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 »

24. January 2017 · Comments Off on Converting gas pipe to tarsands is unproven process · Categories: Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Energy Policy, Pipelines-Tarsands, Tom Cook

by Tom Cook

First Posted: Saturday, January 21, 2017 in the Chronicle Journal

The proposed Energy East pipeline is to carry tarsands bitumen 4,500 kilometres from Alberta to New Brunswick for export. Of this, approximately 3,000 kilometres will be 50- to 60-year-old natural gas pipeline through Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario to Cornwall. There will be new sections in Alberta and from Cornwall to New Brunswick.I have several reasons to be concerned with the 3,000-kilometre old section.
First, it’s been buried in the ground since 1954 or so. To me that looks like 60 years. How do we know that it’s not all rusted on the outside? 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 »

11. July 2016 · Comments Off on Brexit, Trump offer lessons for climate change policy · Categories: Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Jason MacLean, Pipelines-Tarsands, Transformative Ideas

First Posted: Monday, July 11, 2016
BY JASON MACLEAN

SUSTAINABILITY MATTERS

People are sick of experts, evidently. Facts, too, are becoming troublingly unpopular. Brexit and the popularity of U.S. presidential candidate Donald J. Trump are cases in point. A closer look at each offers lessons for the design of an effective and democratically accountable climate change policy.
First, Brexit. Experts hated it. In a poll of 639 British economists, 88 per cent predicted that a vote to leave the EU would decrease economic growth and efficiency. 52 per cent of voters opted to leave anyway.
Why? A revealing geographic analysis of the referendum conducted by the Resolution Foundation found that the parts of Britain most supportive of Brexit were the parts that have historically been the poorest, particularly in the north. Brexit supporters didn’t share the experts’ obsession with economic efficiency. They care more about economic equality. About the affordable houses that aren’t being built. About the good, secure jobs that aren’t being created.
Whether they’re right or wrong is beside the point. Neoliberal globalization has left many in Britain (and elsewhere) feeling alienated, dispossessed and voiceless. Hence the highly effective slogan “vote leave, take back control.” The Brexit plebiscite was the plebs’ chance to make themselves heard. And now the experts are scrambling to figure out what comes next, both in Britain and the EU. Only 38 per cent of the French, for example, view the EU favourably. Alors, Frexit? What about Scotland? Sexit? More »

19. May 2016 · Comments Off on Pondering Pipeline Possibilities · Categories: Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Peter Lang, Pipelines-Tarsands

Gordon Laxer Energy East Position Evolves.

Published in the CJ Thu May 19, 2016 as Pondering Pipeline Possibilities

Gordon Laxer spoke at the Finlandia Hall Wednesday, hosted by Environment North and the Thunder Bay Environmental Coalition. He outlined the theory behind his latest book, After the Sands: Energy and Ecological Security for Canadians. Laxer is a PhD, the founding director and former head of the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, political economist and professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, and a prominent public intellectual. He was a founding member of the Council of Canadians. He endorses Naomi Klein and the Leap Manifesto and offers a workable framework for a transition to a green economy.

Laxer’s position on the proposed Energy East pipeline has evolved since the publication of his book. In it he had indicated that he was supportive of EE for the sake of Canadian energy security and sovereignty. He qualified this stance by stating as we phase out our dependence on fossil fuels, Energy East should ship conventional oil to Eastern Canadian consumers for another 15 years, (as opposed to rip and ship bitumen overseas). More »

16. May 2016 · Comments Off on What’s the Plan? For Canada’s climate change policy, it’s a leap either way you look · Categories: Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Jason MacLean, Pipelines-Tarsands, Transformative Ideas

“Forget about what you are escaping from,” the illusionist Harry Houdini used to say. “Reserve your anxiety for what you are escaping to.” When it comes to Canada’s climate change policy, that’s wise counsel. Because whether you look to the left or to the right, it’s a leap either way.

Let’s start with the left, the already infamous Leap Manifesto.

Seldom has a four-page document loosely stringing together a series of disparate ideas—none original or genuinely controversial—generated so much handwringing.

What do the Leapers want? They call for Canada to generate 100% of its energy from renewable resources within 20 years, which is scientifically feasible; an end to fossil fuels subsidies, new oil pipelines, and other fossilized infrastructure investments; no more trade deals that compromise our ability to protect the environment; a universal guaranteed minimum income; recognition and enforcement of existing treaties with Indigenous peoples; and an expansion of low-carbon sectors of the economy, including caregiving, teaching, the arts, and public-interest media.

Above all, the Leapers demand the transition to a low-carbon future begin now. More »

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 »

16. May 2016 · Comments Off on Footprint vs handprint: Engaging with global warming · Categories: Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Energy Policy, Fouling the Earth, Pipelines-Tarsands, Scott Harris, Transformative Ideas

First posted in the Chronicle Journal Sunday, May 15, 2016

The world’s best scientists, across a broad range of disciplines, have advised us that we humans are responsible for a spike in global temperatures not seen in hundreds of thousands of years.
They state that digging up and burning, in a couple of hundred years, solar energy stored as coal, gas and oil over hundreds of millions of years as the reason.

They have equated the addition of resulting greenhouse gases (GHGs), mainly carbon dioxide, to the detonation of 400,000 atomic bombs daily, 365 days a year.
And so they have asked us to reduce our “carbon footprint,” as ice-core samples have established a direct link between carbon in the atmosphere and global warming. More »