Oilsands giant Syncrude loses court fight against rules on renewable diesel by Bob Webber, The Canadian Press, June 5, 2016, Calgary Herald
OTTAWA – Syncrude has lost its court battle against federal rules on renewable diesel in a case that some suggest could have handcuffed national efforts to fight climate change.
The oilsands company, of which Suncor owns the majority, had argued that it was unconstitutional for Ottawa to require that at least two per cent of diesel fuel be from renewable sources such as ethanol.
That demand interfered with provincial jurisdiction over resources by changing markets for non-renewables, Syncrude argued.
The company also argued the government was wrong to use criminal law to enact the regulations. “The production and consumption of petroleum fuels is not inherently dangerous,” it said.
[Little Reality check:
“Abnormally dangerous and ultra hazardous activity.” Did TRC or Chevron’s fracing kill Robert David Taylor? What happened to California regulators’ vows to make steam injections safer? “Safer?” Why not make it “safe?”
Sounds like Alberta (Again)! Utah energy boomtown turns on midwife who raised concerns over apparent spike in infant deaths: “Could the deaths be tied to the oil industry, the region’s economic powerhouse?”
Business Insurance: Oil boom and fracking cause spike in energy industry workplace deaths. Do you have copies of Commercial Liability Insurance Coverage for companies operating near your home and loved ones?
Massive fish kill reported at Dalworthington Gardens lake after XTO Energy cited for taking water out for fracking; “All of us who’ve lived around here have been watching this lake go down for a very long time”
The bird deaths came just days after Syncrude agreed to pay $3 million in penalties after 1,600 ducks died on one of its tailings ponds during a storm two years earlier. … Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema said the ducks wouldn’t have died if the oilsands facilities hadn’t been there. “These ducks didn’t die because of bad weather,” he said. “They died because their natural habitat has been replaced by toxic tailings lakes. Syncrude and Suncor should have to answer for the tragic costs of the toxics they create and release into the environment.”
AER issues environmental protection order to Syncrude after deaths of 30 blue herons. When will AER issue Water Act Violation Order against Encana for fracing and contaminating Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers?
End Little (just a few examples) Reality Check]
A decision released last week from the Federal Court of Appeal found that fighting climate change is a legitimate federal goal.
“Protection of the environment is, unequivocally, a legitimate use of the criminal law purpose,” wrote Justice Donald Rennie.
Federal Court documents say Syncrude uses about 351 million litres of diesel in its operations. It produces about 204 million litres itself for the company’s own use.
The company argued the regulation, passed in 2011, will actually increase Syncrude’s greenhouse gas emissions by forcing it to transport biodiesel to its northern Alberta operations.
Rennie wrote that environmental protection is legitimate whether or not it affects markets under provincial jurisdiction.
“The environment and economy are intimately connected,” he wrote. “Indeed, it is practically impossible to disassociate the two.
“The existence of the economic incentives and government investments … do not detract from the dominant purpose of what the (rules) do and why they do it.”
The court also noted Syncrude’s admission that greenhouse gases contribute to climate change was inconsistent with its argument those gases couldn’t be regulated through criminal law.
“Syncrude’s position is problematic,” Rennie wrote.
Syncrude spokesman Will Gibson said the company is reviewing the decision.
“Syncrude has complied with the regulations since they were enacted and will continue to do so,” he said.
Greenpeace spokesman Keith Stewart said environmentalists are relieved.
“If (Syncrude) had won, it would have set back action on climate change for years,” he said. “That would have had huge impacts on everything else the federal government does.”
Stewart said the Syncrude decision should strengthen Ottawa’s hand in negotiating with the provinces over climate change and clears the decks for action.
‘”This would have been the last vestige of any argument as to why you would delay action,” he said. “The court has clearly said, ‘OK, government, you can do this.’
“The only thing left for the government to do is act on climate.” [Emphasis added]