Tag Archives: Gas

No Pipeline to the West Coast?


A slim majority of British Columbians support a proposed $5.5-billion oilsands pipeline to the B.C. coast, but opposition to the megaproject is growing, according to a new poll.

The poll also found that an overwhelming majority of B.C. Conservative party supporters, and two-thirds of B.C. Liberal supporters, favour the controversial plan by Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.

NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, who commissioned the poll, said the results suggest it will become increasingly difficult for Christy Clark, B.C.’s Liberal premier, to continue to straddle the fence on the issue.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Opposition+oilsands+pipeline+growing+poll+finds/6374553/story.html

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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Will Canada’s oil boom be an environmental bust? The new global wasteland?


Alberta the new oil wasteland

Alberta the new oil wasteland

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta (AP) — The largest dump truck in the world is parked under a massive mechanical shovel waiting to transport 400 tons of oily sand at an open pit mine in the northern reaches of Alberta. Each Caterpillar 797B heavy hauler — three-stories high, with tires twice as tall as the average man — carries the equivalent of 200 barrels.

Shell, which has 35 of the massive loaders working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has ordered 16 more — at $5 million each — as it expands its open pit mines. And it is not alone among major oil companies rushing to exploit Alberta’s oil sands, which make Canada one of the few countries that can significantly ramp up oil production amid the decline in conventional reserves.

Shell, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Canada’s Imperial and other companies plan to strip an area here the size of New York state that could yield as much as 175 billion barrels of oil. Daily production of 1.2 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to nearly triple to 3.5 million barrels in 2020. Overall, Alberta has more oil than Venezuela, Russia or Iran. Only Saudi Arabia has more.

High prices — a barrel reached almost $150 last month and is around $115 now — are fueling the province’s oil boom. Since it’s costly to extract oil from the sands, using the process on a widespread basis began to make sense only when crude prices started skyrocketing earlier this century.

But the enormous amount of energy and water needed in the extraction process has raised fears among scientists, environmentalists and officials in an aboriginal town 170 miles downstream from Fort McMurray. The critics say the growing operations by major oil companies will increase greenhouse gas emissions and threaten Alberta’s rivers and forests.

“Their projected rates of expansion are so fast that we don’t have a hope in hell of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr. David Schindler, an environmental scientist at the University of Alberta.

Oil sands operations, including extraction and processing, are responsible for 4 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s expected to triple to 12 percent by 2020. Oil sand mining is Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and is one reason it reneged on its Kyoto Protocol commitments. Experts say producing a barrel of oil from sands results in emissions three times greater than a conventional barrel of oil.

Worries about environmental damage have gotten enough attention that even the oil industry realizes it must tread softly on the issue. “Industry has to improve its environmental performance,” Brian Maynard, a vice president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said recently.

Questions about developing Alberta’s oil sands have seeped into the U.S. presidential campaign and the debate in Canada and the U.S. over keeping down the price of gasoline while still protecting the environment.

The Bush administration sees Alberta as a reliable source of energy that will help reduce reliance on Middle East oil. U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins said the oil sands will define the relationship between the two countries for the next 10 years.

“We are blessed by the fact that our friend and neighbor is also our number one supplier of foreign oil,” Wilkins told The Associated Press.

However, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s top energy adviser said oil sands emissions are “unacceptably high” and may run counter to Obama’s plan to shift the U.S. away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

“The amount of energy that you have to use to get that oil out of the ground is such that it actually creates a much greater impact on climate change, as well as using much more energy than even traditional petroleum,” Obama adviser Jason Grumet said.

Mining oil sands also was criticized by American mayors in a resolution adopted at their annual conference in June urging a ban on using oil sands-derived gasoline in municipal vehicles. They alleged the oil sands mines damage Canada’s boreal forest — boreal refers to the earth’s northern zone — and slows the transition to cleaner energy sources in the U.S.

John Baird, Canada’s environment minister, warned that Washington would lose energy security if it doesn’t take Alberta’s oil.

“If American mayors want to send their money to unstable, undemocratic countries in the Middle East instead of to Canada, that will be their call. If they want to pay a premium for Iranian, Saudi, Iraqi oil that will be their call,” Baird told the AP.

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Gas prices jump by up to 13 cents a litre in some markets


Motorists in many cities in Canada received a sharp surprise early Friday when they discovered the price of gasoline had risen by as much as 13 cents a litre. Liberal MP Dan McTeague, a critic of the oil industry, said he cannot recall a time when gasoline prices rose by so much in such a short period of time.

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Why the Conservatives and the PM need an election now to save themselves.


Elections for Canada - October 2008

Elections for Canada - October 2008

Some high profile Conservatives are not seeking re-election. Do they see the title wave coming? Are they afraid? The real reason the federal Conservatives are calling for an election now is that they really do not have a choice. What do I mean by that? Let’s make just a few points.

  1. The longer they wait, the better chance they will loose even more seats next year, pending the coming downturn in the economy. In case your head is stuck in the sand somewhere, the economy is not doing well.

  2. The numbers for the Conservatives are still strong in Quebec and they have a chance to grab some seats in Ontario. The election may affect the Liberals more than the Conservatives.

  3. The Honourable Stéphane Dion polling numbers are not strong. However, that is slowly changing and they need to go to the polls now, rather than later. The longer they wait, the more “sympathy” for Dion. I believe that the Conservatives will stay away from poking fun at Dion, because this stragedy does not help. They will will HAVE TO focus on making the PM more personal to win.

  4. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is betting that their low-profile governance will help them at the polls. To be honest, there is not much news and “substance” to go on. People tend to figure, if it is not broken why fix it, to be frank.

  5. The overall view is, when the economy is in a downturn, you need a “fiscally conservative” approach. That is a perception that has not changed much. This is probably what did in the government of Bob Rae in Ontario, leading to the extreme right in the Harris “common sense revolution. Again, I have already said it, but the PM does not want to have the stain of being the government that caused a ressession. Even though it would not be true, it does not really matter. Its all about perception.

  6. The western provinces are doing well, so “milk it while we have a chance to”, because the Greens are coming!

  7. The George Bush factor! Need I say more, as November approaches? If people believe that they have become a bit too “neo-conservative”, than the Conservatives are in trouble, especially in Ontario and Quebec. So go now while we are “a sleep at the wheel”.

  8. The PM needs an election fast, before the historic election in the U.S. It is a fact the a huge amount of Canadian’s are watching the American election. No matter what you think the Conservatives “DO NOT” want to be caught in the “change title wave” that is approaching. If they do, they will basically drown in the possible Obama factor, no matter what side of the fence you are on.

The fact is the only point the Conservatives are riding is the fact that they can say “the Green Shift is not a prudent policy for the coming economic downturn”. While, offering no option of their own, they are “fear mongering” people into thinking that this is all about raising taxes. This is a dangerous gamble, seeing that people list the environment as an important factor, despite economics. Now make no assumption, I am not a Liberal member. To be honest, if there was a viable Libertarian Party I would go down that route (albeit I do like the Greens a bit). But that is besides the fact! There is a burning ship in parliament, and the Conservatives are doing what ANY party would attempt to do. Get a few more years and hope, you can ride the possible recession out. Maybe even a possible Liberal, NDP leadership review and like magic call another election. We will probably see another Conservative minority. Who really knows? This election may end up hurting the Liberals, more than the Conservatives and the NDP or Green Party may make substantial strides in politics this time around. The question is, at who’s expense? What will happen if Canadian’s want change? Can any leader capitalize on this? Or is this a bit of Russian roulette? I welcome your comments!

By Andy MJ
a.k.a the G.T.A Patriot

GM prepares for large cuts in North America. More bad news for Oshawa?


General Motors will unveil further measures on Tuesday to cope with the dramatic downturn in the north American vehicle market.

The world’s biggest carmaker said that the steps, to be outlined at a press conference, are designed “to align the business to current market conditions”. The conference will be attended by Rick Wagoner, chief executive, as well as Fritz Henderson, chief operating officer, and Ray Young, chief financial officer.

GM announced last month that it would close four north American light-truck plants in the wake of an abrupt shift in demand from big pick-up trucks and sport-utility vehicles to more fuel-efficient cars and crossover vehicles.

It is also reviewing the future of Hummer, its biggest vehicle, and accelerating the introduction of more popular vehicles.

GM’s US sales tumbled 18 per cent in June from a year earlier. By contrast, its business in many other countries is performing strongly. It said on Monday that sales volumes in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East jumped 18 per cent in the second quarter to a new record.

International operations now make up about 60 per cent of GM’s sales volumes.

Mr Wagoner last week dismissed talk that the company might seek bankruptcy protection or ditch more of its eight US brands.

However, it is widely expected within the next few months to take steps to shore up its liquidity, with analysts projecting that it will raise between $10bn-$15bn.

It currently has about $24bn in cash reserves but analysts estimate that it is burning about $1bn a month.

Himanshu Patel at JPMorgan said that GM had several options to bolster liquidity, including secured debt, delaying the transfer of its blue-collar healthcare plan to the United Auto Workers union, issuing new equity and further trimming capital outlays.

GM shares are currently at their lowest level in more than half a century. They slipped another 5.4 per cent on Monday to $9.38.

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The end of GM Oshawa has begun? The time of the small car renaissance has come!


General Motors says it will cease production at four factories in Ohio, Wisconsin, Canada and Mexico that produce trucks and SUVs. As General Motors Corp. prepares for its annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday, workers across the country are worried that the next round of the company’s restructuring could cost them jobs or even their factories.

GM may also furlough entire shifts of workers at some truck factories and may move them to car plants as it restructures to adjust to a rapidly changing U.S. market brought on by $4 per gallon gasoline.

With high gas prices, more expensive groceries, the credit crunch and declining home values, fewer people are going to dealer showrooms, Gettelfinger said.

“People are going to stay away from the big-ticket items like automobiles,” he said.

GM sales through April were off 12.2 percent when compared with the same period last year. The company sold 20.8 percent fewer Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks, and the market for big SUVs has all but collapsed.

GM also lost $3.3 billion in the first quarter and a record $38.7 billion in 2007, largely due to a charge for unused tax credits.

JP Morgan analyst Himanshu Patel said he would not rule out a cut in GM’s 25-cent-per-share dividend, and said in a note to investors Monday the company likely will have to borrow more money.

“GM no doubt needs to raise financing given current cash burn rate — we think as much as $10 billion of total financing may be needed, though not all immediately,” Patel wrote.

Already the company has announced indefinite layoffs of one shift each at the Pontiac and Flint pickup plants, and more are expected.

Last week the company announced that 19,000 of its 74,000 U.S. blue-collar workers had signed up for buyout or early retirement offers. That clears the way to shrink the company’s production footprint, but few know where the cuts will come.

For workers, it could mean being forced to move to another city, away from families and lifelong ties to the community, if their jobs are eliminated or their plant is closed. If they’re lucky, there could be a factory nearby where GM will increase production of cars that get good gas mileage.

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Toronto revitalized waterfront and its gaseous beauty!


Portlands Energy CentreIt’s amazing but little press has been given to the large natural gas power-plant being built on Toronto’s “revitalized waterfront”. It should be a sight to hold; attracting visitors from all around the world to “behold its beauty and awe”. With its large smoke stacks and geometric design, it should fit in well with Toronto’s new renaissance. There was little to no debate on its installation. We were told that “it would be there”, end of story. Not much in terms of public consultation. And if there was any, what choice did we have anyway. It will be called “The Portland Energy Centre”. It will be a shinning beckon of light and inspiration for Toronto’s waterfront! Can you sense my sarcasm?

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The G.T.A Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

 

Read an article from the Toronto Star
http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/270659

Gas-fuelled power plant on agenda for Toronto and Mississauga


Buried in the release of Ontario Power Generation’s 2006 financial results last Friday was an intriguing paragraph: “OPG is exploring the potential development of a gas-fuelled electricity generation station at its Lakeview site and is continuing with the decommissioning and demolition of the Lakeview coal-fired generating station.”

There is, as you might expect, a story behind this story and it sheds some light on how dysfunctional our electricity system has become over the past few years.

First, some background:

Ontario Power Generation, or OPG, is one of the successor companies that emerged when Ontario Hydro was broken into pieces in 1997. Still government owned, it runs all the old Ontario Hydro power plants, including the coal-fired facilities, which contribute to our air pollution and global warming and which the governing Liberals have promised to close.

In 2005, OPG’s Lakeview site, along Mississauga’s waterfront, became the first of the coal-fired plants to be closed.

But the Ontario Power Authority – an agency set up by the Liberals to plan for future electricity needs – says a replacement power source will be needed in the Mississauga area by the year 2011.

Hence, OPG’s interest in building a gas-fired plant on the old Lakeview site.

OPG has lined up a partner for the project – Enersource, the local electricity distributor, which is 90 per cent owned by the City of Mississauga and 10 per cent by Borealis, the infrastructure investment arm of OMERS (the municipal employees pension fund).

Also reportedly backing the project is Hazel McCallion, Mississauga’s formidable mayor (although, uncharacteristically, she did not respond to requests for an interview for this column).

With such an array of backers and a province thirsty for more power, the Lakeview project would seem to be a sure thing.

But not so fast. The power authority wants a competitive process before making a decision on a new plant. In this respect, the authority insists it is just following government policy, although insiders suggest the authority harbours a bias against OPG and in favour of private-sector suppliers.

As it happens, there is at least one private-sector firm interested in building a new gas-fired power plant in south Mississauga – Sithe Global, which already has regulatory approval for a site called Southdown (on the east side of Winston Churchill Blvd., between Royal Windsor Dr. and Lakeshore Rd.)

And more private-sector suppliers might come forward if they were allowed to make bids based on the OPG-owned Lakeview site, as the power authority has apparently suggested – to vociferous objections from OPG.

In any event, the power authority says the competitive process won’t begin until next year. That will create a tight timetable, however, as the electricity is said to be needed by 2011, and it takes three years to build a new gas-fired facility.

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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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