Tag Archives: environmental

Government of Canada cancels the ecoEnergy Retrofit program


EcoEnergy RetrofitThe federal government is suspending a program which offered people financial incentives to have their homes evaluated for energy efficiency and then perform upgrades to improve the rating.

Under the ecoEnergy Retrofit program, homeowners could receive a grant of up to $5,000 to carry out energy saving improvements.

The program technically runs until March 31, 2011, but the government will not accept bookings for pre-retrofit evaluations after midnight Wednesday. Homeowners who have already booked an appointment, have completed an evaluation, or applied for re-entry into the program have until next year to apply for the retrofit grant.

On the program’s official website, the federal government said it was “committed to reviewing its energy efficiency and emissions reductions programs to ensure they continue to be an effective and efficient use of Canadian tax dollars.”

The Conservatives launched the ecoEnergy Retrofit program in April 2007. By 2009, the government had paid out $91 million to homeowners for more than 85,000 home retrofits.

Liberal MPP David McGuinty told the Globe and Mail newspaper the program had become too popular and, therefore, too costly.

“Here is what has really happened — demand tripled since 2007,” the Globe quoted McGuinty as saying.

The federal budget unveiled on March 4 included an additional $80 million for the retrofit program.

Many provinces, such as Ontario, match the federal rebates. Those programs are expected to continue.

For details from the federal government, see the link below.

Alberta oilsands refineries could cause irreversible damage


 

Alberta Oil Sands

Alberta Oil Sands

The development of a pipeline network and refineries around the Great Lakes to process Alberta bitumen “could cause irreversible” environmental damage to the region, says a new report that traces the tendrils of Alberta’s oilsands developments across the continent.

 

There are currently 17 refinery projects either being “considered, planned, applied for, approved or developed” around the Great Lakes, according to the report, How the Oil Sands Got to the Great Lakes, released Wednesday.

The report, commissioned by the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre program on water issues, warns that little is known about the environmental impact on the Great Lakes given the level of greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption that comes with the refining process.
There are currently 17 refinery projects either being ‘considered, planned, applied for, approved or developed’ around the Great Lakes, according to the report, How the Oil Sands Got to the Great Lakes, released Wednesday.
There are currently 17 refinery projects either being ‘considered, planned, applied for, approved or developed’ around the Great Lakes, according to the report, How the Oil Sands Got to the Great Lakes, released Wednesday.

“We are paying more attention at the oilsands end, but not where the oil gets to and what happens there,” said David Israelson, the report’s author. “The other big issue is climate change and this means exponential increase in greenhouse gas emissions before you put a drop in your car.”

Dubbing it a “pollution delivery system,” the report said the thousands-kilometres-long pipeline complex used to ferry Athabasca bitumen from source to refinery could bring “2.3 million tonnes” of greenhouse gas emissions to the centre of North America every year.

“It will also bring new, large-scale sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions – the building blocks of acid rain – as well as fine particulate matter, which is responsible for premature deaths,” said the report. “Pipeline and refinery expansion applications are being made and approved right now with little general awareness of the potential long-term damage to the Great Lakes environment.”

Bitumen is a tar-like heavy hydrocarbon that is removed from Alberta’s oilsands and upgraded into synthetic crude oil.

Environmental groups were quick to back the report’s findings. Justin Duncan, a lawyer with Ecojustice, said the federal government needs to revise its entire approach to oilsands

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Wikipedia’s definition of a Carbon Tax


carbon tax is an environmental tax on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It is an example of a pollution tax.

Carbon atoms are present in every fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas) and are released as CO2 when they are burnt. In contrast, non-combustion energy sources — wind, sunlight, hydropower, and nuclear — do not convert hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide. Accordingly, a carbon tax is effectively a tax on the use of fossil fuels, and only fossil fuels. Some schemes also include other greenhouse gases; the global warming potential is an internationally accepted scale of equivalence for other greenhouse gases in units of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Because of the link with global warming, a carbon tax is sometimes assumed to require an internationally administered scheme. However, that is not intrinsic to the principle. The European Union considered a carbon tax covering its member states prior to starting its emissions trading scheme in 2005. The UK has unilaterally introduced a range of carbon taxesand levies to accompany the EU ETS trading regime. Note that emissions trading systems do not constitute a Pigovian tax because it entails the creation of a property right. Nonetheless, both taxes and tradable permits put a price on emissions, and that price is equal to all parties involved. Therefore, emission reduction targets are met at minimum cost.

The intention of a carbon tax is environmental: to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and thereby slow climate change. It can be implemented by taxing the burning of fossil fuels — coal, petroleum products such as gasoline and aviation fuel, and natural gas — in proportion to their carbon content. Unlike other approaches such as carbon cap-and-trade systems, direct taxation has the benefit of being easily understood and can be popular with the public if the revenue from the tax is returned by reducing other taxes. Alternatively, it may be used to fund environmental projects.

In economic theory, pollution is considered a negative externality because it has a negative effect on a party not directly involved in a transaction.

To confront parties with the issue, the economist Arthur Pigou proposed taxing the goods (in this case fossil fuels) which were the source of the negative externality (carbon dioxide) so as to accurately reflect the cost of the goods’ production to society, thereby internalizing the costs associated with the goods’ production. A tax on a negative externality is termed aPigovian tax, and should equal the marginal damage costs.

A carbon tax is an indirect tax — a tax on a transaction — as opposed to a direct tax, which taxes income. As a result, some American conservatives have supported such a carbon tax because it taxes at a fixed rate, independent of income, which complements their support of a flat tax.[2]

Prices of carbon (fossil) fuels are expected to continue increasing as more countries industrialize and add to the demand on fuel supplies. In addition to creating incentives for energy conservation, a carbon tax would put renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal on a more competitive footing, stimulating their growth.

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Tar sand investments now a dead duck?


As one Canadian newspaper put it. Ducks in Alberta died a crude death. One of the species of ducks that died on a pond filled with crude oil polluted water.

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More oil from old wells and more electricity from the wind


Crude prices have fallen from their record levels. Apparently the wise folk on Wall Street now think Turkey will not attack ther Kurdish area of Iraq. Still, crude prices are in the $85 range and many renewable energy prodeucers think they can compete as long as oil is above $50 per barrel.

That said a start-up wind energy fimr just ordered $350-million worth of wind turbines from General Electric.
Third Planet Windpower will place these on windmills in Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska and Wyoming starting in 2009. Here’s what the wind folks say on their website about their new company, “Third Planet Windpower (TPW) was established in 2006 to develop, acquire, own and operate a diversified portfolio of wind generation assets. The company has 20 projects under development, comprising more than 7,500 megawatts.”

Their press release goes on to give big green kiss to GE, “GEs wind turbine technology is a key element of ecomagination, the GE corporate-wide initiative to address challenges such as the need for cleaner, more efficient sources of energy, reduced emissions and abundant sources of clean water.” now that’s some of that marketing NoImpactMan was dreaming about, I guess.

TWP, as I now know them, also deals with one major environmental complaint against wind farms: the slicing and dicing of flying critters. As a birder I actually care about these things. TWP claims in their FAQ section that their turbines will be carefully placed with concern for flying animals.

An interesting aspect of this GE contract. A lot of the work wil lbe done in the U.S. I don’t often find much evidence of trickle down economics. But in this specific case the folks in the Carolinas can be pleased. Two factories there will be busy making the 167 turbines for TWP.

Old Oil Wells Renewed?

For those folk stillmaking a living ingthe oil biz, there may be good news from a Dutch researcher. He says hydrophobic gels can help get the oil out of the apparently defunct wells.

First, let’s clarify that this gel has nothing to do with rabies of any kind. Secondly, what it does do is form a barrier between the water and petroleum molecules, making the separation easier. In many old oil wells the mix of water and oil creates an economic barrier to extraction and refining by making the processing of the crude so complex and expensive.

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Stupid to the last drop – Alberta oil thirst leading to disaster


The author of a new book on the future of Canada’s oil industry says Alberta is destroying itself in its rush to extract every drop of fossil fuel from the oilsands.William Marsden, a Montreal journalist and author of “Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care).

Read an excerpt from ‘Stupid to the Last Drop’

He says Alberta is giving up control of its oil assets to foreign investors and private business, with little effort to ensure its economic or environmental future is protected.

“This is really crazy what’s happening in Alberta today. We have a province that is actually destroying itself in the effort to get every last drop of oil and gas out,” Marsden says.

“We’re shipping it to the United States — 60 per cent of our production — at a time when Canada looks, and the whole world looks, like we’re beginning to run out of oil. And we will need these reserves in the long-term.”

He said experts estimate there are about one trillion barrels of oil in the world today. Those are being used up at a rate of about 30 or 31 billion per year, and rising. At that speed, the reserves will dry up in about 65 years unless additional reserves are discovered, Marsden says.

He predicts the approach of a transition period, where the world will shift towards using new types of fuel as global supplies begin to run out.

To prepare for that, Marsden suggests Canada needs to begin stockpiling fuel in order to guarantee a successful transition through that period. At the moment, however, that isn’t happening.

“We’ve basically given it over to private industry, most of which is foreign, so the vast majority of the profits are going to private industry,” Marsden said.

“So we won’t even have the kind of treasury that we will need as we enter into this new age to smooth over this transition.”

He said Canadians don’t seem to realize how dire the situation really is and many believe there is no reason to question the status quo.

“It’s almost sort of the politics of our age where we continue to think that it’s business as usual,” Marsden said.

“I mean, Canadians are looking at Alberta and thinking to themselves, we have vast reserves there, there’s no problem. In fact, we don’t have vast reserves. We’re running out of conventional oil and gas. Within 10 years Canadians could see a fairly serious deficit in gas which is going to affect millions of homes and industries.”

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The Nuclear Power that Binds Us in Ontario


In an effort to become a green city, little thought is given to the two major nuclear plants, just outside of the Toronto area. I think we like to imagine that they are not there. Do the benefits really outweigh the cost? In regards to the greening of the planet proponents like to say that nuclear power is green energy. However I beg to differ. Nuclear power is not “clean and green,” as the industry claims, because large amounts of fossil fuels are required to mine and refine the uranium for nuclear power reactors. In addition, much thought is not given to the concrete reactor buildings, along with the need to transport and store the radioactive waste. Nuclear power reminds me of the common “deal with the devil” syndrome. We will get quick and immediate satisfaction, however in the long term we are actually killing and destroying our planet. As with always, little is shown to the common Ontarian about the facts of nuclear waste. If people knew how toxic and how long it takes to even safely get rid of it, maybe we all would think a little different about the legacy we are leaving future generations. Although we talk about the need to become more environmentally friendly, we are moving away from this goal at an ever increasing pace. As Toronto expands and grows, attracting more and more people we will require more and more power. Although we want to be “green”, let’s face the fact. Unless we may major changes and investments in renewable resources, along with offering green choices for consumers, we are essentially going to see more nuclear reactors. We are attached to nuclear power, not out of wanting, but necessity.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario