Governor LePage Signs Agreement with New Brunswick Premier

July 21, 2014

Link to Original Press Release

For Immediate Release: Monday, July 21, 2014
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage signed a memorandum of agreement today with Premier David Alward of New Brunswick to encourage economic development and support job creation between Maine and the Canadian Province.

The agreement, also referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding, is designed to strengthen relations between the two regions by working together to create jobs and cooperate areas of trade development, tourism, transportation, energy, culture and emergency preparedness.

“We are pleased to continue our strong working relationship with New Brunswick,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “We have a history of cooperating with each other, and this agreement further strengthens our commitment to regional efforts that will create economic development, improve government efficiencies and promote tourism and commerce between our state and the province.”

Governor LePage has met with New Brunswick Premier David Alward several times since 2011 to discuss economic opportunities between Maine and the Canadian Province. This is the first time such an agreement has been signed with New Brunswick. A New Brunswick-Maine Joint Committee will be responsible for implementing the agreement.

“Our government is proud to continue working with the State of Maine. This agreement will improve the quality of life in the entire region”, stated Premier Alward. “This complements several other initiatives already underway in our province. Whether it’s through increasing tourism, improving emergency management services, or strengthening the regions infrastructure, our joint efforts are vital to social and economic growth”, added Alward.

The agreement encourages Maine and New Brunswick to coordinate with their business communities to set up partnerships and implement economic development initiatives. The agreement also encourages an exchange of cross-border solutions for clean energy, such as hydropower and bioenergy, which could lower home heating costs for the people of Maine.

In April 2013, Governor LePage signed a similar agreement with Premier of Quebec Pauline Marois.

 

RCMP bombed oil site in ‘dirty tricks’ campaign

CBC News : Posted: Jan 30, 1999 11:08 AM ET

The Mounties bombed an oil installation as part of a dirty tricks campaign in their investigation into sabotage in the Alberta’s oil patch.

The revelation came at the bail hearing Thursday of two farmers who the Crown says have turned their complaints that oil industry pollution is making their families ill into acts of vandalism and mischief.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/rcmp-bombed-oil-site-in-dirty-tricks-campaign-1.188599

New England on ‘High Alert’ After Canadian Pipeline Reversal Approved

Friday, March 7, 2014 by Common Dreams

The tar sands oil industry scored a regulatory victory on Thursday when the Canadian National Energy Board approved a plan by energy giant Enbridge to reverse the flow of Canada’s ‘Line 9’ oil pipeline eastward from Ontario to Montreal.

 

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/03/07-4

Pipeline rupture report raises questions about TransCanada inspections

Feb 04, 2014 10:29 PM ET
Amber Hildebrandt, CBC News

A CBC News investigation has unearthed a critical report that the federal regulator effectively buried for several years about a rupture on a trouble-prone TransCanada natural gas pipeline.

On July 20, 2009, the Peace River Mainline in northern Alberta exploded, sending 50-metre-tall flames into the air and razing a two-hectare wooded area.

Members of Dene Tha’ First Nations community of Chateh, about 50 kilometres away from the site of the blast, also want to know why the report was not released until now.(Courtesy of Dene Tha’ First Nation)

 

 

Few people ever learned of the rupture — one of the largest in the past decade — other than the Dene Tha’ First Nation, whose traditional territory it happened on.

Cianbro remains committed to east-west highway project despite opposition, company official says

Bangor Daily News, Dec. 13, 2013

Plans for a proposed east-west highway continue to move forward despite a flurry of towns adopting measures to keep it away from their land, according to a leading proponent of the project.

Darryl Brown, the Cianbro Corp. project manager for the east-west highway, said there is still no mapped route to divulge, as he is still working with landowners and dealing with environmental issues.

Read More: //bangordailynews.com/2013/12/13/business/cianbro-remains-committed-to-east-west-highway-project-despite-opposition-company-official-says/</a>

TransCanada Has Already Had To Fix 125 Dents and Sags in Southern Keystone Pipeline

CREDIT: Public Citizen

Synthetic crude oil hasn’t yet entered the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, but a report releasedTuesday by non-profit consumer rights group Public Citizen says the pipes are already bending, sagging and peeling to the point of a possible spill or leakage of toxic tar sands.

Drawing on the accounts of landowners, citizens and former workers of TransCanada, the report documents alleged construction problems and engineering code violations along the Texas portion of the pipeline, proved by what the group says is a staggering amount of excavations to correct dents and patch holes. Public Citizen is calling on the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration to review TransCanada’s construction quality assurance records for possible federal violations, and perform a complete re-testing of the pipeline to see if the repairs work.

“The government should investigate, and shouldn’t let crude flow until that is done,” Public Citizen’s Texas office director Tom Smith said in a statement. “Given the stakes — the potential for a catastrophic spill of hazardous crude along a pipeline that traverses hundreds of streams and rivers and comes within a few miles of some towns and cities — it would be irresponsible to allow the pipeline to start operating.”

One of the landowners cited in the study is David Whitley, a self-described “go-along guy” who owns an 80-acre plot of land in Texas which the pipeline crosses.

At first Whitley cooperated with TransCanada’s construction crew and did not dispute construction of the pipeline, deciding that “I wasn’t going to let it give me any more gray hairs,” Whitley said on a conference call with reporters. His attitude changed, however, when workers returned months after construction to do a visual inspection. The workers dug a hole in the ground of Whitley’s property, and he got his first look at Keystone.

“It changed my attitude seeing what was running underneath my property,” Whitley said, noting that there were two red marks on the pipeline that said “dented, cut out.” The pipeline, he said, was resting on a rock.

The report cites more than 125 excavations in 250 miles of possible problems with pipe that had been buried for months. The report says TransCanada is touting the excavation and subsequent pipe replacements as a demonstration of its commitment to safety, but Public Citizen’s report says the company is in danger of of repeating its tainted history of problems with pipeline construction and safety. From the report:

During the construction of Keystone I, TransCanada pledged to meet 50 special conditions. But more than 47 anomalies along the line in four states had to be retested, and the Keystone I line spilled 12 times in the first year of operation.

In July 2011, TransCanada’s Bison natural gas pipeline exploded within the first six months of operation, blowing out an approximate 40-foot section of pipe. TransCanada had been warned of potential quality problems with construction and inspection.

In the 1990s, Iroquois Pipeline Operations, a subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., and four senior executives pleaded guilty to knowingly violating environmental and safety provisions of the pipeline construction permit. Iroquois executives had promised a pipeline of exceptional safety. [It crosses the historic territory of Iroquois Confederacy thru present-day NY & CT!]

The report also calls on Congress to hold oversight hearings to make sure that PHMSA investigates and addresses the safety of the pipeline. Smith said PHMSA should perform two tests: A so-called “Hydro test,” which pressurizes the pipeline to levels higher than it would normally experience, and an “caliper inline inspection,” which would look for problems on the inside of the pipeline.

“The consequences of a failure would be grave,” Smith said. “Our goal is to try and make sure if it operates it is operated as safely as possible and that the line itself secures the product to make sure that we don’t create additional problems down the line.”

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TransCanada pitches west-east pipeline

Proposed project would bring crude to refineries in Quebec, Saint John

Link to Article with Videos

CBC News | Apr 2, 2013 9:28 AM ET 

TransCanada Corp. is seeking firm financial commitments from companies seeking to ship crude oil from Western Canada to refineries in Eastern Canada.

The Calgary-based company announced on Tuesday morning a bidding process that will allow interested producers to make binding commitments for space on the pipeline. Companies will have from April 15 to June 17 to enter into long-term commitments to use the pipeline.

The open-season process follows a successful expression-of-interest phase and talks with potential shippers.

TransCanada said if the next phase is successful, it plans to start seeking regulatory approvals later in 2013, and the oil could start flowing to Eastern Canada by late 2017.

The proposal would be to convert 3,000 kilometres of the company’s natural gas pipelines to allow for crude oil to be transported. The company would also be looking at building 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline from Quebec into Saint John.

The pipeline could carry between 500,000 and 850,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the eastern refineries, according to the company.

Premier David Alward called the west-east pipeline proposal an historic initiative. Alward made the comments in front of the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John on Tuesday.Premier David Alward called the west-east pipeline proposal an historic initiative. Alward made the comments in front of the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John on Tuesday. (Robert Jones/CBC)

Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said on Tuesday TransCanada’s announcement was a “positive step.”

“We welcome such proposals, because they can generate thousands of Canadian jobs and long-term economic prosperity — particularly in Quebec and the Maritimes — for generations to come,” Oliver said.

The federal minister said the proposed pipeline project must meet a series of regulatory reviews.

If the project moves forward, Oliver said it would be an important piece of energy infrastructure for Canada.

“Pipelines moving oil from Alberta to Quebec to New Brunswick would be among the most expansive and ambitious stretches of energy infrastructure in the entire world and would contribute to the energy security of Canada and all of North America,” he said.

Officials from the Saint John-based Irving Oil Ltd. have said in the past their refinery could handle western crude oil.

The Irving Oil refinery is the largest in Canada and can process 300,000 barrels of oil per day. Saint John also has a deep-water port and a liquefied natural gas facility.

Oliver said he has recently toured the Irving refinery and the Ultramar refinery in Levis. The federal minister said he plans to tour Suncor’s refinery in Montreal in the coming weeks.

3 days in Alberta

New Brunswick Premier David Alward responded to TransCanada’s announcement on Tuesday morning during a news conference held at the Irving Oil headquarters, calling it an “encouraging step forward.”

The New Brunswick premier said the pipeline proposal is a “historic initiative” for both the province and the country.

“We envision New Brunswick as Canada’s next energy powerhouse and Saint John as the anchor of that powerhouse,” Alward said in front of more than 30 Irving Oil employees.

“If we proceed, this project will strengthen our national and provincial economies and create jobs and economic growth today and for generations to come,” he said, suggesting the project has the potential to be as important to Canada’s economic future as the railway was in the past.

Alward said the pipeline will create high-paying jobs in New Brunswick and will keep workers in the province instead of heading to western Canada to find employment in the oilsands.

“I want to see the day when the mother or father, the son or daughter leave their New Brunswick home in the morning to go to work in the development of natural resources, they will return for dinner that night, not three or four weeks later,” he said.

Alward spent three days in Alberta in February talking to Alberta Premier Alison Redford and oil executives about the possibility of the west-to-east pipeline.

The project has the possibility of creating 2,000 jobs during the construction phase of the pipeline and a few hundred refining jobs after, according to some estimates.

Alberta has been interested in the project, because oil from that province is now being shipped to the United States, where there is a glut. That means oil producers are getting $20 to $40 less per barrel than the world price.

Those lower prices translate into lower royalties for the provincial government, and that is causing a potential multi-billion dollar deficit in Alberta. A pipeline to the Irving Oil refinery would allow Alberta producers to charge the higher world price.

A new pipeline would also alleviate Canada’s dependence on foreign oil and increase the value of Canada’s crude oil through shipping to world markets from the deep-water port of Saint John, said Alward.

Port Saint John president and CEO Jim Quinn welcomed the prospect of playing an integral role in bringing Canadian crude to global markets.

“This opportunity for Saint John and our port is phenomenal,” Quinn said in a statement.

The port, which for 50 years has been handling petroleum cargo for both import and export, currently handles the largest oil tankers in the world, as well as the largest crude carriers, he said.

TransCanada Corp. may build 1,400 kilometres of pipeline, extending its capacity into Saint John. TransCanada Corp. may build 1,400 kilometres of pipeline, extending its capacity into Saint John. (Courtest of TransCanada)

Meet the 13-Year-Old Taking On Bottled Water

AlterNet/By Maude Barlow, published Sept. 6, 2012

We should be encouraging the youth in our society to do exactly what Robyn is doing — engaging in local politics, acting to protect the environment and questioning the world around her.
In the last year, municipalities across Ontario and the rest of the country have begun taking a much-needed stand to protect local water sources. Since  World Water Day  in 2011, nine municipalities across Canada have become Blue Communities with many well on their way.

Blue Communities  are municipalities that adopt a water commons framework by: banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events, recognizing water as a human right, and promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and waste-water services.

The success of the Blue Communities project in Ontario can be mainly attributed to Robyn Hamlyn who has met with 18 mayors and councillors. She talks about the environmental impacts of bottled water, the preposterous amount of profit bottled water companies make off communities’ lakes and streams and the stricter standards with which tap water is regulated. People who hear Hamlyn speak are captivated by her charm, passion and foresight to think long term about our water sources. And the incredible part of this success story is that Hamlyn is only  13 years old .

Her success has not only caught the attention of mayors, city councillors, environmentalists and media but it has also caught the attention of industry and organizations that believe water should be sold for profit. Hamlyn’s determination and effectiveness has provoked responses from Nestlé and Enviroment Probe, an organization that promotes the sale of water as a commodity.

John Challinor, Director of Corporate Affairs for Nestlé, has written letters to local newspapers saying there are other initiatives that the 13-year-old and others “can and should focus on to help preserve, protect and strengthen our water systems that are more effective than targeting bottled water.” More recently, Essie Solomon, an intern for  Environment Probe , wrote an article in the  Financial Post , chiding municipalities for taking “their advice from a 13-year-old.” It was shocking to read Environment Probe’s attack on Hamlyn who has been volunteering her free time to meet with municipal councils across Ontario to talk about the impact of bottled water on current water sources, climate change and social justice.

We should be encouraging the youth in our society to do exactly what Robyn is doing — engaging in local politics, acting to protect the environment and questioning the world around her. Solomon, whose article is condescendingly titled ” Don’t bottle 13-year-old’s water wisdom ,” would do well to pay attention to Hamlyn’s work rather than toe the line of an organization that promotes the sale of water for profit.

It’s also insulting to mayors and councillors to imply they do not examine critically the information presented to them. Not only is Hamlyn dispelling important myths about bottled water but she is also raising important issues that Canada is facing.

We believe municipal governments and other public bodies should not spend public funds providing bottled water at meetings or events, when a cheaper and more sustainable public alternative is readily available on tap. It simply doesn’t make financial or environmental sense.

Municipalities are at a crossroads and face pressing infrastructure needs in the wake of budget cuts and conditional funding from the Harper government. The Harper government is targeting water and wastewater services for privatization. PPP Canada explicitly promotes privatization of public services by only allocating the $1.2 billion under the P3 Canada Fund to municipalities that let corporations deliver water and wastewater, transportation and communications services on a for-profit basis.

The Harper government has shut down public debate on many critical water issues and amended environmental legislation that will reverberate for generations to come. So we are heartened to see municipalities take on critical water issues and provide forums for much needed debate and it is in them that we place our hope.

The Blue Communities Project is a joint initiative of the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). This project builds on a decade of Water Watch work in coalition with many other groups to protect public water services and challenge the bottled water industry.  Click here  to learn more about the Blue Communities Project.

First Nation launches constitutional challenge to Shell tar sands expansion

  MONTHLY REVIEW                    

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation spokesperson Eriel Deranger speaks out against the oilsands at a recent event in Vancouver.

by David P. Ball
Indian Country Today October 5, 2012

A First Nation whose land sits in the heart of the Alberta oil sands has ramped up its legal battle against the vast industrial development, which has generated controversy because of its massive carbon footprint, untreated tailings ponds and at least three proposed pipelines: Keystone XL, Kinder Morgan and Enbridge‘s Northern Gateway.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) on October 1 launched a constitutional challenge based in Treaty 8 alleging that the provincial government and the energy giant Shell Canada, which is looking to expand its Jackpine oil sands mine in the band’s traditional territories, have failed to adequately consult them and thus have in effect violated their treaty rights to use their land traditionally.

The challenge, submitted to the review panel that is evaluating the proposal, calls for mandatory consultation with First Nation treaty signatories. It also demands that their right to access their territories for hunting, trapping, harvesting and other traditional uses be honored. The Chipewyan allege that the Jackpine expansion, by damaging the environment, would prevent them from engaging in those activities and resources and thus violate the treaty.

Treaty 8, which forms the basis for ACFN’s constitutional challenge, is a historic agreement between the Crown and indigenous nations that promised aboriginal people the right to use their traditional lands and natural resources, and to self-governance. The ACFN is hoping to ”set new precedents that may mean changes to the regulatory process,” the band said in a statement.

“Consultation and accommodation—and the way it’s being done—has become shady deals, and coercion does not encompass the idea of free, prior and informed consent,” ACFN spokesperson Eriel Deranger told Indian Country Today Media Network. “The communities here have been bullied—by industry, a pro-industry provincial government and a pro-industry federal government—to just shut up and take what we can get out of a deal.”

Shell’s proposal—already facing a separate ACFN lawsuit to halt or alter it—would see the Jackpine project increase production every day by 100,000 barrels. But the company must first complete a review that begins on October 29, and ACFN says that the 31,429-acre disturbance area of the mine would devastate part of the culturally important Muskeg River, which is where the nation conducts most of its traditional hunting, trapping and harvesting activities.

“What are the costs of pushing the industry through?” Deranger asked. “We’re talking about doubling production in the tar sands. We’re already having problems with the current pace of development. Doubling it is psychotic. Some people think the tar sands and First Nations people can coexist, [but] I don’t know how you could possible rip up thousands of kilometers of boreal forest and traditional territories, de-water, poison and contaminate river systems, and consider that a plausible way for coexistence?”

But Shell insisted that it has, in fact, consulted the First Nation repeatedly, and that it does respect ACFN’s treaty rights.

“Shell has engaged extensively with ACFN over the last 15 years,” spokesperson David Williams told The Globe and Mail. “We’re aware of their concerns around Treaty 8, and our door remains open.”

Deranger acknowledged that some aboriginal people are divided over the benefits of the oil sands (or what its opponents call tar sands) in which a thick oil product, bitumen, is extracted from the earth in an energy-intensive mining and refining process.

“There are First Nations who think the tar sands are great,” Deranger admitted. “People have jobs. People now can afford to take their kids to Edmonton to go to the dentist. These are luxuries for people. But we have to start weighing the costs.”

Those costs—hundreds of toxic tailings ponds, open pit mines, significant emissions and polluted rivers across a giant swathe of Alberta—have not been properly addressed with ACFN, Deranger says.

“How will they potentially mitigate the impacts on traditional and treaty rights from their proposed expansion project in the oil sands?” she asked. “Industry isn’t meeting those standards. We’re not going to make any deals with you anymore. We’re going to fight your projects tooth and nail through a process that already exists.”

First Nation launches constitutional challenge to Shell tar sands expansion

  MONTHLY REVIEW                    

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation spokesperson Eriel Deranger speaks out against the oilsands at a recent event in Vancouver.

by David P. Ball
Indian Country Today October 5, 2012

A First Nation whose land sits in the heart of the Alberta oil sands has ramped up its legal battle against the vast industrial development, which has generated controversy because of its massive carbon footprint, untreated tailings ponds and at least three proposed pipelines: Keystone XL, Kinder Morgan and Enbridge‘s Northern Gateway.

The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) on October 1 launched a constitutional challenge based in Treaty 8 alleging that the provincial government and the energy giant Shell Canada, which is looking to expand its Jackpine oil sands mine in the band’s traditional territories, have failed to adequately consult them and thus have in effect violated their treaty rights to use their land traditionally.

The challenge, submitted to the review panel that is evaluating the proposal, calls for mandatory consultation with First Nation treaty signatories. It also demands that their right to access their territories for hunting, trapping, harvesting and other traditional uses be honored. The Chipewyan allege that the Jackpine expansion, by damaging the environment, would prevent them from engaging in those activities and resources and thus violate the treaty.

Treaty 8, which forms the basis for ACFN’s constitutional challenge, is a historic agreement between the Crown and indigenous nations that promised aboriginal people the right to use their traditional lands and natural resources, and to self-governance. The ACFN is hoping to ”set new precedents that may mean changes to the regulatory process,” the band said in a statement.

“Consultation and accommodation—and the way it’s being done—has become shady deals, and coercion does not encompass the idea of free, prior and informed consent,” ACFN spokesperson Eriel Deranger told Indian Country Today Media Network. “The communities here have been bullied—by industry, a pro-industry provincial government and a pro-industry federal government—to just shut up and take what we can get out of a deal.”

Shell’s proposal—already facing a separate ACFN lawsuit to halt or alter it—would see the Jackpine project increase production every day by 100,000 barrels. But the company must first complete a review that begins on October 29, and ACFN says that the 31,429-acre disturbance area of the mine would devastate part of the culturally important Muskeg River, which is where the nation conducts most of its traditional hunting, trapping and harvesting activities.

“What are the costs of pushing the industry through?” Deranger asked. “We’re talking about doubling production in the tar sands. We’re already having problems with the current pace of development. Doubling it is psychotic. Some people think the tar sands and First Nations people can coexist, [but] I don’t know how you could possible rip up thousands of kilometers of boreal forest and traditional territories, de-water, poison and contaminate river systems, and consider that a plausible way for coexistence?”

But Shell insisted that it has, in fact, consulted the First Nation repeatedly, and that it does respect ACFN’s treaty rights.

“Shell has engaged extensively with ACFN over the last 15 years,” spokesperson David Williams told The Globe and Mail. “We’re aware of their concerns around Treaty 8, and our door remains open.”

Deranger acknowledged that some aboriginal people are divided over the benefits of the oil sands (or what its opponents call tar sands) in which a thick oil product, bitumen, is extracted from the earth in an energy-intensive mining and refining process.

“There are First Nations who think the tar sands are great,” Deranger admitted. “People have jobs. People now can afford to take their kids to Edmonton to go to the dentist. These are luxuries for people. But we have to start weighing the costs.”

Those costs—hundreds of toxic tailings ponds, open pit mines, significant emissions and polluted rivers across a giant swathe of Alberta—have not been properly addressed with ACFN, Deranger says.

“How will they potentially mitigate the impacts on traditional and treaty rights from their proposed expansion project in the oil sands?” she asked. “Industry isn’t meeting those standards. We’re not going to make any deals with you anymore. We’re going to fight your projects tooth and nail through a process that already exists.”