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Teck withdraws application for Frontier oilsands mine, citing debate around climate policy – CBC.ca

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Vancouver-based Teck Resources has withdrawn its application to build a massive oilsands project in northern Alberta.

The federal government was slated to make a decision on whether or not to approve the $20.6-billion, 260,000-barrel-per-day Frontier project next week.

Sources close to the project confirmed to CBC News the application was withdrawn.

“We are disappointed to have arrived at this point,” CEO and president Don Lindsay wrote in a letter addressed to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, posted to the company’s website Sunday evening. “Teck put forward a socially and environmentally responsible project that was industry leading and had the potential to create significant economic benefits for Canadians.”

Lindsay wrote that customers want policies that reconcile resource development and climate change — something that Canada has yet to achieve.

“Unfortunately, the growing debate around this issue has placed Frontier and our company squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved. In that context, it is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project,” he wrote.

Company isn’t shying from controversy, CEO says

But, he said he wanted to make it clear the company isn’t shying away from controversy.

“The nature of our business dictates that a vocal minority will almost inevitably oppose specific developments. We are prepared to face that sort of opposition,” he wrote. “Frontier, however, has surfaced a broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it. It is our hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward.”

Following Teck’s announcement, Wilkinson and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan confirmed in a joint statement that cabinet will no longer be making a decision on the project.

“As Teck has rightly pointed out, and as many in the industry know, global investors and consumers are increasingly looking for the cleanest products available and sustainable resource development,” the statement read.

The ministers wrote that Teck had done leading work on Frontier, including efforts to engage with local Indigenous communities.

“Their model should be an example for all proponents of future projects,” the statement read.

The news came just hours after the Alberta government announced it had struck deals with two First Nations over the proposed project, which would have been located 110 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

The province said the agreements with the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations address bison and caribou habitats and protect Wood Buffalo National Park. 

In July 2019, a joint federal-provincial review panel recommended the mine be approved, saying the economic benefits outweighed what it described as significant adverse environmental impacts. 

Teck’s website states the project would have created 7,000 construction jobs, require up to 2,500 workers to operate, and bring in more than $70 billion in government revenue.

But the project was expected to produce about four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year over its 40 year lifespan, and disturb 292 square kilometres of pristine wetlands and boreal forest — although that whole area wouldn’t be mined at once.

“The promise of Canada’s potential will not be realized until governments can reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development,” Lindsay wrote. “Without clarity on this critical question, the situation that has faced Frontier will be faced by future projects and it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, pictured in this file photo, pinned the blame for the project’s cancellation on Ottawa. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Premier blames Ottawa’s response to blockades

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney described Teck’s announcement as a grave disappointment for Albertans, but said it didn’t come as a surprise.

“It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority,” Kenney said in an emailed statement, pointing to what he described as weeks of federal indecision on blockades in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

“The timing of the decision is not a coincidence. This was an economically viable project, as the company confirmed this week, for which the company was advocating earlier this week, so something clearly changed very recently.”

The premier wrote that the province agreed to federal requests and conditions for approving the project.

“The factors that led to the today’s decision further weaken national unity.… We did our part, but the federal government’s inability to convey a clear or unified position let us, and Teck, down,” Kenney said.

Keith Stewart, senior energy analyst with Greenpeace Canada, said he was surprised by Teck’s decision to withdraw the project but believes it is the right one.

“This project never made economic sense; it didn’t make climate sense; it wasn’t really going to happen,” Stewart said in an interview.

“So I’m glad that we can now actually focus on real projects that will create good jobs in Alberta, across the country, fighting climate change.

Stewart said the decision is evidence that investors are increasingly not only concerned about climate change but putting their money where their mouth is.

“This was a project that might have made sense 10 years ago. It certainly doesn’t today,” he said.

On Friday, Teck released disappointing fourth quarter results, saying global economic uncertainty negatively impacted commodity prices.

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COVID-19 antiviral pill on its way across Canada, as some hospitalizations dip – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Alanna Smith, The Canadian Press


Published Wednesday, January 19, 2022 2:47PM EST


Last Updated Wednesday, January 19, 2022 5:07PM EST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the first shipment of an oral COVID-19 pill is making its way across Canada but is no substitute for vaccination against the rapidly spreading virus.

The entire northern Quebec region of Nunavik is on “red alert” with more than half of its 14 Inuit communities struggling with high viral transmission.

Other provinces and territories are bracing for a peak in the pandemic’s fifth wave with hospitalizations beginning to level out.

The antiviral drug Paxlovid is meant to protect against hospitalization and death. Canada has purchased one million courses for delivery this year.

“It’s important to remember that this will be a powerful tool to continue to keep people from people getting extremely sick but it needs to be used right,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

“It’s not a replacement for getting vaccinated, for wearing masks, for staying safe, for keeping your distance.”

The Omicron variant-fuelled fifth wave appears to be peaking in some provinces, while others warn the worst is yet to come.

Quebec reported its lowest daily increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations with a rise of eight, bringing the total to 3,425 people in hospital. It also saw a slight decline in intensive care patients.

In Nunavik, a curfew is in effect and all non-essential public places are closed with private indoor gatherings banned.

Meanwhile, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are “glimmers of hope” that COVID-19 cases will peak this month with hospitalization and intensive care admissions to follow.

The province recorded a small dip in the number of people with COVID-19 in hospital to 4,132 patients from 4,183, as intensive care patients rose by eight to 589. Fifty-nine new deaths were also reported.

Many types of Ontario businesses continue to be closed under public health restrictions, but Premier Doug Ford said to expect a “positive” announcement on measures later this week.

In British Columbia, some businesses are eligible for a financial boost from the province as they are forced to stay closed for at least another month to curb COVID-19 spread.

Places such as event venues, bars and nightclubs that don’t serve meals can now apply for grants of up to $20,000. Businesses that have been able to reopen can claim up to half that amount.

Manitoba’s top doctor said Wednesday the Omicron wave could peak soon, as the province logged a slight increase in hospitalizations and intensive care cases.

“Looking at other jurisdictions … it would be reasonable to expect that peak in the near future if we maintain the same trajectory,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, adding “it’s a little early to consider.”

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan is bracing for a tide ofCOVID-19 hospitalizations and absences among workers until mid-February,while more than 1,600 volunteers have answered a call from New Brunswick for pandemic assistance.

A surge of hospitalizations and a shortage of health-care staff led New Brunswick to ask people to help with clinical or non-clinical work, such as vaccine administration.

Almost 350 workers were isolating Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19. New Brunswick has a record 123 people in hospital with COVID-19.

Prince Edward Island announced new restrictions this week to protect its health system. Nova Scotia, meanwhile, was the only Atlantic province to return to in-person learning at public schools this week.

Alberta is seeing hospitalization rates rising to levels not seen since mid-October. As case rates continue to climb, one of its largest school boards is asking the government to open vaccine clinics in schools.

Edmonton Public Schools said more than 5,000 of its students were absent Tuesday due to COVID-19 – about five per cent of its total student population.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2022.

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Airlines cancel some flights after reduced 5G rollout in U.S. – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Jon Gambrell And David Koenig, The Associated Press


Published Wednesday, January 19, 2022 11:20AM EST


Last Updated Wednesday, January 19, 2022 6:00PM EST

DALLAS (AP) – Some flights to and from the U.S. were canceled on Wednesday even after AT&T and Verizon scaled back the rollout of high-speed wireless service that could interfere with aircraft technology that measures altitude.

International carriers that rely heavily on the wide-body Boeing 777, and other Boeing aircraft, canceled flights or switched to different planes following warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Chicago-based plane maker.

Airlines that fly only or mostly Airbus jets, including Air France and Ireland’s Aer Lingus, seemed relatively unaffected by the new 5G service.

Airlines had canceled more than 250 flights by midafternoon Wednesday, or 3% of the U.S. total, according to FlightAware. That was far less disruptive than during the Christmas and New Year’s travel season, when a peak of 3,200, or 13%, of flights were canceled on Jan. 3 due to winter storms and workers out sick with COVID-19.

A trade group for the industry, Airlines for America, said cancellations weren’t as bad as feared because telecom providers agreed to temporarily reduce the rollout of 5G near dozens of airports while industry and the government work out a longer-term solution.

At O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Sudeep Bhabad said his father-in-law’s flight to India was cancelled.

“They have to resolve this problem,” Bhabad said. “It would have been a lot better if they had resolved it way before and we knew this in advance, instead of, like, finding out when we are here at the airport.”

Similar mobile networks have been deployed in more than three dozen countries, but there are key differences in how the U.S. networks are designed that raised concern of potential problems for airlines.

The Verizon and AT&T networks use a segment of the radio spectrum that is close to the one used by radio altimeters, devices that measure the height of aircraft above the ground to help pilots land in low visibility. The telecoms and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which set a buffer between the frequencies used by 5G and altimeters, said the wireless service posed no risk to aviation.

But FAA officials saw a potential problem, and the telecom companies agreed to delay their rollout near more than 80 airports while the agency assesses which aircraft are safe to fly in proximity of 5G, and which will need new altimeters.

At the moment, close to 40% of the U.S. airline fleet lacks FAA approval to land in low-visibility near 5G signals. The FAA said it recently cleared five more models of altimeters, including three on Wednesday.

“I assume whatever process they are using could be used to clear the rest,” said Randall Berry, a professor of electrical engineering at Northwestern University.

The Boeing 777 isn’t the only aircraft using altimeters awaiting approval from the FAA, and not all 777s have altimeters that are incompatible with 5G, according to the FAA.

The FAA says there are several reasons why the 5G rollout has been more of a challenge for airlines in the U.S. than in other countries: American cellular towers use a more powerful signal strength than those elsewhere; the 5G network operates on a frequency closer to the one many altimeters use, and cell tower antennae point up at a higher angle.

Some experts say poor coordination and cooperation among federal agencies is as much to blame as any technical issues.

“The fights around this from federal agencies have just gotten more and more intense,” said Harold Feld, an expert on telecom policy at the advocacy group Public Knowledge.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it wasn’t aware of any problems on the continent caused by 5G interference. To mitigate airline interference, French telecom providers reduce the strength of their high-speed networks near airports.

Boeing Co. said in a statement it would work with airlines, the FAA and others to ensure that all planes can fly safely as 5G is rolled out.

In the meantime, airlines scrambled to adjust to the new reality.

Emirates, which relies heavily on the 777, halted flights to several American cities on Wednesday, but maintained service to Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our U.S. services as soon as possible,” the state-owned airline said.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates, pulled no punches when discussing the issue. He told CNN it was “one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible” situations he’d ever seen as it involved a failure by government, science and industry.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways canceled 20 flights to cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, while Japan Airlines said it will stop using the 777 in the continental U.S. for now. Eight of its flights were affected Wednesday.

Air India announced on Twitter it would cancel flights to Chicago, Newark, New York and San Francisco because of the 5G issue. But it also said it would try to use other aircraft on U.S. routes – a course several other airlines took.

Korean Air, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific and Austrian Airlines said they substituted different planes for flights that were scheduled to use 777s. Germany’s Lufthansa swapped out one kind of 747 for another on some U.S.-bound flights.

Choi Jong-yun, a spokeswoman of Asiana Airlines, said the company hasn’t been affected so far because it uses Airbus planes for passenger flights to the U.S.

However, Choi said airlines have also been instructed by the FAA to avoid autopilot landings at affected U.S. airports during bad weather conditions, regardless of plane type. Asiana will redirect its planes to nearby airports during those conditions, she said.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement that the 5G “deployment can safely co-exist with aviation technologies in the United States, just as it does in other countries around the world.” However, she urged the FAA to conduct its safety checks with “both care and speed.”

Gambrell reported from Dubai. Associated Press video journalist Teresa Crawford in Chicago and AP writers Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo, Ken Moritsugu in Beijing, David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Angela Charlton in Paris, Kelvin Chan in London and Isabel DeBre in Dubai contributed to this report.

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Airlines say Canadian flights unaffected by turmoil over 5G wireless launch in U.S. – CTV News

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MONTREAL –

Canadian airlines say flights to the U.S. remain unaffected by the rollout of new 5G wireless technology.

Several international airlines cancelled flights to the United States this week over concerns that 5G mobile phone service could interfere with aircraft technology.

On Wednesday, telecommunications giants Verizon and AT&T announced last-minute delays to the service launch near key U.S. airports — the latest of three postponements since early December — after U.S. carriers warned that the wireless frequency could cause widespread flight disruptions.

Critics say the new C-band 5G service operates in a frequency range that could interfere with airplane radio altimeters, which measure an aircraft’s height above the ground and help pilots land in low visibility.

Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Inc. say no flights to the U.S. have been cancelled due to the issue.

Last fall, the federal Industry Department established protective measures, including so-called exclusion zones near airports, to reduce any interference with radio altimeters while allowing deployment of 5G systems in the 3,500-megahertz band in Canada.(The planned 5G rollout by American telecoms falls between 4,200 and 4,400 megahertz.)

It also imposed a “national antenna down-tilt requirement” on telecoms to protect helicopters and planes used in low-altitude military and search and rescue operations as well as medical evacuations, “which by nature do not fly predictable routes into and out of major airports,” the department’s Nov. 18 decision reads.

“It is expected that as new information and studies become available, and as new radio altimeter standards are developed internationally, these measures may be modified or relaxed well within the 20-year term of ISED’s 3,500 MHz licenses,” Industry Department spokesman Hans Parmar said in an email.

John Gradek, head of McGill University’s aviation management program, says 5G networks in Canada run at lower wireless speeds that would not interfere with landings, and that only some older planes whose technology has not been upgraded pose a risk.

“The question you have to ask yourself is, are the airlines investing in what I would call hardening the radio altimeter equipment so it no longer gets interfered with by C-band 5G?” he said in a phone interview.

“People knew this was coming. The airlines could have done something to invest in their airplanes to get the equipment in place, but they have not. We all know it’s money — airlines are kind of short on money these days.”

On Wednesday, Emirates announced it would halt flights to several U.S. cities due to “operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the U.S. at certain airports.” It said it would continue flights to Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

Emirates president Tim Clark pulled no punches when discussing the issue. He told CNN it was “one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible” situations he’d ever seen as it involved a failure by government, science and industry.

Of particular concern appears to be older Boeing 777 wide-body jetliners. Emirates only flies that model and the Airbus A380 jumbo jet — and it was among one of the most affected airlines.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways cancelled 20 flights to cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration “indicated that radio waves from the 5G wireless service may interfere with aircraft altimeters,” the carrier said. Along with Japan Airlines, it said Boeing announced restrictions on airlines flying its 777s.

Air India also announced on Twitter it would cancel flights to Chicago, Newark, New York and San Francisco because of the 5G issue. But it also said it would try to use other aircraft on U.S. routes — a course several other airlines took.

In Canada, the industry and transport departments are working with the telecom and aviation sectors “to ensure that appropriate rules are in place to protect the critical operations of radio altimeters” and minimize potential interference, Transport Canada spokeswoman Sau Sau Liu said in an email.

Transport Canada also issued a civil aviation alert on Dec. 23 offering recommendations on how to fly an airplane “in a 5G environment,” she noted.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2022.

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