1. Fracking Pennsylvania

Last Monday, I noted that I had previously not fully understood the Goldboro LNG plant proposed by Peridae Energy. One aspect of the proposal in particular eluded me: where will the gas supplying the plant come from?

I had good reason to be uninformed on this. That’s because in all the environmental assessment documents Pieridae submitted to the Nova Scotia Department of Environment there is no mention of the sourcing of the gas except to say it will be fed with gas from the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (M&NP).

That pipeline was built a couple of decades ago in order to service Nova Scotia’s offshore gas. Gas from the Sable Island field was delivered via subsea pipelines to the Sable Offshore Energy Project (SOEP) plant in Goldboro, where the gas entered the M&NP. There are a couple of laterals to the pipeline — one goes to Halifax and feeds the Heritage Gas lines in the city and Nova Scotia Power’s Tufts Cove plant, another goes to Saint John. But those laterals were almost immaterial to the main purpose of the pipeline, which was to sell Sable Island gas to New England. The pipeline crosses the international border at Saint Stephen, New Brunswick/ Baileyville, Maine, with an ultimate destination of Dracut, Massachusetts, outside Boston.

The majority owner of the pipeline is Enbridge, followed by Emera and ExxonMobil.

But now that the Sable Island field has played out, the M&NP pipeline has lost its primary purpose.

Enter Pieridae. In 2014, Pieridae filed an application with the US government to reverse the direction of the M&NP pipeline in order to deliver natural gas from New England to Nova Scotia.

The Atlantic Bridge project.

Here’s how the proposal was laid out in the Dec. 10, 2014 Federal Register:

Pieridae US, a Canadian States-Canada corporation, states that the U.S.-sourced natural gas will be exported to Canada at the United border near Baileyville, Maine, at the juncture of the Maritimes & Northeast (M&N) US Pipeline and the M&N Canada Pipeline (collectively, the M&N Pipeline). Pieridae US seeks to export this volume of U.S.-sourced natural gas in any allocation among the following three “specified purposes”:

(i) To use as feedstock in a proposed Canadian natural gas liquefaction facility called the Goldboro LNG Project—to be developed by one or more Pieridae affiliates and to be located in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough County Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Canada — and for other potential uses in Canada;

(ii) To use as feedstock in the Goldboro LNG Project, where the U.S.-sourced natural gas is liquefied, then re-exported as LNG from Canada by vessel to one or more countries with which the United States has a free trade agreement requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas (FTA countries), and

(iii) To use as feedstock in the Goldboro LNG Project, where the U.S.-sourced natural gas is liquefied, then re-exported as LNG from Canada by vessel to any other country with which trade is not prohibited by U.S. law or policy (non-FTA countries).

In a February 2016 ruling granting approval of the project, the US Department of Energy noted:

According to Pieridae US, the Goldboro LNG Project will be capable of producing the equivalent of approximately 487 Bcf/yr (1.33 Bcf/d) of pipeline-quality natural gas.

On May 22, 2015, in DOE/FE Order No. 3639, DOE/FE granted the portion of Pieridae US’s Application requesting long-term authority to export U.S.-sourced natural gas to Canada and to other FTA countries, pursuant to NGA section 3(c), 15 U.S.C. § 717b(c). Under the terms of that FTA order, Pieridae US is authorized to export natural gas to Canada by pipeline for end use in Canada, and to re-export the U.S.-sourced natural gas, after liquefaction in Canada, to other FTA countries for end use in FTA countries, in a total combined volume of 292 Bcf/yr of natural gas (the same volume requested in the non-FTA portion of the Application).

“The Pierdae Energy export plan states that it intends to take advantage of the abundance of natural gas from the Marcellus shale fracking fields in Pennsylvania,” reported Tim Faulkner for ecoRI News. “This natural gas is the main source of fuel to meet the project’s goal of exporting up to 800 million cubic feet of domestically produced natural gas per day through a new LNG facility in Nova Scotia.”

To bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to Nova Scotia required connecting the Texas Eastern pipeline travelling through Pennsylvania to the M&NP pipeline via a project called “the Atlantic Bridge,” which hinges on a compression plant built in North Weymouth, Massachusetts, just south of Boston. That connection is now complete.

As I say, I was completely unaware of this plan. (Although I see energy reporter Andrew Nikiforuk made a vague reference to it last May in The Tyee.) Maybe it was common knowledge, but I like to think I’m reasonably informed and, as I say, the plan to use fracked gas from Pennsylvania to feed the Goldboro LNG plant was not mentioned in the reams of information provided to the Nova Scotia government for purposes of environmental review.

On its website, Pieridae has described the source gas for Goldboro in several ways, but so far as I can see, never from the US. In 2018, it said the source fuel was from Quebec and New Brunswick. By 2010, Shell Oil fields in Alberta and British Columbia were added. But again: no mention of Pennsylvania.

Moreover, in a PowerPoint presentation before Canadian federal officials in which it was requesting $925 million in financing from the Canadian government, Pieridae made no mention that the money would be used, in part, to enable it to sell gas from Pennsylvania.

Fracking

The Marcellus shale fields.

Nova Scotia bans fracking, as does Germany. Both jurisdictions have determined that fracking simply presents too many environmental and social problems than they’re willing to enable.

Joan Baxter asked the German government about its fracking ban in relation to the government’s proposed plan to provide partial financing for the Goldboro plant:

Baxter: Although there are moratoriums on hydraulic fracturing in Germany (and in Nova Scotia, where Goldboro is to be built), it appears that at least a portion of the LNG may come from fracked sources. Given these moratoriums, why would the German state provide loan guarantees for a company that will be sourcing fracked gas? Is this not a contradiction and betrayal of German public policy?

The German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy didn’t really answer the question:

We can hereby confirm that we do know the respective Goldboro LNG project in Nova Scotia and that a Letter of Interest (LOI) has been issued by the German Government. This LOI is legally not binding and shall only express that the project can be considered as eligible under the assumption that certain criteria are met. An LOI can be issued to support a German offtaker [buyer of the LNG] in the bidding process.

Kindly note that a final and binding decision on whether an UFK can eventually be granted or not requires the prior assessment of the economic, technical and legal aspects in detail and the compliance with internationally accepted environmental, social and human rights standards. This assessment will be performed as part of the regular application procedure once a formal application has been filed.

An application has not been filed so far and thus the respective due diligence of the respective project has not been initiated and no approval or binding decision on granting a UFK-guarantee has been made.

We have asked Pieridae Energy to avoid ambiguous wordings in this context. [emphasis added]

There are a lot of moving balls in the German energy market — some of the push to import natural gas from North America is designed to offset sketchy and geopolitically awkward supplies from Russia and Ukraine, but there’s additionally an argument in Germany is that some of the natural gas will be used as fuel for generating plants in order to close coal plants.

So both Nova Scotia and Germany are planning to make use of fracking done in Pennsylvania — Nova Scotia simply in order to make a quick buck, and Germany to enable some convoluted and patently absurd greenhouse gas calculations. It’s the height of government hypocrisy.

An analogy would be child labour laws — we ban child labour in Nova Scotia because we care about the health and welfare of Nova Scotian children, but imagine if we had a scheme to profit from child labour in some other country. What do we care about children working in factories in Malaysia if it means a few years of additional work for construction workers in rural Guysborough? Such an attitude would be reprehensible, of course. As it is with fracking: whatever reasons we have for banning fracking in Nova Scotia should apply equally to our sourcing of fuel from Pennsylvania.

Linda Pannozzo addressed the illogic of fracking in her 2018 piece, “We’re Cooked: The Case for Ignoring Nova Scotia’s Fracking Potential.”

Fracking has a mixed track record in Pennsylvania, as observed by the Philadelphia Inquirer last month:

The fight over fracking is heating up. But with more time and data, the arguments from fracking’s proponents lose standing.

A new report from the Ohio Valley River Institute, an independent think tank, shows that the eight counties that produce the bulk of natural gas in Pennsylvania gained fewer jobs than the statewide average. These counties also lost population.

John Hanger, who served as Pennsylvania secretary of Environmental Protection under Gov. Ed Rendell, commented on the findings, saying: “This report explodes in a fireball of numbers the claims that the gas industry would bring prosperity to Pennsylvania, Ohio or West Virginia. These are stubborn facts that indicate gas drilling has done the opposite.”

The damaging impacts of fracking go far beyond jobs: Industry impact fees are decreasing significantly every year, causing budget problems for counties. Emissions of methane (which natural gas has in abundance) are undercutting progress in CO2 reductions, and the health hazards of fracking are documented over and over again — from an investigative grand jury report to a Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

In terms of greenhouse gas calculations, the Goldboro LNG plant, by itself, will mean Nova Scotia will exceed its 2010 levels of GHG emissions by 18%, just as the province has set a goal of reducing GHG emissions by 10% below 1990 levels by last year (final figures aren’t in yet).

Pieridae says it will “offset” the emissions:

Pieridae anticipates that despite all efforts to maximize efficiencies and minimize energy fuel consumption, the Project, within the context of the NS emissions cap, will remain a significant source for GHG emissions. By exporting natural gas to markets in Europe and Asia, other oil and coal based energy uses are likely going to be replaced by natural gas. While this has the potential to reduce GHG emissions in the context of those markets and could be seen as a global off-set this will not affect absolute emissions within the province of NS. As such, Pieridae is committed to undertake or contribute to additional provincial programs aimed at off-setting the anticipated GHG emissions of the Project.

Premier Iain Rankin told me that he believes that logic — reduced GHG emissions in Germany will be so large as that country switches from coal to natural gas that it will more than make up for the large increases in GHG in Nova Scotia.

That’s problematic on several fronts. One, it’s not clear that Germany is actually using natural gas to replace coal, but rather just to displace Russian and Ukraine supplies. Second, Germany is already moving to replace natural gas pipelines with hydrogen.

But more to the point, natural gas procured from fracking may not actually be any less or much less GHG-intensive than burning coal.

“Scientists have measured big increases in the amount of methane, the powerful global warming gas, entering the atmosphere over the last decade,” reports Stephen Leahy for National Geographic. “Cows or wetlands have been fingered as possible sources, but new research points to methane emissions from fossil fuel production — mainly from shale gas operations in the United States and Canada — as the culprit.”

The short of it is that GHG emissions are calculated for the burning of natural gas, and for incidental processing (such as at LNG plants), but there’s no accounting for leakage from pipelines and the suspected much larger leakage of methane from well sites. It’s really anyone’s guess as to whether using natural gas from fracked sources to replace coal reduces total greenhouse gas emissions at all. To base an entire global GHG accounting system on it, as Nova Scotia and Germany are doing, is simply absurd.

Look, we need to get off fossil fuels, stat. And it’s possible; Scotland has almost entirely sourced its electrical grid with renewables, reports the BBC:

Onshore wind delivers about 70% of capacity, followed by hydro and offshore wind as Scotland’s main sources of renewable power.

The old line that renewable energy can’t replace power generated by fossil fuels is simply no longer true. Precipitous drops in the cost of renewables, the advancement of battery technology, and the use of old technologies like ceramic heaters and pumped hydro to store intermittent wind power have completely changed the energy future.

By chasing a 2010 argument for natural gas, Nova Scotia is not only placing the future of the planet at great risk, but it is additionally missing out on a tremendous opportunity.

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2. Justice

The new provincial courthouse for jury trials is connected to police station in Burnside. The courtroom is accessed through the side of the building on Mellor Avenue, but drivers will pass the entrance to the police station. Photo: Google Street View

“One is to treat issues as though they are completely separate, leading us to spend all our energy fighting one issue while the state is already mobilizing against us in another area,” writes El Jones:

While we are fighting street checks, in the shadows civil liberties for prisoners are being dismantled. While we try to address the lockdown conditions during COVID-19 in jails and prisons, changes to the courts that limit access to justice are being conceived.

Here are some justice issues that have garnered little to no concern or attention to date, but that signify the future battles we will be fighting against state repression.

Jones list six issues, but one in particular jumped out at me:

A new courthouse is being built for jury trials scheduled to be opened on Wednesday, March 31. Due to COVID-19, court access has been limited, leading to the “requirement” for expanded space.

However, lawyers report that the new court in Burnside park is in a police station. This is concerning not in the least because of the apparent bias raised by this location. Jury selection is also being done in the Nova Centre, which is where the Crown office is. This would seem to have troubling implications for independence.

Courts are independent of both police and the Crown. But when people serving on juries come into the Crown prosecutors’ office to be selected, and then go to an actual police station for a trial, the supposed independence of the courts is completely lost on them. There is a physical, space-affirmed bias for the Crown and police, and therefore for conviction.

Click here to read “6 important justice stories taking place while no-one is looking.”

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3. COVID-19 update

Reader Laura Kenney created a Maud Lewis-inspired hooked rug with a COVID theme.

Two new cases of COVID-19 were announced in Nova Scotia yesterday (Sunday, March 28).

Both cases are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone, and both are close contacts of previously announced cases three.

Both cases are women  — one is aged 20-39, and the other 80 or over.

There are 25 known active cases in the province. One person is in hospital with the disease, but not in ICU.

The active cases are distributed as follows:

• 7 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 8 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 4 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 2 in the Inverness, Victoria, and Richmond Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network in the Western Zone

Three cases are not assigned to a Community Health Network.

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 2,585 tests Saturday.

You can get tested at the Nova Scotia Health labs by going here.

Vaccine numbers were not provided over the weekend.

People who are 75 or over can book a vaccine appointment here.

Here are the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average (today at 3.3) since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

And here is the active caseload for the second wave:

Yesterday, Public Health issued the following advisory:

Today the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness announced an additional variant case of COVID-19. As part of our investigation, Nova Scotia Health Public Health is working to identify any additional people who may have unknowingly come into contact with a positive case of COVID-19 to limit the potential spread of the virus.
Out of an abundance of caution, Public Health is asking anyone who worked at or visited any of the King’s Wharf Place businesses or lives in or visited the residences between March 10 – March 27 to get tested for COVID-19, whether or not you have symptoms or even mild symptoms.
Please immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test. You can also call 811 and identify yourself as someone Public Health asked to be tested.
As this is a precautionary measure, you are not required to self-isolate while waiting for your test, unless you have any symptoms. If you have or develop any symptoms you must self-isolate while waiting for your test result. Symptoms include fever, new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose/nasal congestion, headache, or shortness of breath.

Here is the updated potential COVID exposure advisory map:

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4. “I will fill you full of fuckin’ lead”

A still from the video of a Halifax Regional Police officer threatening to shoot a Black man. — DeRico Symonds/Twitter

“A Halifax Regional Police officer has been placed on administrative duties after he was caught on video threatening to shoot a Black man during what the police called a weapons call in the municipality on Friday night,” reports Zane Woodford:

The video shows a Halifax Regional Police officer with his gun drawn and pointed at a Black man with his hands up, circling a pickup truck. The officer threatens to kill the man, but Symonds misheard what he said.

“I will fill you full of fuckin’ lead,” the officer said. “Stop fuckin’ walking.”

Click here to read “Video shows Halifax police officer threatening Black man at gunpoint: ‘I will fill you full of fuckin’ lead.’”

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5. Iain Rankin

In 2017, residents of Wentworth Valley were shocked to see clearcutting on land that Northern Pulp had purchased with the 2010 loan of $75 million from the province. Photo: Joan Baxter

“Iain Rankin’s descent from the smiling selfie of our future-facing face of generational change and environmental salvation to the big reveal only a mini-month later that the shiny new was just one more in a long line of old-style pols in the welcoming embrace of all the usual corporate interests,” writes Stephen Kimber. “And it will only get worse.”

Click here to read “Well, that didn’t take long.”

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6. Sidewalks

The sidewalk outside Halifax City Hall on February 24, 2015. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The price tag for quicker sidewalk snow clearing was too steep for a majority of councillors to even consider,” reports Zane Woodford:

On Friday, Coun. Shawn Cleary, who was successful with the bus stop snow clearing motion, moved to add enhanced sidewalk snow clearing to the budget adjustment list.

The change would require contractors and municipal staff to clear Priority 3 sidewalks, those in residential neighbourhoods not on transit routes, within 18 hours of the end of snow storm, rather than the current 36 hours. Staff estimated the cost at up to $4.5 million, which would add about $15 to the average property tax bill.

The motion failed by a vote of 9-8.

Click here to read “Councillors won’t consider quicker sidewalk snow clearing for next year.”

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7. Crosswalks

Traffic lights and signage at an intersection near the Macdonald Bridge in Halifax in 2018. — Photo: Zane Woodford

“Following the death of a pedestrian in Halifax last week and an outcry from activists, a councillor plans to move for a staff report on restricting drivers from turning while people are crossing intersections,” reports Zane Woodford:

A driver hit and killed 75-year-old Dr. David Gass at the intersection of Kempt Road and Young Street. The pick-up truck driver, who was ticketed for failing to yield to a pedestrian, was making a left turn from Kempt onto Young, and hit Gass, who was crossing Young.

Click here to read “Halifax councillor to move for restricted turns at intersections to protect pedestrians.”

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Government

City

Tuesday

Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm) — live broadcast

Province

Monday

Law Amendments (Monday, 9am) — live broadcast Zoom meeting:

Bill No. 1 – Police Identity Management Act (no representation)
Bill No. 4 – Biodiversity Act (with representation)
Bill No. 9 – Crown Lands Act (amended) (with representation)
Bill No. 23 – Adoption Records Act (no representation)

Tuesday

Human Resources (Tuesday, 10am) — video conference; agency, board, and commission appointments

Legislature sits (Tuesday, 1pm)


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Vaccines and pharmacovigilance in the 1940s: Lessons from a massive contamination of yellow fever vaccine (Tuesday, 10:30am) — a lecture by Ilana Löwy from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, CERMES-3.

The rapid manufacture of COVID-19 vaccine is often presented as an unprecedented event, but a yellow fever vaccine was produced in the 1930s and massively applied in record time.

Medical historian and biologist Dr. Ilana Löwy will share the fascinating story of the 17D vaccine and how two drastically different approaches to its surveillance led to success in one country and a major health disaster in another.

The structure of ωcomplete effect monoid (Tuesday, 2:30pm) — an ATCAT seminar with Abraham  Westerbaan from Dalhousie University.

Effect monoids are a generalisation of {0,1} and [0,1], of Boolean algebras and the unit intervals [0,1] of commutative unital C*-algebras.  Effect monoids appeared naturally in the study of effectuses: a type of category with finite coproducts 0, + and a final object 1 designed to reason about states s: 1⟶X and predicates p: X⟶1+1.  When composing such a state and predicate, one gets a morphisms 1⟶1+1 that should be thought of as the probability that the predicate p holds in state s.  It’s these morphisms 1⟶1+1 called scalars that form an effect monoid.

Vanilla effect monoids are lousy structures:  not much can be defined with(in) them, or be proven about them, while counter examples hard to find.  This changes dramatically when the axiom of ω-completeness is added (that every ascending sequence in the effect monoid has a supremum.)  Suddenly a rich and well-behaved structure emerges including division, lattice operations, and an abundance of idempotents.  So well-behaved, in fact, that every ω-complete effect monoid can be represented as subspace of the continuous functions C(X,[0,1]) on a basically disconnected compact Hausdorff space X.  For directed complete effect monoids we even get a proper categorical duality.

This is based on joint work with Bas Westerbaan and John van de Wetering:  https://arxiv.org/abs/1912.10040

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

The Librarian Is In (Tuesday, 3pm) — to answer any of your library- or research-related questions

King’s

Monday

Virtual Readings (Monday, 8pm) — by graduating students of the MFA in Creative Nonfiction; continues  Tuesday. Zoom webinar link emailed to those who RSVP.

Tuesday

Nicholas Galanin. Photo from the listing

Counter Memory Activism Speaker Series (Tuesday, 7pm) — with Tlingit/Unangax̂ multidisciplinary artist Nicholas Galanin. Via Zoom, more info here.

Virtual Readings (Tuesday, 8pm) — by graduating students of the MFA in Creative Nonfiction. Zoom webinar link emailed to those who RSVP.


In the harbour

02:30: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
06:30: One Magnificence, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
07:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Fairview Cove
14:00: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, sails from Pier 42 for Palm Beach, Florida
15:30: Atlantic Star sails for Hamburg, Germany


Footnotes

I had a thing I wanted to write about the Ever Given and the problem with megaports, but I spent all morning on that Pieridae bit. Next time!

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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. I’ve walked through the Kempt Road crosswalk many times.

    Guess what, it has a beg button. I thought those buttons make intersections safer?

    I would love to see a traffic engineer defend those fucking buttons in the wake of this death.

  2. Concerns about sidewalk snow-clearing are not just about meeting the deadlines. I live on a two-lane, residential street, on the peninsula. Not a bus route. If it is snowing, there’s a plow along the street every few hours. For whatever reason, the goal is to ensure snow never builds up on the street, even though most cars can manage at least 4″ of snow with no difficulty. Sidewalks, on the other hand, are not touched until after the snow stops, even though an inch of snow can make walking treacherous. It’s not unusual to see pedestrians walking along the perfectly cleared road, as cars race by, because the sidewalks are snow-covered and blocked at intersections. All clearing meets the deadlines, but the clear priority is keeping the road bare as much as possible.

  3. “An analogy would be child labour laws — we ban child labour in Nova Scotia because we care about the health and welfare of Nova Scotian children, but imagine if we had a scheme to profit from child labour in some other country. What do we care about children working in factories in Malaysia if it means a few years of additional work for construction workers in rural Guysborough? Such an attitude would be reprehensible, of course.”

    Arguably we do – aren’t there plenty of industries in Nova Scotia (the electronics sector comes to mind) that use hardware from sources with questionable child labour practices?

  4. Iain Rankin is in way over his head. I extremely doubt he has the skill set to combat the incredible level of international industrial corruption nesting down in multiple areas of our province. Depressing and frightening. Of course he’s following in the footsteps of a guy who gave $5million of precious public funds to the company owned by the wife of a billionaire. So the ‘enemies’ to the future lives of our children are not just external.

    Thank you Tim and your amazing team for committing to investigative journalism. The Pieridae reporting shows once again the Halifax Examiner is one of the shining lights in a very dark time. To quote the masthead of The Washington Post, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

  5. The ultimate absurdity is the German use of “biomass” harvested in the USA, loaded into diesel trucks and then bunker fuel burning ships, shipped to Germany, and then counted as carbon neutral fuel.

    Fossil fuel reserves are strategically important and I find the American obsession with preventing Russia from selling gas to Europe strange – is the goal to keep Europe dependent on the American empire to keep the lights on, or is the US so bankrupt it needs to sell natural gas to keep the lights on?

    Either way Russia has a bright future ahead of it with abundant fossil fuels, minerals and – unlike China – the ability to feed its own population without imports.