By July 10, 2017 Read More →

Alberta news brief July 10: Stopping Kinder Morgan pipeline could slow clean energy investment

Trans Mountain Expansion

2016 Vancouver protest against Trans Mountain Expansion. Photo: Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver

Also in this brief: ERA Methane Challenge gives $29.5 million to 12 methane-reducing tech projects, ATCO Home-on-the-Go tours Alberta this summer

CD Howe Institute warns BC that stopping pipeline could negatively affect investment in clean energy technology

From: James Coleman

To: The New B.C. Government

Date: July 7, 2017

Re: Be Careful What You Wish For: Energy Transport Investors Need Certainty to Build the New Energy Economy

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline has been approved by the federal government, which has exclusive authority to authorize interprovincial projects. Nevertheless, the new NDP-Green Party coalition government of British Columbia and ingenious resistance groups can use new tools to slow approved projects: denying provincial permits and daring the federal government to insist on them, holding the pipeline to impracticable standards for meeting the conditions of its pipeline approvals, and slow-walking enforcement of court orders to implement the federal approval, and others.

kinder morganCanada’s efforts to transition to a low carbon economy may be collateral damage of the battle to kill the Trans Mountain expansion. Global oil production is not very sensitive to pipeline approvals. But to build a cleaner energy economy of renewable power Canada must attract investment in major energy transport projects. Wind and solar power are often stronger in open spaces that are far from urban centers of power demand. These projects will not be built unless they can be connected to demand centers with long-distance transmission. And there are huge differences in the renewable power that can be created in different Canadian provinces — Canada will have to attract investors willing to take a risk on multi-billion dollar power transport projects.

Despite these imperatives, the current focus of public interest in energy transport has been oil pipelines. This has distorted the process for approving energy transport projects because, for many climate activists, procedural questions are unimportant compared to the goal of stopping fossil fuel projects. For this subgroup of activists, the question is not how we should structure review of energy transport; the question is how to harm, slow, and stop investments in fossil fuels.

This effort to use procedural reviews to obstruct energy transport risks hobbling Canada’s energy future. Most would agree that in coming decades, Canada should move toward a low carbon economy: phasing out coal, powering cars with electricity rather than oil, and moving to more renewable sources of power. The problem is that renewable power is even more dependent on transport than oil. Most economic reviews have found that stopping North American pipelines has only a marginal impact on oil production—and may have no impact at all on world oil production. By contrast, renewable power cannot reach markets without multi-billion dollar investments in transmission — electricity from solar and wind cannot travel by train or truck.

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Prof. James Coleman, Southern Methodist University.

Thus, a short-sighted focus on using new procedures to stop oil transport projects may ultimately do more harm than good in moving Canada to a low carbon economy.

Let there be no mistake: there will always be groups that oppose new infrastructure projects because of environmental impacts, disagreements about the best energy technologies, and the impact of new transport projects on local communities. Indeed, some of the first galvanizing fights for environmentalists were in alliance with local landowners fighting power transmission. If the oil pipeline fight establishes tools that can stop federally approved energy transport projects, those tactics will be used to stop power transmission for renewable power projects. Imagine you were an investor considering making a multi-billion dollar investment in one of the many energy transport projects that will be necessary for Canada’s energy future — looking at the process applied to the Trans Mountain pipeline, would you make that investment?

James Coleman is Assistant Professor, Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law.

ERA Methane Challenge gives $29.5 million to 12 methane- reducing technology projects worth $83 million

The Emissions Reduction Alberta projects target methane emissions monitoring, detection and reduction in the oil and gas, power generation, agriculture and forestry sectors.

kinder morgan“Achieving Alberta’s goal of reducing methane emissions requires the development and deployment of new technologies,” said ERA CEO Steve MacDonald.

The new initiatives are the result of the ERA Methane Challenge, and were selected for funding through ERA’s competitive process. ERA leveraged its investment to advance projects that will help industry meet the province’s climate leadership objective to reduce methane emissions by 45 per cent by 2025.

“We are drawing on tremendous technical expertise and the capacity of Alberta companies to accelerate development of the innovative methane-reducing technologies we need in a lower carbon world,” said Shannon Phillips, Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks and the Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office.

“Our made-in-Alberta approach to methane reduction will ensure we meet our targets and increase environmental protection in a way that maintains the competitiveness of our oil and gas industry,” said Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd.

The climate change impact of methane is 25 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. Methane reductions resulting from these 12 projects are estimated to be more than 1.1 MT by 2020 and more than 6.9 MT by 2030. These projects will also lead to more than $60 million in spending in Alberta and approximately 60 direct jobs.

“These investments are critical to ensuring that Alberta is the preferred source of responsibly produced oil and natural gas,” said Joy Romero, Vice President, Technology and Innovation at Canadian Natural Resources Limited.

The ERA Methane Challenge launched in October 2016 to develop and demonstrate innovative technology solutions to help Alberta detect, quantify, and reduce methane emissions. The organization received 118 submissions through the competition.

To date, ERA has committed to more than $340 million in funding to over 120 projects with a total value of over $2.3 billion. The Province of Alberta provides grants to ERA from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund to enable ERA to fulfil its mandate.

ATCO Home-On-The-Go tours Alberta this summer

ATCO’s its new Home-On-The-Go customized vehicle – featuring solutions designed to make consumers’ home life a little easier – will visit festivals, markets and community events across Alberta all summer long.

The ATCO Home-on-the-Go.

Developed with the expert culinary guidance of ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen and equipped for use year-round, Home-On-The-Go features a completely functioning kitchen and will provide hands-on cooking classes and demonstrations.

Guests can also spend time on the fully functioning outdoor patio space, or step aboard to browse ATCO’s newest cookbooks, get menu ideas and cooking tips, shop ATCO’s retail store for kitchen gadgets, and learn more about ATCO’s flexible retail energy products and affordable energy bundles.

Home-On-The-Go was be unveiled during the ‘North American’ show jumping tournament at Spruce Meadows in Calgary this past weekend and rolls into the Edmonton region next week, with stops at the Sherwood Park Farmers Market, the Leduc Farmers Market, South Common Farmers Market, and many more.

“This new, immersive mobile experience showcases our ability to deliver reliable, customer-focused solutions designed to enrich the lives of the millions of Albertans we are privileged to serve,” said CEO Nancy Southern.

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