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Canada is already moving toward net-zero emissions

Reusing CO2 in hydrocarbon fuels can also reduce reliance on the production and refining of fossil fuels for gasoline, and will also produce a net-zero product. Further, emissions can again be recycled through the same process and reused.

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After the federal election, critics of the Liberal’s climate change targets had something new to ponder: what Prime Minister Trudeau meant by Canada reaching“net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

In Alberta, some commentators and pundits took that to mean further difficulties for the oil sands in general and Alberta in particular. Over the Christmas break, however, a Canadian company made headlines regarding their latest project, in Texas, that pulls CO2 out of the air and sequesters it, permanently, underground.

Carbon Engineering Ltd. (CE), a Canadian-based clean energy company, was founded in 2009 and “grew from academic work conducted on carbon management technologies by Professor David Keith’s research groups at the University of Calgary and Carnegie Mellon University,” according to the website.

“CE is privately owned and is funded by investment or commitments from private investors and government agencies (including) Bill Gates, CNRL founder Murray Edwards, Chevron Technology Ventures, and Australian mining and petroleum company BHP.”

One facility can, according to their data, pull around one megatonne of C02 from the air per year, equivalent to the work of 40 million trees. Alberta’s oil sands emit roughly 70 megatonnes.

The process uses fans to suck air into a liquid (potassium hydroxide) that binds to CO2. The liquid is then heated and turned into solid pellets. The solid form can either be sequestered or mixed with hydrogen and turned into another product like diesel and gasoline, creating clean burning, sulphur-free fuel.

CE says the fuel would be useable in most current transportation models without requiring any modifications.

The pilot project was set up in Squamish, B.C. in 2015 with private investments and assistance from the provincial government. Initial costs of the process were originally estimated to be around $600/tonne. After running the facility for two years, however, they discovered the costs would be significantly lower; between $94 and $232/tonne.  

Fuels created from the lower end of the capture price would cost around $1 per litre to produce, Carbon Engineering’s CEO Steve Oldham said last year.

Getting to net-zero

Oil companies already use a process by which they inject CO2 into the ground to push oil closer to the surface. If the process is tight, the CO2 stays in the ground, allowing the production to claim a credit, essentially, of sequestration for production.

Reusing CO2 in hydrocarbon fuels can also reduce reliance on the production and refining of fossil fuels for gasoline, and will also produce a net-zero product. Further, emissions can again be recycled through the same process and reused.

“I would never say to anybody that you want to put all your eggs in one basket – the future of the planet is very important for us all,” Oldham said last year.

“But having the technology built, available, ready to go, with no harmful chemical side-effects, less land-usage… that’s a good thing.”

Environmentalists are wary of the technology being used to justify the continued reliance on fossil fuels, however.

“It’s a huge concern,” Tzeporah Berman, a former board member of Alberta’s Oil Sands Advisory Panel told BBC news in 2018.

“We need to be working together to figure out how we move away completely from fossil fuel – that’s our moral and economic challenge but these technologies provide a false hope that we can continue to depend on fossil fuels and produce and burn them, and technology will fix it.”

Technology has brought solar, wind, hydro, electric, carbon capture and now atmospheric carbon removal. It is estimated that carbon removal technologies will become a trillion dollar per year industry.

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Rural municipalities told to ‘stop crying wolf’ over proposed property tax changes

Rural Municipalities of Alberta President Al Kemmere said 69 counties and municipal districts represented by the RMA stand to lose up to 40 per cent of their tax base.

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Fears are growing amongst rural Alberta municipalities about a proposed UCP plan to give oil and gas companies property tax breaks at the expense of residents.

But the head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the municipalities should “stop crying wolf” and get to work cutting their own taxes.

“If municipal councillors and mayors were half as worried about finding savings as they are about trying to grab more tax dollars then many more of our challenges would be solved by now,” Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director of the CTF, told the Western Standard.

The proposed changes are a way to bring relief to Alberta’s struggling oil and gas companies and a report outlining four possible linear taxation models was given to the UCP caucus last month.

Rural Municipalities of Alberta President Al Kemmere said 69 counties and municipal districts represented by the RMA stand to lose up to 40 per cent of their tax base.

A survey released by the RMA in January said the oil and gas sector also owes $173 million in unpaid taxes to rural municipalities.

“Nobody lives in a Cadillac world here – rural Albertans often get by with the marginal, but when you reduce like this, it’s going to hurt,” Kemmere told the CBC, adding some municipalities might not survive the possible changes.

“To collect what we’re losing, it’s almost a non-realistic approach. We’ve got some members that are going to have to double their present tax rates within the residential sector. And that’s just not doable.”

Lacombe County officials are preparing for a worst case scenario of a 39 per cent increase.

One of the plans would see a $4-million drop in revenue for the County of Vermilion River, according to Reeve Dale Swyripa. That would mean increasing the residential mill rate by 109 per cent, increasing the non-residential mill rate by 25 per cent, cutting services by 45 per cent or a combination of all.

The M.D. of Wainwright said they could lose $6.9 to $9.4 million or 22 to 30 per cent of their total tax revenue. The M.D. may have to increase the residential tax rate by 290 to 393 per cent and the non-residential tax rate by 37.4 to 58.4 per cent. 

Camrose County is looking at increasing the residential mill rate by up to 56 per cent, the non-residential mill rate by 32 per cent.

“This isn’t a Camrose County issue. This is a rural issue,” she said. “There is no county in Alberta that will not be affected,” Reeve Cindy Trautman told CBC.

In Northern Sunrise County, the residential mill rate would have to be hiked by 200 to 500 per cent, or the county’s workforce — and corresponding services — cut by up to 80 per cent.

But Terrazzano said: “Northern Sunrise County is one of the biggest spending municipalities in Alberta, spending $17,000 per person annually!”

“A huge place all municipalities (including Northern Sunrise County) needs to cut is labour costs. Through the downturn (2014-2018), municipal government labour costs across Alberta increased by 17 per cent while all employee compensation in the province declined by 6 per cent.

Cypress-Medicine Hat UCP MLA said his phone has been ringing off the hook with worried residents.

“I’ve probably had about 30 calls in the last 24 hours,” Barnes told the Western Standard before stepping into a meeting Wednesday afternoon with municipal affairs officials.

“I’m glad the government has not finalized anything and is open to discussion. We have to do everything we can to leave money in the hands of citizens and every municipality has room to improve.”

But he said the government also needs to work with companies and suggested cheaper access to the Alberta Energy Regulator for them as one possible idea.

“If we don’t do something to arrest the trend of industry bankruptcies and financial insolvencies, there’s not going to be a long term or an industry in some of these communities, so the assessments are going to go to zero,” Ben Brunnen, vice-president of oilsands with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, told CBC.

“It’s one of those scenarios where everyone needs to sacrifice a little bit.”

The province says no policy decisions have been made.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP creates $10 million corporate welfare program to fight global warming

The Alberta government has created a new program funded through the province’s carbon tax.

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Albeta’s UCP government has launched another multi-million corporate welfare program – this time spending $10 million on three projects funded through the provincial carbon tax.

The government said Wednesday that $3 million will be given to the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group (SPOG) to test the viability of methane emissions reduction technology, saying that improvements could enhance the accuracy of finding methane emission leaks at a lower cost. 

The government also gave the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) $5-million to develop artificial intelligence capabilities that could help companies identify emission reductions opportunities.

Finally, it will give $2 million to the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC) to conduct applied research that could improve oil and gas sector methane emission management and control, while also reducing costs to industry. 

“Last year, when we introduced TIER, we said we would help job creators reduce their emissions by making investments in technology and research,” said Environment Minister Jason Nixon in a statement.

TIER (Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction Regulation) is the new name given to Alberta’s carbon tax to replace the NDP’s “Climate Action Plan”.

“Today’s announcement is an example of that, and helps further our position as a global leader in technology-driven environmentally responsible development. These programs will help industry identify, track, measure and ultimately reduce emissions. They will also ensure we maintain our competitive edge while creating jobs and economic growth for Alberta.”

The UCP platform broadly committed to ending corporate welfare subsidies.

“Premier Jason Kenney needs to get back to doing good work on reducing taxes for everyone and stop picking winners and losers,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Calgary cops identify suspects in hate crime attack

“It is shocking to see anyone targeted for a crime because of a personal characteristic, but it is extremely disturbing to see the same community targeted three times in one weekend,” said Sgt. Arlene Padnivelan,

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Calgary copssay they have identified two men who attacked a same sex couple as they strolled down a northwest street.

It was one of three attacks over the weekend against members of Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ community.

The incident occurred around 5:30 p.m., on Monday, as a same-sex couple was walking near the intersection of 9 St. and Memorial Dr. N.W., when two men and two women on electronic scooters approached them, police said.

“An altercation occurred and it is believed the two men on scooters assaulted the couple because of their sexual orientation. A belt, rocks and a recycling bin were used as weapons and then the group fled,” said police in a press released.

Suspects wanted in connection with a same sex attack
Courtesy Calgary Police Service

“Our officers arrived shortly after and searched the area but could not locate the group. The victims received medical care for non-life-threatening injuries.”

The two suspects are both described as being about 30 years old, average height and build, with trim black beards and short black hair. The one was wearing black framed glasses, white polo shirt, dark pants, brown loafers, and white socks. The other was wearing a grey polo shirt with white collar and sleeves, grey pants, and white runners.

Police said Wednesday morning the suspects had been identified and the investigation continues.

The first incident happened when man was assaulted near the intersection of 17 Ave. and 12 St. in the middle of the day on Friday. It is alleged that a group of men attacked the victim while calling him homophobic slurs and then fled.

The second incident occurred around 1 p.m. on Saturday on the Rainbow Crosswalk at the intersection of Centre St. and Stephen Avenue Mall. A Drag King recording a video was spat on by an unknown man walking past. The incident is now being investigated and video and CCTV footage is being collected by us to help identify the man responsible, said police.

“It is shocking to see anyone targeted for a crime because of a personal characteristic, but it is extremely disturbing to see the same community targeted three times in one weekend,” said Sgt. Arlene Padnivelan, with the Calgary Police Service Diversity Resource Team.

“It is unacceptable that this is happening and we will absolutely investigate anytime a crime is motivated by hate or bias.”

Police encourage anyone who has been targeted for ill treatment or a crime because of their sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or some other similar trait to report it.

“We fully recognize that sometimes people do not want to involve the police or don’t feel comfortable coming to us for help,” said Padnivelan.

“We respect the wishes of those who are most affected by the incident and never force a victim to participate in a police investigation. However, if there is a way we can help make a person feel safe enough to come forward, we want to try do that.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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