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FILDEBRANDT: If Trudeau kills the Teck oilsands, it’s war

Ottawa’s “aid” is little better than the British offering colonial Americans sugar to go in their tea. The correct response if Ottawa does so, is to throw the tea in the harbour.

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The time has come for Alberta’s government to draw a line in the sand. They need to tell Ottawa in no uncertain terms: “This, and no farther.”

The federal Liberal government appears to be close to doing the unimaginable: killing the $20 billion Teck oilsands investment. With the stroke of a pen, they are on the edge of killing one of the biggest investments in Canadian history, 7,000 good-paying jobs, and a key component of Alberta’s sluggish economy recovery. Killing Teck will be a hammer in the coffin.

It will not have been market conditions. It will not even have been a hostile rogue province playing robber-baron with its borders. It will have been the federal government, elected to represent the interests of all Canadians.

Until this week, it was unimaginable that the Liberals would have the gumption to kill the Teck oilsands investment. However much the Liberals may ideologically oppose the continued existence or expansion of the oil and gas industry, they are politically astute enough to know that doing so would create a political Prairie fire that would burn out of their control. With his reconciliatory language after the federal election, even Trudeau appeared to recognize that the West didn’t just give up on him, but was dangerously close to giving up on federalism itself.

I was wrong. Last week, Liberal Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said on national television that the federal government may delay approval of the Teck investment unless Alberta dropped its opposition in the courts to his government’s carbon tax. For background, Alberta’s UCP left in place the NDP’s carbon tax on industry, as well as most of its anti-carbon regulations. Alberta stands a good chance of losing in court to Ottawa in any case.

It may have been dismissed as posturing until Eastern Liberal MPs came out pressuring the prime minister to kibosh the Teck mine outright. For them, it was not a matter of the West’s economy, but of saving the planet from Global Warming.

And then the bombshell: Ottawa is preparing an aid package to Alberta to cushion the blow of killing the project. This is the clearest sign yet that my most paranoid suspicions of Ottawa might become reality.

Ottawa unilaterally killing the biggest bright spot on Alberta’s dark horizon, must surely be a line too far even for the West’s federalists.

Try as the NDP might to paint Jason Kenney as a closet separatist, he is an avowed federalist. His Fair Deal Panel is either meant to take the steam out of the nascent independence movement’s engine, or a good-willed move to firewall Ottawa off from raiding Alberta’s wealth while remaining a part of Canada. Either way, Kenney has been the best friend federalists can have in Wildrose Country right now.

This is a corner that Kenney does not want to be backed into. He was elected on getting a fair deal for Alberta and fighting the kleptocrats in Ottawa. If after his election and striking his Fair Deal Panel, Ottawa still feels it has the muscle to wreak havoc on Alberta, it will be clear as day that there is no “fair deal” to be had.

It’s still to be seen if Trudeau is willing to pull this forbidding trigger, but if he does, Kenney needs to show more backbone than simply being cross with Ottawa.

He needs to be unequivocally clear that under no circumstance will Alberta accept a penny of Ottawa’s guilt money, disguised as an “economic aid package”. He should tell the prime minister Alberta does not want a penny more than any other province is entitled to. Only, that Alberta should keep more of its own money at home, and be allowed to develop its economy in peace.

This would trigger a game of chicken with Ottawa. Would Trudeau really be willing to plunge a dagger in the heart of Alberta’s economy, if Alberta was not willing to put a band-aid on the wound as it said “thank you”?

Ottawa’s “aid package” is little better than the British offering colonial Americans sugar to go in their tea.

The correct response if Ottawa does so, is to throw the tea in the harbour.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard, and President & CEO of Wildrose Media Corp.

Energy

U.S. environmental groups poured $2.4 billion in 2019 to further climate change ideology

Ludwig warned had the finances from these groups also been included, the final numbers might be double or even three times current figures.

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New research from the Capital Research Center, an American-based think tank, reveals environmental groups poured a record $2.4 billion in 2019 to further left-wing climate change ideology.

“This stunning figure contrasts with the environmentalist movement’s self-image as David vs. Goliath: impoverished, idealistic eco-activists outgunned by powerful interests in the “fossil fuel” industry,” said its Senior Investigative Researcher, Hayden Ludwig.

He said Liberals have long claimed the Right outguns environmentalists despite holding the country’s best-funded special interests.

However, a 2018 misleading study measuring the income of broadly right-leaning groups focused on a host of issues, including welfare, telecom regulation, agricultural policy, etc., to produce the claim conservatives spend $1 billion per year to stop action on climate change, amounting to a 10 to 1 disparity with environmental groups.

CRC examined the finances of 166 left-leaning policy, activist, litigation, and research organizations along with any associated political action committees (PACs) that primarily focus on climate change or environmental regulation. 

The think-tank captured their revenues, expenditures, and the amounts of grants they paid out in 2019 using publicly available Form 990 findings.

Their inquiry found these organizations raked in $2.67 billion from donors, nearly all of whom remain undisclosed. These organizations, including special interests, spent a whopping $2.43 billion paying staffers, attorneys, activists, professional fundraisers, and researchers and lobbying for environmental regulations. 

“In the case of 501(c)(4) groups and PACs, they also helped elect Democrats and oppose Republicans in the 2019-2020 election cycle,” said Ludwig, as mostly left-leaning nonprofits received $435 million in grants.

“These figures don’t include lobbying by private firms for renewables subsidies, left-wing groups with a broader focus than climate change or the environment or eco-Right groups, self-identified “conservative” organizations that support carbon taxes and other global warming policies.” 

He warned had the finances from these groups also been included, the final numbers might be double or even three times current figures.

“The tax status of these organizations sheds light on the distribution of funds within the environmental movement,” said Ludwig. 

With 111 of 166 groups IRS-designated 501(c)(3) public charities, donations provided to them are tax-deductible. The 501(c)(3) nonprofits account for the overwhelming majority of finances CRC traced.

CRC traced 83.95 per cent or $2.24 billion of the $2.7 billion in total revenues uncovered, 83.1% of $2.02 billion of the $2.4 billion in total expenditures found, and 78.5% or $342 million of the $435 million in grants paid.

Of the 166 groups, 46 are 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofits, which are permitted to spend significantly more on lobbying than their 501(c)(3) counterparts. 

The top 20 biggest spenders also number among the loudest voices pushing environmental regulations:

  1. World Wildlife Fund: $236 million
  2. Environmental Defense Fund: $188.6 million
  3. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): $173 million
  4. Sierra Club: $150 million
  5. World Resources Institute: $120.8 million
  6. National Audubon Society: $118 million
  7. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): $109.9 million
  8. Sierra Club Foundation: $93.9 million
  9. National Wildlife Federation: $89.7 million
  10. EarthJustice: $78 million
  11. League of Conservation Voters: $66.5 million
  12. NextGen Climate Action Committee: $56.8 million
  13. NextGen Climate Action: $54 million
  14. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): $53.5 million
  15. Rocky Mountain Institute: $45 million
  16. Resources Legacy Fund: $42.3 million
  17. Union of Concerned Scientists: $40.7 million
  18. Greenpeace: $37.7 million
  19. Oceana: $36 million
  20. League of Conservation Voters Education Fund: $34.8 million

“These are the titans of “Green” Activism Inc. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars to pass the socialist Green New Deal and promote radical global warming legislation that promises to jack up household electricity prices and enable the Left’s war on science,” said Ludwig.

Dhaliwal is the Western Standard’s reporter based in Edmonton.

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Energy

OUELLETTE: To save Canada’s energy industry, we need to end dependence on the US market

“The construction of new Canadian pipelines would maximize the volume of fuels transported by the safest, greenest means, and allow us to seize a golden opportunity to diversify the markets for our oil.”

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Guest column from Miguel Ouellette, Economist and Director of Operations at the Montreal Economic Institute www.iedm.org

Oil: Let’s put an end to our dependence on the United States

By Miguel Ouellette, Economist and Director of Operations at the Montreal Economic Institute www.iedm.org

Imagine for a moment that you are the head of a popcorn company. You know that the demand for popcorn is strong, and that contrary to what anti-fast food lobby groups say, demand will continue to increase in the coming years. But you have a problem: 98 per cent of your popcorn is purchased by one single cinema, because you didn’t diversify your client base. This cinema, however, has just named a new CEO who, to please some nutritionist friends, wants to keep your popcorn out. What do you do? Would it maybe be a good idea to try to sell your popcorn in other cinemas in order to save your company, and all its associated jobs?

Canadian oil is in a similar situation. His very first day in office, new US President Joe Biden revoked Keystone XL’s permit, and this project will likely not be his last victim. As in our hypothetical example, 98 per cent of Canada’s oil exports go to our southern neighbour. What should Canada and its industry do, then, to sell its product? The answer: Build new pipelines in order to reduce the risk associated with this one-client strategy and maximize oil export revenues.

According to the latest estimates, global oil demand will grow by 9 per cent by 2045, and by more than 40 per cent in a number of Asian countries. New pipelines would allow Canada to transport its oil to a larger number of refineries and terminals that could then export it to these new markets.

We therefore need more pipeline infrastructure to diversify our exports, and the Canadian government should do everything in its power to allow these projects to be completed. Putting all of our eggs in the same basket is a risky strategy. The Keystone XL cancellation alone represents over $50 million a day in potential exports for Canada that have fallen through.

Over the past five years, the federal government collected an average of $14 billion a year from the oil and gas industry. This tax revenue totals more than half of the sum of all provincial deficits during the pandemic. And the energy sector directly or indirectly employs over 830,000 workers, and accounts for around 10 per cent of our GDP. It’s therefore not just “Big Oil” that would benefit from such a strategy, but all Canadians.

Finally, it bears repeating: Pipelines are the safest and “greenest” method of transporting oil. New pipeline projects compromise neither our safety nor the protection of our natural environment. On average, over 99.99 per cent of the oil transported by federally regulated pipeline arrives without incident every year. Not to mention that transporting fuel by pipeline emits from 61 per cent to 77 per cent fewer GHGs than transport by rail.

In short, the construction of new Canadian pipelines would maximize the volume of fuels transported by the safest, greenest means, and allow us to seize a golden opportunity to diversify the markets for our oil.

So I ask you again: If you were the boss, what would you do?

Guest column from Miguel Ouellette, Economist and Director of Operations at the Montreal Economic Institute www.iedm.org

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Energy

As WTI crude rises, pipeline bottleneck remains in full effect

Alberta’s oil producers remain starved for pipelines, with investors continuing to flee the province.

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Western Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude continues to rise following a year of severe depreciation of Canada’s crude oil supply.

On April 20, 2020, WTI Crude reached historic lows and dropped by almost 300 per cent, trading at negative $37 per barrel.

The economic shock of COVID-19 worsened conditions for the energy sector when a price war erupted between oil giants Saudi Arabia and Russia in early March after OPEC’s failures to agree on deeper supply cuts.

Experts found oil demand bottomed out 30 per cent in April – conditions the market has not seen over the last 40 years since world oil markets developed.

As supply remained steady while demand struck record-breaking lows, the industry quickly began running out of storage space to put their oil.

However, oil prices steadily recovered in May to $35 per barrel – jumping 88.38 per cent to register the best month on record for WTI, despite the petroleum industry still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

A once shining epicentre for the industry, Alberta’s oil producers remain starved for pipelines, with investors continuing to flee the province.

In December 2020, two rival oil and gas companies in Husky and Cenovus merged in a $3.8-billion all-share takeover bid. The companies combined 8,600 person workforce downsized in early-2021, cutting nearly 2,000 employees.

On President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office, he signed an Executive Order to revoke Trump’s Keystone XL permits, costing Albertan taxpayers at least $1.2 billion after Premier Jason Kenney’s investment boondoggle.

Kenney called the revocation a gut punch and an insult and threatened to sue, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed some disappointment.

And now, Enbridge Line 5 – the major infrastructure connecting western Canadian crude to Eastern Canadian markets – is at risk of being shutdown by Michigan’s Governor citing environmental concerns.

Not to mention Royal Dutch Shell reducing its presence in Alberta with a $900 million sale of assets to Calgary-based company Crescent Point Energy Corporation. This comes after it publicly stated it passed peak oil production last week, and sought carbon offsets as a new venture.

However, it was not all bad news for the ailing sector.

In January, the Alberta Energy Regulator reported record-high oil sands production in December 2020, hinting neither demand nor supply was the issue longterm. It remains the transportation bottleneck.

Oil-by-rail exports surged by 87 percent in November 2020 – the same month, Alberta’s oil production hit an all-time high.

Transporting crude oil by rail is costlier to industry and riskier on conservation efforts than pipelines.

Despite WTI Crude rising significantly to $61 per barrel, there are no pipeline projects underway, and it’s unlikely that there will be new ones anytime soon.

Dhaliwal is the Western Standard’s Edmonton reporter.

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