David Roberts and Stephen Gordon are saying almost the same thing about green jobs

Over the last couple of days, my Twitter feed has been swamped with discussion about green jobs.  Yesterday, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative blogger and Laval Professor Stephen Gordon (@stephenfgordon) posted a piece on the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab arguing that presenting, “the employment opportunities generated by a set of proposals…as an additional benefit of the policy agenda..(is) a mistake.” I expected this would generate some push-back when I read the headline, but didn’t expect that Grist.org blogger David Roberts (@drgrist) would be one of those weighing in.  He did, with this post. I think they agree on more than either might believe.  Here’s why.

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Twice the offsets, half the credibility for the offset system

The Governments of Alberta and Canada announced today that a final funding formula had been reached for Shell’s Quest project, a carbon capture and storage operation housed at Shell’s Scotford Upgrader in Fort Saskatchewan.  The fact that the funding model has been agreed upon is great news, since although I have been critical of Alberta’s carbon capture and storage strategy in the past, I think that these pilots provide a crucial opportunity for technological advancement.  In this case, proving that CCS can work, at scale, in an oilsands upgrader has the potential to be a game-changer.

The good news in this press release ended for me when I read, “Alberta is updating its carbon offset program to allow multiple-credits…(for)…large-scale, direct injection CCS projects.”  Under this arrangement, projects, “will receive a bonus credit for every tonne of offset credit created through the capture and storage of their CO2.” In other words, capture and store 1, get 2.  A similar bonus credit regime for CCS had been proposed under both the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bills in the US.

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EEDC Oilsands Event Recap

This morning, join 650 other interested and engaged people at Shaw Conference Center, for Edmonton Economic Development Corporation’s “Oil Sands: What’s Really Going On?” event. As you can see from speaker line-up, it bound to interesting day. It lucky enough to attend as guest of David Kane and EEDC, for grateful. Click below for recap, with few links your reading pleasure.

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Attn: Andrew Nikiforuk. If you’re going to make accusations, you should back them up.

In this article in The Tyee, Andrew Nikiforuk levels some very serious allegations with respect to the National Energy Board, suggesting that the Board has been captured (see * below for definition) by industry, that it cannot be objective because it is industry-financed, and that it does not appropriately balance the interests of energy companies with those of rural Canadians.

If you are going to level an accusation that the country’s most powerful regulatory body has been captured by industry, you would likely want to have the backup of experts in legal process, perhaps a regulatory economist (I might be biased on this one), and certainly you should be armed with a long list of citations to previous Board decisions which demonstrate your case. In this article, Nikiforuk’s primary source is Dave Core, director of federally regulated projects for the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations (CAEPLA), described on the CAEPLA website as, “…one of Canada’s foremost and leading landowner advocates.” In other words, he works on behalf of those people who are most negatively affected by energy infrastructure – those with pipelines literally in their backyards. With that kind of backup, Mr. Nikiforuk is bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Nikiforuk’s argument that the NEB has been captured is supported with a quote from a 2000 report (which is not online) on the NEB’s effectiveness by Purvin & Gertz saying that, “there is a disturbing perception that the National Energy Board has in some sense been ‘captured’ by the western based producer and pipeline industries.”  The perception of capture does not, in and of itself, imply capture, and I am sure if that report had any more damning evidence, it would have been cited.  Further, as you will see below, Nikiforuk is not afraid to take a quote out of context.

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Gas prices, fuel economy, electricity prices, etc.

Last night, I posted a simple calculation to Twitter.  Based on gasoline energy content of 32.2 MJ/l LHV, and a conversion of 3.6 MJ/kWh, I calculated 8.94 kWh/l of gasoline, and thus stated that $1.30/l gasoline was approximately equivalent to 14.4c/kWh electricity.  This had, in a sense, the desired result.  Many of my followers followed … Read more

My latest @ The Globe and Mail – Facts take a hit in debate over Keystone XL

As the deadline for comment to the U.S. State Department on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline loomed, prominent environmentalist Bill McKibben and NASA climate scientist James Hansen each voiced calls for the Obama Administration to turn down TransCanada’s request for approval to build the pipeline. As has become the norm, their objections were supported by … Read more

On the potential for oilsands to add 200ppm of CO2 to the atmosphere

Over the last few days, posts by Bill McKibben in the Guardian and by NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen on his own website at Columbia have again brought forward the statistic that, “the tar sands are estimated to contain at least 400 GtC (equivalent to about 200 ppm CO2).”  That’s true but, in the context of building the Keystone XL pipeline, the statistic is laughably out of context.

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Time for Minister Liepert to come down hard on TransCanada

Alberta’s Energy Minister Ron Liepert has certainly been aggressive in his support of the Keystone XL project, urging US President Obama to, “sign the bloody order,” and saying the the President was, “out of touch with Americans,” who he insists want the pipeline to go ahead.  Liepert went on, in the same interview, to say that, “the (Obama) administration today is highly influenced by the environmental movement, and there’s a lot of foot-dragging relative to the approval of projects that are seen to have, quote, environmental impact.”  He said that, “if we don’t have either increased access to the U.S. Gulf Coast or a pipeline to the West Coast of Canada, we’re going to be a province that’s landlocked in bitumen.”

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My Alberta Oil column on oilsands reclamation

The Alberta government’s revision of the Mine Financial Security Program (MFSP) continues down a wrong-headed path where the province is willing to take on environmental risk to enable oil sands development. It would be unacceptable if the government were underwriting oil sands firms’ pension liabilities to accelerate development. It should be unacceptable for the environment … Read more