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C-69 eases regulatory burdens for pipelines: report

“Proponents of mining projects and nuclear projects are now less likely to face federal assessment; proponents of offshore wind or tidal energy projects, more likely,” Goodday said.

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Bill C-69 has had its share of controversial commentary. Most notably, it’s been dubbed the “no more pipelines bill” by Alberta’s provincial government and the Opposition federally, and it’s catchy enough to be repeated consistently.

A recent report from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, however, suggests that it might be time to move on from catchphrases.

Victoria Goodday, an energy and environment policy researcher, published her findings in December and they’re not quite as dire as some keep saying; in fact, the new legislation seems to be less cumbersome than the previous legislation – for oil, gas, and pipelines, that is.

Bill C-69 introduced the Impact Assessment Act which replaced the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act from 2012. The changes are varied with some project types seeing a decrease in stringency and others seeing an increase.

“Proponents of mining projects and nuclear projects are now less likely to face federal assessment; proponents of offshore wind or tidal energy projects, more likely,” Goodday said.

“Specific to petroleum-based energy projects (oil, gas, and coal), 50 per cent (14) of projects under this activity type remain unchanged from (previous legislation).”

In situ oil sands extraction facilities were added but only trigger a federal review if they are located in a province without legislation around GHG emission limits; since Alberta has retained TIER (technology, innovation and emissions reduction regulation), projects in the province would be exempt from additional assessments.

Goodday says the new “list is arguably more lenient” than the previous legislation with regard to oil and gas pipeline proponents.

“Most notably, the entry for a new onshore pipelines became less stringent,” she said.

“Only pipelines requiring 75 km or more of a new right-of-way will be designated (for assessment), compared to 40 km or more of new pipeline (under prior legislation); this means that pipelines built within an already established right-of-way will no longer be automatically designated.”

Twinning existing projects, like the Trans Mountain Expansion, will not require additional federal assessment under C-69.

The new legislation was also updated to include abandonment and decommissioning so that projects at their ‘end-of-life’ will not trigger new federal assessments.

Protected marine areas were added and will require a federal assessment if pipelines are mapped out through protected water areas.

“We see that this new list (of designated projects) works in favour of pipeline proponents, it very much works in favour of nuclear energy proponents,” she clarified in an interview with Ryan Jespersen Tuesday.

Goodday also added that the new legislation appears to be streamlining the process to omit federal assessments in regional areas where the provincial and municipal assessment processes are deemed to meet the federal assessment standards; which is good news for provinces that have a major resource industry.

Story ideas? dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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Opposition MPs ask government to ‘show them where the money is coming from’

“Say it’s $10 billion by July. There is no accountability for that.”

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The Liberal’s latest pandemic relief plans may actually be billions of dollars higher than estimated, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The Department of Finance was in a “continued race to push money out the door,” said one MP.

Bill C-2 proposes benefits including lockdown subsidies for employers and workers estimated at $7.4 billion. The cost covers payments retroactively from October 24 to next May 7, though the bill allows cabinet to extend subsidies to July 2.

“The issue of course that we’re looking at here is accountability,” said Conservative MP Greg McLean (Calgary Centre) at the Commons Tuesday finance committee.

“If there’s an obvious extension, how do we hold the government accountable for that extension when it’s more money going out the door, more on top of the $7 billion you’re already planning to spend?

“Say it’s $10 billion by July. There is no accountability for that.”

Department of Finance managers said they did not know the cost to taxpayers if the program runs to July 2, 2022.

“I can’t answer that at this stage,” said Max Baylor, senior director with the department.

“It would presumably depend on the parameters.”

“I don’t know if it’s because things have been lax during COVID but this is something you need to get right for the country,” said McLean.

Bill C-2 was “just a blank chequebook,” he said.

“I know the government has had a blank chequebook for far too long,” McLean said.

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, Ont.) questioned the bill’s impact on deficit projections.

“My question relates to the cost,” said Poilievre.

“How is the government paying the $7 billion associated with this proposal?”

No official answered, though 10 departmental witnesses appeared before the finance committee.”

“If they have anyone over there who is concerned about where the money comes from, that person could speak up,” said Poilievre:

  • MP Poilievre: “Clearly they’re getting the money from somewhere. Anyone here from Finance Canada?”
  • Director Baylor: “I can provide a high-level response but I’m afraid I won’t be able to answer directly…”
  • MP Poilievre: “Where is the money coming from?”
  • Director Baylor: “That is within the government’s broader macro-economic framework and I’m not responsible. I can’t speak to that.”
  • MP Poilievre: “You don’t have anyone? It’s just that we’re being asked to vote in favour of another $7 billion in spending. The obvious question is, where is it coming from?”
  • Director Baylor: “I appreciate the question, but I can’t answer that question.”

New Democrat MP Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood-Transcona, Man.) called the testimony “a waste of time” and complained the finance committee could not get straight answers to its questions.

“We’ve been here almost four hours and I haven’t gotten one thing I would classify as an answer to a question,” said Blaikie.

“I’ve asked for a breakdown of the budget. I don’t know if they really don’t have that answer or are on a mission of obfuscation.”

“You have to conclude that our civil servants who ought to be treating the legislature with respect aren’t being upfront about some of these questions, or you have to conclude the people who are running the country never bothered to ask them. Neither one is a very good outcome for Canadians.”

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland called Bill C-2 the last emergency appropriation for pandemic relief spending. Freeland is to release a fiscal update on deficit figures next Tuesday.

Parliament last May 5 voted to increase the federal debt ceiling to a record $1.831 trillion. It represented a 57% increase from the previous $1,168,000,000,000 limit under the 2017 Borrowing Authority Act.

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Flights from Vancouver to Kamloops priced more than $1,200 over Christmas

BC flight prices have skyrocketed over the Christmas season following flood damage to highways.

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Following substantial flooding in November, which led to savaged highways and infrastructure, many of those planning to visit family out of town for Christmas are forced to fly — and some will be paying exorbitant prices for it.

For example, a WestJet round trip — listed on Expedia — from Vancouver to Kamloops, BC on December 22, with a return flight on December 27 is listed at $1,264 as of Wednesday morning.

The normally 30-minute flight includes a nearly four-hour layover in Calgary.

On TripAdvisor, the same round trip is priced similarly.

Those planning a round trip from Vancouver to Kelowna, BC on the same dates will save a few hundred bucks in comparison to those headed for Kamloops. For example, one round trip with WestJet from Vancouver to Kelowna — December 22-27 — is listed at $741 on Wednesday, although it includes a six-hour layover in Edmonton.

Normal flight times between the locales are 55 minutes.

Prices on WestJet’s website are comparable. On Air Canada’s site, all are currently sold out for the aforementioned dates and locations.

However, those travelling between Vancouver and Kelowna can find cheaper trips on Swoop if they fly out of Abbotsford, BC. On Wednesday morning, a non-stop round trip from Abbotsford to Kelowna, departing on December 22 and returning on December 29, is priced under $300.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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Top Ontario doc says separating vaxxed and unvaxxed best way to get COVID under control

Ontario has had more than 626,000 cases of COVID-19 which has left more than 10,000 people dead.

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One of the ways to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control is to stop “the mixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated,” says Ontario’s chief medical officer.

“Basic means of protecting individuals is stopping the mixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated,” said Dr. Kieran Moore at a Tuesday press conference.

“And if our cases continue through and after the holidays we would make recommendations of government to continue the certification process in play. But we’ll continue to review the data. We do have a very robust testing strategy in Ontario for the winter months as we’ve released previously. We’ve purchased … 11 million rapid antigen test for all students in Ontario.”

Moore was asked whether COVID-19 is “something we’re just going to have to learn to live with” and whether it would ever go away.

“We have a long ways to go with the World Health Organization and other international organizations to try to decrease the number of individuals in which this virus can mutate and/or spread,” he said.

“But I do see a time when we’ll have low, endemic rates and it will turn out to be like influenza or other winter respiratory viruses where there’s a seasonality to it, where it does have an intermittent impact on our health-care system and like influenza, you need an annual vaccine to protect against it.”

Ontario has had more than 626,000 cases of COVID-19 which has left more than 10,000 people dead.

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