October 04, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for October 4, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for October 4, 2018

Manitoba backs out of planned carbon tax, says Ottawa not respecting provinces — Steve Lambert

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister did an about-face on carbon taxes Wednesday, abandoning plans to start charging a levy in December and joining other conservative leaders in flat-out opposition to federal plans. Pallister announced a year ago he would enact a $25-a-tonne carbon tax and keep it at that rate. But on Wednesday he said the province was pulling out completely because Ottawa has not backed off on threats to backstop Manitoba’s tax with its own, higher rate. “That respect hasn’t been forthcoming. The uncertainty remains and, if it isn’t addressed, it’s going to affect our ability to attract business capital,” the premier said. “We’re forced to either fight (the federal government) in a year, when they invoke a higher tax .... or to stand up to them now. We’re choosing to do it now, not then, because we hope that this will give clarity sooner than if we wait.” Pallister also left the door open to joining Saskatchewan and Ontario in legal action against the federal plan. - Globe & Mail


Ontario, Saskatchewan premiers to meet in Saskatoon about carbon tax, economy — CP

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is bringing his anti-carbon tax crusade to Saskatchewan. Ford is to meet with Premier Scott Moe on Thursday to discuss the federal government’s carbon tax plan and the economy. “My friends, I am so excited to tell you I’m heading to Saskatchewan to see my friend Premier Scott Moe — he is a champion,” Ford said on Twitter Wednesday. “We have a strong united front against the worst tax ever — that is the carbon tax.” Ford said Ontario and Saskatchewan are going to stand up to what he called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tax and spend policies. - National Post


The politics of a carbon tax — Bill Kelly

The Conservatives paint the carbon tax as a burdensome tax on farmers and businesses, that will drive up prices,  without, of course, factoring in the proposed rebates in the plan. The Liberals tout a recent report that suggests that the rebates actually exceed any initial costs. As usual, both theories are full of half-truths and a healthy dose of bombast to play to their political base. The question is, which version of the political spin will the vast majority of non-committed voters buy into? The answer to that question could very well determine who forms the next government. - Global News


NDP environment critic slams Pallister as 'irresponsible' at carbon tax panel — Ian Froese

Rob Altemeyer, the NDP's environment critic, said the Manitoba government is joining an anti-science movement which has allies in the ruling parties in Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick, as well as the united right-wing party in Alberta. "That is why I find what [Pallister] did today is so incredibly irresponsible, so incredibly anti-science and a complete betrayal of his promises to our province." With Manitoba turning its back, Altemeyer said the federal government is within its rights to withhold as much as $67-million, the amount the province was entitled to receive for signing onto the pan-Canadian climate plan. That money was supposed to be set aside for green initiatives, he said. "Brian Pallister has been trying to have it both ways, to claim that he is engaged in the climate change struggle while also resisting just about every initiative that came along," Altemeyer said. "Now it's clear where he actually stands." - CBC News


Horgan considers ways to pass LNG Canada project without a vote — Rob Shaw

Premier John Horgan says his government is mulling ways to implement all of the taxes and relief for the LNG Canada project without a vote in the legislature, a scenario that would avoid a showdown with the NDP’s power-sharing partners the B.C. Green party. Horgan told Postmedia News on Wednesday that one tax break most observers thought would need legislation – repealing the previous Liberal government’s 3.5% LNG income tax – can potentially just be avoided entirely. When the Liberals passed the LNG income tax act in 2014, it contained an implementation clause that required a cabinet order before the law came into force. The Liberals didn’t pass such an order. That means the NDP government, which promised LNG Canada it would scrap the income tax, does not have to call for a vote in the legislature to repeal the law and could simply leave it dormant. The tax law could just stay in place but not be implemented, he said. “That’s my view. But there will be discussion around that.” - Vancouver Sun  


Notley waits and waits and waits for pipeline win — Rick Bell

Looks like she won’t get that photo-op after all. You know, the one where smiling workers pick up tools in the spring of next year and start building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to the coast. You have to admit it would have been a nice snapshot right before the Alberta election. Premier Notley doesn’t appear happy, sounding miles away from the days where we were told we’d won. Instead she is faced with her pal Trudeau and his cronies ragging the puck and not doing anything she wants. Getting the pipeline moving through using the law. Nope. Appealing the court decision quashing the pipeline approval. No, not that. “You don’t lock up your tool box when you haven’t finished the job and the job’s not finished yet,” says Notley. Trudeau isn’t listening. - Calgary Sun  


B.C. files to be intervener in new National Energy Board pipeline hearings — Staff

The B.C. government wants to take part in the National Energy Board’s reconsideration of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Environment Minister George Heyman said Wednesday the government has registered as an intervener in the next set of hearings after the Federal Court of Appeal tossed out the board’s first approval of the project. The court found the board failed to properly consult First Nations on the expansion project and that it didn’t consider the risks of tanker traffic on the marine environment. The former B.C. Liberal government was an intervener in the first hearings. A spokesman for the energy board said in an email that as long as the province registers its intent to take part, it will be accepted again as an intervener. Heyman said the government is concerned that the 22-week time frame for the reconsideration isn’t long enough to accommodate a thorough review that allows Indigenous groups to fully participate. - Edmonton Journal  


Ottawa’s refusal to appeal court ruling blocks options for Trans Mountain, says Notley — Clare Clancy

Premier Rachel Notley says she doesn’t agree with Ottawa’s decision to not appeal a court ruling that stalled the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but Alberta needs to let the federal process play out:“Nonetheless until that path succeeds, as far as I’m concerned, their job is to keep all options open.” Her comments followed the news that Ottawa tapped former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to oversee a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities, following the Federal Court of Appeal decision in August. That decision quashed the approval given to the Trans Mountain expansion project by the National Energy Board and cabinet in 2016, citing lack of consultation with Indigenous communities and a failure to properly consider marine shipping in the environmental review. Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said Wednesday the government doesn’t intend to start the phase-three Indigenous consultations from the beginning, but will use them to address the weaknesses that led to the ruling. The Alberta government says it will not put an arbitrary deadline on the pipeline. - Regina Leader-Post  


Liberal green-energy blunders costing you big time — Lorrie Goldstein

Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government could lower Ontario electricity rates by 24% if it cancelled all of the wind and solar energy contracts signed by the previous Liberal government, according to a new report by the Fraser Institute. The study, “Electricity Reform in Ontario: Getting Power Prices Down” — co-authored by University of Guelph economics professor Ross McKitrick and released Thursday — is a searing indictment of the so-called “green” energy policies of former Liberal premiers Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty. The reports findings stated that While wind, solar and biomass power provide a mere 7% of Ontario’s electricity needs, they are responsible for 40% of the Global Adjustment (GA) charge Ontarians now pay for subsidized electricity. The study says that while the Ford government is heading in the right direction by cancelling 758 early-stage renewable energy contracts approved by the Liberals and by scrapping much of their Green Energy Act, these initiatives will only help keep future electricity price hikes down, not lower rates which already exist. The Fraser study is further evidence of the previous Liberal government’s reckless, financially-disastrous blunder into green energy, which wasn’t needed to end Ontario’s reliance on coal-fired electricity. - Toronto Sun  


Liberals considering ‘giving’ Trans Mountain to First Nations — Anthony Furey

The federal government is actively considering gifting the Trans Mountain pipeline to First Nations groups, Postmedia has heard from multiple sources. “The possibility of giving the pipeline to First Nations (or at least a share of Trans Mountain) has come up at cabinet level,” a senior Liberal government source told Postmedia on Tuesday. How the deal would unfold is that a part or all of the pipeline would be placed in a trust that would then use the proceeds to fund First Nations projects. “So what do you do, ignore the agreements with those who live along the line while rewarding the bands that aren’t on the route and who have been the most active in stopping the pipeline?” the source added. On Tuesday, Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced the government was not appealing the Federal Court of Appeals ruling that nixed the pipeline and that they would instead re-launch consultations with 117 First Nations in British Columbia. The idea to gift the pipeline, which the government purchased for $4.5 billion from Kinder Morgan in May, apparently did not originate from the Prime Minister’s Office, but from First Nations groups themselves. - Toronto Sun  


Tell Doug Ford: A price on carbon is actually a conservative idea — Gillian Steward

Ontario premier Doug Ford and Jason Kenney will take on their favourite bête noire — Liberal and NDP carbon taxes — at a rally this week to be held on the grounds of the Calgary Stampede. Since federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer also wants to smash carbon taxes to smithereens it would be easy to conclude that carbon pricing is some left-wing scheme that conservatives have to trash if they are to be true to themselves. Whatever the labels — carbon taxes, carbon pricing, or putting a price on pollution — they are actually conservative ideas. Prominent Conservatives such as Preston Manning, and former Alberta Treasurer Jim Dinning started promoting the idea years ago. Mark Cameron, former policy director in the Prime Minister's Office under Stephen Harper recently stated that Justin Trudeau's carbon tax plan is a "smart conservative policy." Instead of relying on government edicts and regulations, individuals will make decisions about how much fossil fuel they want to use given the price. That kind of talk should be music to the ears of a conservative. - Hamilton Spectator  


Energy remains a fuel as Calgary aims to fire up, restructure economy — Chris Varcoe

High unemployment. Empty office buildings. A lack of new pipelines. Falling capital investment. The challenges facing Calgary’s economy today are complex, confounding and compounding. Each problem is built upon another. It’s like watching one domino topple over onto the next. Not enough pipeline capacity leads to lower prices for Canada’s oil and gas resources. This trend contributes to reduced energy sector investment and employment. “It is fundamentally all the same problem,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in an interview. But what are the solutions? The city’s development arm unveiled a new economic strategy designed to attack the causes of these issues facing Calgarians. The plan is focused on the goals of attracting talented people to the city, making Calgary the most livable and business-friendly place in the country, and turning the community into a leading location for business innovation. There are no quick fixes ahead. Restructuring the economy is a long-term play. Now is the time to get to work. - Regina Leader-Post  


Ottawa won’t appeal Trans Mountain court decision; renews Indigenous talks — Staff

The federal government will not appeal the court decision that tore up cabinet approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and is appointing former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to oversee a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities. Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi says the government does not intend to start the phase-three Indigenous consultations from the beginning, but will use them to address the weaknesses that led to the Federal Court of Appeal decision in August. The court found that while the government did spend several months in 2016 meeting with Indigenous communities concerned about the pipeline, those consultations were largely note-taking exercises and the government did not do anything to address the concerns that were raised. “We are not going to put a timeline on these consultations because we feel that it is our duty to faithfully engage with the Indigenous communities to get this right.” - Regina Leader-Post  


Moe criticizes feds’ refusal to appeal Trans Mountain ruling — D.C. Fraser

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is criticizing the federal government’s decision to restart consultations for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. The federal government has decided not to appeal a court decision that rejected approval for the controversial project. Instead, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government will follow the “blueprint” laid out by the Federal Court of Appeal in August, which said Ottawa had not properly consulted with Indigenous Peoples because it listened without trying to accommodate concerns. He noted there is a “firm deadline” for other federal government initiatives, notably imposing a carbon tax and legalizing marijuana, but wrote, “building a pipeline crucial to the prosperity of Western Canada… not so much.” A new round will involve consultations with 117 Indigenous communities affected by the project, and twice the resources of the last consultation. No hard deadline is being set, according to the federal government, because it could hinder the truly meaningful consultation required. - Regina Leader-Post


United States

Trump nominates coal, nuclear bailout supporter to U.S. power agency — Timothy Gardner

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated a proponent of his administration’s plan to subsidize aging coal and nuclear plants to a federal agency that regulates power transmission, a move criticized by environmental groups who questioned his independence on the issue. Trump nominated Bernard McNamee to the vacant seat of the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an independent office of the Department of Energy, for a term expiring June 30, 2020. McNamee, a Republican, is now the head of the policy office at the department. McNamee helped to roll out last year a plan by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to subsidize aging coal and nuclear plants. The coal industry is suffering because of an abundance of cheap natural gas and an expansion of wind and solar power. - Reuters  


Second North Carolina community passes anti-pipeline measure — Elizabeth Ouzts

The tiny hamlet of Stoneville is the latest local government to pass a resolution opposing a Mountain Valley Pipeline extension. The town council in Stoneville, North Carolina, passed a resolution against the proposed extension of the Mountain Valley Pipeline on Tuesday, becoming the second local government in the state to oppose the interstate natural gas project. The closely divided vote came after public testimony and the delivery of about 65 signatures from residents of this 1,000-person hamlet, a tobacco town turned tourist destination just south of the Virginia border. “We have some very educated citizens who’ve done a lot of research and have spoken before this board about the possible, potential negative effects of this pipeline,”said council member Jerry Smith, who introduced the resolution. “I think we should listen to our citizens.” - Energy News  



Electricity suppliers to blame for government intervention: Rod Sims — Angela MacDonald-Smith

Electricity suppliers only have themselves to blame for government intervention and heavy-handed regulation as they should have stopped "outrageous" late payment fees and "ripping off" their loyal customers years ago, competition chief Rod Sims says. In a hard-hitting address to a seminar in Sydney, Mr Sims doubled down on his controversial recommendation for the compulsory write-down of overinflated electricity network valuations and called for government to broaden its take-up of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's suggestions for tackling runaway power prices. Mr Sims voiced satisfaction that some of the ACCC's recommendations have been taken up by government, including the proposal for a default electricity retail tariff to bring an end to "stupidly high" standing-offer prices and allow consumers to properly compare discounts. - Australian Financial Review