Subsidizing Mackenzie Valley gas

Emily Horn in reflected window light

It is hard to read the decision of the current government to support the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline as anything aside from a disappointment. To begin with, it was inappropriate to have the decision announced by the minister of the environment. After all, he should be the one in cabinet demanding that the environmental impacts of the plan be fully investigated. Secondly, it seems inappropriate to offer such aid while the Joint Review Panel is still examining the likely social and economic impacts of the plan.

If we are going to successfully address climate change, we are going to need to leave most of the carbon trapped in the planet’s remaining fossil fuels underground. By the same token, we will need to develop energy sources that are compatible with that goal. At this juncture in history, I can see the case for providing government funding to help with the up-front capital costs of concentrating solar, wind, or geothermal plants. It is a lot harder to see why oil and gas companies that were recently pulling in record profits deserve financial support at taxpayer expense.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

12 thoughts on “Subsidizing Mackenzie Valley gas”

  1. Mackenzie Valley Pipeline
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline is a proposed project to transport natural gas from the Beaufort Sea through Canada’s Northwest Territories to tie into gas pipelines in northern Alberta. The project was first proposed in the early 1970s, but was scrapped following an inquiry conducted by Justice Thomas Berger. The project was resurrected in 2004 with a new proposal to transport gas through the sensitive arctic tundra. Probabilistic estimates of hydrocarbons in the Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea regions project that there are natural gas reserves of 1.9 trillion cubic metres (67×10^12 cu ft).

  2. This is a joke. It exposes the minister for the environment to be nothing of the sort. It exposes the state in general to be concerned with achieving certain pre-given political steps, rather than making the political steps which are best for Canada.

    The best consequence this could have is people (in the media, and outside) could begin to ridicule EC under the conservatives, which might increase support for defeating the budget.

    Just to make this clear for Google searches – the minister for the environment is a joke.

  3. Given the NDP’s opportunistic opposition to the Green Shift – as well as new pro-oil sands stance – it’s not clear the coalition would actually help Canada move towards a low carbon society.

    The best hope now seems to be that Obama will reject overtures for a cozy ‘environment’ deal with Canada and demand that goods entering the US have a real price for carbon applied to them.

  4. “The stupidest thing you can do (is) to run against an industry that is providing employment for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, and not just in Alberta, but right across the country,” Ignatieff told an audience largely of business graduate students at HEC Montreal, a management school affiliated with the University of Montreal.

    Aware that the tar sands, one of the biggest oil deposits in the world, and also one of the dirtiest, is a controversial subject in Quebec, Ignatieff told the audience that “all questions of energy policy are a question of national unity.”

    That’s about as close as you can come to saying: “Who cares about climate change? The immediate political situation requires us to pump and export oil as fast as we can.”

  5. Canada, U.S. in harmony on climate change: Prentice

    By Juliet O’Neill, Canwest News Service
    January 30, 2009 4:01 PM

    OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama have almost the same principles and goals on climate change, Energy Minister Jim Prentice said Friday.

    In an interview with Canwest News Service, he said Obama’s principles are “virtually identical” to those of the Conservative government and Canada’s targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are “somewhat more aggressive.”

  6. Prentice confirms cuts planned to environment reviews


    From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

    March 13, 2009 at 11:56 PM EDT

    OTTAWA — The Conservative government plans dramatic cuts to the number of projects that require federal environmental assessments, triggering accusations that Ottawa is abandoning its environmental duties under the banner of economic stimulus.

    A leaked government document outlining the proposed changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act indicates Environment Minister Jim Prentice has asked for a bill “overhauling” the legislation as soon as possible.

    Under the new system, the government should “expect to capture 200-300 projects per year,” the document states. That would represent a more than 95 per cent drop from the roughly 6,000 federal environmental assessments that currently take place each year.

  7. Layton warns of ‘brown and polluted’ economic recovery


    The Canadian Press

    March 14, 2009 at 7:43 PM EDT

    EDMONTON — Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton says the Harper government is fighting the recession on the back of the environment.

    A leaked document that shows Ottawa doesn’t want to do as many environmental impact reviews doesn’t bode well for the protection of Canada’s land, air and water, Mr. Layton said Saturday.

    The New Democrats first got wind of the government’s plan in January through a Freedom of Information request, and raised the issue in the House of Commons at that time.

  8. Prentice signals impatience with Mackenzie panel


    From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail

    March 16, 2009 at 9:00 PM EDT

    CALGARY — Jim Prentice says he has “sought legal advice” on how to speed the work of a panel reviewing the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the proposed $16-billion Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

    But the federal Environment Minister declined to detail what options he has at his disposal, or whether he would use them, in remarks made to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce yesterday.

  9. Feds mum on pipeline commitment

    Andrew Livingstone
    Northern News Services
    Published Monday, March 30, 2009

    SOMBA K’E/YELLOWKNIFE – The federal government will not release the dollar amount of its financial commitment to the Mackenzie Valley gas project until a deal is finalized according to a response to questions posed by MP Dennis Bevington.

    On Jan. 19, Bevington asked federal government to specify its commitment to the pipeline project. The Western Arctic MP’s main concern was how much the Harper government was planning to spend on the project. Environment Canada responded saying “the details of the financial offer presented to the project’s proponents … have not been made public as they are subject to Cabinet confidence.”

  10. News from The Globe and Mail

    Exxon backs Alaska gas pipeline
    Decision jeopardizes Mackenzie project crucial to development of Canada’s north


    00:00 EDT Friday, June 12, 2009

    VANCOUVER — Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM-N has joined forces with TransCanada Corp. TRP-T on its $26-billion (U.S.) natural gas pipeline from Alaska to Alberta, a move that jeopardizes the Mackenzie Valley gas project vital to the development of Canada’s north.

    Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded energy company, controls the most gas in northern Alaska and is also the key backer of the Mackenzie project through its controlling stake in Calgary’s Imperial Oil Ltd., IMO-T which puts the Texas-based company in the role of deciding which project goes ahead.

    With Exxon’s decision to co-develop the Alaska pipeline and reportedly take a minority equity stake, TransCanada is much closer to meeting its target of shipping gas south to a hub on the Alberta-British Columbia border by late 2018.

  11. Arctic pipeline environmental study expected this week

    Much-delayed document on Mackenzie Valley gas project ready three years after its original deadline

    Bob Weber

    The Canadian Press Published on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009 11:03AM EST Last updated on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009 11:10AM EST

    Even at noon, Inuvik’s weak December sun never seems to light the Arctic community brighter than twilight — no longer night, not quite day.

    It’s a little like how businessmen have been feeling about their own prospects in the Mackenzie Delta community after seemingly endless delays in a project they’ve pinned their hopes on — the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline.

    “Everyone’s hoping for a positive announcement and away we go,” says Kurt Wainman, who’s got a yard full of heavy equipment sitting idle just waiting for some nice, juicy oil patch work.

    Some time this week, a little of Mr. Wainman’s limbo will lift.

    More than three years after its original deadline, the long-awaited Joint Review Panel will finally table its report on the pipeline’s environmental and social effects.

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