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Essential Politics: When national and local collide – Los Angeles Times

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Last week, I wrote about national politics through a California lens. What guided my analysis was the idea that, as the Golden State’s influence increases in Washington, a West Coast point of view could help us untangle issues on Capitol Hill.

But what we didn’t have room to get into was that this exchange of ideas and perspectives goes both ways. California is making its mark on Washington — and the politics of Washington are making their mark on California.

Local races taking on the contours of national politics isn’t a new concept. But if the 2020 national races marked a distinct, rapid change in California’s standing, the change in local politics was just as pronounced.

Local government experts told me they noticed a strong and growing polarization in smaller races, one not unlike the disputes between the center-left and progressive wings of the national Democratic Party. Local candidates were talking about some of the same issues up for debate in national races, and with big backers. In L.A., Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed opposing City Council candidates.

“I’ve been watching this stuff out here for 40 years, and when did I see two gigantic political figures on opposite sides of a city council race?” said Raphael J. Sonenshein, a local government expert who runs the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State L.A.

Ben Tulchin, the San Francisco-based Democratic pollster and strategist whom I spoke to for last week’s newsletter, worked for the Sanders campaign. He said Sanders made local endorsements in 2016 — part of his broader strategy to connect with local voters — but it didn’t make a splash until this year. It was the context of those endorsements that mattered.

So why was 2020 different? My sources point to a few reasons.

National goes local

Trump, Trump, Trump

The Trump era was defined by populism, partisanship and high emotion. Earlier this year, Janet Hook wrote about how the Trump and Biden campaigns were seeing unprecedented levels of engagement from voters: high demand for yard signs, skyrocketing levels of small donations, shattered early-voting records.

But the emotions don’t stop when the race is local. Trump has made his feelings about California and its residents abundantly clear, as well as plenty of other recent issues with local stakes, like mask mandates and mail-in voting.

“He’s helped nationalize a lot of things,” Tulchin said. “With politics these days, it’s Trump, Trump, Trump, all the time.”

Voters have changed, too

Across the country, the middle ground between red and blue has grown smaller with each election cycle. And those voters are increasingly tribal in their approach to politics.

My colleague Mark Z. Barabak wrote last month that in 2016 — for the first time since the direct election of U.S. senators in 1914 — every Senate race went the same direction as the presidential race.

Ticket splitting (when voters select candidates of different parties on their ballots) is increasingly rare, even in 2020. According to Five Thirty Eight’s analysis of election results, House Democrats in California performed only slightly better than Biden, by about 2.8 percentage points — suggesting most voters were content to vote for Democrats.

In fact, with the exception of Senate races in Maine, Nebraska and Rhode Island, most states saw little difference between how down-ballot candidates performed compared with their presidential winner.

Voters are also less informed about their neighborhood elections. Local newspapers and small outlets — the kind that cover your school board, for example — have collapsed or consolidated, and the pandemic has only hastened their demise. Meanwhile, national cable news channels like CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have achieved record ratings under Trump.

Elections collide

Over the last half a decade, election officials on the state and local levels sought to improve California’s voter turnout by moving and consolidating smaller elections. They reasoned that voters would be more willing to cast a ballot in, say, a city council race, if they could also vote for bigger offices like governor or president in the same year, or even on the same ballot.

But moving elections in cities like L.A. to even years also made it much easier for voters and campaigns to form connections — or at least the impression of one — between local and national politics. And it probably pulled local races to the left, Sonenshein said.

Those national connections have become important to voters. Endorsements from big, popular figures such as Sanders become “worth their weight in gold,” said Dan Schnur, who teaches political communications at USC and UC Berkeley.

George Floyd’s death alters the landscape

The police killing of George Floyd didn’t happen in California, but it supercharged local elections.

L.A. is home to some of the most influential voices in the national Black Lives Matter movement.

In the weeks after Floyd’s death in May, protests erupted in California cities. Activists heightened scrutiny of police conduct and deaths linked to it, new and old. Calls for accountability targeted not only law enforcement but Hollywood sets, museums and political candidates, just as campaigning was kicking into high gear.

And then there was backlash to the backlash, as voters weighed local measures to alter police funding, and elected officials sought reform — a similar pattern that played out in cities and communities across the United States.

The result was a dramatic shifting of the political landscape in races for offices such as the Los Angeles County district attorney, where progressive candidate George Gascón went from barely surviving his primary to beating incumbent Jackie Lacey.

Paul Villalobos holds a sign that reads "Impeach Jackie Lacey" on Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles

Paul Villalobos, 28, from Oakland, joins other demonstrators June 3 on Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. Demonstrators demanded justice in the killing of George Floyd and also protested against L.A. Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Let’s talk about that D.A. race

If there was a race to closely examine these competing pressures, it was this one.

It’s local, but it also draws national attention as the largest local prosecutorial office in the country. It was a race between two Democrats — one center-left, one progressive — at a time of party polarization. And the election came at a time of reckoning over policing.

I consulted my colleague James Queally, who writes about crime and policing in Southern California. He spent 2020 closely covering this race and found that even as it took on a national flavor, the politics guiding it retained their local roots.

Our conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

LB: Having closely covered this race, what were your biggest takeaways? Did anything surprise you?

JQ: Given all the unrest this summer surrounding criticism of police force and policing in general, I think the race sometimes got oversimplified to being a referendum on anti-police sentiments. I often talked to people, even prosecutors, who believed Gascón fosters anti-cop sentiments, which is odd given his 30 years spent as a cop. On the other side of things, there were some voters, even some Gascón campaign surrogates, who compared Lacey to President Trump in the waning days of the election. Other than the fact that they both have two eyes and two arms, the D.A. and the soon-to-be-former occupant of the White House have little in common.

Maybe this is the fact that I’m a courts reporter more than a political reporter, but in a race between two supremely qualified candidates with a combined six decades in law enforcement, if I was surprised by anything it was how lowest-common-denominator some of the arguments surrounding the race got to be by the end.

LB: We’ve talked about how the office of Los Angeles County D.A. is unique — it’s kind of a local office, but it has national influence, too. How do you think that positioning affected the race? Has it changed in your time covering it?

JQ: The push to elect more reform-minded prosecutors has been going on for years now, and I think this race gained national attention for a simple and obvious reason: Gascón’s win makes it the largest castle the progressive prosecutor movement has captured.

On top of that, given the office has the power to prosecute officers and deputies involved in fatal shootings in two of the largest police agencies in the state, and that it will be home to some globally watched prosecutions in the coming years (Robert Durst and Harvey Weinstein), I think you’re going to see a lot more national coverage of this office.

LB: You’ve done some reporting on what made Gascón’s campaign successful while Lacey’s fell short. Tell me about some of what you learned. Was it really as ideological as some of those “lowest-common-denominator arguments” made it seem?

JQ: Most of the political consultants seem to think it boiled down to timing.

Once Gascón got to the general, and given what happened over the summer, the race became more about police accountability, and Lacey’s track record on that issue is extremely poor, at least when it comes to fatal use-of-force cases. So, while Gascón was out meeting with the activist groups and younger voters who largely hate Lacey’s guts, she was kind of on the back foot.

Also, in a general election with the president at the top of the ticket, it’s likely the electorate shifted more progressive, tipping in Gascón’s favor.

George Gascón

George Gascón, then a candidate for Los Angeles district attorney, speaks during a drive-in election-night watch party at the L.A. Zoo parking lot.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The view from Washington

— A day after the electoral college formalized Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Biden as president-elect.

— Biden is expected to pick former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg to head the Transportation Department and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as Energy secretary, according to people familiar with the plans.

— Biden spoke at a drive-in rally in Georgia for Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in a sign of how much the state’s politics have changed.

— Could President Trump have done anything to produce a different election outcome? Maybe. It all leads back to March 18, as Trump weighed how to respond to the pandemic, David Lauter writes.

— U.S. Atty. Gen. William Barr, one of Trump’s staunchest allies, is resigning, write Del Quentin Wilber and Eli Stokols. Trump tweeted the news Monday night.

— Though Trump has championed his Space Force, he has done little to ensure it has the funding, staffing and authority to succeed. When he exits the White House next month, the initiative’s trajectory remains unclear, writes Samantha Masunaga.

— Five years after nearly 200 countries agreed to the Paris Accord — and weeks after one dramatic American exit — French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Etienne spoke to Tracy Wilkinson and Anna M. Phillips about the future of the climate accord.

The view from California

— Is Rep. Katie Porter’s progressive victory in Orange County a sign that liberals don’t need to trim their positions to prevail? Or is Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda’s loss in the district next door evidence that they do? As Mark Z. Barabak writes, it’s a tale of two candidates — and two Democratic factions — and neither side is wholly right or wrong.

— The waiting game continues for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Dakota Smith writes. He was rumored to be a contender for U.S. Secretary of Transportation but that nomination has come and gone and the mayor’s name has yet to be called.

— Meet Suely Saro, the first Cambodian American elected official in Long Beach history. Columnist Frank Shyong writes that the city has hosted the nation’s largest concentration of Cambodian American refugees since the 1980s.

— The Los Angeles Police Department’s largest union is looking to raise at least $10 million to fight the cutbacks and support its favored candidates in 2022, write David Zahniser and Richard Winton.

— Frontline California workers could lose protections if Republican efforts to limit corporate liability are included in a new stimulus package, write Sarah D. Wire and Jie Jenny Zou.

Stay in touch

Keep up with breaking news on our Politics page. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

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Until next time, send your comments, suggestions and news tips to politics@latimes.com.

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Facebook will stop recommending political groups permanently – NBC News

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday announced that the company will no longer recommend civic and political groups to its users.

The change comes in the wake of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 

“This is a continuation of work we’ve been doing for a while to turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations,” Zuckerberg said in a call with analysts following the company’s fourth-quarter earnings.

This comes after the company temporarily decided to stop recommending these groups to U.S. users in October in the lead up to the 2020 U.S. elections. 

Additionally, Zuckerberg said that the company is now considering steps to reduce the amount of political content that users see in their News Feed.

“One of the top pieces of feedback that we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services,” Zuckerberg said.

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Politics Briefing: Pfizer presses Health Canada to up vaccine doses from each vial – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Pfizer-BioNTech is pushing Health Canada to amend its COVID-19 vaccine label and formally recognize that each vial contains six doses rather than five, which would allow the company to send fewer vials to Canada but could complicate the vaccination program.

A company spokesperson said that Pfizer submitted a request to Health Canada on Friday to amend the vaccine label. Pfizer’s contract with Canada is based on delivering doses, rather than a set number of vials.

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“Obtaining six doses from the current multidose vial … can help minimize vaccine wastage and enable the most efficient use of the vaccine,” said Christina Antoniou, the director of corporate affairs for Pfizer Canada.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, usually written by Chris Hannay. Kristy Kirkup is filling in today. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

The Canadian Armed Forces is grappling with a surge in the number of troops who have been infected with COVID-19 over the past month, even as a growing number of service members have started receiving vaccinations from the illness.

Police in Newfoundland and Labrador said they arrested a man with a “large quantity” of knives in a parking lot outside an election candidate’s office Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said his campaign has been advised he was likely the intended target.

Newly released figures point to a drop in police-recorded crime during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A lawyer for Hassan Diab says a French appeal court’s order that the Ottawa sociology professor stand trial for a synagogue bombing flies in the face of the evidence. French authorities suspected he was involved in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people and injured dozens of others. Mr. Diab has always denied the accusation.

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Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on why institutional naiveté has been guiding Canada’s COVID-19 response: “The same unyielding faith in goodness that brought us lackadaisical border and travel controls, implicit trust in WHO instructions and a vaccine partnership with a company in China is now asking us to believe that countries will prioritize contracts over their own citizens’ well-being. The federal government has largely relied on “asking nicely” throughout this pandemic. How has that been working so far?”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on why it matters who Canada’s governor-general is: “In such a crisis, we will need a governor-general who is more than a mere symbol or celebrity. We will need someone with the judgment to make the right call, the courage to stick to it under fire, and the qualities of character – dignity, gravitas, integrity – required to rally the public to his or her side. We will need someone capable of protecting the constitutional order from political vandals and opportunists.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on why Jason Kenney’s bet on Keystone was a taxpayer-funded trip to the casino: “Mr. Kenney suffers from “smartest guy in the room” syndrome. He thinks because he can talk fast, and string words together fairly articulately, he’s best suited to determine what’s in Alberta’s best interests. And yet, most of the decisions he’s made since becoming Premier in 2019 have been dreadful, not the least of which was his decision to invest in Keystone.”

Tasha Kheiriddin (The National Post) on why the pandemic is already changing the future of Canadian politics: “One thing is certain: After this pandemic year, politics, like all our lives, will not be the same. We can only hope that these new challenges will spur positive change in the elections ahead.”

John Robson (The National Post) on a year of COVID cluelessness from our esteemed health “experts”: “When a novel coronavirus erupts in the most populated nation on our very connected planet, anyone with half a brain knows the risk of an outbreak in Canada is not low. Or high. It’s 1. On a scale of 0 to 1. As in it will happen. If you heard tomorrow of a new flu strain in China, how would you rank the probability of it turning up here? Or a year ago? So why didn’t they?”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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Pores, Pipes And Politics: The Keys To Blue Hydrogen In Western Canada – Energy and Natural Resources – Canada – Mondaq News Alerts

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Introduction

Hydrogen holds significant promise as an alternative low-carbon
energy source in a range of applications and sectors. Hydrogen is
light, versatile, storable, transportable, and energy dense. At BLG
we advise on the applications of hydrogen in high value sectors
such as transportation, energy and utilities, technology,
agribusiness and infrastructure. We also recognize that the
hydrogen economy will develop uniquely in each industry sector and
geographic region, with available feedstocks, energy inputs,
existing infrastructure and geology influencing each industry and
regional approach.

Blue hydrogen – hydrogen produced from natural gas,
coupled with a carbon capture and storage (CCS) system – has
an advantage in Western Canada, which boasts abundant natural gas
reserves, close and symbiotic industry clusters, existing pipeline
infrastructure, and ideal sequestration geology. Provinces such as
Alberta also have favourable legislative regimes, sophisticated
regulators, and experienced and innovative industry participants to
support the emerging hydrogen economy. With government support,
there will be extensive opportunities for new investment in
hydrogen midstream infrastructure as the blue hydrogen economy
emerges in Western Canada.

What you need to know:

  • Western Canada’s regional
    advantages favour blue hydrogen production
  • Alberta has the natural geology,
    transferable experience and legislative framework to support CCS
    for blue hydrogen
  • Existing hydrogen production and
    transportation infrastructure in Western Canada, along with
    blending opportunities, establishes a foundation for further
    dedicated hydrogen development, but government support and
    political will remain crucial.

Regional advantages

The federal government1 and several provincial
governments2 have recently released hydrogen strategies
analyzing the advantages and opportunities of transitioning toward
a less carbon-intensive economy using hydrogen (see
BLG’s comments in our Hydrogen series
).

Each Canadian region is likely to develop a distinct approach
based on its available feedstocks (natural gas, electricity and
water), energy inputs (natural gas, coal, nuclear or hydro-based
electricity), existing infrastructure (pipelines, electric
transmission) and geology. As the Federal Hydrogen Strategy
recognized, “provincial regulations and policies, resource
availability, geography and climate, infrastructure, and technology
maturity will shape the timing and scale for hydrogen deployment
across Canada.”3

Western blue

In Western Canada, the natural advantage favours blue
hydrogen.

While hydrogen can be produced from a variety of
feedstocks,4 currently the primary source of global
hydrogen production is from natural gas, accounting for
approximately 75 per cent of the annual global dedicated hydrogen
production of approximately 70 millions tonnes
(Mt).5

Canada ranks in the top 10 of global hydrogen producers and
produces about 3 Mt of hydrogen annually (about 8,200 tonnes of
hydrogen per day 6), mainly for industrial
use7 – constituting approximately four per cent of
the global total. Most hydrogen is currently produced in Western
Canada (76 per cent).

Industrial hydrogen is mainly produced from Steam Methane
Reforming, where methane from natural gas is heated with steam and
a catalyst to produce a mixture of carbon monoxide and
hydrogen8.

Steam Methane Reforming is the most cost-efficient means of
producing hydrogen.9 It does, however, generate carbon
emissions. To assist in achieving Canada’s commitments to
reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions by 30 per cent below 2005
levels by 2030,10 and the federal government’s
target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, Steam Methane
Reforming production must be coupled with a CCS system. It is
estimated that life-cycle emissions from hydrogen produced from
natural gas with 90 per cent+ CCS ranges from 2 to 3 CO2e/kg
Hydrogen,11 compared to approximately 9 to 10.7 CO2e/kg
Hydrogen without CCS12.

CCS

a) Natural advantages

Having recognized the necessity of a CCS scheme to support blue
hydrogen production, the location, feasibility and costs of carbon
storage must be considered. Depleted oil and gas reservoirs and
saline formations comprised of porous reservoir rocks saturated
with brackish water or brine can be used for CO2
storage.13 The geology of the Western Canadian
Sedimentary Basin is the ideal location for this, and the
geological characteristics of most depleted oil and gas reservoirs
are well known and documented.

It has been estimated that for blue hydrogen to be the energy
carrier for 27 per cent of Canada’s primary energy demand in
2050, the CCS requirement would be approximately 203 Mt C02 per
year14 (although it is recognized that this is a
theoretical upper bound since such hydrogen production would
consume the equivalent of 72 per cent of Canada’s current
natural gas production). While there are a number of variables
involved, it has been estimated that the practical CO2 storage
potential in all discovered oil and gas reservoirs in Western
Canada ranges from 5 to 10 Gt CO2.,15 and theoretically
as much as 4,000 Gt CO2 in deep saline formations,16
suggesting that the Western Canadian carbon storage capacity is
more than sufficient to accommodate this theoretical upper bound of
blue hydrogen production.

The challenge, however, will be to identify technically suitable
and sufficiently depleted candidate reservoirs so that C02 storage
can be staged with efficient oil and gas reservoir management and
exploitation,17 in locations that are proximate to
hydrogen production sites, and that are not adversely competing or
overlapping with other storage schemes. The candidate sites must
also be “economically viable, technically feasible, safe,
environmentally and socially sustainable and acceptable to the
community.18” This C02 storage potential is the
primary natural advantage for the production of blue hydrogen in
Western Canada.19

b) Related experience

The development of the blue hydrogen economy in Western Canada
will also be facilitated by its experience in similar projects.
Many of the lessons and experiences from existing enhanced oil and
gas recovery schemes and acid gas projects, and comparable
operations such as natural gas storage, confirm that C02 can be
safely injected and stored at appropriate locations. In addition,
technology already used in the oil and gas industry in Western
Canada (such as well drilling technology, liquid waste injection
technology, computer simulation of storage reservoir dynamics and
monitoring methods) can be adapted for long term CCS
programmes.20

In Alberta, the Shell-operated Quest CCS facility has
successfully demonstrated the capture and storage of 5 Mt of C02
over the past five years,21 and the Alberta Carbon Trunk
Line, with the capacity to transport 14.6 Mt per year, is
demonstrating the successful transportation of captured C02 over a
240-kilometre pipeline. In Saskatchewan, the Weyburn and Midale C02
enhanced oil recovery projects, and the Aquistore transportation
and storage projects provide opportunities to test, monitor and
improve CCS schemes.

c) Existing legislative and regulatory regime

Alberta has already articulated a CCS legislative and regulatory
framework which governs pore ownership, injection and long term
stewardship, in addition to establishing detailed regulations for
well construction, operation and abandonment for injection wells
that will be applicable to C02 sequestration operations. This
framework further supports and de-risks the development of the blue
hydrogen economy.

According to the Mines and Minerals Act, 22
(the MMA) the pore space below the surface of all land in Alberta,
other than land owned by the federal Crown, has been declared to be
the property of the Crown in right of Alberta,23 and the
rights for use of the pore space are administered by Alberta
Energy.

Indeed, the Carbon Sequestration Tenure Regulation24
(the CS Tenure Regulation), specifically contemplates a storage
domain for C02 sequestration consisting of pore space contained in,
occupied by, or formerly occupied by, minerals or water within an
underground formation deeper than 1,000 metres below the surface of
the land (at which depth, depending on temperature, the C02 will be
in a dense fluid state).

The CS Tenure Regulation contemplates the grant of evaluation
permits to allow a person to test deep subsurface reservoirs and
evaluate the geological or geophysical properties to determine its
suitability for sequestration of captured C02. The MMA also
contemplates the Minister entering into ‘carbon sequestration
leases,’ granting a person the right to inject captured C02
into a subsurface reservoir for sequestration.25 The
carbon sequestration lease may grant the right to drill wells,
conduct evaluation and testing, and inject captured C02 into the
deep subsurface reservoirs for a 15-year term which term may be
renewed, subject to appropriate monitoring, measurement and
verification plans and closure plans.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the MMA for the economic
prospects of blue hydrogen in Alberta, however, is section 121,
which provides that the Crown will assume long-term liability for
projects involving the sequestration of captured C02, once
abandonment obligations have been satisfied and a closure
certificate has been granted. The effect is that the Crown becomes
the owner of the injected C02, assumes the obligations as
owner/licensee of the wells and facilities,26 as the
“person responsible” for the injected C0227,
as the operator of the lands28 and as the user of the
surface rights, and also releases the lessee from obligations to
indemnify the Crown in relation to the use or drilling of the
injection well29.

The Crown also indemnifies the lessee from damages in a tort
action brought by a third party if attributable to the lessee’s
exercise of rights under an agreement in relation to the injection
of captured C0230. The MMA also establishes a
post-closure Stewardship Fund, into which CCS operators must pay
fees in accordance with the regulations,31 which can be
used for monitoring the injected C02, fulfilling any liability
obligations assumed by the Crown and paying for suspension,
abandonment and reclamation or remediation costs for orphan
facilities. These regulatory and statutory assurances should
improve the long term risk mitigation and storage costs associated
with CCS, thus facilitating blue hydrogen production.

Hydrogen pipelines

Addressing the CCS problem is only one part of supporting the
blue hydrogen economy. The next challenge is providing for the
transportation, compression or liquefaction, storage and
distribution infrastructure for the produced hydrogen. Gaseous
hydrogen is commonly delivered in compressed tube trailers or
cryogenic liquid tankers by truck, rail or barge. However,
transportation by dedicated hydrogen pipelines offers a low cost,
safe option for delivering large volumes of
hydrogen.32

There are a number of technical challenges involved in large
volume hydrogen transportation by pipeline, including the potential
for hydrogen to embrittle the steel and welds in transmission
pipelines,33 aggravating leak and permeation issues, and
the need to improve reliable hydrogen compression to accomplish the
necessary compression ratio.34 These can be addressed by
regulation or by tariff.

There are also economic, regulatory and scale issues. Dedicated
hydrogen pipelines require significant capital investments,
supported by long-term user contracts, and a supportive regulatory
environment, to ensure responsible linear project development and
to promote safe construction, operation and abandonment. It may
also be necessary for public investment into the early stages of
greenfield pipeline construction or brownfield pipeline conversion
projects to ensure the development of a backbone hydrogen
transportation system which provides sufficient scale to be
economically viable and which is openly accessible.

Hydrogen can also be transported in existing natural gas
pipelines by blending it with the natural gas (between 5 and 20 per
cent hydrogen by volume35). This can provide a lower
carbon gas product to consumers, or, in conjunction with downstream
separation and purification technologies, a means of delivering
pure hydrogen to market. Pilot blending projects are ongoing in
B.C., Alberta36 and Ontario. However, because of the
limits on blending and the continuing need for natural gas
pipelines, it is expected that a combination of blending and
dedicated hydrogen pipelines will be required to support the
development of the full Western Canadian hydrogen economy.

Takeaways

There is considerable excitement about the role of hydrogen in
reducing energy carbon intensity. Each region in Canada may develop
its own strategy based on its natural advantages.

In Western Canada, the production of blue hydrogen is supported
by an advantageous CCS environment, including the natural
geological potential of depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline
formations, transferable technology and experience, and a well
articulated legislative and regulatory framework. Existing
pipelines which transport C02, hydrogen and blended hydrogen will
further support a blue hydrogen economy, although additional public
support may be required to ensure sufficient scale.

Footnotes

1 “Hydrogen Strategy for Canada: Seizing the
Opportunities for Hydrogen”, Dec. 16, 2020, (the Federal Hydrogen Strategy).

2 British Columbia ; Alberta; Ontario and Ontario Low-Carbon.

3 Federal Hydrogen Strategy page 74.

4 Including water, electricity, fossil fuels, and
biomass.

5 IEA “the Future of Hydrogen: Seizing
today’s opportunities, June 2019”
(the IEA
Report).

6 Layzell DB; Young C; Lof J; Leary J; Sit, S. 2020.
Towards Net-Zero Energy Systems in Canada: a Key role for Hydrogen.
Transition Accelerator Reports: Vol. 2, Issue
3
(the Transition Accelerator Report).

7 Such as fuel refining and nitrogen fertilizer
production.

8 It is also possible to produce hydrogen using auto
thermal reforming (ATR), which combines SMR with partial oxidation
in a single reactor, coupled with CCS to produce blue
hydrogen.

9 While there is much interest in “green”
hydrogen, which produces hydrogen using renewable energy to
electrolyse water, green energy does not have the production
capacity or cost advantages of blue hydrogen in the near term. For
example, the Transition Accelerator Report estimates that blue
hydrogen can be produced for approximately $1.52/kg to $3.32/kg
compared to approximately $2.24/kg to $5.36/kg for green hydrogen.
Thus, blue hydrogen will retain an advantage until the scale and
costs of green hydrogen permit it to take on a larger role. (See
Transition Accelerator Report, page 44).

10 Canada committed to reducing GHG emissions by 30 per
cent below 2005 levels by 2030 as part of the Paris Agreement with
a 2030 target of 511 Mt.

11 See Transition Accelerator Report, page 9.

12 See Transition Accelerator Report, page
31.

13 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2005: IPCC
Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage. Prepared by
Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
[Metz, B., O. Davidson, H. C. de Coninck, M. Loos, and L. A. Meyer
(eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and
New York, NY, USA, 442 pp (the IPCC Report) – Chapter 5
“Underground geological storage”.

14 Transition Accelerator Report, page 10.

15 IPCC Report Chapter 5 “Underground geological
storage” page 222.

16 IPCC Report Chapter 5 “Underground geological
storage” page 223.

17 IPCC Report Chapter 5 “Underground geological
storage” page 221. “There is uncertainty about when oil
and gas fields will be depleted and become available for C02
storage. The depletion of oil and gas fields is most affected by
economic rather than technical considerations, particularly oil and
gas prices.” Note also that s.39(1.1) of the Oil and Gas
Conservation Act
RSA 200, c.O-6 provides that the Regulator
shall not grant a C02 disposal scheme approval unless it is
satisfied that the injection of the captured C02 will not interfere
with (a) the recovery or conservation of oil or gas, or (b) an
existing use of the underground formation for the storage of oil or
gas.

18 IPCC Report Chapter 5 “Underground geological
storage”.

19 The Federal Hydrogen Strategy notes that “The
production of hydrogen from natural gas via steam methane forming
with CCUS will be constrained by the availability and accessibility
of carbon storage geology. Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan have both
large natural gas reserves and CO2 storage potential making them
favourable for this production pathway.” P. 25.

20 IPCC Report p. 197

21 Quest CCS facility captures and stores five
million tonnes.

22 RSA 2000, c M-17.

23 Section 15.1(1) of the Mines and Minerals Act
RSA 2000, c M-17 declares that: (1) “no grant from the Crown
of any land, … or mines or minerals in any land in Alberta, has
operated or will operate as a conveyance of the title to the pore
space contained in, occupied by or formerly occupied by minerals or
water below the surface of that land; (2) “the pore space
below the surface of all land in Alberta is vested in and …
remains the property of the Crown in right of Alberta,”
whether or not the MMA or an agreement issued under the MMA grants
rights in respect of a subsurface reservoir (for example, storage
rights) or minerals occupying a subsurface reservoir (for example,
mineral rights), whether or not “minerals or water is
produced, recovered or extracted from a subsurface reservoir”;
and (3) Crown title to pore space “is deemed to be an
exception contained in the original grant from the Crown for the
purposes of section 61(1) of the Land Titles
Act
.

24 Alta Reg 68/2011.

25 S. 116 MMA.

26 Under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act. RSA
2000, c O-6.

27 Under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement
Act
RSA 2000, c E-12.

28 Under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement
Act
(ibid).

29 Section 56(2)(a) of the MMA.

30 Section 121(2).

31 Section 122 of the MMA.

32 The Air Products 50 kilometre hydrogen pipeline from
its 150 mmcf/d hydrogen facility in the Industrial Heartland of
Alberta is an example.

33 “Blending Hydrogen into Natural Gas Pipeline
Networks: a Review of Key Issues.” M.w. Melaina; O. Antionia;
and M. Penev. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, March 2013.
Page viii.

34 U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Energy

35 It is noted that the maximum hydrogen blend varies
widely depending on industrial facilities, end user appliances,
pipeline types and ages, and natural gas composition and is subject
to numerous safety and material integrity issues.

36 See for example the Atco Gas and Pipelines Fort
Saskatchewan hydrogen blending project
.

Originally Published by Borden Ladner, January 2021


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