By David Ljunggren, Nia Williams, Laura Sanicola and Harry Miller
OTTAWA/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Canada is pushing on several diplomatic fronts against the U.S. state of Michigan’s efforts to close a cross-border oil pipeline, the second such dispute since Joe Biden became U.S. president in January, complicating the governments’ efforts to work together to lower carbon emissions.
The conflict over the aging but key pipeline highlights the disruptions caused by a global shift away from fossil fuels. Both governments are working to accelerate the energy transition, but their oil industries are interdependent, so a policy shift in one country can affect energy supply, and the political balance, in the other.
The United States imports more crude from Canada than any other nation, at about 3.7 million barrels per day, or about 80%of Canada‘s crude output.
Ottawa’s strategy, according to four sources familiar with the government’s thinking, is to repeatedly raise the issue of Enbridge Inc’s Line 5 with numerous U.S. counterparts – including Biden – to get them to pressure Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer to keep the pipeline open.
Last November, Michigan ordered Line 5 to shut by May 13, citing the environmental risk of a possible leak in the four-mile (6-km) stretch of the 540,000-bpd line passing under the Straits of Mackinac in the Great Lakes.
The White House has shown no sign of responding to Canadian entreaties, so Ottawa is considering more drastic options, including a threat to invoke an obscure bilateral treaty to keep Line 5 operating or intervene in the legal dispute currently playing out in U.S. courts.
Line 5, which flows crude oil and refined products from Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario, via Michigan, has been in operation for nearly 70 years, but officials in Michigan are increasingly alarmed by its advanced age.
The line has never leaked into the straits but there have been at least eight other spills since 1980, according to U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration data.
The imbroglio over Line 5 comes just three months after Biden angered the Canadian oil and gas industry by cancelling a permit for the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline project on his first day in office.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government reluctantly accepted that decision, even though it killed thousands of construction jobs and further soured Ottawa’s relationship with the main energy-producing province of Alberta.
Ottawa has resolved to fight publicly to keep Line 5 open, which – unlike Keystone – is already operating and a vital link in Enbridge’s export network that ships the vast majority of crude from Canada‘s western oil patch to the United States.
DOZENS OF MEETINGS
Canadian government officials are frustrated by how much time they are spending on the matter, the sources said.
Canada has discussed the pipeline’s fate in dozens of bilateral meetings, including 23 virtual meetings between lawmakers and U.S. members of Congress, according to a spokesman for Canada‘s Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan.
“Clearly Line 5 is an important issue for the government of Canada … at the same time we need to be advancing on a cooperative basis the work we’re doing on climate action,” Canada Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told Reuters earlier this month.
Wilkinson raised the pipeline on Feb. 24 during a meeting with U.S. climate envoy John Kerry. Trudeau also raised Line 5 with Biden when the two met in February to discuss making global warming a joint priority. The Canadian prime minister attended a U.S. international climate summit hosted by Biden last week.
Neither Kerry nor the White House responded to a request for comment.
Calgary-based Enbridge has refused to shut the pipeline, arguing the governor’s order needs to be backed by a judge. The case is being heard in U.S. federal court and the two parties started mediation on April 16.
Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy said a negotiated solution would be in the best interests of all parties.
Trudeau’s administration is mulling whether to take part in the legal challenge by filing an amicus, or “friend of the court” brief, which would explicitly lay out their reasons for backing Enbridge, said a source directly familiar with the matter.
Ottawa is also considering invoking the never-before-used 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty, designed to stop U.S. or Canadian public officials from impeding the flow of oil in transit.
“The federal government continues to have a role to play, and we appreciate what they’ve done to date,” Enbridge’s Duffy said.
Line 5 is key to fuel supply for the Great Lakes region on both sides of the border, helping supply an area with a population of more than 40 million people.
Environmental campaigners have long been concerned Line 5 could leak into the straits. Whitmer, a Biden ally, made shutting it a key promise in her 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
Wilkinson, after meeting with Kerry, told reporters that “the issue in Michigan is the governor.”
Canada‘s Ambassador Kirsten Hillman and Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna have both met separately with Whitmer, but she has not changed her stance.
A spokeswoman for Whitmer told Reuters that the governor stands behind her decision to close the pipeline.
Enbridge said shutting Line 5 would cause fuel shortages and gas price spikes, and require 15,000 trucks and 800 rail cars a day to replace deliveries to Ontario. Michigan would also need truck transport to account for lost propane delivery, while refineries in Ohio and Michigan would need to secure supply from other suppliers.
Scott Archer, business agent with Local 663 Pipefitters Union in Sarnia, home to three of Ontario’s refineries, described Line 5 as the “spinal cord of Ontario’s infrastructure” in testimony to Canadian lawmakers.
“Shutting down Line 5 will in effect kill my hometown… and many more places like it in Canada and the U.S.,” he said.
(Reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary, David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Laura Sanicola in New York; additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
As COVID-19 vaccines for kids get closer, experts weigh up how to reassure parents – CBC.ca
As Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech say they’ve moved a step closer to providing their COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, one mother says she’s keen to have her eldest vaccinated, but hears some hesitation among other parents.
“As parents, you’re nervous and you’re apprehensive, obviously, about any risks,” said Fallon Jones, who lives in Halifax with a five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.
“But we have to weigh the pros and the cons here, and I think that this is a good opportunity to protect them against a potentially deadly virus,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
Pfizer-BioNTech said Monday that a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine recorded a robust immune response in five- to 11-year-olds, and the company plans to seek regulatory approval as soon as possible. Children received two shots, each one-third the dose size given to adults. The findings have not been peer-reviewed, nor published.
For any vaccine to be approved by Health Canada, the manufacturers supply the necessary clinical trial data for review. If the regulator grants approval, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will make a recommendation on their use, but the final decision to deploy the vaccines rests with provincial authorities.
In a statement to The Current, Health Canada said the makers of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are conducting or planning studies in adolescents and younger children, but it has so far not received any submission for the approval of any COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12.
In her work at a vaccine hesitancy clinic in Calgary, Dr. Cora Constantinescu meets parents who are experiencing “a lot of fear and anxiety” around their children potentially getting the vaccine.
“We often have parents who are fully vaccinated themselves, who may be hesitant about their kids,” said Constantinescu, a pediatrician and infectious disease doctor at Alberta Children’s Hospital.
She said that parents talk to her about things they’ve seen online, including “anti-vaccine rhetoric and a lot of misconstrued science.”
In Halifax, Jones said she often hears other parents say they don’t know what’s in the vaccine, so they won’t give it to their kids. When she asks if they knew what was in the vaccines their kids received as babies, the response is usually no, she said.
“I completely respect and understand how there would be some fear associated with it,” she said.
But ultimately, “we trusted our doctors then and we trusted the science then, and we need to do the same with this vaccine.”
How should parents approach vaccine question?
Constantinescu said many parents have seen misinformation on social media, where there is a “huge polarization of the pro-vaccine and the anti-vaccine crowd.”
“The parents are caught in the middle, scared and worried about their kids, trying to make the best decision they can,” she said.
As parents approach the decision, they should consider the dual impact of COVID-19 on children, she said.
“We’re seeing the direct effects of COVID on children, and we know that that can range from mild disease, to respiratory illness, to being hospitalized, having a multi-system inflammation, to ending up in ICU,” she said.
There is also an indirect cost, including mental health issues and issues around socialization, she said.
The news from Pfizer-BioNTech gives her hope that those impacts can soon be addressed, but she warned that the data has not yet been made public, or reviewed by Health Canada.
If it is approved, she said parents should approach the vaccine as an issue of “personal protection first.”
“It’s about protecting their kids directly, looking out for them, and wanting to return them to a normal life,” she said.
‘Pull out all the stops’ to protect kids
Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency physician in Toronto, wants to see a safe vaccine for kids approved and available as quickly as possible.
“I’m calling for all of these processes to be speeded up and done very transparently,” said Pirzada, who is also a co-founder of Masks4Canada, a group that advocates for public health measures to slow the spread of the virus.
He added that more work should be done to reassure parents that the vaccines are safe. He warned that COVID-19 is not harmless to children, and the longer they remain unprotected, the more infections there will be.
In the meantime, vaccination sites and health-care workers could be prepared to ramp the vaccination campaign back up, he said.
“Once that approval comes, we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.”
Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Rachel Levy-McLaughlin, Arianne Robinson and Joana Draghici.
Gold price drops as Powell talks 'gradual' tapering, downplays Evergrande contagion concerns – Kitco NEWS
(Kitco News) The gold market saw its earlier gains reversed as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell talked about “gradual” tapering while downplaying China’s Evergrande contagion effect on the U.S. market.
On Wednesday, the Fed said it may soon start tapering its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases, with central bank officials showing growing support for raising interest rates in 2022.
“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted. These asset purchases help foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses,” the Fed said in a statement.
When clarifying the Fed’s stance at a press conference following the Fed statement, Powell indicated that it would be a “very gradual taper,” which could conclude in the middle of next year.
Powell also pointed out that the central bank has the freedom to speed up or slow down the tapering process as it sees fit. He added that markets should not expect a rate hike while the Fed is still tapering.
Tapering does depend on substantial further progress made by the U.S. economy. And if the economy continues to advance in line with expectations, the Fed could move ahead with tapering at the next meeting.
“For me, it wouldn’t take a knockout [August] employment report. It would take a reasonably good employment report for me to feel like that test is met,” Powell said. “I would say that in my own thinking, the test is all but met. I don’t personally need to see a very strong employment report. Again it’s not to be confused with the test for [rate] liftoff, which is so much higher.”
The Fed Chair was also asked about China’s Evergrande debt issue, which sparked a rout in the markets earlier this week.
“The Evergrande situation seems very particular to China, which has very high debt for an emerging economy,” Powell told reporters. “Corporate defaults in the U.S. are very low right now … You would worry that it would affect global financial conditions through confidence channels.”
When asked about the stock-trading policies for Fed officials, Powell replied that they are “not adequate” and the Fed “could do better.”
Powell noted that it is reasonable for Fed officials not to own the same assets as Fed buys. “We are going to be looking at all those things,” he said.
On the debt ceiling issue, Powell also urged Congress to raise the debt limit in a timely fashion. “It is critically important. Failure to do that is something that could result in severe damage to the economy and financial markets.”
He added that no one should assume Fed can protect the economy if the debt ceiling is not raised.
In response to Powell’s comments, gold saw some losses as markets interpreted Powell’s comments as upbeat when it came to the U.S. economy. At the time of writing, December Comex gold futures were trading at $1,767.20, down 0.62% on the day.
Credit 'Zombies' on the Rise as Real Estate Firms Lead Charge – BNN
As COVID-19 vaccines for kids get closer, experts weigh up how to reassure parents – CBC.ca
For Oilers, Archibald’s selfish anti-vaccine stance is not worth the risk – Sportsnet.ca
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