April 05, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for April 5, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for April 5, 2018

Energy and environment to be focus of Trudeau trip to western Canada — CP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces a balancing act over the next couple of days as he takes the seemingly opposing messages of environmental protection and resource development to western Canada. After beginning the day with a speech to G7 business leaders in Quebec City, Trudeau heads west – first to Victoria to speak to Canadian Coast Guard workers, then to Vancouver for a roundtable discussion on clean technology. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of protesters who oppose the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion plan to give the prime minister a less-than-cordial welcome at a Vancouver hotel where he will host a $1,000-a-plate Liberal fundraiser tonight. Anger over the approved pipeline has increased in recent weeks, with about 200 people arrested near Kinder Morgan's Burnaby, B.C. marine terminal in the last month. Trudeau's west coast visit will not include a meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan, whose government opposes the pipeline and has tried to put stumbling blocks in the way of construction. - CTV News  


You’re right if you think the carbon tax is a tax grab — Danielle Smith

I wonder how many seniors on fixed incomes would be able to manage it when their monthly home heating bills spike to $500 in the dead of winter? That’s all I could think about as I interviewed Dale Beugin, executive director of Canada’s EcoFiscal Commission. To be fair to the group: they are economists. They look at what Canada’s stated objectives are to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and then give advice on the most efficient way to achieve results. It’s a simple rule of supply and demand that if you make something more expensive, people will use less of it. Therefore, increase the cost of fossil fuels by adding on a carbon tax and you will reduce the use of fossil fuels. It looks so good on paper. In practice, it’s not so simple. Beugin said the evidence on carbon taxes is clear. Looking at the 10-year record of the carbon tax in B.C., for instance, they estimate the tax has reduced the amount of CO2 emissions by five to 15% below what they would have been, compared to a non-carbon dioxide tax scenario. - Global News  


Carbon tax revenue could go straight to Ontario residents, McKenna says — Shawn Jeffords

Ottawa could give revenues from a federally imposed carbon tax directly back to Ontario residents instead of the provincial government if whoever is elected in the spring election rejects a carbon-pricing system, the federal environment minister said Wednesday. Catherine McKenna, who was in Toronto announcing funding for a green home-retrofit program, issued the warning in response to a question about Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford’s plans to scrap Ontario’s cap-and-trade system and reject a carbon tax. “Let’s be clear. Pollution isn’t free,” Ms. McKenna said. “If the federal government has to step in, the revenues will go back to the province but we will determine how they go back and we could give them back to people and businesses so they would not go to the government.” Mr. Ford responded to Ms. McKenna by reiterating his promises. “The Ontario PCs will scrap [Liberal Premier] Kathleen Wynne’s expensive cap-and-trade,” he said in a statement. “We will also take the federal government all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to, if it means stopping this tax from being rammed down our province’s throats.” - Globe and Mail  


Feds promise carbon price for Ontario even if a Ford government pulls out — Marieke Walsh

Whether Ontario elects a Progressive Conservative government in June won’t change the province putting a price on carbon, according to Catherine McKenna. Canada’s environment minister told reporters in Toronto on Wednesday that if Ontario cancelled its cap-and-trade program, the federal government would impose a price on carbon. If elected to government, PC Leader Doug Ford has repeatedly promised to pull Ontario out of its cap-and-trade market with Quebec and California. McKenna dropped in on Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne who is in the midst of an undeclared election campaign. She said Ottawa would return revenues from a federally imposed price on carbon but said it’s possible that the money would go directly to residents and businesses, instead of provincial coffers. “We will determine how [the funds] go back,” she said. The threat is similar to how the federal government has handled Saskatchewan’s refusal to impose a price on carbon. - iPolitics.ca  


It's simple, really – raise carbon taxes and cut income taxes — Andrew Coyne

Twenty-six years after the Rio Earth Summit, 20 years after the Kyoto Protocol, eight years after the Copenhagen Accord, two years after the Paris Agreement, here is where things stand in Canada, a signatory to all four. We are nowhere near meeting our commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Or rather, we are firmly on track to miss them. According to the latest report by the federal Environment Commissioner, we are certain to miss our 2020 target of a 17% reduction from 2005 levels, and by a wide margin. We are scarcely less certain to miss the 2030 target of a 30% reduction from the same benchmark. Not only are we nowhere near our targets, we have no credible plan to get there. The federal campaign could well become a referendum on the carbon tax. If so, there should be no presumption that the pro-tax side would win. Public opinion is more than usually confused on this one. Fully 40% of Canadians think climate change is either not happening or is due to natural causes. Even among the 60% who think it’s real and man-made, there is no consensus on what, if anything, should be done about it. - National Post  


What would happen if Sask. adopted Alberta's carbon tax? — Jennifer Quesnel

The average Saskatchewan family would pay at least $400 more this year to heat their home, buy goods and fuel vehicles if the province were to adopt Alberta's carbon tax. That's according to estimates calculated by a number of economists, including the University of Calgary's Trevor Tombe. That estimate is based on factors including: a 6.7 cent per litre carbon tax on regular unleaded fuel. The average household in Saskatchewan uses roughly 2,000 litres of fuel per year. The carbon tax would add $134; a $1.51 per gigajoule carbon tax on natural gas. SaskEnergy said the average household burns 102 gigajoules of natural gas each year, which means that household would pay $154 in carbon tax; and stores increasing merchandise prices by 0.2 to 0.3% because a carbon tax would make it more costly to heat retail space and truck in goods. - CBC News  


Feds to spend $280k to study why Canada’s oil and gas sector is falling behind — Monique Scotti

The federal government plans to spend up to $280,000 for a new study on Canada’s competitiveness in the oil and gas industry as investment lags and the United States offers new incentives for companies to move south. An advance contract award notice, prepared by Natural Resources Canada and made public on Wednesday morning, puts the call out for an outside supplier to do the work, with international consulting firm Wood Mackenzie identified as the preferred candidate. The document uses unusually stark language to describe the current state of affairs in the Canadian energy sector, noting that investment in our oil and gas industry fell by over 50% between 2014 and 2016. A loss of new investment opportunities to the United States is of particular concern, it adds. Tax reforms and a loosening of regulatory frameworks by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration could prompt more and more companies to head south. - Global News  


Regulatory ‘poisons’ are ‘suffocating’ oil industry by driving investors away — Claudia Cattaneo

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is planning another tour to Toronto and New York to talk up the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to business leaders. It’s certainly good exposure for her re-election campaign. It probably won’t change investors’ pessimistic views of Canada’s oil and gas sector. Here’s the problem. Aside from Canada’s dysfunctional handling of the Trans Mountain project, governments (including Alberta’s) have burdened energy companies with so much new regulation, so many new costs, and are on a path to make regulatory reviews of big energy projects so much more political, investors have tuned out and moved to jurisdictions where governments aren’t kneecapping their companies to meet commitments on climate change. The message couldn’t be clearer than in the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association’s recent response to Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, introduced by the federal government in February and now making its way through Parliament. - Edmonton Journal  


Enbridge looking to sell $2-billion in western Canadian gas assets — Scott Deveau

Embattled pipeline company Enbridge Inc. is working with advisers to sell a group of Canadian gathering and processing assets that could fetch more than $2-billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Calgary-based Enbridge has hired Royal Bank of Canada to help with the sale process, said the source, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. The package of assets, located across British Columbia and Alberta, was owned by Spectra Energy Corp., which agreed to be acquired by Enbridge in 2016 for about $29-billion. Representatives for Enbridge and RBC declined to comment. - Calgary Herald  


New Brunswick’s carbon plan could spell trouble for Irving Oil refinery — Jacques Poitras

Irving Oil's Saint John refinery could be threatened by the Gallant government's carbon-pricing decisions, according to a national organization representing oil companies. The Canadian Fuels Association says the decision to adopt the federal plan for a carbon levy on industry – including a potential requirement for reductions of 30 per cent – could force some refineries to close. "A business of any kind ultimately needs to remain competitive in the market in which it operates," said the association's president, Peter Boag. - CBC News


Energy East always a long shot — Peggy Wright

The federal government is not the only thing to blame for the cancellation of TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline project. The original reason that this project was conceived was to have a pipeline that went only so far as Quebec. The idea to expand the pipeline an additional 1500 km to include the New Brunswick refinery and export market came later. Getting anything through Quebec is difficult. And there will always be environmental concerns and opposition for any pipeline project. A recent report by the Centre for International Governance Innovation, questioning the need for new pipelines to carry oil to tidewater for export. It follows that the decision to abandon the Energy East project was based on the dual realities of opposition to the project and sound economic evidence against it. - Telegraph Journal  


Natural gas coming to Hiawatha First Nation — Peter Clysdale

Families in Hiawatha First Nation dealing with expenses like raising children may soon have some extra savings. On Tuesday afternoon, Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister and Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal came to Hiawatha to promote a $100-million provincial program improve natural gas access for 11 rural, northern and First Nation communities. Hiawatha will be among those who will get the cost-savings involved with natural gas, says Chief Laurie Carr. A total of $3.14-million is being spent in the community for an Enbridge Gas Distribution pipeline to connect both homes and businesses in the area. For some homes that could mean up to $1,100 in reduced heating bills. "That would help in overall household expenses," Carr said. She also says almost half of the community is between the ages of 21 and 40, the ages when people are either starting or have young families. Thirty-one per cent of residents also heat their homes with propane while 25% use electricity. - Peterborough Examiner  


United States

The energy industry will likely emerge from any trade war with China unscathed — Patti Domm

As the U.S. and China do battle over trade, there's one sector that has been largely left out of the tit-for-tat for now – and that's energy. The U.S. has plenty, and China wants more. China laid claim to 20% of U.S. oil exports last year and importantly, as the fastest growing importer of liquified natural gas in the world, it is a ready importer of U.S. LNG. In fact, if not for the boom in U.S. energy production over the last decade, the U.S. trade deficit would have been larger by as much as $400-billion or more. "The best way in my view to cut the trade deficit is to increase exports...whether it's LNG or cars or aluminum or whatever," said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in a recent interview with CNBC.com. - CNBC  


Lefty mayors' frivolous climate change lawsuits need to stop — Steve Forbes

Who or what is actually responsible for “global warming” and how should the individuals, businesses or industry sectors be held accountable? If you listen to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the California mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond and others, the entire blame rests exclusively with our oil and natural gas industry. Conveniently, these money-hungry mayors and their equally greedy trial lawyers accuse only the largest, most profitable oil and natural gas companies of wrongdoing. Their municipal lawsuits allege that global warming is a local, “public nuisance” issue and the sole perpetrators of our planet’s “warming” are no farther away than the local refinery or natural gas plant. Sound unfair? Add this insane reasoning to the fact that dozens of other industrialized nations are apparently blameless for any of the planet’s climate-related woes. - Fox News  



Genex adds wind project to its Kidston renewables hub in North Queensland — Mark Ludlow

Listed energy company Genex Power is exploring the option of building a new 150 megawatt wind farm alongside its Kidston pumped hydro and solar project in North Queensland, in a bid to overcome intermittency issues which have plagued renewable projects in the past. As the Turnbull government pushes AGL Energy to extend the life of its Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW beyond 2022 or sell it to a competitor, the Genex announcement is further evidence new investment in the energy sector in Australia is flowing to renewable projects rather than traditional fuel sources such as coal. If the wind farm goes ahead, the $1-billion Kidston renewable hub will be the first pumped hydro/solar/wind project in the world with the potential to run 24 hours a day - overcoming the biggest hurdle for intermittent renewable energy of not being able to produce energy when the wind is not blowing or the sun not shining. - Australian Financial Review