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Energy news: gas, oil, coal in trouble, so let’s attack solar.

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Once again, a flood of news about energy on a Monday!  Here’s a quick run-down.

There’s a project to send tar sands oil by rail to Prince Rupert; here are the Vancouver Sun and the Common Sense Canadian reports on it.  This follows a recent proposal to use rail to ship oil via Churchill in Manitoba.  For the oil companies, this has the advantage of by-passing environmental assesments.  One can only hope, in the wake of Lac-Mégantic, that better tanker cars will be required.

Otherwise, the Harper government faces a showdown with First Nations it isn’t likely to win with respect to pipelines, reports Michael Harris in the Tyee.  Meanwhile, the province’s NDP is grappling with its position over pipelines, especially Kinder Morgan’s, reports the Globe.

There are also clouds on the horizon for liquid natural gas exports from BC, reports the Globe & Mail.  Not only is gas liquefaction an energy hog, but BC’s crude gas is already rich in carbon dioxide, which contributes to a disproprotionate carbon footprint.  The Pembina Institute chimes in with a report suggesting necessary changes in the gas patch for BC to maintain its clean energy image.

The Pembina Institute also highlighted the uncompensated wetland destruction that result from tar sands exploitation, calling the situation “a gift to the oil industry.”

The 24-hour newspaper features a debate about fracking in the Peace, with Laila Yuile arguing that brakes should be put on fracking.  This follows on the heels of a recent article in the Tyee about the start of a lawsuit by Jessica Ernst against Encana, which she charges with contaminating her water source through fracking.  Of course, just a few days ago contamination from fracking came up in the wake of the unprecedented flooding in Colorado.

Coal exports also face unprecedented opposition.  The Globe reports that “Coal mining protest in BC is set to erupt”, while the province’s project to replace the Massey Tunnel with a bridge is perceived to be a giveaway to coal (and oil) exports.  But the bombshell in coal export news was unhearted by Seattle Sightline Institute: Cloud Peak Energy, one of the larger coal exporter, makes money only by…betting against coal exports on hedge fund markets.  In other words, a company with secure, high-quality coal that should be well placed on the export markets cannot make make money exporting coal.  Ecowatch also reported today on the unprecedented opposition to coal exports in the US.

But in the midst of all this the Vancouver Sun, alas, chose to go with a non-story: how renewable energy is causing all kinds of troubles for poor Germany.  This story was lifted straight from the British Daily Telegraph, which seems to specialize in nay-saying.  The article is full of mistakes, particularly when it conflates or confuses the issues related to shutting down all nuclear reactors with issues with solar and wind energy.  An article on the same topic in the New York Times is at least a bit more nuanced, but makes the same mistake: the two are unrelated, and, no, despite that, the cost of electricity is not going through the roof.   Energy guru Amory Lovins does a fine job debunking myths that the German renewable energy program isn’t working: well, it is, and beautifully.  Expect to see more articles like these from the Sun in the days to come: deniers are flooding the media in advance of the IPCC report.    

Addendum: on the renewable front, Connecticut is developing a 250 MW wind farm which will cost less per megawatt than coal.  So there.

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Written by enviropaul

September 23, 2013 at 8:32 pm

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