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Canadian rock legend Neil Young has blasted the Harper government for “trading integrity” in its single-minded appetite for Alberta tar sands dollars.
While the Senate seizes the spotlight in Ottawa, another threat to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s agenda is unfolding in capitals on opposite coasts. In both Victoria and Washington D.C., governments are weighing in on the future of oil pipelines which hold the key to Western Canada’s economic and political destiny — and that of the federal Conservative party.
The two fronts are related, as the inability to control one could jeopardize the achievement of the other by torpedoing the Conservatives’ ambitions to displace the center of political power in Canada.
Source: The Hook
Evan Vokes, a pipeline safety whistleblower and materials engineer, told a Canadian Senate committee yesterday that TransCanada Corporation “has a culture of non-compliance,” but the company says it takes “great exception” to Vokes’ claims that it does not take safety and compliance issues seriously.
Calgary-based TransCanada is the proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline to ferry raw bitumen to the Gulf of Mexico.
The multi-billion dollar pipeline would accelerate tar sands production, which on a per barrel basis creates three to four times more climate-changing emissions than conventional oil.
Vokes, an expert on pipeline welding practices, worked for TransCanada for five years and was fired without cause in 2012 after persistently raising concerns about the company’s safety practices.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) is demanding the resignation of Gerry Protti, the newly-appointed chair of Alberta Energy Regulator, a new agency charged with monitoring environmental issues. The ACFN is concerned that, under Protti’s leadership, the agency will prioritize advancing the interests of the oil, gas and coal industries, while compromising environmental protection and First Nations issues.
“How can Gerry Protti be diligent to First Nations concerns and uphold treaty rights when he clearly has no previous experience engaging First Nations and still has such strong industry ties?” said the ACFN in a press release.
The powerful U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems to be taking its mandate seriously. At least as far as the State Department’s recent evaluation of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is concerned.
In an official letter issued last Monday, the EPA trashed the State Department’s draft report, the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), released in March. It expressed grave concern that the report gave an overly-positive environmental assessment of the $7 billion project. That it bizarrely concluded that the 875 mile long pipeline was environmentally sound.
As you’ll recall, the State Department’s conclusions upset a lot of environmentalists. For many good reasons.
WASHINGTON – April 23, 2013 – Opponents of Keystone XL have submitted more than one million comments urging President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the State Department following the publication of the latest deficient environmental review urging that the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline be rejected. Across the diverse pipeline opponents who spoke in Nebraska and the one million people who provided comments, there is a common message: Keystone XL is all risk and no reward.
The one million comments were collected from more than 20 organizations, including: 350.org, Alliance for Climate Education, Avaaz, Bold Nebraska, CCAN, Center for Effective Government, Credo, Environmental Action, Friends of the Earth, FWW, Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters, MoveOn, NWF, Oil Change International, NRDC, RAN, Sierra Club, and SumofUs.org.
Source: Toronto Star
In exploiting every last drop of tar sands crude, the government is impoverishing our country, its democratic freedoms and its future prosperity.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Canada is fast becoming a place that I no longer recognize. In the last year, federal policy has aimed to remove any obstacles to tar sands expansion using repressive tactics that undermine our longstanding democratic traditions. There seems to be no higher federal priority than doing whatever multinational oil companies demand and we – you and I – are being systematically denied any role in Canada’s natural resource future.