Dismal pipeline news

2020-07-04

in Canada, Politics, The environment

If the countries which have created the most total climate pollution up to this point continue to believe that they can build new fossil fuel projects which will operate decades into the future it calls into question how we are ever going to get the world as a whole to keep enough carbon underground to avoid catastrophic climate change.

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. July 4, 2020 at 1:37 am

Experts say the court’s decision to end the years-long legal battle demonstrates stability to potential investors and provides clarity about what constitutes adequate consultations with Indigenous groups.

That ripple effect could permeate beyond oil and gas projects into the energy sector as a whole.

“There’s greater clarity on what can be appealed and what can’t be appealed, and what the likely outcome is. It provides certainty or additional certainty for projects of all different types,” said Marla Orenstein, the director of the natural resource centre at the Canada West Foundation.

“The certainty that this decision provides is important.”

The expansion would nearly triple the capacity of the pipeline, to 890,000 barrels per day, delivering diluted bitumen to a terminal in Burnaby outside Vancouver.

It’s also expected to lead to a sevenfold increase in the number of tankers in the shared waters between Canada and Washington state.

. July 7, 2020 at 9:48 pm
. July 7, 2020 at 9:49 pm
. July 8, 2020 at 7:15 pm

On Monday, federal courts dealt major setbacks to the controversial Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. The two decisions came directly on the heels of an announcement that energy utilities were abandoning another high-profile project: the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would have crossed beneath the Appalachian Trail. Together, these developments amount to a stunning victory for environmental advocates and tribes who have long challenged these projects in court, and are just the latest roadblocks to the Trump Administration’s “energy dominance” agenda, which has sought to expedite fossil fuel projects in an era of climate change. But, how, exactly did this all come to pass, and back-to-back-to-back at that? The reason the pipelines have faltered is mainly due to legal errors and injudicious project approvals. It’s a bureaucratic failure rather than any kind of policy directive.

The Dakota Access pipeline is a prime example of how rushing through legal requirements has backfired for federal agencies during the Trump Administration. Following the Administration’s efforts to expedite the permit process, the pipeline was completed in 2017, but legal challenges plagued the project even after oil began flowing. Led by the Standing Rock Sioux, advocates mounted a successful challenge under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires that all projects with federal approvals take a “hard look” at environmental effects before a project is completed.

In March, a federal district court ruled that the Trump Administration had not adequately assessed the risks of the project as required by NEPA, such as threats it posed to Lake Oahe, which the pipeline runs directly under. On Monday, the same court concluded that the pipeline’s operations—moving up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day—must cease and the pipeline must be emptied of oil by August 5. The agency will conduct the required environmental review in the meantime, a process that’s expected to take up to a year to complete.

The Dakota Access decision encapsulates how longstanding laws like NEPA—while at times unfairly criticized as requiring cumbersome “red tape”—are sometimes all that prevents ill-conceived or risky projects from jeopardizing vital public resources like clean drinking water. The government erred by rushing through the NEPA process, forgoing the careful environmental review required by law. The court found the agency’s initial analysis so severely lacking that the “potential harm each day the pipeline operates” outweighed concerns over “the disruption such a shutdown will cause.” The agency will now prepare a new analysis, and the proposed timeline means the ultimate fate of the pipeline is uncertain, especially considering November’s election. A new Biden administration could decide to not reissue the project’s authorizations and halt it entirely.

. July 10, 2020 at 9:35 pm
. July 11, 2020 at 3:44 pm

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