BC Hydro knew 30 years before it started building the Site C dam that its chosen location for the most expensive publicly funded infrastructure project in British Columbia’s history had big problems.  In fact, by the 1980s, BC Hydro had done tests showing that the ground at Site C had serious flaws “due to the …
Earthquakes triggered by natural gas industry fracking operations near BC Hydro’s troubled Site C dam construction project are far greater in number than previously thought, raising troubling questions about whether they are adding to the already formidable geotechnical challenges at the site. Not only are more earthquakes occurring in proximity to the costliest public infrastructure …
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) has been embraced by British Columbia’s government as a budding engine of growth for the provincial economy. Claims by industry lobby groups of tens of thousands of jobs and billions in government revenue make headlines. Is it true there really is a free lunch? As a scientist who spent a career …
In the face of the economic fallout from COVID-19, it’s easy to forget that some communities in British Columbia were in deep fiscal distress long before the pandemic began. Fort Nelson is a good example, and a textbook case of why senior levels of government need to be mindful when they roll out recovery plans …
“Canada hasn’t seen this type of civic mobilization since the Second World War. These are the biggest economic measures in our lifetimes, to defeat a threat to our health… We all need to answer the call.”—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, April 1, 2020, during one of his daily pandemic briefings outside his home.   As Canada seeks …
2020 has been a year like no other in the political economy of energy and climate change. As the new year broke, wildfires spiked by higher temperatures scorched Australia. In Canada, a different fire took hold as a BC gas pipeline sparked a cross-country Indigenous-led uprising. By mid-March, economies around the world were shutting down …
The death and disruption wrought by COVID-19 is calamitous. The bad news is that climate change will be worse. It is easy to forget that 2020 began with Australia burning in a brutal wildfire season. Like the current pandemic, Australia’s disaster was predicted years in advance by ecological science. As we slowly emerge from the …
There is growing momentum for a low-carbon reboot of our high-carbon economy as we emerge from a pandemic-induced shutdown. Since business-as-usual has been so disrupted, the timing for a major leap has never been better. Earlier this year, the Australian wildfires provided humanity’s latest wake-up call. Many are nervous about what this summer could bring …
Earlier this week, Premier Jason Kenney announced that the Government of Alberta will borrow money to debt finance the construction of TC Energy’s Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline. More specifically, the Alberta government is making an equity investment in TC Energy of $1.5 billion CAD in 2020, and the government will provide a backstop for the pipeline through a $6 …
Canada is in an economic tailspin due to the COVID-19 pandemic, echoing the worst months of the Great Depression. Yet while millions of Canadians need support to pay for basic necessities, a powerful group of oil company CEOs and lobbyists has insisted on a multi-billion dollar handout from the federal government, to be released any …
About two weeks ago, my new Corporate Mapping Project report on the future of Alberta’s oil sands industry was published. The report analyzes how the oil sands industry, in the early years of the mature phase of its business life cycle, is producing more bitumen with less capital and fewer jobs. The figure below, produced by earth …
Imagine it’s 2025 and because of the escalating climate crisis, governments in Asia have declared ambitious new climate action plans and an aggressive transition off natural gas. BC’s fossil fuel exports would soon dry up, workers would be laid off and local communities would lose public- and private-sector jobs. This type of scenario needs to …