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!
In exercising their authority, the State Department took into account the increase of GHG emissions into the world’s atmosphere. In Canada, key government agencies such as the National Energy Board and the Vancouver Port Authority disclaim any responsibility to consider the global level of GHG emissions in deciding whether fossil fuel projects subject to their jurisdiction should get a green light.
Apart from some bombastic statements to the contrary, the Canadian Government is indifferent to global levels of GHG. Shouldn’t government agencies follow the same policy? Any government agency that adopted a different policy would feel the lash of the Government. Practically speaking, these agencies must take the prudent approach of “me tooism”!
This is yet another inconsistency. Our Government claims that its goal is to synchronize its laws and policies on climate change to mirror the US. If so, why hasn’t our Government given a directive to government agencies to assess the climate effects of any project they are asked to approve?
The reason is obvious. The present Canadian Government is determined to facilitate the exploitation of the tar sands. It does not wish any agency to raise issues of climate change that could only have a negative impact on this exploitation.