Ronald Bailey | January 10, 2012
In a no-holds-barred open letter, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver tells environmental radicals to take a hike, preferably off a high cliff.
Virtually all our energy exports go to the US. As a country, we must seek new markets for our products and services and the booming Asia-Pacific economies have shown great interest in our oil, gas, metals and minerals. For our government, the choice is clear: we need to diversify our markets in order to create jobs and economic growth for Canadians across this country. We must expand our trade with the fast growing Asian economies. We know that increasing trade will help ensure the financial security of Canadians and their families.
Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade. Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.
These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources. Finally, if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach: sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further. They do this because they know it can work. It works because it helps them to achieve their ultimate objective: delay a project to the point it becomes economically unviable.
That bit about the “quintessential American approach” hurts only because it’s true.
So what did President Obama do in the face of environmentalist agitation? He caved. Our bravely decisive president tried to put off deciding on the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline which would link U.S. refineries to the Canadian oilsands production until after the 2012 presidential election. But as part of the deal to extend the payroll tax cut for two months, the Republicans in Congress set a deadline for President Obama to decide by February 21 whether or not the pipeline is in the U.S. national interest. So which Democratic interest group will the president choose to alienate? The unions or the environmental lobby?
- ‘Radical’ groups working against oilsands (cbc.ca)
- Joe Oliver’s open letter: The regulatory system is broken (business.financialpost.com)
- An open letter from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver (theglobeandmail.com)
- Gateway pipeline: Minister slams ‘jet-setting celebrities’ and ‘radical’ environmentalists (calgaryherald.com)
- Minister takes on ‘radical’ environmentalists over Northern Gateway pipeline (calgaryherald.com)
The Baryonyx Corporation’s proposed South Texas offshore wind farm project will be subject to a full Environmental Impact Statement, according to a decision by the Galveston District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The alternative would have been for the USACE to settle for a less stringent Environmental Assessment.
Austin-based Baryonyx, which submitted permit applications to the USACE in June, announced the agency’s decision late last month. The company has proposed developing offshore wind leases off South Padre Island and Nueces County, and has more than 67,000 acres of submerged lands under lease from the Texas General Land Office across three sites between Corpus Christi and Brownsville.
This includes nearly 48,000 acres off Cameron County, divided between two parcels Baryonyx has named “Rio Grande” and “Rio Grande North.” The company is leasing more than 26,000 acres off Nueces County for its “Mustang Project.” If fully developed, the sites taken together could generate up to 3 gigawatts of electricity. One gigawatt equals 1 billion watts.
The USACE’s decision to order a full EIS comes as no surprise to Baryonyx officials. Mark Leyland, vice president for offshore projects, said he fully expected the USACE to call for it and in fact Baryonyx welcomes the move given the magnitude of the project.
An EIS is the most thorough type of environmental review the USACE can demand. The National Environment Policy Act requires it in the case of actions “significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” An Environmental Assessment, which is done first to assess the need for an EIS, is sometimes all that’s required in projects that may or may not cause significant impact.
Leyland said the USACE will select the third-party contractor that will conduct the EIS, and the USACE will control the process, though the contract itself will be between Baryonyx and the contractor. He added that “the process is very much the Corps’ from now on.” Leyland said that contrary to what some have asserted, taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for the EIS.
“We pay for the environmental contractor that operates under the direction of the Corps to develop the Environmental Impact Statement,” he said.
The study will examine, among other things, the potential impact on migratory birds, bats, sea turtles and other marine life. The EIS will take two years to prepare, with the final draft likely to be submitted to the USACE in the first quarter of 2014. Construction on the wind farm wouldn’t begin until 2015 at the earliest.
Leyland and other Baryonyx executives came from Eclipse Energy, a British firm that developed the Ormonde wind farm project in the Irish Sea. That project, nearing completion, uses the largest wind turbines available, rated at 5 megawatts each though capable of producing more, according to Leyland. One megawatt equals 1 million watts.
Baryonyx’s Texas projects would use the same turbines on a much larger scale. The Ormonde Project calls for 30 turbines on 2,500 acres. Baryonyx’s Rio Grande and Rio Grande South leases, totaling roughly 41,00 acres, would feature rows of more than 300 turbines, each set of 50 taking two years to build. Leyland said turbines would be located no nearer than five miles from the coast, still close enough for them to be seen.
In a press release, Leyland expressed confidence that the EIS would confirm the company’s initial investigations, which concluded the wind farm project “would not result in an unacceptable impact on wildlife and other resources.”
“We believe that the thorough, scientific approach required by the EIS process will verify our preliminary findings,” he said.
By Steve Clark (brownsvilleherald)
On October 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an air pollution permit for the Kulluk drill ship that Shell Offshore Inc. plans to use in offshore oil drilling efforts that could begin as early as next summer.
Yesterday, on behalf of the Native Village of Point Hope, Resisting Environmental Destruction of Indigenous Lands (“REDOIL”), Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”), Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, Pacific Environment, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society, Earthjustice filed an appeal with the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board challenging a similar EPA permit for the Discoverer drill ship that the agency approved last month.
The following statement is from Earthjustice attorney Colin O’Brien:
“The EPA essentially is green-lighting dangerous Arctic Ocean oil drilling by approving the air permit for the Kulluk drill ship. Shell Oil has proposed a massive drilling operation in one of the most remote places on the planet. Each year, this fleet of ships could emit 30 tons of particulate matter, 240 tons of nitrogen oxides and 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Not only is oil drilling risky, these ships would double the amount of global warming pollution produced by roughly all of the North Slope Borough households.
“This permit for the Kulluk marks the beginning of a wave of potential offshore industrial activity in the Arctic. Unfortunately, on the eve of a potentially massive influx of oil company development, the EPA has turned a blind eye to the cumulative impacts that would be harmful to the health of Alaska Natives and the environment for years to come.
“The EPA unfortunately has already approved another drill ship permit, for the Discoverer. That permit ignored the impacts these drill ships will have on air quality in the region and we filed an appeal today with the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board challenging the Discoverer permit.
“Arctic Ocean oil drilling is simply a bad idea. In an area with 20-foot sea swells, walls of ice 6 feet thick, and complete darkness two months out of every year, the thought of cleaning up an oil spill is ludicrous. The EPA’s decisions on these air permits moves us closer to the inevitable disaster that would be a large oil spill in the Arctic Ocean.”
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) announced it has signed a cooperative agreement with the University of Texas at Austin and a team of highly qualified and experienced Arctic researchers for a comprehensive study of the Hanna Shoal ecosystem in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast. The study will be conducted from 2011-2016 and is expected to cost $5,645,168.
Ongoing studies have highlighted Hanna Shoal as an important biological ecosystem between the Chukchi Sea and Arctic Ocean waters. BOEMRE analysts and decision makers will use the information developed by this study in future National Environmental Policy Act analyses and decision-making regarding potential energy development in the Chukchi Sea.
“Over the course of many years, we have devoted substantial resources to promote better understanding of the Arctic environment,” said BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich. “This five-year study will greatly contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the biological diversity of the Hanna Shoal area and will provide additional valuable information about the ecosystem that supports marine life.”
The main objectives of the study are to identify and measure important physical and biological processes that contribute to the high concentration of marine life in the Hanna Shoal area. The study will document physical and oceanographic features, ice conditions, and information concerning local species. BOEMRE will integrate data gained from this study with other relevant Chukchi Sea studies to provide a more complete understanding of environmental considerations such as food web and contaminant bioaccumulations.
Dr. Kenneth H. Dunton, University of Texas at Austin, will serve as Principal Investigator. His team will include researchers from the Florida Institute of Technology, Old Dominion University, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Maryland, the University of Rhode Island, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. BOEMRE will be involved in all phases of the study, including substantial input to the field research design and coordinating with other research efforts in the Chukchi Sea to ensure BOEMRE information needs are met. BOEMRE staff may also participate in field cruises, field data interpretations and analyses, and in writing articles that flow from research that will be conducted under this cooperative agreement.
Although BOEMRE developed the Hanna Shoal study parameters in 2010, the study will also address several issues raised by the U.S. Geological Survey June 2011 report, An Evaluation of the Science Needs to Inform Decisions on Outer Continental Shelf Energy Development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska.
Since the early 1970s, BOEMRE and its predecessor organizations have funded more than $340 million in studies in Alaska. The Hannah Shoal study is one of approximately 40 ongoing studies the bureau’s Alaska Region is currently coordinating and managing. The bureau’s Environmental Studies Program conducts and oversees world-class, scientific research to inform policy decisions regarding leasing and development of OCS energy and mineral resources.
- Federal study on Chukchi Sea oil leases still full of gaps (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Shell Clears Air Permit Obstacle for Alaska Offshore Drilling Plans (gcaptain.com)
- Fed agency approves Shell Artic drilling plan (usatoday.com)
Apache Corporation said a subsidiary has received Australian government environmental approval for development of the Julimar and Brunello offshore natural gas fields that will supply natural gas to the Chevron-operated Wheatstone LNG project.
The Julimar and Brunello gas fields, discovered by Apache and Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Co. (KUFPEC) in 2007, are located offshore in exploration permit WA-356-P, approximately 180 kilometres (km) (112 miles) west-northwest of Dampier in Western Australia.
In 2009, Apache and KUFPEC joined with Chevron to develop the Wheatstone LNG hub. Apache and KUFPEC agreed to supply gas from their Julimar and Brunello fields and to become foundation equity partners in the Chevron-operated Wheatstone LNG project.