC filing and the EPA, the total cleanup cost, so far, is more than $800 million. That is already more than five times the next most-costly onshore oil spill.” Continue reading

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Omnibus Bill Passes: Research on oil-sands impact cost centre its funding, scientists say

Unfortunately for Canadians we have a Conservative majority government so the Omnibus Bill will be passed by the legislature. Three years from now when we have the opportunity to vote the Conservatives out it will be hard to undo all the damage they are doing with the removal of environmental protective measures in Canada. This article discusses the impact of the closure of a world-reknowned research facility that studies toxins in freshwater lakes.

“Leading environmental scientists say Ottawa is cutting funding to a research station that studied the ecology of freshwater lakes for more than 50 years because it is producing data the Conservatives do not want to hear as they promote development of the Alberta oil sands.

A massive budget bill that is about to be passed into law by Stephen Harper’s government will cut about $2-million in annual funding to the Experimental Lakes Area in Northwestern Ontario and close the highly-regarded research centre by next April if a new operator cannot be found.

David Schindler, a word-renowned biological scientist who teaches at the University of Alberta, took part in a news conference Friday to decry the decision, which he said will eliminate an effective monitor of the impact of the oil sands.

Recent studies conducted at the station have found that when the mercury input to a lake is cut off, the lake begins to recover, Dr. Schindler said. That contradicts the oil industry’s position, which says that once a lake is polluted with mercury, it is beyond repair and adding more won’t make any difference, he said.

“My guess is our current managers don’t like to see this kind of [research] because the oil sands have an exponentially increasing output of mercury,” Dr. Schindler said. “I think the real problem is we have a bunch of people running science in this country who don’t even know what science is.” Continue reading

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David Suzuki: What’s so radical about caring for the earth and opposing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline?

Here’s an excellent editorial piece by David Suzuki and communications specialist Ian Hannington in this week’s Georgia Straight about our government and the proposed development of the two pipelines. Very well done.

By David Suzuki, January 17, 2012

Caring about the air, water, and land that give us life. Exploring ways to ensure Canada’s natural resources serve the national interest. Knowing that sacrificing our environment to a corporate-controlled economy is suicide. If those qualities make us radicals, as federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver recently claimed in an open letter, then I and many others will wear the label proudly.

But is it radical to care for our country, our world, our children and grandchildren, our future? It seems more radical for a government to come out swinging in favour of an industrial project in advance of public hearings into that project. It seems especially radical when the government paints everyone who opposes the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project as American-funded traitors with a radical ideological agenda “to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth.”

It’s bad enough when our government and its “ethical oil” and media supporters don’t tell the truth, but it’s worse when they don’t even offer rational arguments. Their increasing attacks on charitable organizations and Canadians from all walks of life show that if they can’t win with facts, they’ll do everything they can to silence their critics. And we thought conservative-minded people valued free speech!

The proposed Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipeline projects and the massive, mostly foreign-controlled expansion of the tar sands are not about finding the best way to serve Canada’s national interests. If we truly wanted to create jobs, we would refine the oil in Canada and use it to reduce our reliance on imported oil, much of which comes from countries that government supporters say are “unethical”. If we really cared about using resources for the national interest, we would slow development in the tar sands, improve environmental standards, increase royalties and put some of the money away or use it to switch to cleaner energy, eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and encourage Canadian companies to develop the resource.

Instead, we are called radicals for daring to even question the wisdom of selling entire tar sands operations to China’s state-owned oil companies and building a pipeline so that the repressive government of China, rather than Canadians, can reap most of the benefits from the refining jobs, profits, and the resource itself. We are radical because we are concerned about the real dangers of oil-filled supertankers moving through narrow fiords with unpredictable weather conditions and through some of the last pristine ecosystems on Earth. We are condemned by our own government because we question the safety of two pipelines crossing more than 1,000 streams and rivers through priceless wilderness—a reasonable concern, in light of the more than 800 pipeline spills that Enbridge, the company in charge of the Northern Gateway, has had since 1999.

And so here we are, a country with a government that boasts of our “energy superpower” status but doesn’t even have a national energy plan. A country willing to sacrifice its manufacturing industry, its opportunities in the green-energy economy, its future, and the health of its people for the sake of short-term profits. A country hell-bent on selling its industry and resources wholesale to any country that wants them, without regard for the ethics or activities of those countries. Continue reading

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