A Canadian Public Relations Strategy

Nearly five years ago Jim Prentice, then Minister of the Environment in the Federal Cabinet, made it clear to the power industry that Canada’s 2020 emission target required a move away from coal. The next year the Federal Government banned construction of new generating plants fired by coal unless equipped with Carbon Capture and Storage. …

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Further Delays for Keystone XL

You have to follow issues arising in the approval of Transcanada’s Keystone XL pipeline closely to understand the latest delay.

Two plus years ago TransCanada realized it had to re-route the path of Keystone to avoid fundamental criticism from environmentalists,. The path originally chosen threatened the Oglala aquifer, a critical source of water in the dry American Midwest.

To expedite a new routing, TransCanada moved quickly, using all legal and commercial means at its disposal.  Unfortunately certain Nebraska farmers were not prepared to be steamrollered. They took their case to court, arguing that the methods TransCanada used were improper.  Late last fall the court delivered its verdict, siding with the farmers.  TransCanada appealed this decision.  Sometime later this year or next the Nebraska Court of Appeal will deliver its judgement.

In the meantime, the US State Department has extended the period for its administrative review. Until its final review is completed, President Obama will not decide whether Keystone should be approved.

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Stating the Obvious that wasn’t stated!

Former President Jimmy Carter and other Nobel Prize winners signed a letter to President Obama urging him to reject the Keystone Pipeline. Prime Minister Harper’s office responded quickly, citing the many arguments in favour of Keystone that its supporters have presented over the past three years.

This response also referred to the problems of oil supply that followed on the Iranian crisis of 1979, a factor contributing to President Carter’s defeat in 1980.

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Keystone approval: a bargain with the devil?

The world knows that Ambassador Doer has been a cheerleader for the Keystone pipeline. So his writing a support letter for Keystone XL is not really a news story.

What makes his letter to the US State Department interesting was a two line statement buried in a three page letter. Doer wrote:

“Our energy and environment officials are currently assessing common energy issues, including potential oil and gas issues, which we could usefully address together.”

At beginning of 2013, we reported on the efforts of a group of Canadian politicians who blitzed Washington pressuring for a favourable decision on Keystone XL.  During discussions with high-ranking members of the US administration hints were dropped that approval would be easier if the Canadian Government showed it was serious about regulating GHG emissions from the tar sands.

Premier Redford of Alberta was negative about further regulation.  She stated that she was proud of Alberta’s management of the tar sands.  She wrote a column for the business newspaper US Today  “Keystone was Responsible oil Sands Development.”

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No stopping the exploitation of the tar sands!

Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law, penned an article with the title “Dear President Obama: In Canada climate change affects none of our decisions!”

His article is a good analysis of the recent State Department Review of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  He compares the process followed by the State Department in conducting that Review with similar decisions of Canadian Government agencies.

We know that the State Department accepted that the tar sands bitumen would get to international markets whether or not the cross-border Keystone XL link was built.   Gage disputes this conclusion.

Regardless, he is right on the key issue!

Read moreNo stopping the exploitation of the tar sands!