Tag Archives: Alberta Oil Sands

New Green Party leader Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes (photo source: @KingEddyYYC on Twitter)

Green Party of Alberta chooses Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes as new leader

Photo: New Green Party leader Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes at Canada Day celebrations in 2018 (photo source: @KingEddyYYC on Twitter)

Members of the Green Party of Alberta chose Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes as their new leader at a leadership selection meeting yesterday. 

Chagnon-Greyeyes is an Indigenous social justice activist who currently works at the Native Centre at the University of Calgary. She is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 6 in Saskatchewan and is the first Indigenous woman to lead a political party in Alberta. 

She defeated past leadership candidate Brian Deheer, a resident of Lac La Biche and chairperson of the Athabasca Watershed Council, and past election candidate Matt Levicki, a resident of Lamont with a background in media and broadcasting.

Former leader Romy Tittel resigned in early 2018.

During the leadership selection process, the three candidates were asked a series of questions and their answers were posted on the Green Party website. Here are some of Chagnon-Greyeyes’ answers:

Question: What is the most effective approach Greens can take to convey to voters the necessity of electing some Greens to the Legislature? 

Chagnon-Greyeyes: The GPA can change the current discussion in this province and reframe the current focus on pipelines, profit and power. We can shift the focus to people, what they need to live a good life: clean water, a home, an education, enough to live on. Let’s get people out to vote, especially those who don’t vote. Why don’t they vote? They feel powerless: “What difference can one vote make?” We can empower those people and plant seeds of possibility in the minds of 25-50% of eligible voters who don’t go to the polls. This is an untapped resource, a possible groundswell of support! Let’s empower the people to unite to make this province a better place to live, with ‘enough’ for all Albertans: enough food, water, housing, health care, mental health support, government services and real help. Heck, we might even sway some NDs and UCPs!

Question: How can Greens do a better job of bringing these conservation and bio-diversity issues to the public debate over the future of Alberta?”

Chagnon-Greyeyes: When we play or work outside – our well being is linked to biodiversity. Alberta’s biodiversity includes provincial parks, developed recreation areas, pristine wilderness, natural landscapes, conservation areas and biological diversity, including heritage appreciation and tourism.

But what if we can’t go outside – too smoky.  How do we ensure environmental health and integrity, and protect Albertans’ health and safety, from natural phenomena, climate-related conditions and events?   We adapt, responding quickly to natural disasters, to be ready for them, because their impact is so widespread and devastating.

Can we mitigate these risks? The Green Party of Alberta wants to introduce an Environmental Bill of Rights, and advocates for ethical resource development, creating new jobs without sacrificing our air, land, water, animals, birds, fish – biodiversity.  Ethical resource development integrated with economic, environmental, social and cultural considerations, and the inclusiveness and recognition of Indigenous interests.

Question: Do you think these policies [current Green Party policies on oil sands development] are appropriate?  If not, how would you like to see GPA policy in these areas changed?

Chagnon-Greyeyes: The moratorium aims to slow down resource extraction, and thoughtfully envision a better future for Alberta based on sustainability, accountability, and responsibility for our environment. Decision-making in this province focuses on one steadfast belief: “We need pipelines to get our product to market”.  This assumes that pipelines are the ONLY viable, affordable option to transport oil.  Let’s challenge that myth!

Dr. Ian Gates is patenting a pipeline-free solution to getting Alberta’s oil reserves to market in a cheap, sustainable manner while reducing the environmental risk of oil transportation.  Self-sealing bitumen pellets, with a liquid core and super-viscous skin, can float on water if spilled; the pellets can be safely collected and removed. They can be produced right at the wellhead, same energy used as to dilute bitumen for traditional shipping.  “Pipelines are finite and go to finite spots. Railcars go to virtually every port on every coast.”

The Green Party ran candidates in 24 constituencies in the 2015 election and earned a total 7,321 votes across the province. According to a CBC report, party president Marco Reid has said the Greens hope to recruit 50 candidates to run in next year’s provincial election. The party has nominated two candidates as of today – Allie Tulick in Calgary-Glenmore and Thana Boonlert in Calgary-Mountain View.

Rachel Notley, Justin Trudeau, John Horgan Bill Morneau and Andrew Weaver.

We bought a pipeline! How the key players are impacted by the federal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline

We own a pipeline!

Well, not yet.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced yesterday that the federal government plans to purchase the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder Morgan Inc. by August 2018 if another investor cannot be found. The federal government has committed to help the Texas-based corporation find a new owner for the pipeline by August 2018, or else Ottawa will “purchase the company’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project and related pipeline and terminal assets for $4.5 billion.”

In the meantime, the federal government will loan funds to Kinder Morgan Inc. in order to start construction on the pipeline this summer. If the federal government does purchase the pipeline, which seems likely, then a Crown Corporation will be created to complete the estimate $9 billion expansion of the currently existing pipeline.

Morneau declared the federal government would be eager to sell the pipeline back to a private company once it is built, but if the project is truly in the national interest – and going to be built with public dollars – then maybe it should remain an asset of the federal government and the people of Canada.

Here is a look at how yesterday’s pipeline announcement impacts some of the key players in this seemingly never ending political dispute:

Justin Trudeau: The Prime Minister of Canada silenced conservative opponents from claiming he was secretly plotting the pipeline’s demise and mutes his social democratic opponents who say he was just kowtowing to a Texas-based oil company. While the project will move forward with the powers of the federal government behind it, it is unclear if this will help Trudeau’s Liberals electorally in Alberta (where his Liberal Party holds three seats) or in British Columbia (where his party holds 19 seats).

Rachel Notley: This is a big win for the Premier of Alberta. Notley has been the strongest public advocate for the pipeline expansion and has poured almost all of her political capital into the success of this project. She has taken a firm line with pipeline opponents, most notably the Government of British Columbia, by threatening to slow or halt the transport of oil and gas from Alberta into BC.

Kinder Morgan Inc: If all goes according to plan, Texas-based Kinder Morgan Inc. will walk away with a big $4.5 billion payment from the Government of Canada, all because our system of democracy and federalism inconvenienced its shareholders.

John Horgan: The Premier of British Columbia says he will continue to use the tools available to him to oppose the pipeline expansion, including its current legal challenges. The entry of the federal government as the owner of the pipeline introduces a new dynamic between the governments in Victoria and Ottawa. As many premiers have discovered, running for re-election with Ottawa as your main opponent can be a recipe for success.

Andrew Weaver: The leader of the BC Green Party holds the balance of power in his province as long as his 3-MLA caucus continues to support Horgan’s NDP government in Victoria. The Green leader described the federal government’s intervention as “a betrayal by a government who ran on a hopeful vision for a better future.” The Greens will expect Horgan to continue their fight against the pipeline and likely will not consider ending their agreement with the NDP until sometime after the upcoming Proportional Representation referendum.

Jason Kenney: The leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta supported Notley’s pitch last month for the Alberta government to invest in the pipeline, so he has once again been relegated to the sidelines on the pipeline issue.

Andrew Scheer: The leader of the Official Opposition in Ottawa attacks the Trudeau Liberals for driving away private sector investment and claimed Trudeau forced through expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline by nationalizing the project. To better understand the track record of government involvement in the energy industry, Scheer would benefit from taking a crash-course in Canada’s energy history. I recommend he start his education by reading Larry Pratt’s The Tar Sands: Syncrude and the Politics of Oil, which is an essential text on the history of Alberta’s oil sands.

Will the pipeline actually get built? Maybe. 

Ownership of the pipeline will change and the federal government does have powers, both political and legal, that a private corporation does not, the opposition to the pipeline has not magically evaporated overnight. Public opinion remains mixed in British Columbia and the opposition to the pipeline expansion is firm. There will continue to be protests against the pipeline and demonstrations of civil disobedience can be expected.

There are also a number of court challenges underway, including the BC government reference case and challenges from First Nations communities to the Federal Court of Appeal.

There is also a federal election scheduled to take place in October 2019 and a provincial election expected to be called in Alberta in spring 2019.

While Morneau was clear he wants construction on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to begin immediately, a number of legal and political challenges still stand in the way of the project’s completion.

Alberta PIpelines

Notley NDP’s latter-day conversion to Keystone XL boosterism

Premier Rachel Notley Calgary Stampede Alberta

Rachel Notley

It has been fascinating to watch the Alberta New Democratic Party transition from being skeptical of oil pipelines as opposition to fairly effective advocates for pipelines as government.

While the approval of the Trans-Canada Keystone XL Pipeline from Hardisty to Texas Nebraska has nothing to do with the Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan, the more diplomatic approach taken by Premier Rachel Notley’s government has translated into overall success in pipeline expansion approval.

Alberta’s action on climate change and drive for social license played a key role in the federal government approving the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia. The action on climate change was even lauded by former president Barack Obama during his visit to Parliament Hill last year.

Premier Alison Redford

Alison Redford

Notley was supportive of the Trans-Mountain pipeline and the TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline but not supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline when she led the NDP Opposition before the 2015 election. The NDP election platform even took the Progressive Conservatives to task for focusing so much energy on Keystone XL and exporting raw bitumen, and jobs, to Texas. The old PC government, especially under premier Alison Redford, was harshly criticized for spending so much time travelling to Washington D.C. and other big American cities, to lobby for pipelines.

Public opinion and pressure from corporate leaders would make it tough for any elected officials in Alberta to be unsupportive of oil pipelines these days. Support for pipelines in this province feels like it ranges somewhere close to 100 percent on some days.

Otto von Bismarck

Otto von Bismarck is said to have coined the phrase “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best,” as David Climenhaga of AlbertaPolitics.ca fame reminded me today. That seems true of the Alberta NDP and their pro-pipeline conversion.

Approaching two years in office, Notley’s NDP government has become more pragmatic and centrist than one might have predicted, on pipelines specifically and most government policy in general. This probably bodes well for the NDP in terms of appealing to broader public support but could cause trouble for Notley from the party’s more ideological supporters.

And, reminding Canadians of the deep split over pipelines between the Alberta NDP and national NDP, federal leader Thomas Mulcair called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, apparently to accomplish little more than to pick a fight with Trump.

At this moment, I can see little benefit from the Canadian government doing anything but keeping out of the new president’s line of fire (or line of Tweets).

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

According to executive orders signed by Trump today, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will have 60 days to approve the Keystone XL pipeline once the TransCanada corporation has submitted its application and the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will have 180 days to create a plan to ensure all the steel used to construct the pipeline is manufactured in the United States.

As Postmedia columnist Paul Wells pointed out yesterday, it was probably good that Notley took a measured tone and did not do cartwheels during her press conference in response to the Keystone XL Pipeline approval. Trump has proven to be irrational and unpredictable and his government had indicated it may try to renegotiate the deal with the TransCanada corporation.

With that in mind, it might be smart for political leaders in Canada to remain cautious, even if they feel optimistic, about the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline approval.

Postmedia columnists and Fraser Institute team up to attack the Alberta’s climate change plan

The full court press against the Alberta government’s Climate Leadership Plan continued today as Postmedia business columnists Gary Lamphier and Claudia Cattaneo dutifully and uncritically weighed in on the latest report from the right-wing Fraser Institute. The report claims the emissions cap included in Alberta government’s climate change plan will cost Canada’s oil sands industry $250 billion and is the latest in a concerted effort by conservative opponents of the NDP to undermine its flagship policy.

Gary Lamphier

Gary Lamphier

Both columnists unquestioningly quoted in length the dire warnings of the Fraser Institute report, with Ms. Cattaneo giving the closing word in her column to Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, who surprised no one by describing the emissions cap as “damaging.” Focused on attacking the government’s policy, neither columnist bothered to provide any actual analysis of the report or delve into what a Wildrose government would do, if anything, to reduce carbon emissions.

Some Wildrose MLAs do not appear to believe the science of climate change, and reportedly neither does the person managing Jason Kenney‘s bid to merge the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties. The old PC government acknowledged the existence of climate change but never actually bothered to take meaningful action.

Neither columnist bothered to mention that the oilsands emission cap enjoyed rare support from both energy industry and environmental leaders when Premier Rachel Notley and Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips unveiled the government’s Climate Leadership Plan in November 2015.

Premier Rachel Notley and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips release Alberta's climate change plan.

Premier Rachel Notley and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips release Alberta’s climate change plan in November 2015.

Offering their support for the Climate Leadership Plan at the November 2015 press conference were industry heavy hitters like Canadian Natural Resources Limited chair Murray Edwards, who said: “The framework announced will allow ongoing innovation and technology investment in the oil and natural gas sector. In this way, we will do our part to address climate change while protecting jobs and industry competitiveness in Alberta. (Ms. Catteneo actually interviewed Mr. Edwards a few days after this announcement)

And Brian Ferguson, President & Chief Executive Officer of Cenovus Energy, who said: “We fully support the Government’s new climate policy direction. It enables Alberta to be a leader, not only in climate policy, but also in technology, innovation, collaborative solutions and energy development.”

And Steve Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of Suncor, who said: “Today we reach a milestone in ensuring Alberta’s valuable resource is accompanied by leading carbon policy. It’s time that Alberta is seen as a climate, energy and innovation leader.”

And  Lorraine Mitchelmore, President and Country Chair of Shell Canada and EVP Heavy Oil for Shell, who said: “Today’s announcement sets Canadian oil on the path to becoming the most environmentally and economically competitive in the world.”

And finally, Tim McMillan, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, who said: “…the province’s climate strategy may allow our sector to invest more aggressively in technologies to further reduce per barrel emissions in our sector and do our part to tackle climate change. That’s what the public expects, and that’s’ what we expect of ourselves.”

Not to mention praise the climate change plan has received from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and a little known political figure by the name of Barack Obama.

It is not to say that these energy executives will agree with every policy the Alberta government will implement over the next three years, but these two Postmedia business columnists owe it to their readers not to omit these important facts from their columns.


Note: The results of the Fraser Institute report are disputed by the Pembina Institute‘s Simon Dyer, who told the CBC that the report “is based on unreasonable production levels that don’t consider the world making progress on climate change.” University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach, who chaired the Climate Change Review Panel, told the CBC that “given what I can tell, the study does not assume any progress in oilsands emissions per barrel and no ability to reduce emissions other than shutting in production.”

Outrage over Oil Sands appointment is a Tzeporah in a teapot

What do you get when you put some of the Canadian Oil Sands fiercest critics in the same room with its most vocal supporters? The Alberta Government’s new 18-member Oil Sands Advisory Group.

Dave Collyer

Dave Collyer

The Alberta government announced the formation of the group yesterday along with its three co-chairs: Dave Collyer, the former president and CEO of the the oil industry’s top lobby group the Canadian Association of Petroleum ProducersTzeporah Berman, an environmental advocate and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies at York University, and Melody Lepine, a member and Director of Government and Industry relations with the Mikisew Cree First Nation.

The group of 18 includes representatives from municipal governments, First Nations, Metis communities, the energy industry, and environmental groups who will “advise government on the oil sands aspects of the Climate Leadership Plan and ensure that its initiatives are effective and widely supported.”

Steve Williams

Steve Williams

Almost immediately after the advisory group was announced, the Wildrose Party attacked Ms. Berman’s appointment, claiming she was a radical by citing her comments that the Oil Sands reminded her of “Mordor” from the fictional Lord of the Rings books. A vocal critic of the oil industry in the past, Ms. Berman posted a response on her Facebook page yesterday afternoon, saying she regretted the comments.

Ms. Berman wrote: “Though I have been a vocal critic of “business as usual” in the oil sands, I recognize that change doesn’t happen over night. It is a tremendous step forward that the Alberta government has decided to extend our earlier industry-environment work and enlist the help of more industry participants and the wisdom of non-Indigenous and Indigenous community leaders. I am committed to working in good faith with the rest of the advisory group to develop advice that ensures a strong economy and a leadership position for Alberta on environmental issues.”

Melody Lepine

Melody Lepine

She also provided a link to a video of her joint presentation with Suncor CEO Steve Williams at the recent Business and Climate Summit in London, UK, where they spoke articulately about the work being done in Alberta.

The NDP have put forward the most comprehensive plan to fight Climate Change that Alberta has ever seen, something that the Progressive Conservatives were unable to do in the final decade of their 44 years in government and the Wildrose Party has been unable to do in its four years as official opposition.

But with critics and climate change deniers ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, it is clear that the NDP government needs to do a better job clearly communicating why their much-lauded Climate Leadership Plan is important. Anticipating opposition criticisms and preparing to actively counter them is a critically important element for the success of the Climate Change plan.

Premier Rachel Notley Calgary Stampede Alberta

Rachel Notley

If you only listened to Alberta’s loudest and most-outraged conservative voices, from Brian Jean and George Clark to Jason Kenney and Ezra Levant, you would believe that Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party government had launched a holy crusade to destroy Canada’s oil industry. This isn’t true, of course.

The irony of the criticism in response to Ms. Berman’s appointment is that, only a few years ago, opposition NDP MLAs would have roasted the old PC government for appointing a former CEO of CAPP to co-chair an advisory group like this one. In fact, they did.

In 2013, the NDP called on the PCs to reverse their appointment of Gerry Protti as the chair of Alberta’s energy regulator. Mr. Protti is the founding President of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and at that time was a registered lobbyist for the Energy Policy Institute of Canada, an energy industry lobby group.

Shannon Phillips

Shannon Phillips

The then-NDP opposition Environment critic Rachel Notley said in a press release that “the Redford government isn’t doing itself any favours with this embarrassing post—it unravels the entire yarn they’ve been trying to sell the world about their commitment to responsible resource development and environmental protection. If we continue to act like a banana republic, we shouldn’t be surprised when we’re treated like one by the international community.”

Three years later, the NDP has appointed a former CAPP President and CEO to co-chair a group that will advise the implementation of the government’s flagship Climate Change policy. Partnering Mr. Collyer, Ms. Berman and Ms. Lepine as co-chairs was a bold move that reinforces the government’s message that the NDP are able and willing to work with a broad group of Oil Sands stakeholders.

One of the most admirable strengths of Ms. Notley’s government has been its ability to build broad and pragmatic coalitions that include champions from outside of the NDP’s traditional sphere.

Unlike the previous government, the NDP has intentionally sought to bring together a group of people with diverse and differing political views and expertise to advise on the implementation of Alberta’s Climate Change plans. This was very evident when Ms. Notley released the government’s Climate Leadership Plan in December 2015 surrounded by energy and environmental leaders, when Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips tabled the Carbon Levy legislation in May 2016 and yesterday when this Oil Sands Advisory group was announced.

Here is list of the other members of the Alberta Oil Sands Advisory Group:

  • Veronica Bliska – Reeve of the Municipal District of Peace
  • Bill Clapperton is Vice President – Regulatory, Stakeholder and Environmental Affairs of Canadian Natural Resource Ltd
  • Anne Downey is Vice President of Operations for Statoil Canada and responsible for resource development and continuous operations for the Leismer Asset
  • Simon Dyer is Pembina Institute’s associate regional director for Alberta and former director of the Institute’s oilsands program.
  • Tim Gray is Executive Director of Environmental Defence.
  • Chief Isaac Laboucan-Avirom is Chief of the Woodland Cree First Nation, with a population of 1,300 people, 700 of whom live on the Reserve at Cadotte Lake.
  • Bill Loutitt is Vice President, Fort McMurray Métis Local 1935.  He is also President of Nistawoyou Friendship Centre and former President of Metis Nation of Alberta Region One
  • Karen Mahon is the Canadian Director of STAND (formerly ForestEthics Advocacy)
  • Jon Mitchell is Vice-President, Environment & Sustainability at Cenovus Energy
  • Alison Ronson is Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s Northern Alberta Chapter
  • Kevin Scoble is the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
  • Christa Seaman is Emerging Regulatory Policy Issue Advisor at Shell Canada
  • Richard Sendall has been Senior Vice President of Strategy and Government Relations at MEG Energy Corporation
  • Arlene Strom is the Vice President Sustainability & Communications at Suncor Energy Inc.
  • Lloyd Visser is Vice President, Environment and Sustainable Development at ConocoPhillips Canada

Oil Sands workers call for training in Renewable Energy

A group of oil sands workers are calling on the Alberta government to support the training of 1,000 out of work electricians as solar specialists.

With plans to facilitate the registration of those 1,000 training candidates, the Iron & Earth non-profit organization is proposing the installation of solar panels at 100 sites to provide employment and further the province’s goal for 30 percent renewable electricity generation by 2030.

According to company founder and boilermaker Lliam Hildebrand, the solar program is the first of several planned training programs. “Next, we’re looking to find ways to put pipefitters, boilermakers, ironworkers, and other building trades in Alberta back to work in the geothermal, wind, biomass, and biofuel industries,” Hildebrand said in a press release today.

Oil sands workers for training in renewable energyThe government of Alberta should invest in training out-of-work oil sands workers in renewable energy. Agree? Add your name: http://www.ironandearth.org/take_the_pledge

Posted by Iron & Earth on Monday, 21 March 2016

Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips unveiled the Alberta government’s ambitious Climate Leadership Plan in Nov. 2015 after months of consultation. In Feb. 2016, the government announced the creation of the Alberta Municipal Solar Program and the On-Farm Energy Management Program to help farms and municipalities install solar panels.

For readers who might be skeptical of solar power, the Pembina Institute recently published two articles debunking some of the myths about renewable energy production and potential in Alberta.

A recent podcast by Green Energy Futures also focused on solar power in Alberta:

Editor’s note: A previous version of this post referred to Iron & Earth as a company. It is not a company. It is a non-profit organization.