Environmental and citizen groups in Quebec are demanding the National Energy Board explain why it refuses to order a hydrostatic safety test of Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline, a west-to-east oil pipeline that could come online as early as next month. A hydrostatic test or hydrotest is a commonly used method to determine whether a pipeline can operate safely at its maximum operating pressure. The test involves pumping water through the pipeline at levels higher than average operating pressures.
There was no Earth Day speech. No urgent call to action. No outlining of the threats we face or the way in which we were going to work together to meet them. There wasn't even an Earth Day tweet -- just silence. It was a very stark reminder of his priorities. U.S. President Barack Obama's speech noted that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The fact that 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded, that droughts, storms, and wildfires are increasing all over the planet in both frequency and intensity, and how climate change is already adversely affecting the air our children breathe.
First, Keystone XL does NOT "bypass the United States," as the President claimed it did in the earlier statement. A consultants report from IHS Energy found in February that "Canadian crude making its way to the USGC (the US Gulf Coast) will likely be refined there, and most of the refined products are likely to be consumed in the United States."
Alberta has the best solar and wind potential in all of Canada more than enough to power the entire province yet utilizes less than 1per cent of it. Alberta also has a highly skilled, trained workforce. Alberta has the welders, it has the electricians, it has the engineers, the machinists, it has all the people power it needs to make the solar powered leap.
The Alberta government is so fixated on extracting the destructive tar sands that it's missing out on Alberta's real potential. Rather that causing rising greenhouse gas emissions, countless treaty rights violations, incredible disturbances to land, air and water, the government could be a leader in clean energy solutions.
Fossil fuels, the writing is on the wall. Some countries are already powered by 100 per cent renewables, others are on their way. Our cars and transport are starting to be electrified and solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal are going up in communities around the world (Bangladesh is installing nearly two new rooftop PV systems every minute).
"First Nation communities, especially ones that are isolated and reliant on diesel for power, stand to benefit the most from a transition. These panels are an example of the type of solutions our communities should be implementing -- ones that create jobs, lower energy costs and don't hurt the environment to do it."
Frankly I think it's at least partially our fault as an environmental movement that this framing has stuck. We haven't focused enough on specific solutions over the years. We have opposed bad ideas like pipelines with vague notions of carbon taxes or non-specific alternative energy projects. We have rarely proposed or even broadly supported specific alternative projects.
Harper and Abbott have to understand that we can no longer have economies that exist outside of the ecological limits of our planet. Our reliance and exploitation of fossil fuels is endangering our future as well as our present and it needs to end. We need to transition to green energy and we need to keep more fossil fuels, especially high-carbon fuels like the tar sands, in the ground.
It makes you wonder how many other voices that complain about tar sands impacts are being ignored? Fort Chipewyan's calls for independent health inquiry, the cancer concerns in Fort Saskatchewan are just two, both recently echoed by the Edmonton Journal's editorial board; the fact that some doctors may not comfortable treating oil-symptom patients is another.