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Mitch Cronin

Sorry Albertans, stuff your fossil fuel

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  • Calgary Herald
  • 8 May 2020
  • LICIA CORBELLA Licia Corbella is a Postmedia columnist in Calgary.
img?regionKey=%2b5lN%2b0B507zDLBOq9C0KrQ%3d%3dDARREN MAKOWICHUK Martha Billes, a renowned business leader with Canadian Tire, resigned as University of Guelph chancellor after the institution voted to divest itself from fossil fuels.

The president of the University of Guelph made an announcement Monday that was dismal news for the small Ontario university but encouraging for Albertans and other people who live in the real world.

Martha Billes, a renowned business leader with Canadian Tire Corp., resigned as the university’s chancellor after the institution’s board of governors voted April 22 to divest itself from fossil fuels.

“It is with a heavy heart that I inform our U of G community that Martha Billes has decided to step down as chancellor,” Franco Vaccarino, the university’s president, announced in a written statement.

Here’s hoping that not only will his heart remain heavy but his coffers much lighter, as apparently Billes, who became the sole controlling shareholder at Canadian Tire in 1997, was a “significant” and “strong supporter” of the university for decades.

“I have enjoyed my tenure as chancellor of the University of Guelph and I remain a passionate champion of the university, proud of their tradition of quality and excellence,” said Billes, who, at the time of her investiture as chancellor in 2017, revealed that her time at the university where she graduated in 1963 was “transformational” for her, ultimately leading to her taking control of the Canadian retail giant, which was co-founded by her father, A.J. Billes.

“For over 40 years, I have been an investor in business ventures, including the oil business in my home city of Calgary and my family business, Canadian Tire Corp.,” Billes said in a written statement.

“My decision to resign as chancellor was prompted by the incompatibility of my business interests with the board of governors’ decision to divest from fossil fuel companies in its endowment portfolio.”

Good for her, bad for Guelph. This is all reminiscent of when the University of Alberta decided to confer an honorary degree on David Suzuki in June 2018. The university lost a lot of money not just from corporations, but individuals who make their living supplying an essential product that makes living in Canada so pleasurable, if not possible.

Which brings us to comments made Wednesday by federal Green party Leader Elizabeth May and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-francois Blanchet that Canada’s oil and gas industry should not be saved.

“Oil is dead,” said May.

In her preamble to that catchy three-word sentence, May incorrectly quoted comments made by Shell on Monday, when chief financial officer Jessica

Uhl warned investors of “major demand destruction that we don’t even know will come back.”

Uhl said the company expects an “L-shaped recovery,” implying that oil demand will be nine per cent below last year.

Considering that the world was consuming 100 million barrels of oil per day before the COVID-19 recession struck, it’s difficult to see how 91 million barrels of oil per day constitutes death.

Almost as inaccurate and delusional were comments made by Blanchet.

Speaking to CBC’S Power & Politics on Wednesday, Blanchet said Alberta’s oil is too costly to produce and the federal government shouldn’t prop up businesses “that will not be self-sufficient in any time in the future.”

Funny, but Blanchet has never said that about Bombardier, which was propped up by $4 billion in federal aid over the years and billions more by the Quebec government — including $1.3 billion in 2016 for the C-series planes, which have been sold to Airbus, and its train-making division to Alstom.

“It is clear that there is no long-term future for that kind of industry, so let’s help them go somewhere else, something which is more green,” Blanchet said.

In 2019, Quebec had a $4-billion surplus budget — surplus thanks to a $13-billion equalization payment from Ottawa, in which most of that money came from Alberta, despite that being a rough year for the oilpatch.

Premier Jason Kenney responded to a reporter’s question during Thursday’s COVID-19 news conference by calling May and Blanchet’s comments akin to kicking Alberta when it’s down.

“The Canadian energy industry has done more than any in modern Canadian history to create jobs and prosperity, to fund social programs and government services, and to unite Canadians with our equalization payments and transfer payments across the country, to which Alberta has contributed over $600 billion in recent decades, thanks largely to our energy resources,” said Kenney.

“These two leaders say that the energy industry is dead. Well, I would remind Mr. Blanchet that in Quebec they consume 60,000 barrels of oil a day,” said Kenney.

Sounds like a lot, right? But Kenney was actually wrong by three fold. According to the federal government’s Canadian Energy Regulator, Quebecers actually consume upwards of 180,000 barrels of crude per day, or 381,000 barrels per day of refined petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel and natural gas.

Almost half of Quebec’s crude consumption comes from Alberta, the rest comes from the U.S. and OPEC dictatorships, which are trying to destroy North America’s energy industry by turning up the taps and flooding the market with cheap oil during this drop in demand as a result of COVID -19.

“Mr. Blanchet said that Albertans have been sending ‘a string of insults to Quebec,’” said Kenney.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. What we have sent instead is tens of billions of dollars of wealth generated by the hard work of Albertans. Quebec receives $13 billion from equalization payments (every year) to pay for its health care payments right now during this pandemic, and most of that wealth comes from this province and the people who pay their federal taxes,” added Kenney.

Here’s hoping Quebecers, all other Canadians and university boards understand this reality because if this industry does die in Canada, this country will suffer terribly and Canadians will still consume oil and gas from other less-desirable places.

The cash cow would die and so would Canada’s way of life, and that would be a nightmare.

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Oil industry isn’t dead — it may be getting better NP1


  • Calgary Herald
  • 8 May 2020
  • JOHN IVISON Comment

Elizabeth May has provoked outrage by claiming “oil is dead.” It is not entirely clear why. It’s like the Pope proclaiming the Bible as the fount of spirituality.

May is the country’s environmental conscience — the demise of fossil fuels is an article of faith for her. But she is guilty of wishful thinking. The Canadian oil industry is not dead yet — in fact, it may be getting better.

In an article in Policy Magazine, May claimed Canadian oil is a “product lacking investors.”

Yet, at the annual general meeting of Barclays PLC in London on Thursday, shareholders of the giant European bank voted down a proposal by Share Action, an activist group that promotes “responsible” investing, to quit the Canadian oilpatch.

“The tarsands have no place in a Paris-compliant world,” Share Action said.

Three-quarters of the bank’s shareholders disagreed.

Financial institutions around the globe have been buckling before the might of such activist groups, but Barclays said that the industry here is supported by the Canadian government and is highly regulated. It agreed to stop lending to the coal industry and to stop funding Arctic drilling, but fought the case for continued lending to oilpatch clients, provided the carbon intensity per barrel is lower than the global median by the end of the decade — a goal most oilsands producers believe they will achieve.

The reason Barclays risked the wrath of Share Action and its fellow travellers is that it believes the Canadian industry may be in better shape coming out of the COVID crisis, than it was going in.

Barclays thinks many Canadian producers will have a superior ability to weather the current price war than over-leveraged U.S. shale producers; it believes a new pipeline from Alberta to the West Coast will be built; and it sees the prospect of Canadian oil sales to the East Coast carried by ship, via the Panama Canal.

The world still depends on oil and is likely to do so for many years, according to the International Energy Agency, even if its most recent review suggests demand may suffer in the short run.

This is not to suggest that the industry is in rude health.

Suncor was one of many oilsands giants this week to reveal massive losses in the first quarter, joining Canadian Natural Resources, Crescent Point, Cenovus, Husky and others.

Suncor said gasoline demand dropped by half and aviation fuel sales fell by 70 per cent. The sector has already turned off 600,000 barrels per day of production and that number is likely to hit one million. Planned capital spending has been cut across the board in an industry where investment was already around onethird 2014 levels.

The price of Western Canadian Select has stabilized, trading at around $22 on Thursday, but that’s still below break-even for many producers.

But while the energy industry is down, it is not out.

This is just as well for the Canadian economy, given it is the country’s largest export industry, responsible for 10 per cent of GDP; employs more than half a million people; and, contributes around $8 billion in tax revenues.

If it was dead, the deleterious effects would ripple beyond the Prairies: Canadian banks, for example, have around $60-billion of exposure in loans to the oilpatch.

May, and Bloc Québécois leader Yves-francois Blanchet, have shown almost indecent haste in calling for the pandemic to be used as an opportunity to reorient the energy mix away from Alberta oil.

“The pandemic in a very real way, as horrific as it is at many levels, gives us an opportunity to stop and think about how we manage to get this economy back on its feet,” May said. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday that May and Blanchet should stop kicking Albertans when they’re down.

But there is considerable sympathy for May’s view in Liberal circles.

In his morning press conference, Justin Trudeau said government efforts at spurring recovery will take into account how to “build better” — greener outcomes with less pollution.

The federal budget, when it eventually lands, is likely to be heavy with sustainable-finance measures, policies that might encourage the financing of innovation, clean electricity, retrofits and climate-resistant infrastructure.

But the prime minister was politically astute enough not to gloat about the travails hitting oil producing provinces.

“I don’t share that assessment,” he said, when asked if he agreed with May.

Since April 17, Trudeau has been talking about help for the oil and gas sector. There has been a $1.7-billion commitment to clean up orphan and abandoned wells, as well as money made available to reduce methane emissions.

But the province has called for the federal government to go further and use its ability to borrow at rock-bottom interest rates to provide a $20-billion liquidity backstop for major producers.

Frustration with the federal government inside Kenney’s Alberta government is usually high, but tempers have shortened from sporadic Happy Gilmore levels to what might be termed Goodfellas.

The belief is that the Department of Finance has pulled together a plan for a liquidity facility that the Prime Minister’s Office has held up for political reasons.

Senior officials in Alberta point out that companies are not looking for a bailout, just help to withstand a prolonged period of instability. “Government support signals to the markets the willingness to back this industry. It says ‘we’re the fire department and we have a ton of water to throw on this fire’,” said one senior source.

The federal cabinet appears to be split on whether to help put out a conflagration caused by COVID and the oil-supply overhang created by Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Detractors point out the high carbon content of Alberta bitumen: Stanford University places Canada behind only Venezuela, Cameroon and Algeria in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy.

Supporters point out that half the crude extracted in the U.S. has a similar emission level; that the amount of energy used per barrel has fallen 20 per cent since 2011; and that the province has an absolute cap on emissions. If Canadian oil is displaced by product from overseas, it will likely be from a country where environmental activists would not dare to operate.

The bottom line is that the energy industry is in transition — even Kenney admits as much.

But the country needs a functional fossil fuel industry to help fund that shift. It will not happen overnight.

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1 hour ago, Marshall said:

“The tarsands have no place in a Paris-compliant world,”

As time goes by, a bigger and bigger part of me hopes these folks get exactly what they appear to be asking for.

It's a bit like trying to convince a 16 year old girl who is about to quit school and move in with her unemployed 28 year old boyfriend that once she has what she wants she might not want it anymore. In fact, she likely doesn't even know the full extent of what she doesn't want because she has never experienced want in the first place.

If you are a Paris Accord supporter then it's easy, all we need to do is keep doing what we are right now... anyone  grieving for the Ontario Green Energy Plan and wanting to pay more could find a poor family and pay their electric bill for them.  

But I bet that 16 year old girl moves out long before that happens... now, the real question is how do we know that? I say it comes from common sense and experience as opposed to opinion and agenda. 

Edited by Wolfhunter

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  • Wolfhunter
  • Donating Member
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  3 hours ago, Marshall said:

“The tarsands have no place in a Paris-compliant world,”

As time goes by, a bigger and bigger part of me hopes these folks get exactly what they appear to be asking for.

It's a bit like trying to convince a 16 year old girl who is about to quit school and move in with her unemployed 28 year old boyfriend that once she has what she wants she might not want it anymore. In fact, she likely doesn't even know the full extent of what she doesn't want because she has never experienced want in the first place.

If you are a Paris Accord supporter then it's easy, all we need to do is keep doing what we are right now... anyone  grieving for the Ontario Green Energy Plan and wanting to pay more could find a poor family and pay their electric bill for them.  

But I bet that 16 year old girl moves out long before that happens... now, the real question is how do we know that? I say it comes from common sense and experience as opposed to opinion and agenda. 



I agree that the "Tar Sands" will never belong in a Paris-compliant world" but I know that the "Oil Sands" have a place in our world and in particular a world that has become ever dependent on PPE's  and other equipment made from petroleum products.

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COMMENTARY: Oil is not ‘dead’ despite the eagerness of some to write its obituary

Posted May 9, 2020 8:00 am

As much as airlines are suffering as a result of this pandemic — and that very much includes Canada’s major airlines — it would be absurd to argue that the airline industry is “dead.”

To be sure, the industry faces a long road to recovery and a great deal of uncertainty along the way. Some airlines might not make it, while others may be forced to downsize or to drastically overhaul their operations.

If we want Canada’s airlines to survive, then we need to look at how to help them through this, lest we find ourselves in the future dependent on foreign carriers. But no one seriously thinks that the airline industry has no future, and such a claim would likely be met with derision.

It is through a similar lens that we should view the comments about the oil and gas industry from former Green Party leader Elizabeth May and, to a certain extent, from Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet.

On Wednesday, May declared that the oil and gas industry was no longer viable, citing the pandemic, the drop in prices resulting from the price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, and what she sees as growing demand for alternative forms of energy. In response to a follow-up question, May was blunt: “Oil is dead,” she said.
Trudeauthumbersite5.jpg?w=1040&quality=70&strip=all1:39Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says he disagrees with May, Blanchet that ‘oil is dead’

 Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says he disagrees with May, Blanchet that ‘oil is dead’

Blanchet, meanwhile, more or less concurred with May, declaring that “tar sands are condemned and putting any more money in that business is a very bad idea.”


Fortunately, the prime minister made it clear that he did not share this assessment. It seems quite clear that both May and Blanchet are trying to advance their own environmental and regional agendas. They do not want the federal government to provide support to the oil and gas industry and are trying to convince Canadians that doing so is an exercise in futility.

They are wrong.

Allowing the industry in Canada to wither and die is a choice we’d be making. It is not an inevitable outcome from this pandemic. The death of Canada’s fossil fuel industry simply concedes that market share to other oil producers (just as a loss of Venezuelan oil last year conceded market share to Canada). There’s a reason why the Saudis and Russians are so ruthless in fighting for market share.

It is odd that May would point to the Saudi-Russian price war and even stranger still that she would see low oil prices as good news for green energy. The whole point of putting a price on carbon is to make fossil fuels more expensive, which discourages demand and also makes alternatives more competitive.

Once demand returns, those low prices will give fossil fuels a competitive advantage.

TH_HOC_1_CHAOS_thumbnail_1280x720.jpg?w=1040&quality=70&strip=all1:47Virtual House of Commons descends into chaos after Conservative MP accuses ‘fringe left’ Elizabeth May of wanting to ‘destroy’ Canada’s oil industry

 Virtual House of Commons descends into chaos after Conservative MP accuses ‘fringe left’ Elizabeth May of wanting to ‘destroy’ Canada’s oil industry

Prior to the pandemic, the International Energy Agency was forecasting that global oil demand would continue to grow for another 20 years, peaking at 106.4 million barrels a day in 2040. Undoubtedly, this pandemic has altered those forecasts, but hardly to the extent that May would have us believe.

Fossil fuels still represent about four-fifths of the world’s overall energy consumption. That number will obviously decline in the years ahead as the demand for renewables and other alternatives grows, but that hardly constitutes the basis for writing the industry’s obituary.

We don’t have to kill off Canada’s oil and gas industry to support a transition to renewables or to address the broader challenge of climate change. We do need to recognize that the world is, for now, still very much dependent on fossil fuels and it’s certainly in Canada’s best interests for us to remain a player in that global marketplace. The demise of Canada’s industry will only compound our economic pain and make our long-term recovery more difficult.


The prime minister was right to say, as he did, that Canada needs “the innovation, the hard work and the vision and the creativity of people working right now in the energy sector.”

Hopefully he’ll continue to ignore the likes of May and Blanchet on this point. The oil and gas business is not dead, despite those who wish it to be.

Rob Breakenridge is host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Global News Radio 770 Calgary and a commentator for Global News.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Rex Murphy – Was it code?: The PM's bizarre announcement on the carbon tax hike

What was the logic for the government to increase a tax in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than a million Canadian jobs lost?

Everyone to their cost knows Canada has been more or less shut down for over two months. Hardly any part of business or industry has been spared. I read somewhere that the talismanic barometer so beloved by the Greens — our so-called “carbon emissions” — is expected to be down by eight per cent globally this year.

It sounds right. Countries idle. Less energy burned. Less CO2.

What then was the logic in the midst of the pandemic, when almost all the motors that drive industry in Canada were virtually turned off, for the government to hike its so-called carbon tax? Oil prices were already at rock bottom thanks to the Russia-Saudi Arabia forced glut, gasoline cheaper than any time since Noah got off the Ark and started the first motor boat. So from the point of view of revenue collection, the timing was certainly off.

The timing was certainly off


Regardless, with so many people out of work and with personal budgets strained, more than a million jobs disappearing but still rents to be paid and bills to be met, it was not a time to raise a tax.

And recall there were still some “essential services” — farming and trucking to name the two most obvious — that would require energy, fuels, to provide the rest of us with necessities like food. The government in every other way was throwing billions of dollars out the Cottage door, but it still wanted to ping Canadians with the global-warming tax.

What was it thinking? Perhaps it was on the advice of its best astrologers that it selected April 1st, that being an auspicious day, to make the bizarre announcement. Still, the announcement itself, as I shall demonstrate, contributed more fog than daylight to the prime minister’s decision to go ahead with it.

trucker_break.jpg?w=590&quality=60&strip=all Truckers take a break at the Road King truck stop in Calgary during the COVID-19 pandemic on April 2, 2020. Gavin Young/Postmedia News

Justin Trudeau: “Our plan on pricing pollution puts more money upfront into people’s pockets than they would pay with the new price on pollution. We’re going to continue to focus on putting more money in people’s pockets to support them right across the country.”

Give that a read. Now please explain what the first sentence can possibly mean. Let’s take it apart. Pricing pollution? What does that mean? Well we know what “pricing” means. In Trudeau-speak pricing means “to put a tax on, to make more expensive, to enlarge the cost of any and all industrial activity that uses oil or gas as its necessary energy.”

And now “pollution.” We all know what pollution is. It’s sewage dumped into lake and harbour, poisonous chemicals sluiced into pristine streams, mounds of rotting garbage on any city outskirts. We are, alas, familiar with pollution.

Please explain what the first sentence can possibly mean


But is carbon dioxide, part of our life-giving air, a pollutant? Well, if Mr. Trudeau says he’s “pricing pollution” and if it’s carbon dioxide he’s pricing, then Q.E.D., it’s a pollutant. Probably right up there with that other hell gas, oxygen.

The rest of us however are open to the question: when did life-animating carbon dioxide, without which there would not be a green tree on the planet, not a blade of grass, not a flower with its blossoms or a bee to visit it, join ranks with industrial effluents, garbage and human excrement?

CO2 is the very Santa Claus of gases, it puts the green in our green planet. I’ll bet you didn’t know this: when roses hear carbon-dioxide is wafting by, they smile and blush and lay on the perfume.

farmer.jpg?w=590&quality=60&strip=all Jason Wilson of Bolton Farms cultivates a field of last year’s corn stubble near Strathroy, Ont., on April 2, 2020. Mike Hensen/Postmedia News

Thus, when Trudeau talks of “taxing pollution” in his peculiar vocabulary, meaning carbon dioxide, he is not only mangling language, he is maligning one of nature’s most beneficent miracles. If carbon dioxide were a person, it would sue him for misrepresentation.

Now let us get back to the first sentence as a whole:

“Our plan on pricing pollution puts more money upfront into people’s pockets than they would pay with the new price on pollution.”

I am tempted to offer any reader who can decipher this all the Canadian Tire money I have in the home safe. And all the Air Miles, now that the planes are not flying, I have collected at Sobeys. Does it say anything, does it bump into coherence, even by chance, at any point? Is this some form of code?

I am tempted to offer any reader who can decipher this all the Canadian Tire money I have in the home safe


He goes on. “We’re going to continue to focus on putting more money in people’s pockets to support them right across the country.” And how do you keep “putting money in people’s pockets” by imposing a tax hike on those people? A tax — here’s an insight — takes money out of people’s pockets. It cannot be passed back to them in a greater amount than it takes out, or it is a subsidy. If that was the way taxes worked, that you got more back than you paid in, well, in the words of the world’s most illustrious economist — “Hit me baby, one more time.”

The logic, rather the illogic, of the announcement was at one with the utter illogic of the ill-named carbon tax itself. Why during a period that is witnessing an historic downturn in almost every sector of the economy, does the government of Canada increase a tax on the energy needed for the very few, but absolutely essential services, that keep us going? An increased tax on those who produce it, and those who have to use it, if our country is to continue to operate during a crisis.

Even during this most exceptional of crises, the government will not, for a second, abandon its obsession with the global-warming cause


The only answer has to be, that even during this most exceptional of crises, the government will not, for a second, abandon its obsession with the global-warming cause.

It is that same obsession that makes it a condition for large industrial concerns applying for emergency relief “to demonstrate some degree of environmental commitment and vow to report annually on its climate and sustainability initiatives.” Why is the government’s climate-change agenda being imposed with such rigour, and being made a condition of emergency support, during a crisis? That is a good question. And if we had a Parliament in Canada maybe someone would ask it.

It was a folly to hike the tax on fuel six weeks ago. It is a kind of extortion to demand subservience to a climate-change agenda as an entry condition on a decision whether a company will live or die.

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Some Canadians are fighting to shut down or petrochemical (oil) industry. Blocking our ability to export it, you have to wonder if there is something else behind the movement other than a so called worry about the environment.

It suits the US to keep our oil in the ground to protect their future need. Others are taking advantage of our depressed industry to buy in.


And certain politicians are just out to lunch.


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Again Canada get manipulated by the Americans.  This has happened before with our Aerospace program.  We do something better so they move in and shut it down.  We need to stop cowing to the bully to the south and build our own economy.

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Same goes for building our own relationships with other countries based on Canadian needs, not on what is dictated by the U.S. 

It's just another step in the downfall of the U.S. influence on the world.

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Won't it be nice for Canada to finally have a friendly face in the White House....


Biden says he'd cancel Keystone XL pipeline permit if elected

Statement from likely Democratic nominee suggests long-stalled pipeline could be quashed if he wins

Mon May 18, 2020 - CBC News

Joe Biden will cancel the Keystone XL pipeline if he's elected president of the United States, his campaign said Monday in a potential death blow for the delay-plagued Canada-U.S. oil project.

His staff said he would withdraw the permit issued by President Donald Trump.

The emphatic statement from Biden's campaign ends months of ambiguity, as Biden had not joined other Democratic candidates in pledging to revoke the permit.

The policy director for Biden's campaign said Monday that cancelling Keystone XL was the right decision in 2015, when Biden, then vice-president, attended a White House event where then-president Barack Obama cancelled the permit.

"It's still the right decision now. In fact, it's even more important today," said Stef Feldman in response to a query from CBC News after the U.S. site Politico reported on Biden's decision.

"Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room [of the White House] again as president and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit."

A spokesperson for Canada's deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, responded by saying the Canadian government supports Keystone XL: "It is a good project that will create jobs for Canadians and it fits within our climate plan."


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World to Canada: You’re raising your carbon tax during a global pandemic?

“ With carbon tax burdens declining around the globe, walking back the recent carbon tax hike should be a no-brainer for our federal government “



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has chosen to make life more expensive for Canadians by raising the federal carbon tax by 50 per cent amidst the COVID-19 economic and health crisis. Meanwhile, governments around the world are moving in the opposite direction. Why? Because hiking taxes during a global pandemic is a bad idea.

Provinces have already tapped the brakes on their own carbon tax hikes. British Columbia Premier John Horgan announced he would not be going forward with his planned April 1 carbon tax hike. Instead of mirroring the federal increase, Newfoundland and Labrador is maintaining its tax at $20 per tonne. The price of carbon allowances in the Quebec-California cap-and-trade system has also fallen due to COVID-19 and current macroeconomic realities.

The European Union’s cap-and-trade scheme, which applies to 30 countries, has also seen its carbon tax rate drop significantly. For most of 2019 and early 2020, EU carbon prices traded around €25 per tonne before nosediving to around €15 per tonne in March. The EU’s cap-and-trade carbon tax rate, which varies according to market conditions, has fallen 32 per cent below its 2020 peak, according to the most recent data available. Although the tax rate has increased since bottoming out, S&P Global Platts Analytics forecasts the COVID-19 shock will continue to exert downward pressure in the cap-and-trade market.

Other counties are also providing carbon tax relief. The Norwegian government reduced its carbon tax rates on natural gas and liquified petroleum gas to zero and will keep them below pre-coronavirus levels until 2024. Norway also deferred payments on various fuel taxes until June 18.


Estonia’s finance minister, Martin Helme, formally called for his country to consider leaving the EU’s cap-and-trade carbon tax system to provide relief for taxpayers. The prime minister later announced that Estonia would not seek to leave the EU’s carbon tax system but lowered the excise tax on electricityto the minimum allowed by the EU and also reduced its excise taxes on diesel, light and heavy fuel oil, shale oil and natural gas. Helme explained: “Due to the economic downturn, both people’s incomes and the revenue of companies are declining, but daily household expenses such as electricity or gas bills still need to be paid. To better cope with them, we are reducing excise duty rates on gas and electricity for two years.”

Outside the EU: the United Kingdom is saving its taxpayers between £15 million and £20 million per year by walking back its plan to increase its carbon tax top-up; New Zealand’s cap-and-trade tax rate has fallen by more than 20 per cent this year; and South Africa pushed back carbon tax payments by three months.

It’s worth noting that Canada’s carbon tax is not likely to have any meaningful impact on global emissions. According to the World Bank, only 45 countries(out of 195 countries worldwide) are covered by a carbon tax and only 15.6 per cent of total world emissions are covered by these carbon taxes. Furthermore, about half of the emissions covered by carbon taxes are priced below US$10 per tonne of CO2 emissions, significantly lower than Canada’s federal rate and too low to really make a difference.



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“Canada intent on worsening urgent fiscal problem with increasingly lonely climate change battle“

Canada has an urgent fiscal problem our government seems determined to worsen by continuing to wage its increasingly lonely battle against climate change. In the 78 years from Confederation to the end of the Second World War federal debt reached $258 billion, adjusted for inflation. During the past 10 weeks the federal government has effectively pledged to match that this fiscal year, with more coming. According to a C.D. Howe study, “Ottawa’s net debt is headed for the previously inconceivable level of $1 trillion,” which is $105,000 for a family of four. That crushing burden means years of higher taxes, reduced social spending and less help for the provinces, which are on the front lines of our health-care system

Now is the time to focus like a laser on growth and fiscal prudence and to avoid like the plague (pun intended) costly gestures that will retard recovery and achieve nothing substantive for the environment. What we should not do is widen an already yawning gap between Canada’s costly and uncompetitive climate policies and those of the rest of the world. We have much more to lose than countries not blessed with our vast proven oil and gas resources. Moreover, at 1.6 per cent of global GHG emissions, we can have no measurable impact on global temperatures, no matter how heroically we pursue a green transition. And yet Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said his 2020 budget will focus on the environment, while the feds recently raised the carbon tax by 50 per cent.

Every year from now until 2040 Canada could eliminate 1,500 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by substituting natural gas for coal in Asian power plants. Over the 20 years, that is the equivalent of four Canadian LNG export facilities. But that would require pipelines to tidewater, which — perversely — environmentalists oppose. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May’s resistance to gas pipelines and opposition to nuclear power belie her fervent claim to want to save the world from climate Armageddon.


The UN forecasts the pandemic could cut global economic growth to minus one per cent from a previously forecast increase of 2.5 per cent. That represents roughly $3 trillion in lost production. At the moment, developed countries are scrambling to cope with their devastated economies. Nor is climate change top-of-mind in the non-Western world, which is now responsible for three-quarters of global emissions. International pressure to give up on the calamitous fantasy of net zero emissions by 2050 will be intense, although it remains a throne speech commitment for the government.

China’s GHG emissions, representing 28 per cent of global emissions, will grow at least until 2030, given the country’s massively increased coal production. Although the U.S., at 14 per cent, has withdrawn from the Paris accord, it actually leads the world in greenhouse gas reductions because of its shift from coal to natural gas. India, currently at seven per cent of world emissions, will increase its share as it works to alleviate the poverty of 276 million people living on less than $1.25 a day. As for Germany, its transition to green energy has been called “an impending disaster.” Chancellor Angela Merkel recently caved on support for a green energy plan after her MPs rebelled against it.


One country that can afford to play-act is Norway, whose total financial assets exceed its debt only because of North Sea oil. Its $1.1-trillion sovereign-wealth fund just blacklisted four of Canada’s largest oil producers, citing concern over high carbon emissions. If we could stomach the hypocrisy, following Norway’s example would provide a double benefit: moral superiority and oodles of cash. So far, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is content with virtue-signalling on Canadians’ behalf, although he is fine personally, thank you very much.

There is also a geopolitical development to consider. Deepening tension with China, in part because of its deadly coverup of the COVID-19 virus, will weaken an already unravelling international consensus on climate change. Allies cannot afford to dissipate their competitiveness during a Cold War.

Canada has the dubious distinction of being the only country rich in energy resources whose government’s policy is to keep most of its wealth buried forever in order to address a global problem that it cannot solve but which countries that could solve it won’t. This is self-harm on a massive scale for no reason other than virtue-signalling in what is now increasingly an echo chamber. Could there be a less appropriate time for indulgent vanity than during the devastation of a global pandemic?

Joe Oliver was minister of natural resources (2011-14) and minister of finance (2014-15).

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And they complain about Ottawa wasting taxes. Thank the good conservative government of Alberta for this one. Corporate socialism, public capitalism.

Alberta picked up $8 million tab for land rent left unpaid by oil and gas companies in 2019

Data obtained via a freedom of information request shows taxpayers are footing the bill for delinquent companies’ payments to private landowners, to the tune of nearly $30 million since 2010

The Alberta government failed to recoup more than $8 million in land rents it paid to landowners on behalf of oil and gas companies last year, data obtained by The Narwhal via a freedom of information request reveals.

Industry paid back just $302,000, or less than four per cent of what was owed in 2019 — a continuation of a trend that has seen companies rack up nearly $30 million in rent debt to the government since 2010.

“If companies can’t afford to pay landowners to operate on private land, that’s a flashing red light that something is terribly wrong,” Regan Boychuk of the Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project told The Narwhal.

“There’s no effort afoot to solve this problem,” he added.

Companies are supposed to pay rent to landowners when they drill a well on their land. If a company doesn’t pay, a landowner can apply to the Government of Alberta’s Surface Rights Board for compensation. The government is then tasked with recouping that money from delinquent oil and gas companies.

But data shows it is seldom successful.

Since 2010, Alberta oil and gas companies have racked up nearly $30 million in debt to the Alberta government in this way.

Data obtained through freedom of information requests shows only $638,000, or just over two per cent, has been recovered over that period.

Alberta unpaid land rents oil and gas wells

The total amount paid out by government to landowners on behalf of delinquent oil and gas companies has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing 1,183 per cent since 2010. Data: Surface Rights Board / FOIP request with Alberta Environment and Parks. Graph: Carol Linnitt / The Narwhal

Meanwhile, the amount paid out by the government for land rent on behalf of delinquent oil and gas companies has increased 1,183 per cent since 2010.

At the same time, the province’s Orphan Well Association has been loaned more than half a billion dollars in recent years and in April the struggling conventional oil and gas industry in Alberta has been handed $1 billion in grants from the federal government to plug and clean up inactive wells languishing on the landscape, to be administered by the provincial government.

The Government of Alberta is currently accepting applications for the second phase of the $1-billion grant package, with $100 million earmarked specifically for the cleanup of sites owned by companies for which taxpayers have had to pay their land rent. For accepted wells, the government will now also pay for 100 per cent of well plugging and cleanup.

“We have to start asking the question, ‘why can’t they pay basic bills?’ ” Boychuk said. “And that leads to some uncomfortable answers about the future of the industry.”

Unpaid land rents Alberta oil and gas wells chart

In 2019, less than four per cent of the more than $8.4 million paid out by government on behalf of delinquent oil and gas companies was recouped, leaving taxpayers to cover the rest of the bill. Data: Surface Rights Board / FOIP request with Alberta Environment and Parks. Graph: Carol Linnitt / The Narwhal

‘Gaming the system’

There are more than 336,000 oil and gas wells across Alberta, according to the provincial government. Many of them are on private land. 

If a company fails to pay the annual rent they have agreed on, the landowner can apply for a “recovery of rentals” from the Surface Rights Board, as per the Surface Rights Act, and receive their compensation from Alberta’s general revenue fund. That’s taxpayer money.

The Narwhal reported last year that the tab for taxpayer money paying land rent on behalf of oil and gas companies was already $20 million. It’s now grown by close to $10 million, according to data provided to The Narwhal by the Surface Rights Board. 

This is supposed to be a temporary fix, as the government is then meant to recoup taxpayers’ money by tracking down the company and collecting the funds. 

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When an application is addressed, the board will try to contact the company and order them to pay. If that doesn’t work, the board directs the Minister of Environment and Parks to pay the landowner out of the government’s general revenue. (Alberta Environment and Parks and the Surface Rights Board did not reply to requests for an interview by publication time.)

To Daryl Bennett, a farmer and director with the landowner group Action Surface Rights, who has spent years trying to help landowners get the payments they’re owed, the government’s efforts are seldom enough.

“In the past, there’ve been cases where they just didn’t try,” he said. In those cases, barring a company from the site will have little effect, as the well is likely inactive anyway

Bennett said he believes companies have learned that skipping out on land rent can be a way to cut their costs.

“It’s just the way the system is — the way the law is. If companies don’t pay, the government is supposed to step in,” Bennett told The Narwhal. “A lot of companies have learned to game the system and take advantage of it.”

“It’s the business. When times are good, it’s good,” he said. “When it’s not, then they easily socialize the losses.”

“They’re just abusing the system to cut payments to landowners and kick the can down the road for years,” Bennett said.

Daryl Bennett

Daryl Bennett of landowner group Action Surface Rights. Photo: Theresa Tayler / The Narwhal

Companies ‘just don’t have the money’

Boychuk points to a number of other bills many oil and gas companies have been struggling to pay in recent years, from municipal taxes to levies owed to the Alberta Energy Regulator. 

“A lot of those companies just don’t have the money,” Bennett said, noting that this was a problem prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, too.

“Even before the pandemic, a bunch of them were hoping that the oil price would rise enough that they could sell their stuff to somebody and get their money out of it. They were already underwater,” he said.

Then the pandemic hit, flattening demand at the same time a global supply glut pushed benchmark prices into negative numbers.

Jay Averill, media relations manager for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, told The Narwhal that current events have forced many oil and gas companies into financial hardship.

“Since the middle of March over $8.6 billion in capital expenditure cuts have been announced in the Canadian upstream oil and gas sector,” Averill said in an emailed statement. “This is in response to the low commodity prices resulting from the global economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic along with the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.”

Others, like Boychuk, point to a longer-term trend of reduced profitability in the oilpatch, noting it’s not just the pandemic that has pushed companies into the red. Either way, unpaid bills have been increasingly falling on taxpayers, often the same people most affected by the volatility of the industry.

“It’s a catch-22 situation,” Bennett said. “If you force [companies] to pay, they go bankrupt. Then they don’t pay anything and you lose all the jobs and everything else.”

Edited by deicer

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More proof renewables are taking over....

U.S. renewable energy consumption surpasses coal for the first time in over 130 years

U.S. coal and renewable energy consumption

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

In 2019, U.S. annual energy consumption from renewable sources exceeded coal consumption for the first time since before 1885, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Monthly Energy Review. This outcome mainly reflects the continued decline in the amount of coal used for electricity generation over the past decade as well as growth in renewable energy, mostly from wind and solar. Compared with 2018, coal consumption in the United States decreased nearly 15%, and total renewable energy consumption grew by 1%.

Historically, wood was the main source of U.S. energy until the mid-1800s and was the only commercial-scale renewable source of energy in the United States until the first hydropower plants began producing electricity in the 1880s. Coal was used in the early 1800s as fuel for steam-powered boats and trains and making steel, and it was later used to generate electricity in the 1880s. EIA’s earliest energy estimates began in 1635.

EIA converts sources of energy to common units of heat, called British thermal units (Btu), to compare different types of energy that are reported in different physical units (barrels, cubic feet, tons, kilowatthours, etc.). EIA uses a fossil fuel equivalence to calculate electricity consumption of noncombustible renewables such as wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal.

U.S. coal and renewable energy consumption by source

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

In 2019, U.S. coal consumption decreased for the sixth consecutive year to 11.3 quadrillion Btu, the lowest level since 1964. Electricity generation from coal has declined significantly over the past decade and, in 2019, fell to its lowest level in 42 years. Natural gas consumption in the electric power sector has significantly increased in recent years and has displaced much of the electricity generation from retired coal plants.

Total renewable energy consumption in the United States grew for the fourth year in a row to a record-high 11.5 quadrillion Btu in 2019. Since 2015, the growth in U.S. renewable energy is almost entirely attributable to the use of wind and solar in the electric power sector. In 2019, electricity generation from wind surpassed hydro for the first time and is now the most-used source of renewable energy for electricity generation in the United States on an annual basis.

U.S. coal and renewable energy consumption

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

Although coal was once commonly used in the industrial, transportation, residential, and commercial sectors, today coal is mostly used in the United States to generate electricity. About 90% of U.S. coal consumption is in the electric power sector, and nearly all the rest is in the industrial sector.

Renewable energy is more broadly consumed by every sector in the United States. About 56% of commercially delivered U.S. renewable energy is used in the electric power sector, mostly from wind and hydroelectric power, but different types are also consumed in the industrial (22%), transportation (12%), residential (7%), and commercial (2%) sectors.

Biomass, which includes wood, biogenic waste, and biofuels, is consumed in every sector. Wood and the losses and co-products from production of biofuels are the main renewable sources used in the industrial sector, and biofuels such as fuel ethanol, biodiesel, and renewable diesel are used in the transportation sector. Wood, waste, solar, and geothermal are among the most common sources used directly in the residential and commercial sectors.

See EIA’s U.S. energy consumption by source and sector chart for data on all energy sources and sectors and Section 10 of EIA’s Monthly Energy Review for data on individual types of renewable energy.

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