First Nation Challenge of Shell tar sands mine

Author
Keith Stewart

Request to sign open letter supporting FN challenge of Shell tar sands mine (please share widely)

The Request:

We are asking your organization to sign on the statement below in support of a First Nations Constitutional challenge of Shell’s proposed new tar sands mine. This statement will then be published as an open letter in an Alberta. You can indicate your sign-on by e-mailing Keith Stewart (kstewart@greenpeace.org) with your name and organizational affiliation by COB Oct 17.

Background:

Shell Canada is proposing two new tar sands mine projects in northern Alberta. Environmental assessment hearings on the first project, a 100,000 barrel per day expansion of the Jackpine Mine, are scheduled to start on Oct. 29 in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  (For more detail, see http://www.stopshellnow.com/#!home/mainPage ).

From the perspective of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations (ACFN), whose lands will be affected by both Shell mines, governments are not fulfilling the promises of Treaty 8. This has led them to file a challenge to the Jackpine Mine proposal under section 35 of the Canadian Constitution (you can read the Globe and Mail story here:  soc.li/86kl5nf)

They are challenging the project on the basis of:

1.      A failure to consult the ACFN properly; and
2.      The irreversible impacts on culturally protected lands and hunting, fishing and trapping rights.

Such a challenge has never been fully argued in front of an Alberta Joint Review Panel. The hearings on the constitutional challenge will begin on October 23rd in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

We are asking you / your organization to support this work by signing on to the statement below, which will be published as a full-page ad in the Fort McMurray newspaper just before the constitutional hearings begin.

Statement for sign-on:

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations (ACFN) as they file a constitutional challenge of Shell’s application to expand the Jackpine Mine tar sands project.  This legal challenge argues that governments have failed to meaningfully address the overall impacts of development on ACFN’s treaty rights, and have failed to inform themselves of what ACFN requires in terms of land and resources to maintain their ability to exercise their rights now and into the future. Alberta’s approach to consultation does not promote reconciliation with the rights and interests of First Nations.

We recognize that the ACFN is taking this action to ensure that their rights and lands are protected.  We support them in this effort, and thank them for the leadership they are showing. The protection of mother earth for all people on this planet is a responsibility that we all share, and benefit from.

Sincerely,

[list of names and organizations]


Keith Stewart, Ph.D.
Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator
Greenpeace Canada
(416) 659-0294 (c)
Twitter: @climatekeith

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept money from governments,
political parties or corporations.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. It comprises 28 independent national/regional offices in over 40 countries across Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, as well as a co-ordinating body, Greenpeace International.

Mayors silent on tar shipping

Author
MICHAEL HALE

BY MICHAEL HALE, THE TIMES OCTOBER 9, 2012 10:16 AM

Where do Fraser Valley mayors stand on pipelines and tankers?

Residents of the southwestern B.C. are pleased with the motion against tarsands shipments passed by the Union of BC Municipalities on Sept. 27, but wonder where Fraser Valley mayors stood in the voting.

City councils around Metro Vancouver and southern Vancouver Island recently passed motions against tarsands exports, but mayors and councils in other parts of southwestern B.C. are apparently fence-sitting.

Chilliwack resident Sheila Muxlow said residents of B.C. are showing growing concern about the proposed shipment of tarsands bitumen across the province through the Northern Gateway Pipeline, the current shipments of bitumen by Kinder Morgan, and the prospects of increased tanker traffic in the coastal waters of B.C.

She cited a recent poll that shows 60 per cent of British Columbians along the Kinder Morgan Pipeline route oppose the Enbridge Pipeline, and although the Kinder Morgan route has been in the news less, already more than 50 per cent of those polled are opposed to its expansion.

Lynn Perrin, a public policy analyst from Abbotsford said, “Clearly BC’s municipal leaders are responding to public opinion, but I don’t know if Fraser Valley mayors are hearing the people quite yet.”

Michael Hale noted that crowd applauded loudly on hearing the news about the resolution at an event co-sponsored by Cinema Politica and PIPE UP in Maple Ridge on Sept. 27.

However, Hale wondered why none of the mayors are expressing concern about the current shipments of bitumen. Kinder Morgan has been increasing shipments of tarsands, and company representatives are denying that this means increased risk.

This should be of great concern to city governments, who are the first responders in case of a tarsands spill.

Muxlow shared that concern: “When I asked Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson about the risks of a bitumen spill, he told me that it was no different to clean up than other forms of crude oil.

“The company seems unaware of the lessons learned in the Michigan tarsands spill. One of the recommendations in the report of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) after the 2010 spill into the Kalamazoo River, was that first responders should have special training to better prepare for a tarsands spill.”

Langley resident Susan Davidson said that, when she spoke to Township Mayor Jack Froese, he said he had not voted on the resolution advanced by Saanich council at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to “oppose projects that would lead to the expansion of oil tanker traffic through B.C.’s coastal waters.”

She reported that he also said that, although he has already had a meeting with Kinder Morgan representatives, he does not consider the pipeline carrying diluted bitumen from the tarsands through the Township of Langley to be part of his jurisdiction.

Enbridge’s Michigan spill cost more than $800 million; more than 300 people were hospitalized, and the river was closed for two years, affecting business, tourism, and property values. A recent order by the EPA in America has directed Enbridge to do further remediation on the river.

According to Muxlow, PIPE UP is planning a series of events to increase the awareness of the risks currently faced by communities along the pipeline route.

Muxlow added, “We want to pass along our research findings about the dangers of transporting tarsands through this aged pipeline.”

Since its inception in April, 2012, members of the PIPE UP Network have found that, besides the destruction caused by tarsands extraction and the risks of transporting it, there are no net economic benefits for residents of B.C. If subsidies currently going into the tarsands were stopped, and incentives provided for renewable alternatives, B.C. could become a world leader in energy.

We think that the mayors need to hear this message.

Michael Hale, Maple Ridge

Sheila Muxlow, Chilliwack

Lynn Perrin, Abbotsford

[Note: Muxlow, Hale, Perrin, and Davidson are members of The PIPE UP Network of residents of southwestern B.C. concerned about the implications of shipping tar sands along Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Vancouver.]
© Copyright (c) Maple Ridge Times

Group calls on Fraser Valley mayors to ‘pipe up’ about pipeline

Author
Robert Freeman

Pipeline expansion opponents are asking how Fraser Valley politicians voted on a resolution to oppose projects that increase oil tanker traffic at a Union of BC Municipalities convention.

The resolution, that UBCM “oppose projects that would lead to the expansion of oil tanker traffic through B.C.’s coastal waters,” would include the Kinder Morgan proposal to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline that runs through the Fraser Valley on its way to Vancouver ports.

The resolution was endorsed by most municipalities at the UBCM convention, but it’s not clear how Fraser Valley politicians voted.

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz was not available for comment Friday, and deputy mayor Jason Lum said he was unable to remain at the convention when the vote was held.

But when asked how he would have voted, Lum said that, given the lack of information about the proposed expansion and its possible impact on Chilliwack, he would not have supported the resolution.

He said it is premature to oppose the Kinder Morgan project at this time.

“To be a good political representative, you have to weigh all (the) facts,” he said. “I haven’t had the opportunity yet to gather information from both sides.”

Gaetz has used the same reasoning in the past to defend the city’s decision not to join other municipalities in opposition to the Kinder Morgan proposal.

But she said the city does have specific concerns, like protection of the Sardis aquifer, which Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson has committed to answering.

But the silence of officials in the Fraser Valley speaks volumes to opponents like Michael Hale, a member of the PIPE UP Network.

He said a crowd at a PIPE UP event Sept. 27 in Maple Ridge “applauded loudly” when they heard about the UBCM resolution.

“However, I’m wondering why none of the mayors are expressing concern about the current shipments of bitumen,” he said.

He said more bitumen will be carried in the expanded pipeline, but Kinder Morgan officials deny this will mean twice the risk.

“This should be of great concern to City governments, who are the first responders in case of a tar sands spill,” he said.

U.S. transportation officials have recommended first responders need special training to deal with a bitumen spill, like the 2010 spill in the Kalamazoo River that cost $800 million to clean up, hospitalized 300, shut down the river for two years, and affected business, tourism and property values.

Hale said that kind of risk is already present as bitumen is being pumped now through the existing pipeline.

“The risk is already there and not very many people are cluing in to that fact,” he said.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

DEFEND OUR COAST

NO PIPELINES! NO TANKERS! NO WAY! DEFEND OUR COAST
Sunshine Coast, Davis Bay – 11:30 am to 1:30 pm – Wednesday, October 24th, 2012On October 24, 2012 concerned British Columbians from 85 communities around our province will come together to express their support for our land, our rivers and to Defend Our Coast.  On the Sunshine Coast we will gather in Davis Bay from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm on Wednesday, October 24th to line 1,540 feet of the Sunshine Coast Highway with people and their signs to communicate our message that we are for a healthier planet and opposed to the construction of pipelines to transport diluted bitumen via supertankers along our coast.  We will be arranging for aerial photography and video footage to document our Defend Our Coast action in Davis Bay and communicate with the world via Youtube.  This in an historic opportunity to show your solidarity with people and communities up and down our coast and across our province that we care about our future, for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.  BE CREATIVE! BE BOLD! BE THERE!

What’s the problem?

Enbridge is pushing for approval of their Northern Gateway twin pipeline project from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat.  Kinder Morgan is pushing for approval of a pipeline from the tar sands to their Burnaby loading facility in Burrard Inlet.  Both pipeline projects are designed to transport unprocessed diluted bitumen (dilbit) to the respective ports to be loaded into Very Large Crude Carriers – VLCCs – for shipment overseas.  These VLCCs are sea going behemoths up to 1,540 feet in length and 200 feet wide.  They are enormous and unwieldy and require speeds upwards of 19 knots to just to maintain navigation.  In good weather they have turning circles of 2 miles and take 5 miles to stop.  Should anything go awry and they loose navigation, all the tiny crew can do is ride it out and see where they end up!

Both the Enbrige and Kinder Morgan projects entail enormous environmental risks to our land, our rivers and our coast.  Unlike crude oil, which is very difficult to clean up despite the fact that it is lighter than water and therefore floats, dilbit quickly evaporates it’s dilutent, creating toxic clouds, and sinks below the surface of the water, making surface containment and recovery technologies useless.  Existing containment and recovery technologies are completely useless in fast moving rivers and turbulent seas. Dilbit spills are not only possible, they are inevitable!

It is important to note that Enbridge and Kinder Morgan are simply transport companies, moving product they do not own from point A to B so that the global petro-corporations, who do own the product, can reap a few  more dollars per barrel than they can obtain by selling the same product to overland markets in North America.  If they do, this will jack up the price paid in domestic markets and we will all be forced to pay that higher price at the pumps in addition to taking the environmental risk.  There are relatively few jobs involved in extraction and shipping out of unprocessed resources compared to refining the product here in Canada.  Construction of these pipelines will accelerate global fossil fuel consumption and add to global warming.  It will divert public attention and investment away from investment in energy conservation and renewable energy development, which would create far more family supporting jobs as we work toward a healthier planet.  It will postpone consideration of building land based pipelines to Central and Eastern Canada to replace currently imported crude. It is becoming increasingly clear that our increasing economic dependence on shipping out unrefined dilbit is overvaluing the Canadian dollar and is damaging our domestic manufacturing, exacerbating unemployment.  All in all, building dilbit pipelines to Kitimat and Burnaby are LOSE – LOSE PROPOSITIONS and cannot be allowed to proceed.  Dilbit pipelines are bad for the environment, bad for our economy and bad for our democracy.

Stephen Harper appears to be joined at the hip to global petro-corporations and appears bent on doing their bidding regardless of Canada’s long term interests.  Christy Clark is similarly prepared to sell out our people, our land, our rivers and our coast, if the price is right!  Campaign funding rather than Canadian interests appear to be in the drivers’ seat.  Harper and Clark are elected officials and are answerable to the Canadian and British Columbian electorate respectively.  They can and will be moved if Canadians make our voices heard. Now is the time to show you care!

What can you do?

Come to NO PIPELINES! NO TANKERS! NO WAY! DEFEND OUR COAST action in Davis Bay from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm on Wednesday, October 24th.  We will have letters of concern for you to sign.  Bring bold, creative, colourful signs to be part of this historic event and become part of what we expect will be an historic Youtube video available to the world.  Tell your family and friends about this important action in any way you can: face to face, over the telephone, by letter and by email.  Print out and distribute the attached poster in your communities. Help us financially by making a donation to cover our costs and advance our work – cheques should be made out to Alliance 4 Democracy – Sunshine Coast.  Check out our website alliance4democracy.ca.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Sincerely,

Jef Keighley
Alliance 4 Democracy – Sunshine Coast
8580 Redrooffs Road,
Halfmoon Bay, B.C.,
V0N 1Y1
604 885-2290

The Alliance 4 Democracy – Sunshine Coast is working in cooperation with Leadnow.ca, The Dogwood Initiative and Defend Our Coast.

Defend Our Coast is organizing a major gathering in Victoria, BC at the legislature on Monday, October 22, 2012. Details can be obtained at defendourcoast.ca.

Texas solidarity letter

Texas solidarity letter

September 26, 2012

RE: Statement on the Brutal Treatment of Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Protestors in Texas

Members of Texas Law Enforcement and TransCanada CEO Russ Girling:

We the under-signed U.S. and Canadian organizations and First Nation leaders have learned that while protesting the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, two US citizens over the course of five hours were repeatedly tasered, pepper sprayed and subjected to prolonged stress positions by the Wood County, Texas sheriff’s office with TransCanada personnel also on hand.

We object in the most strenuous terms to this brutal treatment of peaceful protestors, who are trying to protect their land and families from a dangerous and unnecessary project.

Regardless of our views on civil disobedience, there is not an inch of daylight between our views and those of the protesters on the dangers of this tar sands pipeline. Keystone XL threatens the health and livelihoods of families with tar sands oil spills and is part of an industry that threatens
communities with extreme weather. Tar sands oil undermines our clean energy choices.

These protests are part of rising, legitimate public concern with tar sands and tar sands pipelines.

People who are moved to peacefully express their opposition must not be subject to abuse or any type of violence.

We are watching events in Texas closely and we expect humane and respectful treatment of any further protestors.

Sincerely,

Burnaby Residents Opposed to KinderMorgan Expansion (BROKE)
http://brokepipelinewatch.ca

‘Canada Is Being Outplayed’ at Oil Wealth Game

[Editor’s note: The Tyee sent veteran energy issues journalist Mitchell Anderson to Norway to learn how it amassed a $600 billion oil savings fund for its population of under 5 million, a stark contrast to Canada. To finish the series we invited him to share his views on how those lessons could be applied here. With input from economist Robyn Allan, here they are.]

Why do we tolerate homelessness and poverty in Canada? Underfunding for our schools and health care system? Why is our government eliminating 20,000 public sector jobs in a supposed effort to balance the books?

Imagine instead if Canada was a country capable of developing a national oil strategy similar to what has been achieved in Norway. This tiny nation enjoys full employment and enviable social programs, has no public debt, $600 billion in the bank, and remarkable public buy-in about their petroleum industry. Could we do it here? Do we have the guts to seize our economic destiny?

Such a system might seek to maximize employment, tax revenues and environmental protection — exactly the opposite motivations of most extractive industries. There is another public policy goal that is of no interest to private companies: the energy security of our nation.

Seen through this lens, how is Canada doing? Abysmally, by four measures:

1. Dependency. Even with our vast oil wealth, Canada currently relies on other countries for about 50 per cent of our supply — so-called “unethical oil” from the volatile Middle East. Proposals to pipe unrefined bitumen from western Canada to Asia will increase this dangerous dependence since Alberta will have to import vast amounts of condensate from the Middle East to dilute thick bitumen enough for pipeline transport.

2. Staying in the red. Alberta has been unable to balance the books since 2007, burning through $17.7 billion of past oil wealth, with another $3 billion deficit forecast for the coming budget.

3. Draining at full tilt. Labour and production costs are through the roof, at least until the next employment bust. Both the Alberta Federation of Labour and the late premier Peter Lougheed have both called for slower the pace of oil sands growth. Ten proposed upgraders have been cancelled since the 2007 recession, replaced instead with pipeline proposals for unprocessed diluted bitumen. With resource values rising relative to global currencies, what’s the rush?

4. Getting global black eye. The oil sands have such a credibility problem the Alberta government spends $25 million a year countering “baseless” criticism from environmental groups.

Robyn Allan’s prescriptions

Robyn Allan thinks we can do better. She is a British Columbia economist, former CEO of the provincial insurance corporation and outspoken critic of the Northern Gateway proposal to pipe diluted bitumen to Kitimat. She also believes the recent retreat from value-added processing in Alberta is not only a threat to the B.C. coastline, but to the entire Canadian economy. In an interview for this series she told The Tyee:

“Canada has an energy strategy, but it is being developed in a handful of boardrooms of multinational oil companies and national oil companies of foreign governments. And that strategy seems to be to extract oil sands bitumen as quickly as possible, mix it with distillate imported in increasing amounts from the Middle East, and move it down pipelines to Asia and the U.S. Gulf Coast. And that strategy is going to hollow out Canada’s oil sector, move us away from creating jobs and value-added refining, and increase pressures on our exchange rate and the non-oil sectors of our economy. And when the boom becomes a bust, we won’t have a strong economic fabric to fall back on.”

So why does she feel so many state-owned oil companies now clamouring for a piece of the oil sands?

“More than 80 per cent of global oil reserves are controlled by state own oil companies, and there’s good reason for that. Canada is the only major oil-exporting country in the world without a national oil company. Of the remaining global oil resources open for private sector investment, Canada has the majority. That’s why national oil companies from China, Korea and Norway, and now maybe Kuwait and India, are coming here to buy up our resources — it’s the last big game in town.”

Allan believes our country is becoming dangerously exposed in a world increasingly short of energy, especially as we allow state-owned interests from other nations to snap up our globally-strategic resources.

“Canada is being outplayed. We are losing control of our natural resources. We’re losing control of our environmental standards. And we’re losing the ability to upgrade and add value in Canada. We’re not even beginning to use the leverage in this country that we have to control and manage the pace of our development and ensure that oil resource returns come to the people of Canada.”

So what can we do about it? Allan feels one of the key problems is that our petroleum continues to be sold in American, not Canadian currency.

“When the price of oil goes up, the value of our dollar goes up and this creates problems not only for the manufacturing sector but for our oil industry as well. Because we trade our oil in U.S. dollars, any Canadian oil producer finds that their profits fall when they sell their product in U.S. dollars and have to repatriate those revenues into Canadian dollars. The ability of the oil industry to expand and grow is hamstrung by an appreciation of the Canadian dollar. The oil sector itself hurts, it not just manufacturing, tourism, forestry and other sectors.”

She also sees a linkage between our inflated currency and the cancelled upgrading facilities in Alberta.

“We need to address the issue that maybe because our currency has appreciated in value, it’s not as economic to build upgraders in Canada. We have a natural resource in Canada that’s traded in U.S. dollars. Why? When Russia decided to trade their oil with China they elected not to do it in U.S. dollars, but their own currencies. We have to start thinking about what is in the long-term interest of Canada, not what is in the best interests of a handful of oil companies.”

Upgrade here first, then ship

By choosing Canada instead of China, Allan believes Albertans would benefit from higher prices and greater economic stability. Nation building through such mutually profitable arrangements might prove far more productive than past interprovincial posturing.

“One of reasons that bitumen is not capturing the value that western producers want is that its not good enough quality. So if we upgraded it in Alberta into a product that North America wants, we might solve so many problems. Everybody in Canada could win if less expensive western Canadian crude got to eastern Canada.

“At the recent Northern Gateway Hearings in Edmonton, the Joint Review Panel was told by Enbridge’s expert witnesses that right now Eastern Canada is buying imported crude at $20 to $30 more than the price of western Canadian crude. If that’s the case, that works out to about 15 cents a litre at the pump. Western producers could get a price premium of five cents a litre over what they are getting now, the refiners in eastern Canada could save five cents a litre on their crude supply and consumers could save five cents a litre when they fill up at the pump.

“So if that happened, producers and refiners would make more money and consumers would spend less money. That’s got to have a stimulative effect on our Canadian economy.”

Allan points out that shipping upgraded crude rather than bitumen would also require half as much pipeline capacity since we would not need to build supply lines for imported condensate. And most importantly, upgraded Alberta crude should be moving east rather than unrefined bitumen moving west.

“TransCanada Pipelines have said they are looking at converting one of their natural gas pipelines to ship Western Canadian crude to eastern Canada. That could be up to 800,000 barrels a day and would be a tremendous boost to the Canadian economy. We should be focusing everything we can to get that to happen. And the way to get that to happen is to say no to the Northern Gateway pipeline. The best thing that British Columbia could do is restrict bitumen from coming into this province, period. That would essentially be a little bit of tough love to Alberta.”

The late premier Peter Lougheed urged Albertans to “think like an owner.” That determination to do what’s in the interest of Canadians rather than companies is what Allan seems to be championing as well.

“I would hope that the real issue here is what can we do to support and develop the future health and long-term growth of the Canadian economy. We need to stop responding to the preferences of corporations that don’t have the Canadian national interest at heart. They don’t. They’re not meant to.

“Every single time issues are raised such as energy security in Canada, value-added and upgrading, concerns over the appreciation of our dollar — the oil industry goes crazy. And the reason they do is because these are serious issues that need to be addressed and they could be addressed relatively easily for our long-term benefit. What the oil industry doesn’t yet understand is that many of these changes would be for their long-term benefit as well.”

A challenging question

The Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines will obviously benefit China and the shareholders of private oil companies, but what is in Canada’s interest? Are we even asking that question?

At the end of this series I’m left reflecting on the blunt advice of Norwegian petroleum engineer Rolf Wiborg: “You have to leave the feudal thinking and leave the idea that people coming to exploit you have the right to tell you what to do…. It can be done, but do the Canadian people have the power and the will? Do they have the collectiveness and guts to do it?”

How about it Canada? Do we?

Mitchell Anderson is a Vancouver-based journalist and frequent contributor to The Tyee. This article is one in a series on Norway’s Petro-Wealth Prudence which is part of a larger project, “Canada’s Transition to a Better Energy Future,” produced by The Tyee in collaboration with Tides Canada Initiatives Society.

Co-hosting the next in our series of community town hall meetings

Author
Sven Biggs
Burnaby is home to Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal. If Kinder Morgan gets their way, as many as 350 oil tankers a year will fill up with tar sands crude at that terminal by 2017. It was not far from this terminal that a pipeline rupture and oil spill occurred in 2007.

As one of the frontline communities on the pipeline route, Burnaby is key to both Kinder Morgan’s plans to vastly expand tar sands exports and tanker traffic in the Salish Sea, and our campaign to stop them.

Fortunately, people in Burnaby are already coming together to stand up to Kinder Morgan. Recently, concerned residents formed a new local group called Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion, or BROKE for short.

Tanker Free BC, along with our allies at the Wilderness Committee, are really excited to be co-hosting the next in our series of community town hall meetings on the Kinder Morgan proposal for a new Trans-Mountain pipeline with the folks from BROKE.

The town hall will be on October 10th at 7pm at the Confederation Community Centre at 4585 Albert St.

We will hear from Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Burnaby Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart, two local elected representatives who have been outspoken in their concerns about the pipeline.

We really hope that you will join us at this event, which we believe will be an important step in building community opposition in Burnaby.

Please also take the time to invite your friends and family, especially if they live in the Burnaby area! You can forward them this email or invite them on Facebook here.

Sven Biggs
Campaign Director |Tanker Free BC
PS We have a lot of other great events coming up this fall find out more by visiting the events calendar on our website.

Tanker Free BC
http://www.tankerfreebc.org/

BROKE hosts town hall on pipeline expansion

Author
Wanda Chow
By Wanda Chow – Burnaby NewsLeader
Published: October 04, 2012 11:00 AM
Updated: October 04, 2012 1:41 PM

Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE) hosts its first town hall meeting on Oct. 10 to raise awareness of its concerns about the proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

And while members of the recently-formed group debated over whether to invite Kinder Morgan Canada to send a representative, in the end they didn’t.

“We figured Richard Kinder has enough money, he can do his own advertising,” said Karl Perrin, a BROKE spokesperson, referring to the parent company’s CEO and chairman.

“Because our name is Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion, so we’re not trying to fool anybody. We are opposed.”

The group, whose members and supporters number about 50, was started initially by residents of Westridge, the North Burnaby neighbourhood where Kinder Morgan’s pipeline was ruptured by an excavator in 2007.

“They bonded to some extent because of the disaster in 2007 with oil in their neighbourhood,” Perrin said. “When they heard about the expansion, they thought,

‘wait a minute, we’ve got to do something about it.'”

The pipeline runs from Edmonton to Burnaby and the proposed expansion would increase its capacity from the current 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 750,000 bpd to allow for increased exports of bitumen crude oil from the Alberta oil sands to overseas markets.

BROKE members did some door-to-door canvassing a month ago, Perrin said. “Pretty well everyone had heard about it and pretty well everyone was opposed.”

The group’s concerns largely revolve around the proposal’s potential impact on the environment. Increased tanker traffic would increase the likelihood of an oil spill in Burrard Inlet and the diluted bitumen is much more difficult to clean up than regular crude, he said. That, and the potential for local properties to be expropriated for the project.

Speakers at the town hall will include Mayor Derek Corrigan, Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, Sven Biggs of Tanker Free BC and/or Ben West of the Wilderness Committee.

BROKE member Mary Hatch will also speak about her experience having her Westridge home sprayed by oil in 2007, from the firefighter knocking on her door telling her to evacuate to the years of disruption during the remediation.

The town hall will be held Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m. at Confederation Seniors Centre, 4585 Albert St., Burnaby (near Willingdon Avenue).

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

Pipeline Whistleblower: Cracks in The System

Insider ties poor weld inspections to rising rate of ruptures. Part two of a Tyee investigation. Part 2 of a series.

[Editor’s note: Keying off his new book The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude, Andrew Nikiforuk will give a free talk on the evening of Oct. 3 in Vancouver moderated by Tyee editor David Beers. Tickets are going fast. Details here.]

Evan Vokes, a 46-year-old Calgary pipeline engineer, is a man with a mission, and a conscience.

While building natural gas pipelines in Canada, Mexico and the United States for TransCanada Corporation, he started raising concerns about industry practices.

Vokes had an important inside job: he was the guy that ensured the pipelines were constructed safely.

His specific duties included metallurgy and welding. He also specialized in an important accountability process known as non-destructive examination. And he didn’t like what he was seeing.

At the invitation of Russ Girling, TransCanada’s CEO, Vokes provided documents to senior executives of the company (it is Keystone XL’s controversial sponsor) that allegedly documented systemic failure to follow code and regulations in 2011.

Shortly afterwards, the engineer lodged a complaint with regulators in Canada and the U.S. Last May TransCanada fired the engineer without cause.

Drawing on examples from the records of Enbridge and Kinder Morgan (the CBC is investigating TransCanada’s record) Vokes is going public with his concerns about an industry facing unprecedented growth and what even the National Energy Board (NEB) describes as “an increased trend in the number and the severity” of pipeline incidents.

Vokes has stellar company. In particular, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has accused Enbridge, a Canadian company jointly regulated by the NEB and the U.S. Pipeline Hazardous Materials Standard Administration (PHMSA), of nurturing a “culture of deviance” on safety and integrity issues after a dramatic Michigan pipeline rupture in 2010. That debacle caused the largest and most expensive onshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Moreover, a lengthy 2008 audit of the company by the National Energy Board documented similar flaws two years before the event.

It found that company was not upholding the rules and regulations on pipeline integrity and safety in Canada either.

“Enbridge’s integrity management program for pipelines and facilities do not meet some of the provisions required by” Onshore Pipeline Regulations and CAS-Z662 Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems, said the extensive audit which the NEB did not make public at the time.

In addition to “multiple findings of non-compliance and non-conformance” with regulations, the NEB also documented that Enbridge didn’t have a process for “defining and evaluating the level of qualification and competence of contractors and consultants.”
ANDREW NIKIFORUK, IN PERSON

Speaking on: De-Friending Oil

How petro-dependency corrodes our humanity. And what it will take to pull free.

Where: Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Woodwards SFU.

When: Oct. 3, 7 p.m.

Tickets are free.

More info: Click here.

The company also didn’t know how valid and effective its assessments of corrosion and cracking were in its pipeline safety program.

As a result the NTSB concluded that Enbridge’s Michigan spill was partly the result of weak regulations, weak enforcement and a corporate disregard for learning from past mistakes.

In attempt to catch-up with events, the National Energy Board released a discussion paper on pipeline safety that pointedly echoes the very issues raised by Vokes.

The paper says that “accident prevention requires active leadership by management on safety issues” and adds that “there must be effective implementation of the right controls to manage, mitigate or eliminate hazards and risk.”

‘Someone is going to die’

It’s exactly these kind of problems and accountability failures that Vokes is now trying to highlight as Canada prepares to double its pipeline capacity with controversial bitumen and diluent highways across the continent.

“Someone is going die and they just don’t know it yet,” explains Vokes, a large, intense and careful man who spoke to both the Tyee and the CBC over the last several weeks.

He’s also filed his concerns and allegations with the National Energy Board, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) and U.S. Pipeline Hazardous Materials Standard Administration (PHMSA). Documents have also been sent to the office of the prime minister.

The NEB told the Tyee that the board is taking the allegations and complaints made by Vokes seriously and is investigating them. In contrast, AGEGA, a self-regulating professional body, did not answer two separate queries from the Tyee.

“My motivation is to prevent unnecessary death and environmental damage,” adds the engineer who has also been a welder and millwright.

“The controls for the industry are there but they are not being implemented or enforced. We have the technology to do things right, but we don’t have the willpower.”

Adds Vokes: “The pipeline industry must take accountability for the true safe construction of pipelines rather than a risk based approach based on faulty data sets on threats to integrity.”

Risk-filled enterprise

Pipeline builders depend on high quality steel, careful engineering, expert welding and competent safety programs that are all subject to a variety of strains and stresses including commercial pressures to get pipe in the ground as fast as possible.

Dense professional jargon, detailed engineering codes and intricate metal science often make pipeline construction and integrity “a difficult subject to understand,” adds Vokes.

“The public has little protection from engineering decisions on pipelines, whether or not they are made by professional engineers,” says the engineer.

The most critical issue is not what companies do after a pipeline has been built, explains Vokes, but the quality of materials, welding and inspection performed during the construction.

In fact, the near doubling of pipeline incidents on Canadian pipelines (from an average of 95 to 161 in 2011) in some ways mirrors British Columbia’s leaky condo scandals.

Several codes now govern the construction of pipelines carrying hydrocarbons in North America, including the American Society for Mechanical Engineering B31.4 and B31.8 and the Canadian Standard’s Association Z662 also known as Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems.

These codes are good says Vokes, but “do not contain a blanket statement for permitting a violation when a company is in a hurry. Those violations happen everyday in this town. But there is no ‘get er done’ clause.”

Case examples: Cracks in the system

In 2008, Enbridge built a 504-kilometre long oil pipeline from Cromer, Manitoba to Clearbrook, Minnesota called Southern Lights.

Shortly afterwards, the National Energy Board, which oversees the safety of interprovincial pipelines, heard about numerous welding quality problems along the pipeline.

“Given the potential systemic nature of defects associated with pipe manufacture and pipe field joining” an NEB letter asked Enbridge for more information about the cracks popping up in its girth welds, a growing epidemic throughout the industry.

A girth weld joins the individual sections of the pipe. If it is not done properly it can break or crack either during construction or later, resulting in leaks and ruptures. PHMSA flagged the problem with a major advisory in 2010.

Enbridge replied to NEB’s request for more information with an unsigned report on girth weld cracks. The four-page document noted that there were 21 cracks and two hydrostatic testing failures in the Southern Lights pipeline on the Canadian side of the project as well as cracks in the U.S. portion. (Hydrostatic testing fills a pipeline with water under high pressure and is a rudimentary way of determining if a pipeline will rupture in service.)

Enbridge’s anonymous 2009 report (like any professional group such as doctors and lawyers, engineers must authenticate and validate documents by signing them) explained that the cracking problems “occurred in high wind chill conditions brought about by ambient temperatures combined with strong Prairie winds.” It added the pipeline had been built according to code and duly repaired “with best welding practices.”

But Vokes says that’s probably not the whole story as pipelining is an outdoor endeavour. A properly supervised welding operation takes the weather conditions into account and modifies welding procedures accordingly. “If you have a high repair rate on a pipeline then you are not following proper welding procedure,” he explains. “Pipeline welding is a manufacturing process on the move.”

Implementation is everything in this business, adds Vokes. “Quality plans count. If you don’t make your welders follow the specified plan, you have a fuck-up.”

Industry experts as well as a 2002 paper on the integrity of pipelines make exactly the same point: “Cracking in pipelines is not usually a defect assessment problem; it is usually an indication that operation, product or environment is a major problem.”

In fact a natural gas pipeline (Rocky Express) built by Houston-based Kinder Morgan across the Great Plains in 2007 and 2008 experienced endless repair work due to shoddy welding practices and commercial pressures to get the pipe in the ground.

In 2012, PHMSA fined Kinder Morgan, which wants to expand its TransMountain pipeline across the Canadian Rockies, nearly half a million dollars for 13 specific violations of pipeline construction codes and regulations. (The NEB currently has no system for fining companies that violate regulations but has proposed one.)

The list of Kinder Morgan’s transgressions is long.

According to PHMSA, Kinder Morgan did not follow quality welding procedures properly; nor did it perform welding “in accordance with proper procedures.” It also “did not adequately inspect the welding.” In addition, the company failed to prevent damage to pipe while backfilling trenches. Nor did the company remove defects in the pipe properly. It also didn’t use the properly designed pipe along one section.

But poor welding isn’t the only cause of cracked pipe in the industry. External and internal corrosion play major roles as does dented and damaged pipe. The National Energy Board now reports that nearly 30 per cent of all pipeline failures Canada are due to cracking.

Non-destructive examination

During the construction of a pipeline, inspectors must confirm and validate a number of procedures to ensure the integrity of the welds on an ongoing basis.

Manual welds with a cellulosic rod are common for pipes going up and down steep slopes. But a bad weld, say, at the top (12 o’clock position at the start of the weld) or at the bottom (six o’clock position) on a high strength steel pipe made by a cellulosic rod, can cause what the industry refers to as delayed cracking, cold cracking or hydrogen cracks.

Hydrogen, the first element on the periodic table, can migrate in solid steel to an area of stress at warm temperatures. When the steel cools, the hydrogen can get stuck and cause delayed cracking. It has long been a major issue in pipeline and building construction around the world.

To check for such cracks the industry uses a variety of different tools after the weld is completed. (In engineer jargon, “non-destructive examination” (NDE) checks the quality of pipeline welds and materials without damaging them.)

Or as Vokes puts it: “Welding determines the speed of construction and NDE holds it hostage.”

The primary tools include radiography (it looks for defects in pipe density with gamma rays); manual ultra sonic, which looks for defects by sending a signal into the pipe with a fixed angle probe; or automatic ultra sonic (AUT). It uses sophisticated probes that look at the pipe from many angles.

Of the three tools AUT is the most effective for scanning the whole pipe and identifying the nature of defects and validating the integrity of the weld. “With AUT you can inspect any pipe wall, a quarter inch or thicker. It’s the best.”

Crucial pipelines jeopardized by failure to consult first nations, Prentice warns

A prominent former minister in Stephen Harper’s cabinet has slammed Ottawa for failing to meet its constitutional obligations to consult first nations on West Coast pipelines, saying the government needs to move quickly to rescue projects that are essential to the country’s future prosperity.

In a speech delivered Thursday at the University of Calgary, CIBC vice-chairman Jim Prentice – who held several senior posts in the Conservative government, and is an expert on aboriginal law – delivered a scathing critique of complacency and short-sightedness in both the government and oil industry for failing to prepare more aggressively for the “seismic shift” under way in the global energy sector.

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“The Crown obligation to engage first nations in a meaningful way has yet to be taken up,” he said in that speech.

A failure to consult with aboriginal bands is not merely a political misstep: It could have dire legal repercussions for the proponents of pipelines through British Columbia. The Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has a duty to consult with aboriginal communities over developments that would impact their traditional land, and to accommodate their concerns. Failure to do so has triggered successful legal actions by aboriginal bands.

In an interview, Mr. Prentice said the country must expand its capacity to export oil and natural gas from the West Coast to take advantage of growing Asian markets. Building that access is “one of the most important – and certainly one of the most challenging – initiatives our country has encountered in decades,” he said.

The Calgary native told his hometown audience that Ottawa’s neglect of the aboriginal relations could doom proposed oil pipelines, including Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway project and Kinder Morgan Inc.’s TransMountain pipeline expansion.

“The obligation to consult with and accommodate first nations … these are responsibilities of the federal government,” said Mr. Prentice, who held posts as minister of Indian affairs, industry, and environment before leaving government in 2010. “And take it from me as a former minister and former co-chair of the Indian Claims Commission of Canada, there will be no way forward on West Coast access without the central participation of the first nations of British Columbia.”

He argued that Ottawa should negotiate an agreement that ensures native communities can support pipeline projects without affecting their unsettled land claims and launch a co-management regime with those aboriginal communities for port terminals and shipping.

But first-nations leaders want more: They want revenue-sharing and a share of the profits.

“The word here is potential – we’ve got all of these proposals and they represent massive potential investment,” said David Porter, chief executive of the First Nations Energy and Mining Council, which represents B.C. chiefs.

“But for that to happen there has to be a serious discussion with the aboriginal representatives in British Columbia and particularly on the West Coast.”

Federal ministers have argued the native communities are being consulted through the environmental assessment process that is now being conducted by a federal review panel.

But Mr. Porter said the scope of that review is far too limited to be considered adequate consultation, and there has been no evidence of accommodation, though Enbridge and TransMountain have both offered ownership stakes to aboriginal communities along the pipeline routes. And he said if the federal government proceeds as it has, the pipeline proposals will be held up in court battles for years.

Lawyers working for first nations have said federal consultation has, to this point, been minimal. Instead, Ottawa has set a 90-day consultation window that would begin after the joint review panel examining the project does its work.

That is “completely inadequate,” said Allan Donovan, a Vancouver lawyer who has argued consultation matters before the Supreme Court, and is representing the Haisla Nation, which asserts rights to land where Gateway would terminate.

“We really don’t want to be talking at a time when the only issue left open is what colour of paint you use on the bottom of the hulls of tankers,” he said.

That stands in contrast to the B.C. government, which has worked in recent years to begin consultation work at a much earlier date, Mr. Donovan said. He also noted that attempts by Enbridge – a corporation – to communicate with first nations would not be considered Crown consultation, nor would the hearings held by the joint review panel.

It is clear, he said that Ottawa “dropped the ball. They never even had a hold of the ball as far as I can see.” That has provided an opening for first-nations opponents, for whom a constitutional challenge is a clear option.

“It’s very likely that that’s exactly what would occur if, despite everything, the government approved the project,” Mr. Donovan said.

A spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan could not provide a response to Mr. Prentice’s charges before deadline last night.

Canadian opposition to the Northern Gateway project is on the rise, according to a poll conducted by Forum Research Inc.

Of those surveyed across Canada on Sept. 26, 48 per cent opposed the project, 34 per cent were in favour and 18 per cent said they didn’t know. In British Columbia, 55 per cent of those polled said they were opposed, 37 per cent were in favour and the rest didn’t know.

B.C. opposition to the Northern Gateway proposal was at 46 per cent in mid-December last year, but rose to 65 per cent in a sampling Aug. 1 by Forum Research.

“It appears the more British Columbians learn about Northern Gateway, the less likely they are to dismiss it out of hand,” Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff said in a statement Thursday.

The latest telephone poll of 1,758 Canadians is considered accurate within 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Conservative government has loudly trumpeted its desire to expand commercial relations with Asia for the past two years, and has won kudos from business groups for its heightened focus on the issue. But critics say the country remains ill-prepared for the dramatic shift in economic power that is now occurring.

“We need a national debate on this, and it is only just beginning,” said Wendy Dobson, an economist and China-expert at the University of Toronto.

Mr. Prentice said Canada’s access to the rich U.S. market has left industry and government complacent for too long.

“We are new to the global energy game and, frankly, we aren’t yet playing that game with much skill, foresight or cohesiveness,” he said. “Despite our natural advantages, we have failed to occupy the strategic high ground.”

Editor’s Note: David Porter’s name and title have been corrected in the online edition of this story.