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US Politics updates: Biden plans to campaign in Georgia for Senate candidates

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Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks and other roles in his administration

The President-elect says he wants a government as diverse as America when he enters the White House. Here are some of his Executive Branch picks.

USA TODAY’s coverage of the 2020 election and President-elect Joe Biden’s transition continues this week as he rolls out his picks for top jobs in his administration and states continue to certify their vote counts. 

President Donald Trump has cleared the way for Biden’s team to use federal resources and get briefings during the transition, although Trump has yet to formally concede the race.

Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the election and the transition.

Pence tells Georgia voters presidential election not over

Vice President Mike Pence on Friday said the presidential election is still undecided as he urged Georgia Republicans to put aside shared “doubts” about how fairly that race was conducted and show up for the state’s Senate runoff elections.

“We’re on ‘em this time,” Pence said. “We’re watching. We’re gonna secure our polls. We’re gonna secure our drop boxes. So get an absentee ballot and vote and vote today.”

Pence has not gone as far as President Donald Trump in falsely claiming the presidential race was rigged.

But he continues to assert that the winner hasn’t been determined.

Read the full story.

– Maureen Groppe

Attorney General William Barr’s chief of staff has resigned as the transition to the Biden administration progresses. Will Levi’s last day is Friday, the Justice Department said.

“Will is a rarity: a brilliant lawyer with common sense, humility, and integrity. For the past two years, he has unstintingly given himself in service to the Department. As both Counselor and Chief of Staff, he handled challenges with remarkable resiliency and humor. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work closely with him, and I know he has a bright future ahead,” Barr said in a statement.

Political appointees typically leave at the end of every administration. But departures in the waning weeks of President Donald Trump’s presidency have caught more attention recently because of the president’s refusal to concede or acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Levi’s departure comes a day after White House communications director Alyssa Farrah announced she is resigning after a 3 ½-year stint in the Trump administration.

Barr appointed Levi as his chief of staff last spring. His grandfather, Edward Levi, served as attorney general under President Gerald Ford, taking over a Justice Department recovering from the Watergate scandal.

– Kristine Phillips

President-elect Joe Biden said Friday he would campaign in Georgia, where two Senate runoff races could determine whether Republicans retain control of the chamber.

Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are each in separate runoff races to hold onto their seats, with voting ending Jan. 5. Vice President Mike Pence campaigned in the state Friday and President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Saturday. “I know we’ve all got our doubts about the last election. And I actually hear some people saying, `Just don’t vote,’ ” Pence said. “If you don’t vote, they win.”

Biden, a former vice president who served 36 years in the Senate, would need Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to win both seats to achieve a Senate with 50 members in each party caucus. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could then cast tie-breaking votes in favor of Democratic priorities.

Georgia has been reliably Republican statewide for decades. But Biden beat Trump in Georgia after he made two campaign stops in the state during the final week of the campaign, and had former President Barack Obama visit.

“Yes,” Biden replied Friday to a reporter’s question about whether he would visit during the runoffs. But he didn’t break stride after a news conference to say when the appearance might happen or where.

– Michael Collins and Bart Jansen

WILMINGTON, Del. – President-elect Joe Biden said Friday that plans for his Jan. 20 inauguration will be scaled back from traditional celebrations and look more like the Democratic National Convention that was held largely online.

Biden said plans are still being developed in consultation with House and Senate leaders who control 200,000 seats for the potential event. But he said decisions would be based on science, to avoid spreading COVID-19.

“It is highly unlikely there will be 1 million people on the mall,” Biden told reporters at The Queen theater, in response to a question from USA TODAY. “I think you’ll see something closer to what the convention was like than a typical inauguration.”

Biden said he expects there will still be a ceremony on a platform on the west front of the Capitol. But he suggested more of the celebrations will be held remotely across the country, rather than in downtown Washington.

“My guess is there will probably not be a gigantic inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Biden said. “I don’t know exactly how it’s all going to work out.”

– Michael Collins and Bart Jansen

WILMINGTON, Del. – President-elect Joe Biden said more must be done to plan the distribution of vaccines for COVID-19 after they are approved, but that his health advisers are developing plans.

“There’s a lot more that has to be done,” Biden told reporters at The Queen theater. “There is no detailed plan, that we’ve seen anyway, about how you get the vaccine out of a container into an injection syringe and into an arm.”

He called the anticipated distribution “difficult and expensive.” He also said it must be equitable, to ensure that communities of color receive vaccinations beyond those distributed through major drugstore chains that might not have offices in all neighborhoods.

Utah officials suggested they could distribute a vaccine easily, Biden said. But the process is “not that easy” in populous states such as California, Texas and Florida, he said.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Biden said.

Biden said he would take the vaccine – along with former presidents – as part of the effort to persuade residents of Black and Latino communities the vaccine is safe.

Coronavirus vaccine: Biden says he will join former presidents in publicly getting COVID vaccine

“I think that my taking the vaccine and people seeing me take the vaccine is going to give some confidence,” Biden said. “It’s going to take some effort to rebuild confidence in science because it’s been so diminished in this administration.”

– Michael Collins and Bart Jansen

WILMINGTON, Del. – President-elect Joe Biden on Friday called a federal report about job growth in November “grim” and said it reflected the economy is “stalling” amid a surge of COVID-19 infections.

“It was grim. It shows an economy that is stalling,” Biden told reporters at The Queen theater. “We remain in the midst of one of the worst economic and jobs crises in modern history.”

U.S. employers added a disappointing 245,000 jobs in November, the Labor Department announced. The figure was about half the 486,000 jobs that economists surveyed by Bloomberg had projected were added last month.

The lackluster report came as Biden said 12 million Americans face the loss of jobless benefits by the end of December. A moratorium on evictions also is scheduled to expire.

“This is a dire jobs report,” Biden said. “We need Congress and the president to act now.”

States are adding restrictions that will hinder economic growth. The number of coronavirus cases surged beyond 277,000 dead and 14 million having been infected. An additional 2,800 deaths daily and 100,000 hospitalizations have been reported this week.

The economy has regained about 11 million jobs lost early in the pandemic in the spring, but economists warn it could take years to restore 9.8 million jobs shed during the crisis.

Congress is considering a $900 billion stimulus, including loans for small businesses and a resumption of federal unemployment benefits, but without direct payments to individuals as happened over the summer. Lawmakers are also negotiating a spending bill to fund the federal government beyond Dec. 11. Both measures could potentially be combined.

But passage of stimulus spending for the pandemic is uncertain because the Democratic-controlled House seeks a larger package than the Republican-led Senate.

“We must get it done before we leave,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Friday. “We cannot leave without it.”

Biden has said any money Congress approves this month would be a “down payment” and he would seek more when he takes office Jan. 20.

“This situation is urgent,” Biden said. “If we don’t act now, the future will be very bleak.”

– Michael Collins and Bart Jansen

Kellyanne Conway, former adviser and White House counselor to President Donald Trump, acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election during an interview with The 19th on Friday.

Conway explained it is Trump’s “right” to exhaust “all of his legal avenues” but “if you look at the vote totals in the Electoral College tally, it looks like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will prevail. I assume the electors will certify that and it will be official. We, as a nation, will move forward, because we always do.”

She added, “You always need a peaceful transfer of democracy, no matter whose administration goes into whose administration.”

Conway, who also served as Trump’s campaign manager in 2016, has been a staunch defender of the president and his administration. She left her position in the White House in August to focus on family, but still remains a prominent member of the president’s inner circle.

Her admission of Biden’s victory is noteworthy, as many of Trump’s allies and those in the White House have not publicly acknowledged his victory as Trump and his legal team continue to challenge election results.

Most of the lawsuits brought forth to challenge the results have been dismissed or rejected due to the lack of evidence to back up the baseless. Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that the Justice Department has not found evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Biden said Thursday night that many Republicans have been calling him privately to congratulate him.

– Savannah Behrmann

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was backing down from months-long demands for trillions in new coronavirus relief to support a $900 billion bipartisan deal because of two things: Joe Biden was elected president and a COVID-19 vaccine is on the way.

“That is a total game changer. A new president and a vaccine,” Pelosi said, adding that some of her objections to the bill are OK because another batch of relief will come once Biden takes office. “We have a new president, a president who recognizes that we need to depend on science to stop the virus.”

The California Democrat has been the lead negotiator for Democrats on another coronavirus stimulus bill and has been firm in demanding a large package of about $2 trillion. She and other Democrats repeatedly rejected smaller bills to replenish some of the most popular programs, such as more funds for a small business loan program and unemployment assistance. Top Democrats even cast aside proposals from within the party to quickly get more aid to Americans. But this week, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., backed a $908 billion proposal offered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate and House, saying it offered a good framework for bipartisan discussions.

Pelosi, asked about the sudden change after months of demands, cut off a reporter’s question and sternly said, “Don’t characterize what we did before as a mistake,” she said. “That was not a mistake. It was a decision. And it has taken us to a place where we can do the right thing without other, shall we say, considerations in the legislation that we don’t want.”

The California Democrat added that she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have had discussions and both support adding a relief package to a must-pass government spending bill, though she noted work needs to be done to come to agreements on both COVID-19 relief and certain provisions in a spending bill.

Time is of the essence, though. The government is set to shut down Dec. 11 if Congress does not pass a spending bill that President Donald Trump will sign and the House is only scheduled to be in session for one more week.

“There is momentum,” Pelosi said, adding that Congress must pass more aid. “We need to do it to save lives and livelihood with the hope that much more help is on the way.”

– Christal Hayes

President-elect Joe Biden on Friday said his administration would be “the most pro-equality administration in history” as he called for a “new era of LGBTQ rights.”

Biden’s comments to the 2020 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference came while honoring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for receiving the LGBTQ Victory Institute’s History Maker Award. He recorded his statement for a panel marking the 10-year anniversary of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about sexual orientation for serving in the U.S. military.

Biden called it an honor for him and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to have campaigned with a record number of LGBTQ candidates.

“It’s an honor to be an ally,” Biden said. “Vice President-elect Harris and I are committed to being the most pro-equality administration in history. But we can’t do it without you and we can’t do it without my dear friend Nancy Pelosi.”

Biden caused a stir as vice president when he supported same-sex marriage in May 2012 before President Barack Obama. The Supreme Court later decided in June 2015 that states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize marriages from other jurisdictions.

“I can’t wait to work together again to continue to fight for full equality and to usher in a new era of LGBTQ rights,” Biden told the group Friday.

– Bart Jansen

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a leader in the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, will join President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

Biden told CNN on Thursday that he asked Fauci to become his chief medical adviser and part of his COVID-19 response team.

“I asked him to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the COVID team,” Biden said.

“Oh, absolutely. I said yes right on the spot,” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” on Friday when asked if he’d taken the role.

Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming White House chief of staff, praised Fauci in a tweet.

“There are few public servants in our history who have served as long and as well and with as much distinction at (sic) Dr. Tony Fauci. It will be a great honor to work with him again,” he wrote.

– Bart Jansen and Sean Rossman

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is set to vote on marijuana legalization at the federal level Friday, the first time either chamber of Congress has voted on the matter.

The bill is likely to pass the chamber, but the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to take up the legislation in the last two weeks Congress is in session this year.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., would remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and expunge some marijuana-related criminal records. It would still be up to states to pass their own regulations on the sale of marijuana.

Nadler told USA TODAY in September the vote on the bill would be a “historic vote” as the federal government put an end to its “40-year, very misguided crusade” against marijuana.

– Nicholas Wu

Vice President Mike Pence returns Friday to Georgia, when he’ll stump for Republicans seeking reelection in the highly watched Senate run-off races there.

Pence will participate in a 3 p.m. EST rally in Savannah. The vice president has campaigned for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who face Democratic opponents Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff on Jan. 5. The races have national significance because if Democrats manage to flip both seats, the Senate would then be split 50-50, giving Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the deciding vote in the chamber.

Pence also will visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to lead a roundtable on the COVID-19 vaccine.

– Sean Rossman

President-elect Joe Biden had a big Election Day in New York. In the final tally, his victory got even larger over President Donald Trump.

The former Democratic vice president picked up 1.5 million additional votes when all the absentee ballots were tallied and final counting was finished.

It ended with Biden getting about 5.2 million votes to 3.2 million votes for Trump, a victory of 60.4% to 37.5%, according to the certified tally approved Thursday by the state Board of Elections.

Biden’s victory in New York bested the nearly 60% of the vote that Democrat Hillary Clinton garnered four years ago against Trump, the native New Yorker, and helped Democrats down ballot in key state Senate races.

Due to a surge in absentee voting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden’s lead swelled in New York, as it had in many states. Biden won the popular vote by more than 7 million votes, according to national totals updated Thursday.

– Joseph Spector (New York State Team – USA TODAY Network)

Source: – USA TODAY

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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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For Trudeau, there's no political reason to fight for Keystone XL – CBC.ca

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After U.S. President Joe Biden moved recently to revoke permits for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “disappointed.”

That was a fairly tepid reaction to losing an infrastructure project billed as a job-generator and an essential prop for a struggling Canadian energy sector.

But Trudeau doesn’t really have an incentive to take on the Biden administration over Keystone because — economic and environmental arguments for and against the project notwithstanding — there simply isn’t much of a political case for fighting for it any longer.

Like Trudeau, most Canadians just want to move on.

A survey by the Angus Reid Institute published on Tuesday found that 59 per cent of Canadians would “accept Biden’s decision on Keystone XL and focus on other Canada-U.S. priorities” if they were in the prime minister’s shoes. Only 41 per cent said they would instead “press for the authorization of Keystone XL above other Canada-U.S. priorities”.

That doesn’t mean Canadians are indifferent, however.

The poll found that 52 per cent of Canadians think Biden’s decision is a bad thing for this country, while just 30 per cent  think it’s a good thing. While there were some regional divides on the issue, pluralities in every part of the country said losing Keystone is bad for Canada.

So Trudeau’s response might have been an accurate reflection of how most Canadians are reacting to the news — with grudging acceptance.

Canadians also might be taking a dim view of the federal government’s chances of convincing the U.S. president to abandon a campaign promise — one that Biden thought was important enough to get out of the way on his first day in the Oval Office.

Biden has his own supporters to think about. So does Trudeau.

Keystone a big issue where Liberals have little support

Among those who voted for the Liberals in the 2019 federal election, 77 per cent of those polled by the Angus Reid Institute said they believed it would best for Ottawa to focus on priorities other than Keystone with Biden. The share of NDP and Green voters polled who felt the same way was even higher — at 81 and 87 per cent, respectively.

Those NDP and Green supporters happen to be the voters the Liberals need on their side to secure a majority government in the next election.

Regionally, the survey shows how the Liberals have little to gain by bringing up Keystone XL again. Only in Alberta and Saskatchewan did a majority of those polled by the Angus Reid Institute say they believe that the defence of Keystone XL should be placed above other priorities.

U.S. President Joe Biden signed his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House on Jan. 20, 2021, including the order revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. (AP)

The Liberals don’t hold any seats in either province. They also don’t have great prospects to change that situation any time soon. The party fell 13 seats short of a majority government in the last election — and not one of the 13 seats the Liberals came closest to winning was located in either Alberta or Saskatchewan.

Those near-miss seats were in Ontario (seven), Quebec (three), British Columbia (two) and Nova Scotia (one) — all provinces where a majority of voters expressed a willingness to let Keystone go.

In fact, the seat the Liberals came closest to winning in Alberta or Saskatchewan last time — Edmonton Centre — would rank just 30th on their list of target ridings based on voting margins in 2019.

It may sound cynical, but when an entire region of the country is no longer politically competitive for a particular party, that party no longer has a strong incentive to compete for those votes.

Canadians want the U.S. relationship to work

And there’s little for Trudeau to gain in picking a fight with Biden.

In the days after the U.S. vote, the Angus Reid Institute found that 61 per cent of Canadians expected Biden’s victory to have a positive impact on U.S.-Canada relations. Just 12 per cent expected the impact to be negative.

More recently, an Abacus Data survey conducted between Jan. 15 and 18 found that 49 per cent of Canadians held a positive impression of Biden and just 16 per cent had a negative one. By comparison, 80 per cent of Canadians polled have a negative impression of Donald Trump, and just nine per cent have a positive view of the ex-president.

Polls indicate Canadians were relieved to see Biden defeat Trump in the November presidential election. The former U.S. president was deeply unpopular in this country and most Canadians are unlikely to perceive the actions taken by the Biden administration as negatively as they viewed the decisions made by Trump — even the ones that could have a bad impact on Canada’s interests.

Preaching to the choir

So this is a relatively easy political choice for the Liberals. The Conservatives are in a trickier position.

According to the Angus Reid Institute poll, 79 per cent of Conservative voters think Keystone XL should be given priority over other issues. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has criticized the Liberals’ “total failure” on Keystone XL. He has not, however, gone as far as Alberta Premier Jason Kenney by calling for retaliatory sanctions.

It’s the duty of the Official Opposition to oppose — but going hard against the Liberals over Keystone is unlikely to appeal to many people outside the Conservative base.

The Conservatives already have 47 of 48 seats in Alberta and Saskatchewan. They need that last seat (Edmonton–Strathcona, occupied by a New Democrat) a lot less than they need to win dozens of new seats across Ontario, B.C. and Atlantic Canada.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole used his first two questions in the first question period of 2021 on the cancellation of the Keystone XL project. (Justin Tang / Canadian Press)

It makes sense for Kenney to go on the offensive against the federal government over Keystone XL, of course. He’s doing what most of his constituents would do in his shoes, according to the Angus Reid Institute poll.

Kenney also needs a political boost. Polls have shown he is now one of the least popular premiers in the country. Since the end of last summer, polls have consistently shown his United Conservative Party either statistically tied with or trailing the opposition New Democrats. The NDP even out-fundraised the UCP last year.

O’Toole doesn’t need to worry about his Alberta flank. But he still used his opening question in the first House of Commons question period of 2021 to needle the government over Keystone XL — on the one-year anniversary of the first recorded case of COVID-19 in Canada, during a week when no vaccines were being shipped into the country.

According to a poll released by Nanos Research this week, 42 per cent of Canadians think the pandemic is the top issue facing the country. Just 12 per cent said it was jobs and the economy. Less than one per cent pointed to pipelines or energy issues.

After the trauma of the Trump presidency, most Canadians appear ready to go along to get along — especially when there are plenty of other things to worry about.

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