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Trans Mountain pipeline expansion: Five things to know about the project

Trans Mountain pipeline expansion: Five things to know about the projectOTTAWA _ The federal cabinet's long-awaited decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is due Tuesday. Here are five things to know about the project.1\. What is it?There is an existing, 1,150-km pipeline carrying crude and refined oil products from Alberta's oilsands to a terminal in Burnaby, B.C. It transports about 300,000 barrels of oil a day, with refined products including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel making up about 15 per cent of its flows and crude oil the remainder. The refined products are used mainly in B.C.. About half the crude is sent to Washington state refineries on a different pipeline, and the rest mostly goes to Burnaby. Less than 10 per cent is loaded onto oil tankers. In 2018, 53 oil tankers used the Westridge Marine Terminal, where the pipeline ends.The expansion, first proposed in 2012, would build another pipeline roughly parallel to the existing one, and be able to carry 540,000 barrels a day, all of it diluted bitumen, to free up the original line for other products — although Trans Mountain says it remains capable of carrying heavy crude. The new line will require about 980 kilometres of new pipeline and reactivating 193 kilometres of existing pipeline that has not been used for many years. There will also be 12 new pumping stations along the route and 19 new storage tanks at terminals in both Alberta and B.C.The expansion will use the existing right of way for 73 per cent of the route, and 16 per cent will use right-of-ways granted for other infrastructure including telecommunications, hydro lines and highways. Eleven per cent of the route requires a new right of way.2\. Why do proponents want it expanded?One of the most common reasons given is that Canada's existing pipeline infrastructure is at capacity, and for Canadian oil producers to expand production, they need either more pipelines or more rail capacity. The lack of ability to get products out is having some impact on the price Canadian producers can get for the oil, though it is only one of the factors. The hope is also that getting more oil to the west coast will open up the option of Asian markets. Right now 99 per cent of Canadian oil exports go to the United States, which also has an impact on prices.Former federal environment minister David Anderson argues there's "no credible evidence" that Asia would be a significant market for the product, although proponents say that newer refineries overseas were designed expressly to take advantage of the lower prices for heavy and sour crude. They also argue that if there was more product available, more Asian refinery capacity would appear, given growing demand for oil in places like China and India. Critics call that expectation a myth and say any extra oil coming from Trans Mountain for export would still end up going to the United States for refining.3\. What is diluted bitumen?The main product coming out of Alberta's oilsands, bitumen is a thick product close to the consistency of cold molasses. To flow through pipelines, it must be mixed with chemicals to make it less viscous. The resulting product is diluted bitumen, or dilbit for short. Critics say it is more expensive to produce; proponents disagree, arguing production costs have declined in recent years. Originally, bitumen had to be mined, rather than pumped out of wells; so-called "in-situ" production — using steam injected underground to allow the product to be pumped to the surface — now generates more than half of the output. And while fears have long persisted about how dilbit and its chemical ingredients behave when spilled in water, recent studies suggest it doesn't immediately sink and can be easier to clean up.A major dilbit spill occurred in Michigan in 2010, when an Enbridge pipe leaked more than 3.7 million litres of dilbit into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. Cleanup efforts took more than five years and a section of the river was closed to recreational use for nearly two years. Three years after the Kalamazoo spill, Enbridge was ordered to return to the river to remove submerged oil and contaminated sediment. As of 2014, the estimated clean-up cost was more than $1 billion.4\. What is Bill C-69 and how does it relate to Trans Mountain?Bill C-69 is the federal government's proposed overhaul of the environmental assessment process for major national projects, including interprovincial pipelines and highways, new refineries, electricity grids, airports and offshore wind farms. The Liberals say it is needed because the process created in 2012 by the former Conservative government was considered to be too weak on Indigenous consultation and environmental protection; under that process the Federal Court of Appeal overturned cabinet approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline and the Trans Mountain expansion.C-69 has yet to become law and does not apply to Trans Mountain, but it would kick in for any future projects if the Senate passes it this week. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has vowed to repeal the bill if he becomes prime minister in the fall. The oil and gas industry says the legislation will prevent another pipeline from ever being approved in Canada, while environment groups argue it brings back some semblance of balance between approving major resource projects and ensuring Canada meets its climate change commitments.The Senate introduced more than 180 amendments to the bill, many of which would have reduced the requirements for taking into account impacts on Indigenous communities and climate change, and the government rejected more than half the Senate's proposals. The Senate this week will debate the government's response and decide whether it can live with the bill without those amendments.5\. What are the political ramifications of the Trans Mountain decision?The voices for and against the project are strong. Oil-industry advocates and conservative politicians say the pipeline is a must to keep the oilsands industry going; environmentalists and more left-leaning politicians are adamant that a new pipeline will make it impossible to meet Canada's international climate change obligation to cut emissions almost 30 per cent over the next 11 years.For the Liberals, who have been trying to balance the economic needs of the oil industry and Alberta, with the concerns about climate change and the environment, the pipeline has proven troublesome. It is part of their "grand bargain" to prove their constant refrain that the "economy and the environment go hand in hand."Their efforts to appease the oil industry by approving the pipeline and pulling out as many stops as they can to back up that approval — including buying the existing pipeline for $4.5 billion and promising to expand it themselves — have not improved the government's credibility in the oil industry. Environmental groups that largely supported the Liberals in 2015 are also deeply skeptical. Indigenous communities are also divided over the pipeline, with some who feel if they can get a financial stake in the pipeline it will be a path to economic freedom, and others who worry if there is ever a spill it will have devastating consequences for their traditional way of life. The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version lacked additional details about bitumen production costs and methods, potential environmental impact and refining capacity in Asia.


Trump offers help with Canadian detainees in China in upbeat visit with Trudeau

Trump offers help with Canadian detainees in China in upbeat visit with TrudeauWASHINGTON — It was third-time lucky for Justin Trudeau in Washington on Thursday as President Donald Trump welcomed his "friend" the hard-working Canadian prime minister and offered to help him out of a jam with China.One year after Trump insulted Trudeau after leaving the G7 in Quebec — dishonest, weak, meek, mild is how he described him on Twitter — the president displayed a statesman's grace in welcoming the Canadian leader.Trump signalled Thursday he will raise the issue of two Canadians detained in China when he meets with the Chinese president next week. And even though he held to his tough talk on tariffs, refusing to rule out using them in the future, he praised his North American neighbours for crafting an excellent new trade agreement.The aura of restraint that Trump projected came on a tense morning as his administration was seized with responding to Iran's Revolutionary Guard shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone. The move sparked competing and unverifiable accounts over where the downing occurred and deepened a conflict between the U.S. and Iran but Trump was adamant the plane was in international waters.Trudeau's trip to Washington, including his third Oval Office visit since Trump assumed power in2017, was aimed primarily at pushing the new North American trade agreement over the finish line in both countries."He's been a friend of mine. We've worked hard together. We worked, in particular, on the USMCA," Trump said, using the acronym for his preferred name for the new trade pact, the United States-Mexio-Canada Agreement.After his meeting with Trump, Trudeau announced co-operation on a series of initiatives, include a new push to combat the opioid crisis in both countries. They also agreed to speed up two previous plans to ease the flow of goods and people across the border: a new preclearance plan and a long-planned sharing of information on people entering and exiting the two countries will begin this summer.Speaking to reporters as he and Trudeau sat in the Oval Office, Trump vowed to do whatever he could do to help Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig when he meets China's President Xi Jinping at next week's G20 leaders' summit in Japan, if Trudeau — as expected — asks for his help.The two Canadians have been languishing behind bars in China since shortly after Canada arrested high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou late last year at the behest of U.S. authorities.Canada has been caught in the crossfire after the RCMP arrested Meng last December in Vancouver, where she awaits extradition south of the border to face allegations of fraud in violating Iran sanctions.Trudeau doesn't have a planned meeting with Xi, unlike Trump. The U.S.-China meeting next week is focused on a trade deal."I'll represent him well, I will tell you," Trump said. "We'll see what happens, but anything I can do to help Canada I will be doing . . . I would, at Justin's request, I will actually bring it up."Trudeau said he and Trump had an "extended conversation" about the situation Canada finds itself in with China, which includes blocking imports of Canadian canola and pork. But what Trump will say to Xi isn't clear — all Trudeau would say is that he expects Kovrig and Spavor to be on the agenda for the Trump-Xi meeting.Conservative foreign-affairs critic Erin O'Toole said it is about time someone talks to Xi about the situation."After half a year of inaction and bungling by the Liberals, the crisis will finally be raised directly with the Chinese president, but it will take the United States to make our case. While this is a positive step, it is frustrating Trudeau let the crisis deepen over half a year," said O'Toole. Trump and Trudeau projected genuine enthusiasm for the hard-fought completion of a new North American trade deal.Canada has started the ratification process, with legislation making its way through Parliament. Lawmakers in Mexico voted Wednesday in a landslide to ratify the deal, which Trudeau said he was pleased to see.But now Trump needs to persuade his Democratic opponents in the House of Representatives — in particular Speaker Nancy Pelosi — to allow the actual start of the ratification of the USMCA.Pelosi and her fellow Democrats want stronger enforcement mechanisms for the deal's new labour and environmental provisions.Trump sounded upbeat in the Oval Office."Let's see what happens, but I really believe that Nancy Pelosi and the House will approve it, I think the Senate will approve it rapidly," the president said. "I think Nancy Pelosi is going to do the right thing."Trump also said it was a "terrific thing" that Trudeau was to make the rounds on Capitol Hill with Pelosi and the U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.(The meeting with McConnell, the Senate's top Republican, was cancelled because of the U.S.-Iran situation but his support for the new NAFTA is all but a given. Trudeau spoke with him by phone before leaving Washington on Thursday night.)Speaking on Capitol Hill next to Trudeau, Pelosi said she looked forward to a "lively discussion" on global security issues and the economic relationship between the two countries, particularly regarding trade.Though Trudeau made clear he wants to stay out of U.S. domestic political wrangling, he reaffirmed his view that it is a done deal that can't be reopened because it could lead to "worse outcomes for Canadians and for Canada.""We recognize, however, that the U.S. is going through its process and we remain alert to potential challenges and opportunities that may come through that process."Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


B.C. imposes interim moratorium on resource development to protect caribou

B.C. imposes interim moratorium on resource development to protect caribouVANCOUVER — The British Columbia government announced an interim moratorium on resource development in parts of the south Peace region on Thursday, giving itself more time to sign a long-term strategy to protect dwindling caribou populations.The government said it will close consultation gaps to find harmony within local communities that have been divided over the issue, while one of the area's First Nations called the move a stall tactic.The issue of caribou protection had "inflamed passions," in what Premier John Horgan said in April was a lack of understanding about saving the animals.Blair Lekstrom, a former Liberal MLA who was appointed the province's community liaison in April, said he's confident a balance can be reached."Caribou are everybody's issue," he said. "We need to find the balance so that our families and the workers and the resource industry workers are allowed to go to work and provide for their families. Do I think we can reach that balance? Yes I do."The moratorium is one of 14 recommendations in a report by Lekstrom on caribou recovery released Thursday. It covers new forestry, mining and oil and gas developments.The moratorium applies to the "central herd" area of the southern mountain caribou, which was first listed as threatened in 2003.The government also unveiled a framework for a "bilateral conservation agreement," with the federal government, First Nations, local governments and industry to develop caribou management plans for the southern mountain caribou.The move comes more than one year after federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna determined that 10 southern mountain caribou herds faced an "imminent threat," setting the stage for Ottawa to issue a possible emergency order to protect them.The order would allow the federal government to close off caribou habitat, resulting in lost jobs and billions of dollars in economic losses, the province said in March.In 2017, the B.C. government started negotiations to develop a conservation agreement to avoid an emergency order, focusing on the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations.Horgan said Thursday federal officials have indicated support for B.C.'s plan."I believe the federal government fully understands where we're going on this and they're giving us the latitude as they should to find a way forward that's in the interests of the community and the caribou."The province also expects to wrap up consultations in a shorter time frame than the two-year horizon outlined, hopefully before Christmas, Horgan said.The news was met with skepticism by Chief Roland Willson of the West Moberly First Nation.Willson said he was expecting a strategy to be announced by the end of this month, not a two-year grace period for the government to act."I'm upset, I'm confused about what's going on, I thought we were recovering caribou. All of a sudden they're hitting the pause button for two years. How does that get us closer to saving caribou?" Willson said. Development on the nation's traditional hunting grounds has reduced habitat to the point that members can no longer hunt, which he said infringes on the nation's treaty rights."We're losing our culture because of this and they don't seem upset about that," he said.About 217 animals remaining in the West Moberly's territory, he said, and the nation would like to see the population recover to historic levels of "thousands."The issue has created tension in the Peace Region and Willson said their members have been subjected to racist posts online that blame "the Indians" for dwindling herds and threaten violence."There needs to be an investigation because that's called a hate crime. Some of the stuff being said about 'shooting Indians' and all that shouldn't be tolerated," he said.Horgan told reporters that government had been alerted to the "provocative statements that inflame insensitivity," but was unaware of calls for an inquiry or investigation.Horgan said the government responded to the issue but didn't clarify how.Others expressed relief over the pause for dialogue."We didn't have any consultation whatsoever until the partnership agreement was presented to us," said Tumbler Ridge Mayor Keith Bertrand. Bertrand said he has no pressing concerns, except that two draft agreements don't specify an altitude for proposed protected areas that might affect higher elevation backcountry activities like snowmobiling."All the footprints of our existing mines have been carved out of the moratorium so we're fairly safe as far as that goes for the time being," he said.The BC Council of Forest Industries said the extension gives breathing room to the industry as it faces "significant challenges." Timber supply shortages, high log costs and volatile market prices have led to mill closures and curtailments across B.C.'s Interior."Considering these circumstances, it comes as some relief that the province has seen fit to pause to ensure that collectively we strike the right balance between caribou recovery and economic viability," said council CEO Susan Yurkovich in a statement.Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


Counsellors help students at B.C. school after student dies during field trip

Counsellors help students at B.C. school after student dies during field tripSOOKE, B.C. — The Greater Victoria School District says counsellors will be at a local middle school to help students and staff deal with the death of a fellow student.Superintendent Shelley Green posted a letter on the district's website Wednesday, advising that the district has deployed its critical incident response team to Lansdowne Middle School after a student died during a field trip.Officials with the Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department, near the west coast Vancouver Island community of Sooke, say they responded to Camp Barnard on Wednesday afternoon for a report that a boy was trapped under a fallen tree.RCMP say in a news release the 13-year-old boy was unconscious and not breathing when emergency responders arrived.Camp personnel and first responders performed life-saving measures but they were unsuccessful and the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.A second youth was taken to hospital in critical condition but the RCMP say his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.Premier John Horgan offered his "heartfelt sorrow" for the loss of life of the "youngster," who died in his constituency."I just want to offer my sincere condolences to the family and to those kids at Lansdowne who are grieving the loss of a friend at what was supposed to be a joyous end to the school year," Horgan said Thursday."Nobody wants to ever hear of events like this and now we have families living it in Victoria."Green's letter says the death of the unnamed youth "may raise certain emotions, concerns and questions for our entire school district, especially our students."At Lansdowne Middle School, we have counsellors available for any students and staff who may need and want help or any type of assistance surrounding this loss," Green writes.More than 600 students in Grades 6 to 8 attend the school.The Camp Barnard website says the roughly one-square-kilometre camp at Otter Point, just west of Sooke, offers wilderness camping and other programs for youths and adults.(The Canadian Press, CTV)The Canadian Press


Trudeau says he will defend minority rights in face of Quebec religious-symbol law

Trudeau says he will defend minority rights in face of Quebec religious-symbol lawMONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added his voice Thursday to the growing opposition to Quebec's new law prohibiting teachers, police officers and other public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols.Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., Trudeau said he and his government will defend minority rights everywhere in Canada. "We do not feel that it is a government's responsibility, or in a government's interest, to legislate on what people should be wearing," he said.Commenting for the first time since the law was adopted Sunday, Trudeau did not specify what action his government would take to protect minority rights. Critics say the Quebec law unfairly targets Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities."We have a strong Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and we will certainly ensure that our views are well known and continue to defend Canadians' rights," he said.A legal challenge of Bill 21 scheduled to be heard Thursday in a Montreal courtroom was pushed back to July 9 after Quebec government lawyers requested more time. The plaintiffs are seeking an immediate judicial stay on the sections of the law that restrict religious symbols at work and require that state services be given and received with the face uncovered.Trudeau's comments came as Quebec's largest school board voted to delay application of the secularism law for at least a year to allow for consultations with parents, unions and other stakeholders on how to enforce it.That move prompted a rebuke from the provincial government, which insists that the law takes effect immediately.Premier Francois Legault told reporters in Quebec City on Thursday he is confident the school board will fall in line. "The law was adopted legitimately, and we will apply the law," he said, noting that those who held their jobs before the bill was tabled are protected by a grandfather clause.Opposition to the secularism law has grown since the Coalition Avenir Quebec government invoked closure to pass it before the end of the legislative session. On Wednesday, McGill University's faculty of education issued a statement saying the law goes against the faculty's inclusive values."Bill 21 suggests to a portion of our students that they are not welcome in public schools because of their religious cultural practices," faculty dean Dilson E. Rassier wrote. "McGill University’s faculty of education is a place that upholds fundamental academic freedoms and represents a richly diverse community. As such, we will continue to support our students in their pursuits to become the best teachers and educators they can be."In a motion passed Wednesday, the Commission scolaire de Montreal outlined plans for consultations with governing boards, parents' committees, unions and various associations to determine what changes need to be made to board policies to respect the law.Catherine Harel-Bourdon, the board chairwoman and an outspoken critic of the new law, told reporters Thursday it is clear the law will need to be applied, but the board is hoping the government understands the issues with application.The board has 191 schools and nearly 17,000 employees and will need to train hundreds of managers to enforce the law and avoid having it applied unevenly in different schools, she said.Shortly before Sunday's vote, the government made amendments to the bill providing for inspectors to ensure the new law is applied and specifying that employees who flout the law risk disciplinary measures. The amendments led one Liberal critic to accuse the government of creating a "secularism police."The school board said the system puts a "tremendous burden" on managers who, according to the amendments, risk reprisals if they do not comply with the law adequately and consistently.The English Montreal School Board voted not to implement the planned restrictions on religious symbols before the bill was even tabled, and a spokesman said Thursday the issue will likely come up for further discussion at a meeting next week.Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press


Monday 22nd of July 2019 04:10:49

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