Oilsands CO2 emissions may be far higher than companies report, scientists say

Oilsands CO2 emissions may be far higher than companies report, scientists say

SOURCE: CBC DATE: April 23, 2019 SNIP: A number of major oilsands operations in northern Alberta seem to be emitting significantly more carbon pollution than companies have been reporting, newly published research from federal scientists suggests, which could have profound consequences for government climate-change strategies. The researchers, mainly from Environment Canada, calculated emissions rates for four major oilsands surface mining operations using air samples collected in 2013 on 17 airplane flights over the area. In results published today in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists say the air samples from just those surface mining operations suggest their carbon dioxide emissions are 64 per cent higher, on average, than what the companies themselves report to the federal government using the standard United Nations reporting framework for greenhouse gases. The gap between the facilities’ reported carbon dioxide emissions and the levels calculated by researchers was 13 per cent for the Suncor site, 36 per cent for the Horizon mine, 38 per cent for Jackpine and 123 per cent for Syncrude. It means that Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions would be around 2.3 per cent higher than previously thought. And if research eventually shows that other oilsands sites are subject to similar underreporting issues, Canada’s overall greenhouse gas emissions could be as much as six per cent more than thought — throwing a wrench into the calculations that underpin government emissions...
Tar Sands Crude Shipments Quietly Increased In Oregon, With Regulators In the Dark

Tar Sands Crude Shipments Quietly Increased In Oregon, With Regulators In the Dark

SOURCE: OPB DATE: April 4, 2019 SNIP: If oil is moving through Oregon, it’s Michael Zollitsch’s job to know about it. He oversees the state’s emergency responses to oil spills and other environmental disasters. But last March, when Bloomberg News reported oil from Canada’s tar sands was rolling through Zenith Energy’s storage facility in Northwest Portland on its way to Asia, it caught him by surprise. For six years oil trains have been rolling through Oregon — including one in 2016 that derailed and exploded in the Columbia River Gorge. And yet, the government workers charged with preventing and cleaning up oil spills in Oregon remain as in the dark as ever about many of these shipments. That’s largely because of successful industry lobbying efforts and the reluctance of Oregon’s legislature to pass rules already enacted in neighboring states. While lawmakers have passed bans on offshore oil drilling and fracking — both unlikely prospects in Oregon — they have done relatively little to regulate the real and present danger that oil could spill from trains rumbling through the state. For the fourth session in a row, the Oregon Legislature is now considering new rules for oil trains. House Bill 2209 would require DEQ oversight of railroad oil spill planning and assesses fees on railroads to help pay for the state’s work. Already this session, lawmakers have introduced two bills that would match the stronger requirements in Washington — and let them die without so much as a public hearing. This comes as oil-by-rail shipments out of Canada’s oil sands have been on the rise. Existing businesses in Oregon have...
Drought effects on aging power plants may be larger than expected

Drought effects on aging power plants may be larger than expected

SOURCE: Duke University DATE: March 26, 2019 SNIP: Older power plants with once-through cooling systems generate about a third of all U.S. electricity, but their future generating capacity will be undercut by droughts and rising water temperatures linked to climate change. These impacts would be exacerbated by environmental regulations that limit water use. The new study shows that if surface waters warm 3 degrees Centigrade and river flows drop 20 percent — both of which are probable by the end of the century — drought-related impacts will account for about 20 percent of all capacity reductions at thermoelectric power plants with once-through, or open-loop, cooling systems. These reductions include capacity curtailments or shutdowns that could occur when local surface water levels drop below a plant’s intake structures. Environmental regulations that govern a plant’s water use and the maximum temperature of used cooling water it can discharge back into rivers or lakes will account for much of the remaining 80 percent of future shutdowns and capacity cuts, Pratson said. Thermoelectric power plants use steam-driven turbines to generate their energy. Once the steam has passed through the turbines it must be cooled down. Once-through systems do this by drawing in cold water from nearby rivers or lakes, circulating it through pipes to absorb the steam’s heat, and discharging the heated water back into the river or...
B.C. government announces new tax credit for LNG projects

B.C. government announces new tax credit for LNG projects

SOURCE: CBC News DATE: March 25, 2019 SNIP: The B.C. government is introducing new legislation that it says would attract more LNG projects to the province, in part by granting tax credits. Finance Minister Carole James said the proposed changes will bring thousands of jobs to B.C. “British Columbians are counting on us to attract LNG investment that meets strict conditions: delivering jobs and financial benefits to B.C., creating economic partnerships with Indigenous peoples and protecting our clean air, land and water,” James said in a news release. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said the new legislation sends mixed messages about the government’s commitment to addressing climate change. “Continuing to push for LNG development is short-sighted and works directly against CleanBC objectives,” Weaver said in a statement. He described the decision as “a generational sellout” that will only serve to increase greenhouse gas emissions. Karen Ogen-Toews, who heads the First Nations LNG Alliance, believes that project could be a windfall for Northern B.C. communities. “There’s a definite opportunity. Once the pipe is in the ground, our community will be seeing legacy payments.” She says Northern B.C. towns have suffered wildfires, lost logging and mill jobs to pine beetles and watched mines close. She is applauding the tax breaks and tax credits which she says are needed to get B.C. gas to...
See Russia’s massive new gas plant on the Arctic coast

See Russia’s massive new gas plant on the Arctic coast

SOURCE: National Geographic DATE: March 22, 2019 SNIP: While most of the world is watching the rapidly melting Arctic with increasing alarm and placing the blame squarely on fossil fuels, Russia and its partners in France and China are seeing ruble signs. Billions of them, in fact, to be made selling Arctic fossil fuels to the rest of the world. Late last year, the Russian energy giant Novatek finished building the northernmost industrial facility on the globe: Yamal LNG, a $27-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant sitting at 71.2 degrees north at Sabetta, on the bank of the Ob River. The facility and its new port cling to the eastern shore of the gas-rich Yamal Peninsula, which sticks up like a frostbitten thumb into the Kara Sea—that is, in the middle of frozen nowhere. Some 15 ice-breaking LNG tankers are on order, along with a new rail line and two more LNG facilities across the Ob River estuary. The Russians expect all the plants to produce a combined 60 million tons of LNG each year by 2030. The prospect of relatively cheap gas along the shortcut between Asia and Europe drew a few investors anxious for a toehold in the Arctic, which the U.S. Geological Survey estimates may hold a fifth of the remaining oil and gas reserves on Earth. Total, the French oil major, owns a 20 percent stake of the Yamal LNG plant, as does CNPC, China’s national gas company. The Chinese government’s Silk Road Fund owns ten percent. The plant is just now beginning to operate at full capacity, but last year it shipped 7.5 million...