December 20, 2017

Affordable Energy News Service for December 20, 2017

Affordable Energy News Service for December 20, 2017

Canada ranks near bottom in environmental taxes, OECD says — Daryl Dyck

Canada is at the bottom of the pack when it comes to putting a price on pollution through taxes but will move up the ranks as Ottawa and the provinces move to impose carbon dioxide levies or increase existing ones, the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD) said Tuesday. In a sweeping report on the country's environmental performance, the Paris-based organization said rising carbon levies and other regulations are needed to reverse the growth in greenhouse gas emissions from the oil industry and transportation sector over the past 15 years. To meet its international climate commitments, Canada must "reduce drastically the carbon intensity of its energy production, particularly in the oil-sands industry," said the OECD, an advisory group for developed countries. Among its 35 member countries, only the United States and Mexico had lower environmental taxes than did Canada in 2014. Such levies include gasoline taxes, water charges, tipping fees at landfills and carbon pricing. Some provinces have increased their carbon levies since then, but not enough to affect Canada's ranking. - Globe & Mail


Ontarians will pay hundreds of millions of dollars for pointless new fuel standards — Ross McKitrick & Douglas Auld

Ontario has announced plans to double the required content of ethanol in our gasoline, from five per cent to 10%. This regrettable decision will have harmful effects on everyone. It will worsen the mileage of gasoline, raise food and fuel costs and yield minuscule environmental gains at best. Ratcheting up the ethanol mandate also defeats the purpose of Ontario’s new cap-and-trade system. The logic of carbon pricing through permit trading is that it leads the market to identify and implement the lowest-cost ways of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If ethanol blending was cost-effective then, under cap and trade, fuel producers would do it automatically. The fact that they have to be coerced means it fails a cost-benefit test, making it precisely the kind of inefficient option the trading system is supposed to guard against. Forcing firms to do it anyway means Ontario has jettisoned any pretense of economic logic in its climate policy mix. In earlier research we found that ethanol-subsidy programs during the 2008–12 interval cost Canadians over three dollars for every one dollar in social and environmental benefits achieved. - National Post  


A lump of coal for Catherine McKenna’s unethical fake-fact crusade — Peter Foster

There used to be a tradition that Santa gave naughty children a lump of coal. If the jolly fat man also frowns on bad, pointless or hypocritical policies, he’ll want to save a lump this Christmas for Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change. The Powering Past Coal Alliance, led by Great Britain and Canada, and in particular trumpeted by McKenna, is as vacuous a piece of environmental virtue signaling as can be imagined. Announced earlier this month, it supports a phase out of coal in developed countries by 2030 and developing countries by 2050, but its members account for a tiny proportion of global production. Its irrelevance is suggested by the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) medium-term coal report, which was released on Monday. The report also further undermined numerous dodgy claims made by McKenna in an anti-coal article she authored last week in The Globe and Mail. - National Post  


Renewable energy growing in Canada but solar installations falling behind — Mia Rabson

Although the cost to build solar power has plummeted over the last decade, a new report suggests Canadians aren’t rushing to use the sun to make electricity. The National Energy Board (NEB) today released its annual look at the state of renewable energy in Canada and it says solar energy accounts for just 0.5 per cent of all Canada’s generated electricity. And almost all of that exists entirely in Ontario, the report notes. NEB chief economist Shelley Milutinovic said the trend in Canada is that renewable energy sources like wind and solar are replacing coal as Canada moves to eliminate that as a source of electricity by 2030. Between 2005 and 2016, non-hydroelectric renewables – wind, solar and biomass – grew from 1.5% of total electricity generation in Canada to 7.2%. - Global News  


Nebraska regulators reject Keystone XL route reconsideration — CBC

Regulators in Nebraska have unanimously rejected TransCanada's request to amend its route application for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted Tuesday by a 5-0 margin to deny an application from the Calgary-based company to reconsider an earlier decision. In November, the commission had approved a route for the pipeline through the state but it wasn't the company's preferred alignment. - CBC


Alberta's waffling on methane regulations could damage economy — Joie Warnock & Jamie Kirkpatrick

As Alberta waffles on what to do on methane, a competitive advantage could be slipping through our fingers. Each delay signals that Canada's oilpatch is lagging behind at a time when the world increasingly wants cleaner natural gas. Alberta, Canada’s largest natural gas producer, could still have a competitive advantage. But it would require moving forward with stringent provincial methane regulations – the only way to ensure methane leaks are stopped. We think that this will allow the provinces to compete in a world that is transitioning to a low-carbon future. Already in the United States, Canada’s main competitor, six major oil and gas producing states – California, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming – have strong methane regulations in place, and leading companies there have committed to zero methane emissions. Alberta could do the same, if not better. - National Observer


United States

Trump admin: U.S. reliance on foreign minerals ‘shocking’ — Timothy Cama

The Trump administration released a report Tuesday concluding that the United States is highly dependent on foreign imports for many critical minerals. The report from the Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey found that the nation is 100 percent dependent on foreign imports for 20 key minerals and China is often the main producer of the minerals. The administration is using the report to sound an alarm bell and push for more mining and extraction of such minerals domestically, especially on federal land. - The Hill  



Queensland Energy Minister Anthony Lynham backs NEG, but won't change renewable target — Mark Ludlow

Queensland's new Energy Minister Anthony Lynham has backed the Turnbull government's National Energy Guarantee to end the impasse over climate policy between the federal Coalition and state Labour governments. But Dr. Lynham said the Palaszczuk Labour government won't back down from its ambitious 50% renewable energy target saying he believed the state's dominant coal industry could co-exist with the new technologies such as solar and battery storage. - Australian Financial Review



France passes law to ban all oil and gas production by 2040 — AP

France’s parliament has approved a law banning all exploration and production of oil and natural gas by 2040 within the country and its overseas territories. Under that law that passed a final vote on Tuesday, existing drilling permits will not be renewed and no new exploration licenses will be granted. The French government claims the ban is a world first. However, it is largely symbolic since oil and gas produced in France accounts for just 1 per cent of domestic consumption. The rest is imported. Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot says the law shows “current generations can take care of future generations.” The ban is part of a larger plan to wean the French economy from fossil fuels and to fulfil France’s commitments under the Paris climate agreement to curb global warming. - National Post