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

First published in the Chronicle Journal May 7 2016
By Peter Lang
On April 28, uninvited and without the $450 delegate fee, I was allowed to observe TransCanada Pipeline’s presentation to NOMA’s annual general meeting. It must have been the 1,000 signatures on our petition to reject the proposed Energy East pipeline… And, as with TCP’s address to City Council last August, the corporation was spared any contrary public input.

In his address, TCP’s Stefan Baranski first implicated us in the global demand for oil by asking, “How many of you drove here today?” He then followed with projections to show that increasing demand — after which he declared — “We have the oil!”

We know that. It’s what we should do with it now that we begin to understand climate change, the science behind it, and in light of Canada’s commitments to the Paris Summit last December. More »

25. April 2016 · Comments Off on Want to fix the climate? Fix the corruption of expertise first · Categories: Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Democracy Undermined, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Jason MacLean, Pipelines-Tarsands

Firs published in the Chronicle Journal Monday April 25, 2016
by Jason MacLean

After the US Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizen United, the corrupting influence of money in politics was supposed to be an exceptionally American problem. But it turns out that it’s very much a Canadian problem, too. Worse still, the corruption of money in politics is trumped by the corruption of expertise. Worst of all, the corruption of expertise is at the root of every important public policy issue, including climate change. More »

11. May 2015 · Comments Off on Don’t discount environmental groups · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Corporate Irresponsibility, Democracy Undermined, Economic Policy

First Posted:Chronicle Journal Saturday, May 9, 2015

By Julee Boan and Faisal Moola

Managing publicly-owned forests is complicated. Goals for forestry, hydroelectric development, mining, tourism, hunting, recreation, conservation and other forest uses are not always compatible and trade-offs must be made. It is fair to say that our organizations – the David Suzuki Foundation and Ontario Nature – don’t always agree with claims made by some members of the forestry industry that their logging is sustainable.
At last week’s annual meeting, the Northern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) passed a resolution (Support for Northern Forestry Operations) sending our organizations a clear message: Keep your mouths shut and your opinions to yourselves. More »

28. March 2015 · Comments Off on BILL C-51: Most people know what Harper is up to · Categories: Climate Policy, Democracy Undermined, Freda Davies

First Published in the Chronicle Journal Freda Davies

Saturday, March 28, 2015
What do we do with Harper’s fear-mongering?
According to polls — about as trustworthy as spring ice on the Kam River — most people in Canada think terrorists are behind every tree and lamp-post, and they approve of the Harper government’s latest draconian measure, Bill C-51, to remove all the leashes and let the spies loose to do whatever it is spies like to do. Tragically, the Liberals have gobbled Harper’s bait, abandoning their most treasured accomplishment, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. More »

23. March 2015 · Comments Off on The terrorists we know by Peter Lang · Categories: Activism, Corporate Irresponsibility, Democracy Undermined, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Social Justice

First published in the Chronicle Journal
Saturday, March 21, 2015
I suppose that Stephen Harper must believe that if he plays the terrorist card he will win a majority of votes in the upcoming election — but I think he’s wrong. This time I believe voters will see through Bill C-51 and its overblown scare tactics. In truth, I’m more concerned about the terrorists we know. More »

23. March 2015 · Comments Off on We’re all ‘Under the Dome’ · Categories: Climate Crisis, Democracy Undermined, Jason MacLean, Uncategorized

First Published Monday, March 23, 2015
in
? Chronicle Journal Columns
SUSTAINABILITY MATTERS
By Jason MacLean
Thunder Bay
Have you watched Under the Dome yet? I’m not talking about the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. I’m talking about the documentary released last month about China’s cataclysmic air pollution that generated more than 200 million views on Chinese websites within days of its release before the government ordered that it be removed from the Internet (you can watch it with English subtitles here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6X2uwlQGQM). More »

22. December 2014 · Comments Off on Don’t frack with the facts, Prime Minister · Categories: Climate Crisis, Democracy Undermined, Energy Policy, Jason MacLean

By now you’ve probably heard about the historic Lima Accord — nearly 200 countries have agreed to agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of oil, gas and coal. Of course, it’s just a pledge at this point, with the final agreement to be reached next year in Paris. And even if a final agreement is reached, it won’t be legally binding. The Lima Accord doesn’t actually obligate countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by any particular amount, or at all. Rather, countries are encouraged to submit by March 2015 their plans — “Intended Nationally Determined Amounts” — setting out how much they will cut after the year 2020, and what domestic laws they will pass to achieve the cuts. If countries miss the March 2015 deadline, they get an extension until June 2015. And if they miss the June 2015 deadline, well, no one really cares. More »

06. December 2014 · Comments Off on Resolute does not need our help · Categories: Corporate Irresponsibility, Democracy Undermined, Paul Berger · Tags: , ,

I attended Resolute Forest Product’s Boreal Forum held on November 25th. According to Resolute, we were invited for “a community discussion on the future of the Ontario boreal forest and the role it will play in the future prosperity of Northern Ontario”. I believed I was attending an event designed to hear the voices of northern citizens, like me. I was seriously misled. More »

24. November 2014 · Comments Off on Is the Canadian oil game rigged? · Categories: Corporate Irresponsibility, Democracy Undermined, Jason MacLean, Pipelines-Tarsands

“TransCanada plans to spend big, but project uncertainty looms,” read a recent headline in The Globe and Mail.

The newspaper went on to describe TransCanada as a “Calgary-based pipeline and power giant” and explained to those of us who choose to think about sunnier topics than the politics of oil pipelines that the projects in doubt include TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL and Energy East pipelines.

But TransCanada apparently intends to do more than just spend big. According to documents prepared for TransCanada by Edelman, one of the world’s largest public relations firms, Edelman is advising TransCanada to “add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission More »

04. October 2014 · Comments Off on National Fiddling Day and… · Categories: Climate Crisis, Democracy Undermined, Freda Davies, Pipelines-Tarsands

No doubt the double entendre was unintended. However, when a bill calling for a National Fiddling Day is introduced late the same afternoon as a quietly tabled report showing extreme climate effects on Canada’s boreal forests, and coming the day after Prime Minister Stephen Harper shunned the UN global climate summit, we are unfortunately left with an image of Nero fiddling amidst the fires of Rome. More »

25. August 2014 · Comments Off on How to save the CBC, climate: tune in, demand better · Categories: Climate Crisis, Democracy Undermined, Jason MacLean, Media

University of Toronto geography professor Danny Harvey recently filed a motion with the National Energy Board urging them to reconsider its refusal to consider the climate change impact of the proposed trans-mountain oil pipeline expansion.

Prof. Harvey’s logic is pretty straightforward. It goes like this:

• New and expanded oil pipelines will facilitate the expansion of tar sands production.
• Expanded tar sands production will significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.
• Increased greenhouse gas emissions will worsen climate change.
• Worsened climate change will jeopardize the well-being of Canadians, including future generations. More »

18. June 2014 · Comments Off on Big Issue Ignored · Categories: Climate Crisis, Democracy Undermined, Ed Shields

How can it be that we have a provincial election with a myriad of political parties represented and the world’s number one great issue isn’t meaningfully discussed, or even mentioned? Human-induced environmental destabilization is already affecting us with strange and extreme weather and, due to global warming, will only greatly increase with time as we pump more green house gases into our atmosphere. But that is merely one paramount issue ignored during the election. More »

17. May 2014 · Comments Off on A journalist worthy of attention · Categories: Climate Crisis, Democracy Undermined, Freda Davies, Media

Paul Adams, veteran of the CBC and Globe and Mail, who now writes for iPolitics, makes consistently intelligent observations about the dilemma of Canada’s “progressive” opposition parties. In his book, Power Trap, and in his columns, he observes how petty tribal rivalries between the Liberals and New Democrats have blinded and crippled both parties, preventing them from effectively addressing the truly disastrous havoc that Stephen Harper and associates are inflicting upon our democracy, social fabric and environment. More »

14. April 2014 · Comments Off on Canada’s third national policy — us · Categories: Democracy Undermined, Economic Policy, Jason MacLean, Transformative Ideas

Canada’s Third National Policy is an essay every Canadian should read, and an idea that every Canadian should embrace.

In Canada’s Third National Policy, Rod Macdonald and Bob Wolfe argue that Canada has evolved through three national policies.

Canada’s first national policy (np1) was a response to the Great Depression of 1873 and consisted of tariffs to prop up Canadian manufacturers, immigration to the prairies and the construction of a transcontinental transportation infrastructure. Sir John A. Macdonald’s National Policy of 1879 was a superb — if cynical — campaign slogan, and it still fires the ambitions of his party today. More »