Compares pipeline to Canadian Pacific Railway and the St. Lawrence Seaway
Enbridge has told the National Energy Board that the company's $6-billion plan to build a pipeline from the Alberta oilsands to the B.C. coast is similar to other massive industrial projects in Canada's history.
Speaking at a hearing in Edmonton Tuesday, John Carruthers, president of Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipelines division, compared the project to the Canadian Pacific Railway and the St. Lawrence Seaway, which he says were controversial but ended up benefiting the country.
"Our project is no different," Carruthers told the three-member panel.
"There is a path forward that will ... provide a significant improved quality of life for all Canadians, including Aboriginal Canadians, while protecting the environment."
Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. wants to build the $6-billion pipeline to transport raw bitumen from the oilsands to Kitimat, B.C., where it can then be shipped to Asian markets.
The project has met with widespread opposition in British Columbia, particularly among environmentalists and First Nations people who worry about the potential damage to inland and coastal areas that would be caused by a pipeline leak.
Many opponents have pointed to damage done when a 2010 spill from an Enbridge pipeline damaged waterways and wetlands near Marshall, Mich., and cost $800 million to clean up.
Carruthers directly referenced the Marshall spill in his opening remarks, saying that the company had made improvements to the safety of its pipelines.
"Canadians have asked why, and how that event happened," he said. "Northern Gateway understands the importance of those questions and will answer them as this hearing proceeds."
Labour group questions Enbridge numbers
The Alberta Federation of Labour spent the afternoon questioning Enbridge's experts. The group, which represents organized labour in Alberta, plans to argue that the project is not in the public's interest because it will send refining jobs out of the province.
There is also political opposition to the project. B.C. Premier Christy Clark sparked a battle with her Alberta counterpart, Alison Redford, when she announced that British Columbia would not approve the project unless conditions, including a larger share of royalties, were met.
Two weeks have been set aside for the Edmonton portion of the hearings. The panel will move on to Prince George in October and Prince Rupert in November and December.
Final arguments will be presented to the panel next spring, which must make a recommendation by the end of 2013.
Ottawa is expected to make a decision with six months of the panel's review.
CBC News, Tuesday Sept 4 2012
After a bumpy ride this summer, Enbridge will face a tough grilling this week on its $6 billion Northern Gateway project as public hearings enter their final phase in which interveners can challenge the company's evidence.
Enbridge will square off with unions and First Nations while big oilsands players, including MEG Energy, Cenovus, Suncor, Nexen and Total appear in a joint witness panel. The Alberta government is also prepared to appear for the "questioning" phase of the federal Joint Review Panel hearings to examine the economic benefits of the proposed $6-billion pipeline project to carry Alberta bitumen to Kitimat on the coast of British Columbia for export to China.
Critics like the Alberta Federation of Labour will argue Canada's refining industry will shrink — with a loss of 8,000 jobs expected — if the pipeline project goes ahead and diverts bitumen feedstock to China. Opponents will also argue there is plenty of room in existing pipelines to handle growing bitumen exports.
Enbridge, however, is " very confident" going into the hearings as it will finally have a chance to respond to critics, says spokesperson Ivan Giesbrecht, noting the company will speak Tuesday.
"This is our first chance to speak; it's going to be a rigorous questioning and we welcome that," Giesbrecht said. "We really feel the project will benefit both provinces and Canada. It's an opportunity for Canadians to listen in on a very democratic process."
Enbridge is also required, by noon Tuesday, to submit a highly critical U.S. report on the 2010 Michigan pipeline spill that saw 12,000 barrels of heavy oil spill into Kalamazoo River from its pipeline. Initially, the federal review panel said it would not take the report, but reversed its decision mid-August.
Enbridge's project — twin pipelines, with one to carry 585,000 barrels of diluted bitumen west and another to carry the diluent — faced growing resistance, starting in late July when B.C. Premier Christy Clark raised the stakes. Her province will not approve the pipeline unless B.C. gets a share of the increased revenues Alberta will gain from shipping more bitumen, she said.
With the project stuck in political hot water, B.C. newspaper tycoon David Black stepped in with a proposal for a $13-billion refinery in Kitimat as a way to bring economic benefit to the province. The oilpatch was not keen on the idea.
Meanwhile, Enbridge came under fire for a smaller spill in late July in Wisconsin. It also hit rough water when it posted a map of the Douglas Channel route into the Kitimat port that left out many islands, rocks and narrow channels that make the route particularly difficult to navigate. Around the same time, the company also announced $500 million in improvements to pipeline safety for the Northern Gateway pipelines which start in Bruderheim northeast of Edmonton. Those include increasing the thickness of the line by 20 per cent, adding 50 per cent more shut-off valves and increasing inspections by 50 per cent.
Company officials said such improvements are meant to respond to concerns raised by First Nations and other members of the public during a federal review that started six months ago.
The federal review panel is jointly operated by the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
The Alberta government remains firmly committed to the project to diversify markets for bitumen, said Tim Markle, spokesman for Alberta Energy. Oilsands producers will only get higher world prices when they have access to Asian markets, said Markle, noting the price differential is up to $20 a barrel.
The province will be represented at the hearings by Christopher Holly from Alberta Energy and Skip York of Wood Mackenzie Consulting, the consulting company which predicted the province will lose $72 billion over nine years if the pipeline is not built.
Gil McGowan, leader of the Alberta Federation of Labour, disputes the province's figures.
"We think this project will kill more jobs than it will create," said McGowan, noting that Enbridge's own figures estimate a four-per-cent reduction in refining capacity by 2018 in Canada as a result of the pipeline.
"This isn't just about losing value-added jobs in the future, it's now becoming clear that existing jobs in the refining sector are also threatened," McGowan said.
He said "we will be raising questions" that there is no agreement in the evidence of the proposed pipeline's impact on refining jobs in Alberta.
Oilsands producers will get higher prices for their product in Asia, but that will only be temporary, McGowan said, noting that China's industry is state-run so there is no real market pricing.
In a report for Forest Ethics Advocacy, David Hughes, a former geologist with the federal government, says the price differential will be eliminated when the glut at Cushing, Oklahoma in the U.S. Midwest is relieved.
"Once it gets to the Gulf coast, the oil can go around the world and they will be forced to pay world price and that's important," said Hughes, adding that could eliminate the need for the Northern Gateway.
Meanwhile, Canadians should talk about whether "we should liquidate our energy resources to sovereign countries like China" or look at longer-term strategies for national energy security, he added.
The hearings begin Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Holiday Inn at 4485 Gateway Blvd. They run until Saturday Sept. 9, then resume again Sept. 17 at 9:30 a.m. for ten days at the Westwood Inn at 18035 Stony Plain Road.
In November, hearings continue in Prince George to deal with pipeline safety and later in Prince Rupert to deal with marine issues.
Last week, just days before the hearing, Enbridge received approval from the Energy Resources Conservation Board Alberta for a new 400,000-barrel-a-day pipeline to bring bitumen from Fort McMurray to its Edmonton hub. The company says the new Woodland pipeline project is not connected to the Northern Gateway.
Global News, Monday September 3 2012
A joint study from the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Parkland Institute of Alberta have released a study arguing the province could lose billions in royalty revenue if the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is built.
The report's authors defend their claim by examining projected royalty payments between 2011 and 2045, using data collected from the Canadian Energy Research Institute. The report's authors compared those numbers to the royalty system that existed under former premier Peter Lougheed, who held office between 1971 and 1985.
Under Lougheed, 35% of Alberta's oil revenue was captured by royalties during the 1980s. The study argues if that system was still in place, the Alberta Heritage Fund could be as large as $1 trillion by 2045, not including any income earned through investments.
Under the current royalty model, secretary-treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour Nancy Furlong says Alberta will collect an average of 18% from oilsands revenue between 2012 and 2045.
"That's an extra billion missing," she said. "Under the old system, that means total royalty would be worth $2.2 trillion during that period, based on CERI's numbers."
Furlong acknowledges that lower royalty payouts mean the province would still be missing out on royalties that existed in the 1980s, even if Gateway is not approved. However, she argues the province's economy will still suffer if Enbridge's proposed pipeline is built.
"Gateway will ship thousands of upgrading and refining jobs to the Chinese, taking jobs away from Canadians. It will only leave 104 permanent jobs for Canadians, most of them in B.C. Other jobs surrounding construction of the pipeline will be mostly part-time or temporary labour," she said. "We're not opposed to a pipeline, but any discussion surrounding one has to include getting our fair share."
SunMedia.ca, Thurs Aug 9 2012
Byline: Vincent McDermott
Growing up in Duncan, as I did, meant growing up in the airshed of the Crofton pulp mill. No one liked the smell but they liked what it represented — paycheques coming home to families.
The smell of the pulp mill in Duncan and other small towns in B.C. was the smell of jobs.
But Crofton is now Catalyst, and Catalyst is in a rocky situation. Crofton employees from the Cowichan Valley are going north to the oil and gas industry. In fact, half of all flights from Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland to Edmonton and Calgary are oil and gas workers.
Not much wonder then that some of the greatest supporters of the oil-fields and pipelines are found in the labour movement.
So while so many others are having a grand time dumping on Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, the Building and Construction Trades Department (AFL-CIO), representing Canada's building trades unions, has an entirely different position.
"Pipelines connect jobs," says spokesman Chris Smillie.
The building trades, Smillie says, support projects that bring jobs to their members, and the pipeline does just that. A billion dollars of investment supports 4,000 jobs, and the Enbridge pipeline is a $5.5-billion investment. It's not jobs at all costs, and the building trades website is clear: "Economic prosperity does not have to come at the expense of environmental care for future generations. . . . The men and women of the Canadian building trades live, work and play in Alberta and British Columbia and have a vested interest in protecting the land."
The building trades also support streamlining the regulatory process. Working people are helped by certainty. Projects get killed by a process that drags on for years.
Smillie had some words of caution regarding the shortage of skilled labour in Canada. All governments, he says, need to support apprenticeship programs and ensure that apprentices complete their qualifications. Companies need to make a point of hiring apprentices.
Canadian immigration policies need to focus more on skilled trades. Current provisions only provide for entry of about 10,000 skilled workers each year, but the country could use 50,000. The United States is our best source of skilled labour, and Canada should encourage American immigration. And, locally, schools must support their shop programs.
The politics of the building trades taking the position they do on the Enbridge pipeline must lead to some interesting conversations.
The B.C. NDP, B.C.'s labour party, is strongly opposed to the pipeline. Yet the Canadian building trades are an influential group, and their support is joined by that of the B.C. and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council, and locals of the Construction and Specialized Workers' Union, the Teamsters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Welders. Other unions remain opposed, including the Alberta Federation of Labour, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers and the United Fishermen and Allied Workers.
Environmental groups are keeping the province on high alarm about the Northern Gateway pipeline. But working people, those who toil in our resource industries outside of the cosy streets of downtown Vancouver, understand that our province is built on oil and gas, just as in the past it was forests and fish.
It is those workers who keep our province and country ticking. They're hoping that the rest of us are listening.
The Province, July 24 2012
Guest columnist: Suzanne Anton (former Vancouver city councillor)
True to their word, an environmental coalition has filed suit in California challenging the recent U.S. presidential permit granted to a controversial pipeline running from Alberta across the Canada-U.S. border to Wisconsin.
When the permit was granted Aug. 20 for Enbridge's Alberta Clipper pipeline, a coalition of environmental and Native American groups opposed the decision, claiming it went against U.S. President Barack Obama's promise to cut global warming pollution and America's addiction to oil while investing in clean energy.
On Thursday, the National Wildlife Federation, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, the Sierra Club and the Indigenous Environmental Network filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for Northern California. They will be represented by the non-profit law firm Earthjustice.
Earthjustice attorney Sarah Burt said the lawsuit was filed in California because a number of the plaintiffs are located in the state, and the law allows plaintiffs to file in their home jurisdictions.
"The basis of the lawsuit is that the environmental review that was done does not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and some of our more policy-based reasons for filing the lawsuit raise such questions as, if Obama is really committed to investing in a clean energy future that he's talked so much about, then these sort of decisions really don't mesh with that."
She added the Clipper pipeline will mean more air, water and global warming pollution, particularly in communities near refineries that process oilsands oil.
Kevin Reuther, legal director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, says there are too many unanswered questions to allow the pipeline to go forward.
"What happens when this dirty oil leaks and spills from the pipeline?" he asked. "How much more global warming pollution will be emitted? How much more water will be polluted? How many more migratory birds will die? No one knows, because neither the state nor federal agencies responsible for protecting us have done their jobs."According to the coalition, the Alberta Clipper is the latest of a massive network of "tarsands pipelines" up for approval by the State Department. The coalition maintains the agency has been under pressure from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to allow the pipelines to go forward, despite the risks they pose to American communities, clean energy jobs, and national security.
The $3.6-billion Alberta Clipper pipeline will carry oilsands product from Hardisty, Alta. It will extend 525 kilometres from the U.S.-Canadian border near Neche, N.D., across northern Minnesota to an Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wisc. The project also includes associated pumping and terminal stations. Scheduled to be up and running in 2010, the pipeline has an initial capacity of 450,000 barrels of heavy crude a day. A second pipeline, Southern Lights, will consist of a new 51-centimetre pipeline extending 307 kilometres from Superior, Wisc., to an Enbridge terminal in Clearbrook, Minn.
Meanwhile, National Energy Board hearings begin today into TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the American Gulf Coast. Hearings are slated until Friday in Calgary and Sept. 22 to 25 in Saskatoon.
According to TransCanada, the proposed Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion Project (Keystone XL) is complementary to the Keystone Pipeline and would serve existing refineries and markets on the U.S. Gulf Coast in Texas. The proposal calls for a 3,200-kilometre, 91-centimetre crude oil pipeline that would begin at Hardisty, Alta., and extend southeast through Saskatchewan, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. It would incorporate a portion of the Keystone Pipeline to be constructed through Kansas to Cushing, Okla., before continuing through Oklahoma to a delivery point near existing terminals in Nederland, Texas, to serve the Port Arthur, Texas, marketplace. An 80-kilometre pipeline to the Houston, Texas marketplace is also proposed.
The Alberta Federation of Labour is an intervenor at these hearings.
"The last thing Alberta needs right now is another bitumen super-pipeline taking jobs out of the province," said president Gil McGowan.
Fort McMurray Today, Tues Sept 8 2009
Byline: Carol Christian