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Canada, US Governments Watching, But Not Intervening, in Coal Mine Pollution Controversy

Read time: 8 mins
Teck's Greenhill's mountaintop removal coal mine in BC's Elk Valley

By , The Narwhal. Originally posted on The Narwhal.

The U.S. State Department is not going to intervene in a dispute that has split the International Joint Commission (IJC), despite a letter from U.S. commissioners charging that their Canadian counterparts are refusing to publish data showing the full effects of selenium pollution flowing from B.C. coal mines into Montana.

A State Department official told The Narwhal that there are “no plans to weigh in at this time,” and, instead, both the U.S and Canadian federal governments are urging IJC representatives to work out their differences.

Why the Koch Network Took Credit for Dakota Access, Keystone XL, and REINS Act

Read time: 6 mins
Koch brothers

A leaked memorandum published by The Intercept and Documented Investigations shows that a Koch Industries' donors network, known as the Seminar Network, has taken credit for Donald Trump approving the permits for both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines during the first months of his presidency. The memo also applauded efforts by the Koch network's Americans for Prosperity (AFP) chapter in Wisconsin to pass a deregulatory measure there known as the REINS Act. The Seminar Network, which meets secretly twice a year, is made up of donors who give at least $100,000 toward Koch-led political and philanthropic efforts.

Koch Industries has a business interest in both pipelines, though their approval has not been something its funded network has widely discussed. Quietly, though, Koch has advocated for the pair of pipelines in regulatory hearings in both Iowa for Dakota Access — as previously reported by DeSmog — as well as in Canada, as reported in 2012 by InsideClimate News.

Is This New Tar Sands Technology a Game Changer for Exporting Canada's Bitumen?

Read time: 7 mins
Hockey pucks

A new technology has the potential to transform the transportation of tars sands oil. Right now, the already thick and slow-flowing oil, known as bitumen, has to be diluted with a super-light petroleum product, usually natural gas condensate, in order for it to flow through a pipeline or into a rail tank car. 

However, scientists at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering inadvertently found a way to make tar sands oil even more viscous, turning it into “self-sealing pellets” that could potentially simplify its transport.

Deadly Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Disaster Was Avoidable Corporate Crime

Read time: 4 mins
Lac-Mégantic before oil train explosion leveled its downtown

Damning new testimony from an engineer of the locomotive involved in the deadly 2013 oil train disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Canada, reveals several ways corporate cost-cutting directly led to the accident, which claimed 47 lives.

Where Are Canada's Missing Electric Cars?

Read time: 6 mins
Canada's missing electric vehicles

The race is on for electric vehicle supremacy.

Last week, China — the world’s second largest economy and consumer of about one-third of new cars — announced it will set a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, in a move that is expected to accelerate the global push into the electric car market.

China joins Norway, France and the U.K. in announcing plans to phase out vehicles with internal combustion engines.

Goldman Sachs recently estimated that electric vehicles will make up 32 per cent of global auto sales by 2040.

So, as the world moves toward the rapid adoption of electric vehicles, where is Canada in all of this?

These Industry Titans Oppose Trump's Order to Build Pipelines with U.S. Steel

Read time: 6 mins
sections of steel pipe for a gas pipeline

The April 7 deadline has come and gone for public comments on President Donald Trump's executive order calling for U.S. pipelines to be made with U.S.-produced steel, and some of the most influential titans of industry have come out against it.

The list of heavy-hitters who have voiced their discontent includes the likes of Dakota Access pipeline-owner Energy Transfer Partners, Russian-owned pipe producers Evraz North America and TMK IPSCO, and pipeline giants Williams Companies and EQT Midstream. It also includes the oil and gas industry at-large through its trade association and lobbying groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute (API), Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), Association of Oil Pipelines, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), and others such as Magnolia LNG

Noticeably absent from the list is TransCanada, owner of the recently approved Keystone XL pipeline, which the Trump administration has said is exempt from the order. Both Keystone XL and Dakota Access will use steel made by Evraz North America, whose parent company is owned by a close political ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as previously reported by DeSmog.

Introducing Biochar: Climate Change Solution or Greenwash Nightmare?

Read time: 4 mins
Person holding biochar in hand

After years of investigating biochar, which promoters have touted as a potential climate change fix, DeSmog is releasing its findings on the science, claims, and controversy surrounding this approach to sequestering carbon. 

Biochar is the product of plant or animal products (biomass) undergoing pyrolysis, a high-heat chemical reaction, to convert the carbon-containing biomass to a stable, non-decomposing form of charcoal. Introduced to mainstream audiences in a Time Magazine article from December 2008, biochar as a climate geoengineering technology has hit a number of peaks and valleys since then. In that time, its best chances at reaching commercial scales so far have failed, according to a new DeSmog report, Biochar: Climate Change Solution or False Hope?

Biochar's failure to date is due to a number of reasons, such as the lack of scientific consensus surrounding its ability to sequester carbon indefinitely, the vast amounts of land needed to produce biochar at a large enough scale to affect the climate, and the lack of legislative or regulatory frameworks required for investment in commercial-level production. 

Like Keystone XL, Much of Dakota Access Pipeline Steel Made by Russian Company Tied to Putin

Read time: 6 mins
Pipes stamped with 'Made in Canada'

At his February 16 press conference, President Donald Trump discussed his executive orders calling for U.S. federal agencies to grant TransCanada and Energy Transfer Partners the permits needed to build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects.

Trump also cited a different executive order signed that same day, highlighting the “Buy American measures” which he said were “in place to require American steel for American pipelines.” But like Keystone XL, as DeSmog previously reported, much of the steel for the Dakota Access project appears to have been manufactured in Canada by Evraz North America, a subsidiary of the Russian steel giant Evraz.

Evraz is owned in part by Roman Abramovich, a Russian multi-billionaire credited for bringing Russian President Vladimir Putin into office in the late 1990s. DeSmog's finding comes on the heels of Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigning for potentially having discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Russian diplomats before Trump took office, apparently without the knowledge of Trump or now-Vice President Mike Pence.

Dakota Access Pipeline Approved a Week After Co-Owner's Pipeline Spilled 600,000 Gallons of Oil in Texas

Read time: 4 mins
Oil spill in Blue Ridge, Texas

On January 30, 600,000 gallons (14,285 barrels) of oil spewed out of Enbridge's Seaway Pipeline in Blue Ridge, Texas, the second spill since the pipeline opened for business in mid-2016.

Seaway is half owned by Enbridge and serves as the final leg of a pipeline system DeSmog has called the “Keystone XL Clone,” which carries mostly tar sands extracted from Alberta, Canada, across the U.S. at a rate of 400,000 barrels per day down to the Gulf of Mexico. Enbridge is an equity co-owner of the Dakota Access pipeline, which received its final permit needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on February 7 to construct the pipeline across the Missouri River and construction has resumed.

The alignment of Native American tribes, environmentalists, and others involved in the fight against Dakota Access have called themselves “water protectors,” rather than “activists,” out of concern that a pipeline spill could contaminate their drinking water source, the Missouri River. 

Pass a Regulation, Repeal Another: House Approves Provision Tied to Koch Industries

Read time: 7 mins
B.C. Minister of Finance Colin Hansen and Laura Jones cut ceremonial red tape

On January 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act of 2017 in a 237-187 vote, a bill pushed for years by Koch Industries-funded entities, which will make it harder for federal agencies to enact regulations. 

Passing mostly along party lines, the bill also included an amendment introduced by U.S. Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and passed by the House, which states that for every federal regulation created, another must be amended or retired. In announcing the amendment on the House floor, Messer said Canada has a similar law on the books.

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