Support journalism that lights the way through the climate crisis by June 3

Goal: $100k

Only hours after Donald Trump's stunning and historic U.S. presidential victory, a political pipeline already appears to be opening wide for an expansion of oil, gas, and coal.

While environmental activists and scientists have warned that the election of a climate-denying president in the U.S. would stall efforts to prevent dangerous global warming, political observers say the fossil fuel industry should be positively "jumping for joy."

Billionaire businessman Trump, a showman without any political or military experience, stunned most of the planet with his early-morning victory at the polls on Wednesday, and will bring a powerful pro-industry package with him to the White House that includes support for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a pledge to withdraw from the Paris climate agreements, and the belief that climate change is concept created by the Chinese to disrupt American manufacturing markets.

Trump will curb oil industry enthusiasm for climate action, says Heartland Institute

This kind of platform, said Joseph Bast, president and CEO of the non-profit Heartland Institute, a right-leaning research centre in Illinois, will allow oil and gas stakeholders to secure their place in a world of mounting pressure to move towards fossil-fuel free solutions. He added that smaller businesses in particular "should be jumping for joy" since he said they could have been crippled by federal legislation penalizing emissions-heavy industry operations.

"I believe the big companies will dial back their enthusiasm on climate action absolutely," he told National Observer, noting that BP in particular has recently come out supporting the majority of President Obama's new climate policies. "The Republican Party platform was, in my opinion, very pro-energy, pro-environment, and pro-jobs."

The companies that Bast champions are also the same ones that are producing some of the heat-trapping pollution that is warming the atmosphere.

"If Donald Trump actually follows through with it and the Republicans follow through with what they say, this should be a great time for energy and natural gas producers, coal producers and consumers."

Breathing new life into Keystone XL

According to Scientific American, President-elect Trump has already appointed one of the best-known climate skeptics to lead his U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) transition team: Myron Ebell, director for the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, and a well-known "oil-industry mouthpiece."

It also gives Canadian oil and gas advocates an opportunity to promote their cause. TransCanada Corp., for example, has said it remains "fully committed" to building the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which despite receiving support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was rejected by U.S. President Barrack Obama in November 2015.

Republican Trump has said he would "absolutely approve" the 1,900-kilometre Alberta to Nebraska crude oil pipeline, but hasn't addressed TransCanada's outstanding request for US$15 billion in damages after Obama's rejection. Trump has also said he wants the government to get a greater cut of the profits, but hasn't explained what that means.

"We are evaluating ways to engage the new administration on the benefits, the jobs and the tax revenues this project brings to the table," said TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper on Wednesday. "Building the pipeline means 9,000 construction jobs — 42,000 direct and spin-off jobs overall. KXL would also mean tens of millions of dollars in annual property taxes to counties along the route, and a more than $3 billion boost to the U.S. GDP."

TransCanada shares finished the day up about two per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange, closing at $59.96 per share on the day after Trump's victory.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) also told National Observer that it supports construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in the wake of changes to the White House, but would not comment on how Trump's big win affects the industry at large.

"The United States is our industry’s largest customer, but also our largest competitor and we will continue to advance the priorities that are important to Canadian producers," said a statement from the industry lobby group on Wednesday. "Our challenge is getting that energy to the world and the only way we can do that is through more energy infrastructure, such as pipelines, which will enable us to deliver oil and natural gas to more customers at home and abroad.”

Hundreds of kilometres of pipes stacked inside a yard in Gascoyne, N.D., intended to go into the Keystone XL pipeline. File photo by Canadian Press.

But the premier of Alberta, Canada's largest oil-producing province, said that securing approval for Keystone XL pipeline wouldn't provide a good long-term strategy for the Canadian economy, because U.S. producers, as the Canadian lobby group pointed out, are expanding their own output and competing with Canadian companies.

"Obviously, we know though, that the U.S. has become less of a market than it has been a competitor," Notley said at a news conference in Edmonton.

This would mean that Notley's focus remains on promoting other pipeline projects that provide access to the coasts, such as Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion project to the west coast and TransCanada's Energy East pipeline to the Atlantic coast.

"Simply looking at market access as being a one pipeline, Keystone-type event where we lose agency over the decision making on it is probably not necessarily a good long term strategy for our economic development here in Canada," Notley said. "So it doesn”t mean that Keystone isn’t something that the industry might want to see happen and that we won't be sitting down and talking to them about what that would look like. But it also is the case that the need to have a national or Canadian pipeline to tidewater remains."

Faster industry approval south of the border

Isaac Orr, research fellow for energy and environmental policy at the Heartland Institute, said it wouldn't just be Keystone XL that stands a better chance under the Trump administration, but the highly-contested Dakota Access Pipeline as well. In many cases, he said Obama has been the only person in between approval and rejection of major energy projects, and a Republican president would show far more leniency.

"Federal leases are probably going to be approved at a lot greater rate," he explained. "I think it's going to be a lot more efficient and more offshore permits will be granted. It will be interesting to see how this plays out — I also think he's going to rescind the moratorium on coal mining."

Essentially, he said, Trump will give exploration and production companies the freedom to go where reserves are vast, and won't worry too much about the impact on climate change.

Oil-rich Alberta proceeds with climate plan, despite Trump's victory

But while business-friendly groups say America is backing away from tackling climate change, Notley said Alberta will proceed with an aggressive climate change plan that has received praise from both industry and environmental groups. She noted that the plan was designed to encourage industry to take action to reduce carbon pollution, without causing them to lose business or jobs to neighbouring jurisdictions that have failed to act.

Even under President Obama, she said that Alberta was acting while knowing that the U.S. was unable to get any climate legislation approved by its legislators.

“We’re actually ahead of the game now, here in Alberta, relative to where we were a year ago, when we first announced our climate leadership plan, because of course, the federal government is talking (about) — within three or four years — bringing other jurisdictions in Canada closer to where Alberta is at," Notley said. "So it actually would improve the whole competitiveness issue.

"So we’re not terribly concerned about that, quite frankly, and as I’ve said before, there are strong compelling reasons for moving forward on our climate leadership plan and decisions on voters south of the border are not things that should factor into that.”

But there was concern in Quebec, where opposition Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée said Trump's election would wipe out decades of progress in global action to fight climate change.

"Mr. Trump does not believe in global warming. He does not believe in the fact that the human race is responsible for it and will promote coal and gas and oil and I think it's a major setback for the decades of work we have done as a species in trying to get the U.S. on board, and China on board and India on board, so this is very disheartening," said Lisée at a news conference at the National Assembly in Quebec City.

Parti Québecois Leader Jean-François Lisée speaks to reporters in Quebec City about Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential election. National Assembly video.

In the meantime, the Heartland Institute's Bast said he doubted that international pressure on the U.S. to take on a climate leadership role would have any impact on Trump's governance over the oil and gas industry. He predicted Trump would withdraw from an international climate change treaty signed last year in Paris to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius this century.

“I think Donald Trump has shown that he’s pretty much immune to that kind of pressure from Liberal advocates, environmental advocates and European governments," said Bast. "This is a guy who very clearly doesn’t believe the science is settled. He very clearly believes this is just a left-wing, bigger government, higher-energy cost kind of play, and that it's all bound up with political correctness."

Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada, Obama, oil and gas
Students and youth wait to be arrested after marching from Georgetown University in Washington to the White House to protest construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on March 2, 2014. File photo by Associated Press.

Oil prices rise after U.S. election

Oil prices around the world have already begun to rise in the hours since the election, adding weight to theories that Trump's election could have serious global consequences for climate action. On Wednesday morning, Canada's Trudeau vowed to work "very closely" with the new president on trade, investment, international security and other issues, prompting outrage from environmentalists across the country who noticed that the prime minister's statement failed to mention climate change.

“Justin Trudeau needs to stand up to climate deniers, not with them," said Cameron Fenton, Canadian strategy and communications manager for in a press statement. "With a climate denier as the U.S. President-Elect, Justin Trudeau needs to take bolder climate action than ever before, and if Trudeau approves a pipeline to ship tar sands to the United States, be it Kinder Morgan or Keystone XL, he’ll be complicit in Trump’s climate denial."

This marks the first time in a while that environmental activists have had to advocate against Keystone XL, a pipeline that they believed was dead and buried, following its rejection by Obama in 2015.

"We have a government that has already demonstrated that climate change is a priority for them," added Steve Kux, climate and clean energy spokesperson for the David Suzuki Foundation. "When a leader of a G7 nation comes into power, they’re faced with a lot of realities, they meet with a lot of experts on issues.

"We remain hopeful that there will be an opportunity to present the facts to the new president on the part of ENGOs in the United States, professionals and climate scientist, and he may come to an informed opinion about it before enacting any policy on it.”

The comments come just as David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to Washington, said the country is "prepared to talk" about opening up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to negotiate improvements. During his election campaign, Trump said NAFTA was "the worst trade deal" in history and he intended to change it in favour of American workers.

Environment and Climate Change Canada would not comment on how a Trump presidency could impact climate action around the world and instead sent a link to Trudeau's early morning statement congratulating Trump.

— with files from Mike De Souza, Canadian Press

Keep reading

The fossil fuel industry is run by human beings. They should only be jumping for joy if they have no children or grandchildren, and if they take no joy in the natural world and the abundance of beauty and biodiversity we were fortunate to inherit from past generations. Ignoring climate change science won't make the science untrue, or the crises less imminent, no matter how wealthy or connected you or your children might be. We stand at risk of destroying the planet for the next generation, rather than passing forward the same beautiful opportunities we have enjoyed. Hard to understand how fellow human beings could feel that what they really need is more billions of empty dollars, rather than a secure future for their children and the other species on this planet.

This election appears to be a win for ignorance and spite. Hopefully not all policies brought forward will be guided by the same. And if they are, I guess we have to hope that corporate leaders are capable of acting on conscience rather than greed, even if permitted by a sociopathic leader to do their worst.

Or perhaps we could also hope that lots of people like you and I step up and refuse to let it happen. For too long, I have felt that many of us on the environmental side of things, have refused to be as radical as the emergency calls for.

Perhaps now, we'll stop waiting for governments, or the corporations that fund them, to do the right thing. There are many ways that we can begin the transition now. We do have grandkids, and they are growing up knowing that grandma and grandpa are standing with the people of the planet....putting their money and their time with the science, trying to change the energy mix on the ground.

It might seem like small changes, but if everyone who knows the true nature of the threat, makes a vow today to be passive no more..........we might get more done while Trump is in office, than we would have had Hillary won, and we relaxed into a bogus belief, that the Democrats were taking care of things.

Same with Trudeau and the Liberals. So far he's only talked a good line. If he walks a crooked one, to permitting all those export pipelines, perhaps it will be up to all of us, to help him reconsider. One thing is for sure, a sustainable future is going to take more than voting once every four years.

Alberta is not ahead of anything in reducing GHGs and should be called on it. Having a plan to decrease emissions that allows a massive increase in emissions, with no plan for renewables, is reprehensible. The bill to legally cap emissions is filled with tanker-sized loopholes that allow increases and exclude some of the worst polluters from any limits. Given the UN warning that COP21 is woefully inadequate to get anywhere near the goal, all governments should be adjusting plans accordingly and reevaluating all approved projects using this new information. Trudeau and gang are no doubt trying to come up with one liners describing how KXL is actually beneficial to wildlife, waters and the planet. It seems that science based decisions are also critically endangered.

Absolutely Treetop. The media is failing to address the contents and failings of Bills 20 and 25, which are before the legislature, as well as the absolute fraud which is the NDP Climate Leadership Plan.

The CLP has 5 main components and all of them are illusionary or ineffective:
First is the infamous and well advertised 100 mega tonne “cap” on oil sands carbon emissions, now pending legislation as Bill 25 Oil Sands Emission Limit Act. As you mention the "tanker sized loopholes" are many, exemptions and "allowances" include upgrading, primary production, experimental schemes, co-generation and synthetic crude. Aside from all the gimmes, the 30 mega-tonne buffer for emissions permits 15 years or more of unencumbered growth, with no effort on reductions on current emissions generation. Finally, the Bill 25 enshrines that the LG in Council can alter, change, direct, define, perform or otherwise modify the Act in any way, at any time, effectively leaving the window wide open for any exception or alteration of the Act.
Not to mention, how can we only focus on carbon as a byproduct pollutant of bitumen extraction? What about the hundreds of other priority pollutants and specific climate and health altering gases and compounds that are being discarded into the atmosphere at alarming volumes each year? This is token legislation, hastily crafted before the approval of Kinder Morgan, for public relations purposes only.

The second aspect of the CLP is the supposed coal phase out; aside from fact that 12 of the 16 coal plants were already on the books for being phased out by 2030, there has been no economic assessment to quantify what the cost to Albertans will be to prematurely close the other 6 plants. Despite the constant vilification of coal impacts to health by the NDP and their podium pal Dr. Joe Vipond (he was given audience just last week here on this very issue), coal extraction and processing will still continue in the province. There are numerous applications before the AER for coal projects, including new and extended operations, which will see coal mining in the province well past 2050. It has only been in the past few weeks the NDP has changed their narrative from phasing out coal entirely, (as they know this to be disingenuous) to just phasing out coal fired electrical plants. The constant scape-goating of coal, based on health implications, is untruthful, considering coal operations will continue in many communities, for decades to come. As well, I have called on numerous ministries and outspoken coal critic Vipond, to address the health impacts of replacing over 70% of coal power electricity, with fracced gas, which is known to have a far greater emissions and environmental impacts (water use and contamination, well integrity, waste generation, seismicity, etc) than coal. Such challenges have been met with silence from all parties. No science was used in any of these decisions, just recycled industry rhetoric.

The CLP committed to increased First Nations consultations, but such relations were already legislated in AER Directives and set in precedent via supreme court law and as each new project is approved despite FN consent, the promises have proven empty and broken.

Methane emissions are a massive issue in oil and gas operation, specifically because of leakage with unconventional extraction and production, and that methane is immediately warming to the atmosphere, at 20 to 80 times the global warming potential of carbon. There are trillions of m3 of formation gases escaping to atmosphere from oil and gas operations, fugitive emissions, venting, well testing, surface casing vent flows, gas migrations and transmission losses, to name just a few. The CLP commits to methane emissions reduction, by some 45%, however, the process will be voluntary and non-regulatory. This means, it simply will not occur. Why would industry commit to increased costs for a voluntary project, when they currently get to dump their waste gases to the air shed for free? There are no penalties involved for non-compliance and recent changes to directives, even after the CLP was released, (specifically Directive 17) still do not require operators to measure or test for any number of sources of methane emissions. Companies just estimate emissions on a spreadsheet and submit them to Petrinex- the industries reporting registry, to which the public have no access. How can you claim to achieve reductions on methane emissions, that are not even accurately measured or reported in the first place? Since the AER does not even attempt to enforce mandated regulations, much less voluntary ones, this methane emissions reduction strategy will result in no appreciable reduction of methane pollution.

The CLP then goes on to rely heavily on promoting wind power as a green alternative. This will prove to be very costly for Albertans, as wind is the most expensive and most unreliable form of renewable energy to pursue. Why would the NDP push for wind power, in light of the poor economics and massive costs of infrastructure changes to implement it? I will direct you to the podium supporters of Rachel Notley, the oil and gas super majors with wind portfolios. The entire premise of the NDP wind plan is to auction off large blocks of wind energy to the highest bidder, while getting taxpayers in the province to “green the grid” at their expense. Industry that will claim the need to "back-up" wind with fracced gas, and eNGO’s such as Pembina, with their Wind Referral Program, stands to benefit immensely with this wind fall. If allowed to come to fruition, power prices in the province will be exorbitant, much like Ontario. This is not a prudent way to diversify energy in our province, but the oil and gas industry do not want inexpensive, reliable, clean energy, do they? Industry wants to maintain control over price and delivery of all power sources in the province and part of the CLP relies heavily on using wind turbines, backed up with fracced gas. The NDP are practically gifting the oil and gas industry control over the generation and delivery of power in the province, including renewables.

Finally, that last element of the CLP was the Carbon Levy, now cemented in Bill 20. There are so many things wrong with this bill, I can not believe that the opposition was unsuccessful in getting a referendum, or that our environmental justice firms have not come to the defence of Albertan's by filing an injunctive action preventing the implementation of Bill 20. Of course the morality of our environmental outfits are in question, but that is for another time.

Foremost, Bill 20 is a fuel tax, not a carbon tax and is not implemented economy wide.

The oil and gas industry are largely exempt, fully exempt, if you include the carbon cost reduction scheme, the "revenue minus costs" formula, built into the Modernized Royalty Review, which permits producers to deduct carbon levies, prior to paying back higher royalties.

Direct exemptions in Bill 20 include marked fuel and fuel used but not combusted, so all solvents, diluents, and the myriad of hydrocarbons used in drilling, SAGD, fracking, servicing, producing and processing oil, gas and bitumen are exempt from the fuel tax. As well, all producers currently under the SGER are absolved of the fees, and fuel used for heating by conventional producers are excused from the Act until 2023.

The fuel tax was an endowment to the oil and gas industry, designed by them, for them, to ensure end users are taxed for the bulk of emissions, they generate, while padding slumping commodity prices on all fuels, particularly natural gas. It is being passed of as a measure to reduce emissions, yet, no such qualifying or quantifying measures are in the Act, upon reading, reduction of emissions in not even listed in the purpose of the Bill. Absolute swindle.

The carbon levy was not brought to the public before hand and consultations were weak, at best. Bill 20 also has sweeping warrantless search and seizure rights imbedded into it, where the government can take your vehicle, enter your home and seize any of your personal effects, upon assumption you have failed to pay the fuel tax. The only mitigating measure opposition was able to insert into the Act was that a receipt must be issued for seized items.
The fuel tax does give industry increased profit margins on all the commodities they produce and market in Alberta. The 4 out of 10 Albertans, and the businesses and municipalities that are shouldering the burden of this levy are being unjustly taxed, for no appreciable or measurable impact on emissions reductions. It is no wonder, there has not been one critique by industry with respect to the Act, they likely lobbied the NDP hard to implement the exemptions and all parties involved have worked hard to keep the details of the exemptions from public disclosure.

When a critical lens is applied to the actual workings of the CLP, the notion that this document will make us a leader in energy production and progressive climate leadership is ludicrous. And the notion that the plan was not implemented just to steer the storyline towards Alberta being environmentally responsible, therefore approval of pipelines should be automatic, is also far fetched. It is known the NDP worked with industry and colluded eNGO's on the CLP, to create several green talking points, geared towards permitting social license, public acceptance or whatever the new buzzword is, for industrial development and expansion without impediment, and they certainly should be called to task on what I consider sweeping malfeasance.

Is this the same 'Heartland Institute' which the report is lending credibility?

"According to a July 2011 Nature editorial,
“Despite criticizing climate scientists for being overconfident about their data, models and theories, the Heartland Institute proclaims a conspicuous confidence in single studies and grand interpretations… . makes many bold assertions that are often questionable or misleading. … Many climate skeptics seem to review scientific data and studies not as scientists but as attorneys, magnifying doubts and treating incomplete explanations as falsehoods rather than signs of progress towards the truth. … The Heartland Institute and its ilk are not trying to build a theory of anything. They have set the bar much lower, and are happy muddying the waters.”

It is suggested that serious concern over Trump's ignorance on the topic of climate change need be called-out, but this sham masquerading as a credible think tank should be given similar exposure.

From Premier Notley's Facebook page, using Trump's election, to shill for pipelines, she is jumping for joy too.

"Rachel Notley
20 hrs ·
I would like to extend the congratulations of the people of Alberta to President-elect Donald Trump for his victory last night.
The United States is Alberta’s most significant energy market. We will be working closely with our energy industry to see if new opportunities to grow that relationship now lie before us under a new U.S. Administration.
It is also true that the US is now an energy exporter as well as a market for energy. Therefore we must continue to work to diversity Canada’s energy markets, and to build trading relationships with more than one buyer. For that reason, a Canadian pipeline to tidewater remains an important priority for Alberta.
It also makes sense -- in Canada, and all around the world -- to act on climate change, to phase out coal pollution, and to phase in clean renewable energy. The Government of Alberta is going to continue with our climate change leadership plan, including our program to assist trade-exposed industries.
Finally, we will work closely with the Government of Canada and with other provinces to defend Canadian and Albertan interests during any review of our trading arrangements with the United States, including any review or renegotiation of NAFTA.
Let me conclude by saying that Secretary Hillary Clinton’s historic candidacy for the U.S. Presidency inspired women and girls all around the world, including here in Alberta. Old barriers are coming down. But much still remains to be done, to grow and improve the role, rights and opportunities for women and minorities in a more equal and inclusive society. And that work will continue to be a priority for our government here in Alberta."

Michael Moore sees Trump as not lasting a year: he'll resign or be impeached.
There are two other possibilities he didn't suggest.
I'd "jump for joy" with resignation or impeachment. SOON.