BY PETER LANG
First published in the Chronicle Journal Oct 13, 2017

MAKE no mistake about it, we were played, big time, by TransCanada Pipelines (TCP) and Big Oil producers over the Energy Ease pipeline proposal. And while Energy East is now cancelled, we, the little people, should still try to understand what happened. For it’s never over when the game is for big profitsÉ

When they told us that the re-purposing of the existing mainline gas pipeline was to supply Eastern Canada with domestic oil from Alberta our tendency was to approve the conversion from natural gas. But then we discovered that the ‘oil’ was actually dilbit (diluted bitumen), and that the Eastern Canada refineries really didn’t have the capacity or the massive capital needed to refine dilbit. By their ‘tidewater marketing scheme’ TCP really wanted to export it.

The fact is that the tarsands are remote and landlocked and, compared to conventional oil, dilbit is very costly to extract. It’s also too heavy, too voluminous, and thereby too expensive to ship by rail. Yet the Alberta tarsands are the third largest deposit of fossil fuels in the world. So in order to expand and exploit that resource, the big oil producers ‘needed’ TCP to ship their product by a designated pipeline – Energy East.Ê

As for natural gas, in 2013 the mainline natural gas line had lost capacity across Canada, as cheap, fracked gas had been discovered in the eastern U.S. So rather than shipping by pipeline across the continent the gas producers opted to ship it north from those new eastern sources. Thus TCP ‘needed’ more product to fill its east-west mainline gas pipeline.

Meanwhile, with the spectre of the deadly explosions in Lake Megantic, we were being duped by another falsehood. We were told that we needed to ship ‘oil’ by pipeline because it was safer than shipping it by rail. But the Energy East proposal was never a plan to ship conventional oil. It was never an either/or possibility as we were repeatedly told by TCP, NOMA and some of Thunder Bay’s city council. Ê

The reality is that the light crude oil from the vast Baaken oil fields in southern Saskatchewan and North Dakota always did and likely always will be shipped by rail. Rail systems are extensive and link most resource fields to refineries, ports, and domestic consumers. Accordingly, from 2008 until today rail shipments of conventional crude oil have expanded exponentially.Ê

Oil producers have built rail loading and unloading infrastructure that was faster and cheaper to build than pipelines. They load what they call ‘unit trains,’ with up to 100 tankers in a single shipment. The Lake Megantic shipment, bound for the Irving refinery in New Brunswick, carried 72 cars of Baaken oil.

As it was, we, the little people, objected to the Energy East project, mainly on the grounds that dilbit endangered our pristine Lake Superior watershed. We were right, of course, but now the game has changed.

On the one hand we would like to think that we won, and that our protests changed Big Oil’s game plan. To some degree, maybe it did. However, based on economics there were two major happenings that may have been more influential than our protests.Ê

Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau have approved the Keystone XL and Kinder Morgan pipelines both of which will take Alberta dilbit to refineries in the U.S. and Western Canada tidewater ports. As well, the National Energy Board has just levied a new shipment price on natural gas which will induce gas producers to fill TCP’s mainline gas pipeline to capacity.

So ‘now’ here’s the game: 1) Dilbit won’t be coming our way in the near future; 2) We’re back to the reality of an old and potentially explosive natural gas mainline pipeline running north of us; and 3) Baaken oil will continue to be shipped by rail, some of it through our city.

If we are to understand anything about the fossil fuel issues that affect us most directly we must first understand that there are three quite different products in the form of dilbit, conventional oil, and natural gas. Each of these three products is subject to the corporate market forces which will always tend to manipulate us for profit. As voters and citizens we must address these issues separately, and with due diligence – in order to take control away from the manipulators.

Peter Lang is a retired teacher, paralegal, and a member of CUSP, and the coalition which opposed the Energy East pipeline. He lives in Kaministiquia

FOR THE CHRONICLE-JOURNAL Oct 12, 2017
BY SCOTT HARRIS

THAT’S what they say. Who are they? Well, geophysicist Henry Pollack for one.

In his book A World Without Ice, Pollack explains the delicate geological balance between the Earth and its ice, and why it is important that we humans pay attention to this balance, especially since human activity is accelerating the planet’s race toward a tipping point with respect to its ice.

Ocean floor core samples reveal that the last time Earth was free of ice was 55 million years ago, when the greenhouse gas methane warmed the atmosphere, melting the polar ice sheets and reducing the planet’s ability to reflect solar energy back into outer space.

We currently live in what scientists describe as a Goldilocks environment, not too hot and not too cold. As we look for life on other not-so-fortunate planets, we can see clearly that indeed we are a Goldilocks planet – not too close to the sun to lose all of our water to evaporation, or far enough away to be just another snowball rocketing through space. More »

May 27, 2017
By Ruth Cook

Special to The Chronicle-Journal

On Monday, May 29, Thunder Bay’s city council will once again consider a resolution asking members to vote in principle against the TransCanada /Energy East Ltd.’s Energy East Pipeline. This resolution has been deferred for two years due to concerns about lack of complete information ( as well as unforeseen administrative delays).

A group of representatives from five local groups have been working on understanding the implications of the Energy East pipeline for five years now, and are adamantly opposed to the development of such a pipeline.

The Energy East pipeline would be the largest oil pipeline in North America. It is to be partly newly constructed, and partly be repurposing an old natural gas pipeline. The part passing through Northwestern Ontario is the old to-be-converted pipe, some of which has been in the ground for 50 years. More »

22. April 2017 · Comments Off on Are we hard-wired to ignore climate change? · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Energy Policy, Pipelines-Tarsands, Social Justice, Writers

This article by Environment North board member Lucy LaFramboise was first published in the Chronicle Journal in April 22, 2017.

Something to Think About

“How is it possible, when presented with overwhelming evidence, even the evidence of our own eyes, that we can deliberately ignore something – while being entirely aware that this is what we are doing?”

George Marshall, an environmentalist and leading expert in climate change communications explores this in his book Don’t Even Think About It, Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change. For this book he has interviewed people as diverse as Nobel Prize winning psychologists, scientists and Tea Party members.

Marshall says that we engage with the world on both a rational and emotional basis. The rational part of us hears the facts and theories but they don’t always engage us enough to act. Climate scientists are perplexed by this so they double down and show more facts. However, it is the emotional part of us that spurs us to action but our emotional brains are not effectively engaged to deal with climate change. To counter this scientists need to get the facts out in a more user friendly way and become more personable themselves. More »

24. January 2017 · Comments Off on A Lappe consensus on Energy East pipeline · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Energy Policy, Peter Lang, Pipelines-Tarsands

by Peer Lang

First Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2017 in the Chronicle Journal

In contrast to the Common Voice forum at the Oliver Road Community Centre on the subject of “significant water crossings,” there was a consensus outcome at the Lappe meeting on Saturday morning, Jan. 21. Despite slippery road conditions about 15 people attended. While the first part of the meeting was a prepared presentation to set parameters for the discussion, instead of breakdown, this time the meeting achieved consensus. And to make it clear that the meeting wasn’t ‘stacked by the pipeline opposition,’ this consensus arose from a group where only a few knew each other prior to the meeting. More »

18. January 2017 · Comments Off on If there ever was a time . . . · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Energy Policy, Pipelines-Tarsands, Scott Harris, Social Justice

by Scott Harris

First Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 in the Chronicle Journal

Right-wing Fraser Institute’s Ken Green champions the “rule of law” vs “special interests” (Protesters Aren’t in Charge – Guest Column, CJ, Jan. 16). He states that pipeline protesters should take heed.
He qualifies that civil disobedience “is most appropriate when a group faces oppression without representation.” How better to describe future, unborn generations, a group which has no voice, which nevertheless has a right to a tolerable climate, but whose present-day governments don’t see it that way.

Our own Liberal government acknowledged this right by signing on to the Paris Agreement to limit the greenhouse gases that threaten that right, but then, inexplicably, made it impossible to follow through by approving new tar sands pipelines.
Naomi Klein got it right. The immediate threat of global warming changes everything, and the promises of politically compromised, deal-making governments are meaningless in the face of it.
If ever there was a time for civil disobedience, it is with respect to the issue of new bitumen pipelines.
Scott Harris
Thunder Bay

17. January 2017 · Comments Off on Narrow scope of forums shows task force bias · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Energy Policy, Peter Lang, Pipelines-Tarsands

by Peter Lang

First Posted: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 in the Chronicle Journal

Having followed the Energy East pipeline issue for a number of years, I believe that the very narrow scope of the upcoming Common Voice forums, as noted in The Chronicle-Journal, Jan. 2, clearly shows its bias. To suggest that our main concern for the Lake Superior watershed boils down to identifying ‘significant waterways’ and installing supposed state-of-the-art valves is simplistic and foolish. More »

13. January 2017 · Comments Off on Common Voice Northwest out of turn on pipeline · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Energy Policy, Pipelines-Tarsands, Social Justice, Tom Cook

First Posted: Friday, January 13, 2017 in the Chronicle Journal

I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the Jan. 2 article about Common Voice Northwest and their Energy East forums. Who is Common Voice Northwest?
They are a Thunder Bay-based non-profit group which was formed via a collaboration of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) and the regional chambers of commerce. NOMA is an ‘old boys’ network’ of representatives from Northwestern Ontario municipalities to share information and concerns, and to promote business in the area. Their president is Mayor Dave Canfield from Kenora and board member, Coun. Iain Angus from Thunder Bay is executive director of Common Voice Northwest.
Unfortunately, NOMA sometimes makes pronouncements such as support for the Energy Pipeline proposal which has not been supported by either Thunder Bay city council or Kenora city council. Given this situation, I have some concerns about a possible bias in Common Voice Northwest research. More »

05. October 2016 · Comments Off on Confirmation bias: Science and the Internet form a double-edged sword Story · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Corporate Irresponsibility, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Fouling the Earth, Scott Harris, Social Justice, Transformative Ideas

First Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 in the Chronicle Journal

By Scott Harris
For The Chronicle-Journal
‘By either stressing or ignoring the information that bombards us, we create our own reality” (author unknown). Such, perhaps, is what it means to be human. Our own opinions are formed by our own unique experiences, cognitive intake and reflection.
The advent of universal, electronic transmission tools such as the Internet amounts to an information strafing unlike anything we humans have experienced before.
But the Internet is a double-edged tool. With the current availability of electronic information, one can find validation for virtually any opinion, no matter how bizarre. On the other hand, there are impeccable, peer-reviewed sources which help us separate truth from fiction. That distinction is becoming increasingly important, as we begin to address global issues triggered by human behaviour. More »

22. June 2016 · Comments Off on EBR moose and coyote regulation: CUSP submission · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Social Justice

EBR Registry Number: 012-6073
Comment ID 192372
Contact name: Lynn Palmer
Organization Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet (CUSP)

CUSP is a group of citizens that live in or near Thunder Bay who are committed to promoting healthy communities, a healthy environment, and social and ecological justice. CUSP strongly opposes this proposal, as we do not believe is likely to benefit moose and which may actually result in negative impacts.

CUSP does not oppose hunting. However we do support science. We do not see strong scientific evidence in this proposal that it will have the intended effect to improve the health of moose populations. More »

22. June 2016 · Comments Off on Forestry can be done without herbicides · Categories: Activism, Corporate Irresponsibility, Forestry, Fouling the Earth, Transformative Ideas

by Lynn Palmer

First posted in the Chronicle Journal : Saturday, October 3, 2015 6:00 am

Public concern about spraying herbicides on our local forests is not new. For at least 20 years, the issue has circulated in the public sphere.
Surveys undertaken since the mid-1990s indicate that the general public in Ontario deem herbicide use on publicly owned forests unacceptable.
This past March, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the United Nations’ World Health Organization) declared that glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide, is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” and public concern over spraying has intensified. On Sept. 5, the California Environmental Protection Agency announced that it plans to label glyphosate as a “chemical known to cause cancer.”
Opposition to glyphosate-based herbicide spraying and linked petitions have been increasing from New Brunswick to California. In Ontario, people living in and around Dog-River Matawin, Kenogami, Ogoki, Martel, Magpie, Timiskaming, Sudbury, Black Spruce, and Nipigon Forests, among others, have expressed to the province and some forestry companies that they want their voices to be heard. The message is clear. It’s time to get serious about implementing alternatives. More »

01. January 2016 · Comments Off on Truth about pipeline is ‘highly unlikely’ · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Corporate Irresponsibility, Energy Policy, Peter Lang, Pipelines-Tarsands

First posted Saturday, November 28, 2015 in the Chronicle Journal

by Peter Lang

At their open house at the Italian Cultural Centre on Nov. 30 TransCanada Pipeline Corporation (TCC) will tell you that a significant leak on their pipeline is “highly unlikely.” They will cite continuous remote sensing, regular flyovers, and the latest ‘smart pig’ technology to support their conjecture. And they will relate this at a pleasant one-on-one wine-and-cheese-type gathering which is cleverly designed to avoid a public forum — wherein together we could have asked the difficult questions, and critically weighed their answers. In fact, TCC will credit this open house as “a community consultation” when it is merely corporate flim flam. More »

01. January 2016 · Comments Off on Hope or hype? Paris climate agreement just a promise for now · Categories: Activism, Christine Penner Polle, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Policy

First Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 in the Chronicle Journal

By Christine Penner Polle
Red Lake

The news of the Paris climate agreement reached by nearly 200 countries after decades of trying was cause for celebration in our house last weekend. The first worldwide commitment to phase out fossil fuels in order to limit global temperature rise is an enormous and unprecedented accomplishment.
Our joy, however, was bittersweet. It was overshadowed by awareness that the deal fell short of solving of the huge problem the world is facing. More »

01. January 2016 · Comments Off on At stake: Everything; Walking the Paris climate talks · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Julee Boan, Pipelines-Tarsands, Transformative Ideas

First Posted: Saturday, December 19, 2015 in The Chronicle-Journal
THE VIEW FROM PARIS

By Julee Boan

With nearly 200 countries at the table, is it not surprising that the Paris climate agreement that was negotiated last Saturday fell short of legally-binding caps on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Differences in wealth, geography, and population size were but a few of the complexities facing the talks. It was abundantly evident before the negotiations even began that economic (and carbon) powerhouses like the United States and China would only agree to non-binding targets.
Yet, the significance of the agreement is unmistakable. The signatories recognize that, “climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet.” More »

21. September 2015 · Comments Off on Corporate crime pays well, even when it’s punished · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Corporate Irresponsibility, Fouling the Earth, Jason MacLean

First Published in the Chronicle Journal Monday, September 21, 2015

SUSTAINABILITY MATTERS BY JASON MACLEAN
|
Corporate crime pays. A lot. So does covering it up. Exhibit A: Healthcare giant Johnson and Johnson develops and markets a drug called Risperdal. Risperdal is a billion-dollar antipsychotic medicine that has both real benefits as well as some serious side effects.
For example, Risperdal increases the risk of strokes among the elderly, and can cause boys to develop breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia. One teenage boy developed a 46DD bust. More »