Saving the planet one layer of bureaucracy at a time

Dear Diary:

It is remarkable to watch a country wage Jihad on its own economy but – right now – that is what we are witnessing in Canada.

Energy is by far the nation’s largest industry. And the federal government has decided to bleed it to death. What other possible explanation can there be for its refusal to even say that it thinks pipelines to get oil to tidewater are a good idea even – yes, yes, yes – with all the usual environmental caveats.

The Prime Minister, who only weeks ago said he thought the Keystone pipeline was a great idea, now refuses to say the same about Energy East, deciding that even though he just did prime ministers shouldn’t be promoting things they should just be refereeing them.

In doing so, he appears to have confused his role with that of the Governor General or perhaps Her Majesty herself which, giving the PM’s sturdy self-image is not out of the question. Selfie anyone?

People do not elect referees. They elect leaders. So, lead on fighting greenhouse gas emissions or lead on building a stronger economy or – here’s an idea – lead on both. Just don’t stand there, as happened this week, like a deer stuck in the headlights of an oncoming Peterbilt.

This week, the government announced a new layer of regulatory examination for pipelines. It appears to have been sketched out on the back of a cocktail napkin at the moment but says, essentially, that a project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions must be a factor and that must include “upstream impact” – in other words the emissions that come from creating the product, not just those involved in shipping the product. It does not say what an acceptable or unacceptable level is but that’s probably for another day and another cocktail napkin.

Here’s the deal: Most of that is already known. A comprehensive report done for the Ontario Energy Board indicates that:

The overall global greenhouse gas impact of Energy East will be an increase of one one-hundredth of a percentage point – 0.01%. And that most of the emissions increase comes from consumption of the product in foreign lands. Oh, and that large parts of the ghg impact in Canada comes from the fact the project consumes electricity.

There is really no debate over whether it is more or less environmentally friendly to ship oil by pipeline than it is by rail. Sourcing Environment Canada, the industry association points out that Canada’s vast network of pipelines is responsible for 1% of the nation’s emissions. That is backed up by American regulatory reports on Keystone, this report from the University of Waterloo and emphasized by TransCanada’s CEO who, when speaking of the Keystone project noted that:

“For every mile you move a barrel of oil by rail, you emit three times the [greenhouse gases] that you do by moving it by pipeline.”

Removing all doubt is that when the issue of whether railways or pipelines have a larger environmental impact, David Suzuki responds with a “but that’s the wrong question” because what we really should be doing is making sure the “tarsands” go out of production, thus reducing their 0.15% – that’s right, fifteen (count ‘em) one-hundredths of one per cent – contribution to global emissions and, using math made of fairy dust, rainbows and dancing unicorns – saving the planet.

This, dear diary, is what passes for evidence-based decision-making which only makes sense because, well, it’s 2016.

Because we worry – oh, dear diary, you know how much we worry, tossing and turning at night about anthropogenic global warming – we are mystified, given all of the above, that our leaders are about to give the Bombardier family of Quebec billions of other people’s dollars to help them cover for some bad business decisions and sell more airplanes.

Airplanes, as our revered friend Dr. Suzuki points out, are a major and growing contributor to green gas emissions.

We will not rest – no, we will not – until a full review (downstream and upstream) is done of the impact on climate change of encouraging Bombardier put more airplanes into the air.

Furthermore, primarily in order to aid Bombardier’s risky anti-climate behaviour by letting them sell more airplanes, Canada is restoring relations with Iran – the world’s 8th largest greenhouse gas emitter which will now be able to further gear up its emissions following the decision by the USA to lift its embargo on Iran’s oil exports. Again, where’s the emissions analysis. Come on, the future of the planet is at risk here, right? Right? It is, isn’t it?

Little wonder we toss and turn. Oh, how we do.

Finally, some good news. The really cool thing about living in a post-rational world that has fully embraced relativism is that now we can finally be whatever we want to be just because we say we are and play on whatever sports team we want or go to whatever bathroom we want because we and only we get to define who and what we are.
And so, this.

cat lady

Say no more.


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Expanding the NEB consultation process to include wider public participation ensures that no pipelines will ever be constructed under this regime. There obviously is a well organized protest movement that wants all oil to remain in the ground, notwithstanding the vital requirement of petroleum to heat our homes, grow our food and transport every consumer good essential for urban existence.

There is a breathtaking difference in consultation between pipeline construction and industrial wind development in Ont. The Ont Liberals with their Green Energy Act prevented any local planning, or regulation even of industrial wind plants. Public consultation was ignored and the paving over of cropland proceeded as a government dictate. Increased C0 2 emissions in construction of the turbines, let alone other environmental concerns were never considered. Energy policy in Canada has been reduced to childish sloganeering, OIL Bad- Wind/Solar Good; that does not bode well for future economic well being.


Martin is absolutely right, as is Blair. Package it any way you want but the end goal seems to be that Alberta’s oil must stay in the ground. Call it a war on oil, call it a war on Alberta … I’m not sure I can see the difference. When we don’t like Putin or Iran we cripple their oil production, right? Sanctions. How is that any different than what is being done by increments to Alberta right now? Does it hurt less when the man pressing the blade between your ribs whispers “sunny ways, my friend, sunny ways” in your ear while he does it?

Blair Atholl

The great news is that the Power and Politics panel consensus is that the planet must be saved and Energy East is dead (as will other people be the next time a train derails). Valley girl from Le Devoir actually said – about a pipeline that, most of which, has been carrying natural gas (which has a higher emissions/leak impact than crude oil) safely for many, many years “but what about a spill the NEB doesn’t even track spills.” This is a lie – all spills are vigorously monitored and it went unchallenged. Rosy Barton said “well the price of oil is at what – $40?” It’s at $32. She was corrected. That the formation of national opinion is in the hands of people too lazy to even modestly inform themselves, as we did, by spending maybe half an hour online is just incredible.

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