Citizen Action Monitor

Trudeau slammed for deferring action on methane emissions, justifying delay with “bullshit” excuses

The facts and solutions are readily available, but “our pipeline-loving PM” breaks 2 promises and stalls.

No 1976 Posted by fw, June 7, 2017

Andrew Nikiforuk

“Now, you’d think a country with a big greenhouse gas problem and a terrible record of doing anything about it would jump at the chance to expend little effort and dollars to effect big change. But not Canada. And not Trudeau. Last month the Trudeau government did another one of its famous back steps on climate change and delayed the implementation of rules to curb methane leaks in the oil and gas industry by another three years.” —Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee

Andrew Nikiforuk, an award-winning journalist who has been writing about the energy industry for two decades, goes after Trudeau, labelling him “a deceiver and hypocrite… a Tofino surfer dude who acknowledges the threat of climate change but approves bitumen pipelines, embraces liquefied natural gas projects dependent on hydraulic fracking, and then delays any meaningful action on fixable methane leaks.”

His penetrating, fact-based analysis leaves Trudeau no place to hide.

Below is an abridged, slightly reformatted repost of Nikiforuk’s article. Omitted is the author’s lengthy technical overview of the impact of Trudeau’s broken methane emissions promises.

To read his piece on The Tyee’s website, click on the following linked title.

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Why Is Trudeau Blowing His Chance to Curb Dangerous, Climate-Warming Methane? by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, June 7, 2017

The facts and solutions are readily available, but our pipeline-loving PM stalls.

Seven key facts to know about methane

Here’s what the Trudeau government definitely knows about the science of methane.

1/ The gas accounts for more than one-quarter of all global warming, and reliable data from satellite and airplane surveys show that emissions are increasing, largely from the oil and gas industry.

2/ In Canada, methane now accounts for approximately 15 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The bulk of that pollution comes from the oil and gas industry, but that’s a gross underestimate because industry does its own self-reporting.

3/ Spewing more methane into the atmosphere is like dumping gasoline on a campfire, because the gas is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate destabilizer over a 20-year period.

4/ Clouds of methane from oil and gas facilities not only destabilize the climate, but create air pollution, kill crops and vegetation, threaten the health of rural dwellers and waste valuable resources.

5/ Industry doesn’t have to study the problem anymore because it knows where the leaks are. They include the deliberate venting of gas from heavy oil facilities; equipment designed to vent methane at well sites; leaks from pipelines, wells and compressors; and poor monitoring.

6/ Moreover, the light gas often travels with a variety of toxic compounds, including radon hydrogen sulfide, toluene, xylene and benzene.

7/ It also contributes to the formation of what scientists call tropospheric ozone, or smog. Ozone not only harms plants and reduces crop yields, but can also damage the lungs and is a public health hazard.

Reducing methane emissions delivers a bigger bang for the buck, also solves other problems

For Trudeau, methane should have been a politician’s dream. Reducing one tonne of methane emissions over a period is like eliminating more than 80 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The solutions, which are all about fixing leaks or stopping venting, are economic, technically well-known, conserve a natural resource (methane), and create jobs.

In fact, any government serious about climate change would tackle methane first, because methane reductions not only deliver a bigger bang for the buck in the messy field of climate change but also solve other problems.

Tackling methane sooner rather than later is a no-brainer – But what does Trudeau do? He breaks a 2016 promise to reduce methane emissions

Now, you’d think a country with a big greenhouse gas problem and a terrible record of doing anything about it would jump at the chance to expend little effort and dollars to effect big change.

But not Canada. And not Trudeau.

Last month the Trudeau government did another one of its famous back steps on climate change and delayed the implementation of rules to curb methane leaks in the oil and gas industry by another three years.

In so doing, Trudeau broke a 2016 promise with the Obama administration to reduce methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent at 2012 levels. Trudeau planned to implement the regulations in 2018 with full phase in by 2020. Now they won’t fully come into effect until 2023.

To add insult to injury, Trudeau insults Canadians with a “bullshit” excuse for delaying

The federal government justified the delay by saying it would give industry more time to adjust and budget for the regulations to fix and repair leaks.

But that’s bullshit. After the Trump administration dismantled rules and regulations to control methane in the oil patch, Trudeau chose to follow Trump and delay, too.

Just last year, Trudeau vowed to strengthen Canada’s climate action if Trump cut climate programs

He promised not to behave that way. Last year during a Calgary speech, Trudeau vowed that if Trump stepped back from climate action, the U.S. retreat would create an “extraordinary opportunity” for Canada to strengthen its commitments and move forward. But that was last year.

In delaying action in Canada, Trudeau played Neville Chamberlain to the carbon-heavy Trumposaurus.

Trump, of course, loves methane and hates regulations because they often restrain the self-serving behaviour of the rich and powerful such as the Koch brothers. (The oil refinery barons spent hundreds of millions fighting climate change and have secured a voice in the White House.)

Instead of cutting methane emissions, Trump cuts methane programs

In the last three months, the Trump administration cancelled a requirement to report on methane emissions because oil and gas companies complained that they added paperwork and costs.

Trump also ordered a review of an Obama rule that would have limited methane emissions at new oil and gas drilling sites.

And his government issued a 90-day stay to halt federal methane leak detection and repair requirements scheduled to take full effect on June 3. He also said he would soon propose to extend the stay indefinitely.

[Section on impacts omitted]

In the end Trudeau’s decision to delay tackling an immediately fixable problem probably 2.5 times worse than nationally reported is another vote to destabilize the climate and to appease a petro-tyrant south of the border.

It all prompts a question: What’s worse — an orange-haired U.S. caudillo [dictator] who denies climate change science and openly pimps for the fossil fuel industry, or a Tofino [BC district] surfer dude who acknowledges the threat of climate change but approves bitumen pipelines, embraces liquefied natural gas projects dependent on hydraulic fracking, and then delays any meaningful action on fixable methane leaks?

The answer is self-evident: it is the deceiver and the hypocrite.

But that’s been Canada’s real position on battling climate change for decades.

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