News

1. Goldboro 1

Pieridae Energy CEO Alfred Sorensen and NRCAN Minister Seamus O’Regan

Joan Baxter provides two updates on the proposed Goldboro liquified natural gas (LNG) project.

First, Baxter filed freedom of information requests to try to learn specific details about Pieridae Energy’s request for nearly $1 billion in federal financing for the project. Pieridae lobbyists have met five times with Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, presumably to discuss the ask, but when Baxter spoke with Fraser about it, he was elusive:

In a telephone interview, the Examiner asked Fraser if he thought the Goldboro LNG project is compatible with Canada’s domestic and international climate commitments, and particularly his government’s proposed Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act.

Fraser, who said he was speaking for himself and not the government, replied that the Paris Agreement commitments Canada has made “ensure that climate plans of provincial governments accord with the goal of achieving net zero by 2050.”

“So on this particular project [Goldboro LNG], the question to me is: will it render the province of Nova Scotia’s climate plan unworkable?” said Fraser. He noted that because the Goldboro project would result in 3.7 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, it would require:

… the provincial government’s climate plan to achieve a concomitant reduction in emissions elsewhere, because we cannot compromise on net zero as a country, as a province, or frankly, as a planet. We need to carefully account for the emissions.

Said Fraser:

If in fact the project would have the impact of rendering the provincial government’s climate plan unworkable, the federal backstop under our Greenhouse Gas Sustainable Pollution Pricing Act would kick in in Nova Scotia.

So does that mean that federally imposed carbon pricing — often called a carbon tax — would kick in if the Goldboro LNG project went ahead and Nova Scotia were no longer able to meet its own carbon emissions targets?

To that question, Fraser replied, “Yes, essentially, that’s true.”

But, he said, “It will depend heavily on the very specific details of the provincial government’s plan.”

Fraser acknowledged that Pieridae has been saying that, “they can move the project forward on a net zero basis,” adding that the claim “remains to be tested and proven on the basis of science, facts, and evidence before anyone should accept it outright.”

“But if they can do what they’re saying they can do, then I think it’s worth continuing the conversation,” said Fraser. “But we need to be steadfast in defending the importance of achieving net zero. It’s obviously a global emergency.”

The background to all this is a giant game of bullshit accounting. It works like this: Humanity has to reduce human-generated greenhouse gas emissions to zero by, say, 2050. To do that, we need to each year reduce our collective emissions by on average 1/29 of our total current emissions (it’s much more complicated than this, but this is the cocktail napkin explanation).

How to justify meeting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by building a giant GHG-belching liquified natural gas plant.

Each political jurisdiction has a complex economy and complex regulations and particular conditions, so it’s left up to each jurisdiction to figure out how to get to that goal. Nova Scotia’s first stab at this was something called the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, which was replaced and updated by the Sustainable Development Goals Act in October 2019. The very shorthand synopsis is that the province would first reduce reliance on coal-generated electricity by importing hydro power from Labrador, and then make a bunch of further cuts in emissions with less dramatic but equally important gestures.

OK, good enough. But if you want to build a $14 billion dollar LNG plant in Nova Scotia that by itself will blow not just the future emission reduction targets out of the water but also increase the current emissions by an enormous amount, what do you do? How can you possibly justify burning more fossil fuels in order to reduce GHG emissions?

You do two things. First, you uncritically buy into the notion that natural gas is a “transition fuel.” See, burning natural gas produces less GHG than burning coal or oil, so two drinks in, you continue scribbling on that cocktail napkin: look, Germany is burning a lot of coal and oil, so if replace that coal and oil with “less polluting” natural gas, then you have a net total reduction in total GHG emissions, even though Nova Scotia is increasing its GHG emissions. You also can build a bunch of markets for buying and selling GHG credits and probably make a lot of money with that, too.

Second, even with the “transition fuel” cocktail napkin argument, you still have a lot of GHG emissions over and above the global targets that you’ve got to figure out how to get rid of, so here’s what you do: you order another round of drinks. Then, you talk about this carbon capture technology the oil and gas industry and the Albertan government are developing, because the oil and gas industries and Albertans are all about environment stewardship, see. What they’re going to do is take a bunch of carbon captured at wellheads and generating plants, and pipe the carbon into the ground, so it goes away forever and will never again be a problem for climate change.

With that, you order yet another round of drinks and then give the citizens of Canada a bill for a billion dollars.

But in the cold light of morning sobriety, we might reconsider.

Let’s talk first about this “transition fuel” argument. It is indeed true that burning natural gas produces less GHG emissions than burning oil or coal. But you’re ignoring the enormous amounts of waste gas and leakage produced when drilling for and transporting the natural gas, which if considered might make natural gas just as polluting as sourcing, transporting, and burning oil.

And then we have to think about what the chances are that billions of dollars worth of fossil fuel infrastructure will simply be abandoned. “Transition” implies that eventually we’ll stop burning natural gas too, but is it likely that we’ll just walk away from a $14 billion LNG plant and all the supporting wells, pipelines, etc., just 29 years from now? Not bloody likely.

As for the carbon capture part of the scheme, my head is still pounding but it’s an unproven and untestable technology — how can we possibly be sure that the carbon pumped into the ground stays there for even 10 years, much less 29 years or 100 years?

Anyway, that was a huge aside.

Click here to read “Is the Canadian government about to spend nearly a billion dollars on a dubious, greenhouse-gas-target-busting natural gas scheme?”

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2. Goldboro 2

Ducie Howe (left) and Tara Lewis (right). Photo: Joey Brooks

In a related article, Baxter relates a rather cynical PR move on Peiridae’s part, intended to soften the impact of the project in the minds of the Canadian public:

In its sell to the government, Pieridae devoted two of the nine slides in its December 2020 PowerPoint presentation to its “partnerships with First Nations,” and also includes the word “Reconciliation” in the presentation’s headline.

The company has signed a contract with the Wskijnu’k Mtmo’taqnuow Agency Ltd (“WMA”), a corporation owned by the 13 Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia, for construction of a camp at Goldboro to house workers during the construction of the facility.

“However,” reports Baxter, “in recent weeks, several Mi’kmaw women have been posting critical comments on Facebook about Mi’kmaw involvement in the Goldboro LNG project, on which they say they were neither consulted nor informed:

Ducie Howe is a Mi’kmaq rights and titleholder of unceded Mi’kma’ki territory, water protector, and  activist from Sipekne’katik First Nation. In a Facebook message to the Examiner, she explained her concerns about energy projects that result in “man camps,” which are so dangerous for Indigenous women and girls:

The MMIW&G [Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls] rates are co-related to Industries that come into another territory to rape and murder and desecrate the lands and Waters. Man camps along with environmental racism breed sexualization and violence against our people. What they do to the land and Waters they do to our Woman; we are one and the same.

Temporary jobs or profit over lives are not worth it, especially considering that the rates of crime triple in small towns that have a sudden influx of 5000 workers, and that there has been and is a lack of will to investigate/ prosecute or find the MMIW&G. This I consider Canada’s genocidal policy still in effect!

Howe is joined in her opposition by Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack, who is asking the Nova Scotia chiefs “to pull away from this project for the safety of our women.”

Click here to read “Mik’maw opposition to the Goldboro LNG project is growing.”

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3. Goldboro 3

And then there’s the financing aspect of the Goldboro plan.

“Canada’s Pieridae Energy Ltd has hired Japanese lender MUFG Bank to help raise $10 billion for its proposed Goldboro liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant in Nova Scotia, it told Reuters on Thursday,” reported Reuters on Friday:

The decision to hire a new banker came after Societe Generale SA, its previous financial advisor, committed to phasing out of new shale financing on environmental grounds.

Societe Generale confirmed it had stopped providing support to both Goldboro and a separate project, Quebec LNG, to limit exposure to shale oil and gas production in North America by 2023.

Historically a backer of LNG projects, SocGen’s departure further reduces investment options for a dozen North American LNG projects still requiring financing. Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC also have tightened restrictions on lending for high-carbon energy projects.

When you’ve lost the amoral financial industry, you’ve lost the entire game.

This is not the time for Nova Scotia to be supporting natural gas development.

4. Election

Premier Iain Rankin and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang announcing the reopening plan at the COVID-19 briefing on May 28, 2021. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

“On Friday afternoon, Premier Iain Rankin announced what he describes as a five-phase plan to allow too-long shuttered, increasingly restless, can’t-wait Nova Scotians to resume something approximating normal lives,” writes Stephen Kimber:

“Our phased plan,” he boasted during a COVID briefing, “will allow us to safely enjoy summer” while various vaccines are making immunity magic inside our bodily herd and remaining restrictions on our movements and gatherings are slowly retreating into a best-forgotten past.

By early fall, Rankin’s plan — his hope and our dream — is that we will finally emerge, victorious, from the past awful 18 months into a nirvana of our “new normal of living with COVID.”

So, that must mean Iain Rankin plans to call a provincial election for September.

Kimber brings it to our attention that with the recent retirement of former Premier Stephen McNeil and the resignation of MLA Margaret Miller effective tomorrow, the Liberals will have a minority government.

Click here to read “Planning for a re-opening and hoping for a re-election.”

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5. Five deaths from COVID

Five people died from COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the province’s death toll from the disease to 85, with 19 of those since April 1.

Their deaths, and the pain and heartache for their families and loved ones, are tragic. Let’s not lose sight of that as it appears the third wave of the pandemic in Nova Scotia is ebbing towards containment.

The daily new COVID case count and 7-day rolling average since March 28, the last day of zero new cases.

Yesterday, there were 20 new cases, the lowest number since April 20, when there were just nine new cases. I expect that today the active caseload in the province will dip below 466, which was the peak of the active caseload during the first wave of the pandemic.

Vaccination numbers aren’t provided on weekends, but the trend has been quite good the last couple of weeks — if that trend holds, we’ll pass the 60% mark for percentage of the entire population getting at least one dose of vaccine this week, and 65% a few days later. Those are the vaccination targets for entering Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the reopening plan, although it seems we’ll have to wait another month for other metrics to kick in before those phases are implemented; honestly, the whole thing confuses me and I hope to get clarification at today’s COVID briefing, which is scheduled for 3pm (you can follow along on my Twitter feed).

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Noticed

The beheading of Saint Dymphna, Godfried Maes.

The law of supply and demand says that as something becomes more scarce, its value increases. And so, sleep has become immensely valuable to me of late.

Last night, as I was finding sleep as elusive as ever, I wondered — as a parochial school grad does — if there is a Patron Saint of Sleep, and if there were, how might one appeal to the saint for some heavenly intervention.

And so, I went to the website google dot com. I didn’t find a Patron Saint of Sleep, alas (that’s not to say there isn’t one; I just didn’t find it), but I did find a Patron Saint of Sleep Disorders, Saint Dymphna.

This isn’t journalism or any such highfalutin calling like that. I merely landed on a Wikipedia page, but I was fascinated by Dymphna all the same.

Dymphna was said to live in 7th century Ireland, but her story wasn’t written down until the 13th century by some unnamed monk in France who pieced together some ancient oral traditions. So this is roughly of the same pedigree of the Arthurian legends, a tale arising from the murky post-Roman British Isles dark age with its ever-shifting political landscape, of which a history was recreated many centuries after-the-fact. Which is to say: it might all be bullshit.

Still, Dymphna is said to have been the daughter of a minor king (all kings were minor back then) named Damon. I’ll let the wiki scribes take over:

When St. Dymphna was 14 years old, she consecrated herself to Christ and took a vow of chastity. Shortly thereafter, her mother died. Damon had loved his wife deeply, and in the aftermath of her death his mental health sharply deteriorated. Eventually the king’s counsellors pressed him to remarry. Damon agreed, but only on the condition that his bride would be as beautiful as his deceased wife. After searching fruitlessly, Damon began to desire his daughter because of her strong resemblance to her mother.

When St. Dymphna learned of her father’s intentions, she swore to uphold her vows and fled his court along with her confessor Father Gerebernus, two trusted servants, and the king’s fool. Together they sailed towards the continent, eventually landing in what is present-day Belgium, where they took refuge in the town of Geel.

One tradition states that once settled in Geel, St. Dymphna built a hospice for the poor and sick of the region. However, it was through the use of her wealth that her father would eventually ascertain her whereabouts, as some of the coins used enabled her father to trace them to Belgium. Damon sent his agents to pursue his daughter and her companions. When their hiding place was discovered, Damon travelled to Geel to recover his daughter. Damon ordered his soldiers to kill Gerebernus and tried to force St. Dymphna to return with him to Ireland, but she resisted. Furious, Damon drew his sword and struck off his daughter’s head. She was said to have been 15 years old when she died.

No wonder I never learned about this in parochial school.

But in any event, the residents of Geel secreted Dymphna’s corpse in a cave, but then after the 13th century unnamed monk wrote about her, they hauled the remains out of the cave and put her in a proper church built for the occasion. Wiki continues:

By 1480, so many pilgrims were coming from all over Europe, seeking treatment for psychiatric disorders that the church housing for them was expanded. Soon the sanctuary for those considered “mad” was again full to overflowing, and the townspeople began taking them into their own homes. Thus began a tradition for the ongoing care of those with psychiatric conditions that has endured for over 500 years and is still studied and admired today. Patients were, and still are, taken into the homes of Geel’s inhabitants. Never called patients, they are called boarders, and are treated as ordinary and useful members of the town. They are treated as members of the host family. They work, most often in menial labour, and in return, they become part of the community. Some stay a few months, some decades, some for their entire lives. At its peak in the 1930s, over 4,000 ‘boarders’ were housed with the town’s inhabitants

I think we have something to learn from the good people of Geel, and some thanks to give to Dymphna.

I’ll ponder that as I attempt to nap.

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Government

City

Monday

Executive Standing Committee (Monday, 10am) — live on YouTube.

North West Planning Advisory Committee (Monday, 7pm) — Public Information Meeting, Case 22267, Session #3, live on YouTube.

Tuesday

Public Information Meeting (Tuesday, 6pm) — virtual meeting for Case 23374, development of a six-storey building at the intersection of Waverley Road and Montebello Drive.

Province

Monday

No meetings

Tuesday

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am) — Via video, Eiryn Devereaux from the Department of Infrastructure and Housing, and Art Fisher from the Family Service Association of Western Nova Scotia will talk about “Housing and COVID-19 and the Homelessness Crisis”


On campus

Dalhousie

Monday

Separating Home and Work Support Group  (Monday, 12pm) — If you missed the opportunity to register for this online meeting, there’s another meeting on June 28.

Tuesday

Reflecting on the Intersection of Occupational Therapy and Homelessness (Tuesday, 5pm) — Becky Marval will present this Kelly Bang Memorial Lecture online:

Becky Marval knew even before she completed Dalhousie’s Occupational Therapy Program that she would creatively and dynamically push beyond any preconceived parameters of what an occupational therapist does.

Marval supports the homeless community through the Mobile Outreach Street Health program, commonly known as MOSH. Through the MOSH program Marval works with a primary health care team to provide immediate and ongoing support to individuals who are homeless and street-involved. Marval’s involvement ranges from individual client support to identify and move forward with meaningful goals, to working towards systems-level change.

Kelly Bang was a nationally known occupational therapist, lecturer, writer, artist, and counselor for survivors of child and sexual abuse. The Kelly Bang Memorial Lecture was established by her family to honour those whose research, practice, teaching, and advocacy advance opportunities for women and other marginalized adults who are learning to live in their communities.


In the harbour

Halifax
05:00: Conti Annapurna, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
08:00: MSC Sandra, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Barcelona
13:00: Atlantic Marlin, cargo barge, arrives at Berth TBD from sea
15:30: Fidelio, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
16:00: Tropic Hope, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
18:30: Pictor, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
23:45: Pictor sails for Portland

Cape Breton
No arrivals or departures.


Footnotes

The forecasted rain has been un-forecasted.

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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Speaking of greenhouse gas;

    One of the most surreal things in my life was flagging her down on her way to park at the liberal AGM, driving her massive pickup truck (IIRC it was a 2500) telling her that “by the way, there’s environmental protestors around the corner; not a good look”

    Like I get it, she’s from hants county. But the minister of the environment doesn’t need to be commuting in a 2500.

    For someone who prides herself on not reading the news, maybe she just wasn’t briefed on this whole global warming thing.

    1. Perhaps she feels safer in a larger vehicle. Take time to ask politely ask her why she drives the vehicle.

      1. I regularly have to park my small car next to 2500 sized pickups at work. It is a visceral reminder that in a crash, the person with $60K to spend on a giant pickup has far better odds than the person who doesn’t. People are only “safer” in giant trucks or SUVs because others are at greater risk. Perhaps someone who wants to be really safe can buy something like this: https://tinyurl.com/ydnywe8

  2. Hi Tim – difficult sleep experiences are in many persons a nightly issue; a really good sleep is blessing~ a remedy I find very effective is opening a KJV version of the OT book of Leviticus and after a few verses I am in the beautiful land of nod. Cheers !