Canadian government pledges to correct secretive environment policies

Oilsands projects that require high pressure steam injected deep underground were excluded from a list requiring mandatory environmental reviews.

Oilsands projects that require high pressure steam injected deep underground were excluded from a list requiring mandatory environmental reviews.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has agreed to correct a murky and secretive review process for industrial projects, says a new audit tabled in the Canadian Parliament on Tuesday.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission all told auditors in the report that they would improve weaknesses identified by the audit, including a lack of transparency, the absence of documented evidence to support decisions on project approvals, and inadequate tools to allow for public and aboriginal participation in reviews.

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Stephen Harper’s government changes topic after NDP asks about climate rules

Environment Canada estimates carbon pollution from the oilsands increased 307 per cent between 1990 and 2012.

Environment Canada estimates carbon pollution from the oilsands increased 307 per cent between 1990 and 2012. It also estimates a further 61 per cent increase in emissions by 2020.

You may have seen this report in the Toronto Star about a mysterious end to a secretive group that was created to draft new rules to reduce carbon pollution from oil and gas companies.

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq was asked about the long-delayed rules for oil companies on Tuesday in the House of Commons by NDP environment critic Megan Leslie.

Aglukkaq responded by changing the topic. Continue reading

Stephen Harper says Canada and Australia not avoiding climate change action

Twitter photo of PM Stephen Harper and PM Tony Abbott in Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Twitter photo of PM Stephen Harper and PM Tony Abbott in Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

OTTAWA-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott took turns Monday criticizing efforts by governments to make polluters pay for greenhouse gas emissions.

Abbott, who is visiting North America, and Harper, both said their respective governments weren’t trying to avoid dealing with the problem, but suggested they were trying to avoid damaging the economy.

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300 scientists slam “flawed” review of Enbridge pipeline

A review panel recommended approval of the pipeline proposed by Enbridge with 209 conditions.

A review panel recommended approval of the pipeline proposed by Enbridge with 209 conditions.

Some 300 scientists are urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reject a report that recommended approval of a major oil pipeline to the west coast of British Columbia, describing it as a “flawed analysis” that downplayed key environmental impacts.

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Government’s weather forecasters shouldn’t discuss climate change, says Environment Canada

Weather forecasters at Environment Canada aren’t supposed to discuss climate change in public, says a Canadian government spokesman.

Environment Canada made the comments in response to emailed questions about its communications policy.

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Governments working with oil execs to curb oilsands criticism, documents show

Published by Postmedia News on Tuesday Mar 15 2011

OTTAWA – Senior federal and Alberta government officials are working hand-in-hand with a task force of oil and gas CEOs to “turn up the volume” on communications tactics to fight criticism about the industry’s environmental record, newly released federal documents have revealed.

The briefing notes from Natural Resources Canada, obtained by Postmedia News, highlight the role of the committee that sought input from a former senior adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a strategy designed at “upping their game” against criticism from other countries, as well as from Canadians in Ontario and Quebec.

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Conservatives deny diplomatic push to shield oilsands from U.S. environmental rules

Published by Postmedia News on Mon Nov 29 2010

OTTAWA – The Harper government dismissed accusations Monday that its environmental policies were focused on protecting the Alberta oilsands, in light of newly-released documents showing some oil-friendly Canadian diplomats attempting to undermine foreign environmental policies.

The documents were released as international negotiators from almost 200 countries gather in Cancun, Mexico, for the annual United Nations climate change summit. They also coincide with an acknowledgment from Environment Minister John Baird last weekend that Canada would not follow the lead of the Obama administration in its plans to set new limits on greenhouse gas pollution from new industrial facilities and major expansions to existing ones starting in the year 2011.

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Canada enlists Big Oil to help kill U.S green policies

Published by Postmedia News on Sun Nov 28 2010

OTTAWA – Canadian diplomats in Washington have quietly asked oil industry players such as Exxon Mobil and BP to help “kill” U.S. global warming policies in order to ensure that “the oil keeps a-flowing” from Alberta into the U.S. marketplace, Postmedia News has learned.

In a series of newly-released emails from Canada’s Washington embassy, the Canadian diplomats described recommendations from Environment Canada to clean up the oilsands as “simply nutty,” proposing instead to “kill any interpretation” of U.S. energy legislation that would apply to the industry.

“We hope that we can find a solution to ensure that the oil keeps a-flowing,” wrote Jason Tolland, from the Canadian Embassy in an exchange of emails with government trade lawyers on Feb. 8, 2008.

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Canada’s oilsands strategy includes lobbying against global warming measures: documents

Published by Postmedia News on Sunday Nov 21 2010

OTTAWA – Three major departments in the federal government have been actively co-ordinating a communications strategy with Alberta and its fossil- fuel industry to fight international global-warming policies that “target” oilsands production, newly released federal documents reveal.

The documents, obtained by Postmedia News, suggest that Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, have collaborated on an “advocacy strategy” in the U.S. to promote the oilsands and discourage environmental-protection policies.

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Oil and gas is “gorilla in room” on feds’ climate change policies: Environment Canada

Published by Postmedia News on Jan. 28, 2012.

OTTAWA – The oil and gas industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are the “gorilla in the room” for Canada’s environmental policies, a senior Environment Canada official has told his superiors in newly-released correspondence.

The observations were made by Mike Beale, an associate assistant deputy minister, in an email sent to Deputy Minister Paul Boothe and other senior officials regarding a conference being organized jointly last year by the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental group, and a major oil and gas company.

After being called by an official from Royal Dutch Shell regarding the April 2011 conference in Banff, Alta., that was to focus on “less controversial” aspects of the climate-change debate, such as energy efficiency and transportation demand management, Beale felt compelled to state what was missing.

“I had to point out – nicely – that the initiative seems to sidestep the gorilla in the room of emission reductions from O&G (oil and gas), but that otherwise, it seems like a great idea,” wrote Beale in the Jan. 20, 2011 email, released to Postmedia News through access to information legislation.

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