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The fraught politics facing Biden’s foreign policy

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For 18 months, Joe Biden was able to contrast his foreign policy with Donald Trump’s by painting in broad brushstrokes. He was in favor of alliances; Trump was opposed to them. He believed in American leadership in the world; Trump thought countries were taking advantage of the United States. Biden championed human rights; Trump sided with the autocrats.

Now that he is president-elect, Biden will need to be more specific about his foreign-policy stance. In many ways, Biden is a known quantity. He has a track record dating back almost five decades. But he will begin his term in a very different world than when he was vice president or a senator. He will face new, substantive challenges, including COVID-19 and a more assertive China. To meet this particularly difficult moment, he will need to master the politics of foreign policy — among different factions within his team, with a potentially obstructionist Republican Senate, and with skeptical American allies.

Biden cannot simply rely on competent technocratic management in foreign policy. His presidency may be the establishment’s last best chance to demonstrate that liberal internationalism is a superior strategy to populist nationalism. He must consider the strategic options generated by an ideologically diverse team, and he has to make big choices that are attuned to the politics of the moment, in the United States and around the world. Such a bold path is not one that a newly elected president with no foreign-policy experience could take. But he can.

To understand how Biden might approach his foreign policy, I spoke with half a dozen Biden advisers and people who worked closely with him in the Obama administration, as well as current and former congressional staff, Trump administration officials, and allied diplomats. I agreed not to identify them by name, to ensure their candor.

Within Biden’s team, an ongoing, but largely overlooked, debate has been brewing among Democratic centrists about the future of U.S. foreign policy. One group, which I call “restorationist,” favors a foreign policy broadly consistent with that of President Barack Obama. They believe in careful management of the post-Cold War order. They are cautious and incrementalist. They will stand up to China but will not want to define their strategy as a great power competition. They maintain high hopes for bilateral cooperation with Beijing on climate change, global public health, and other issues. They support Biden’s idea for a summit of democracies, aimed at repairing democracy and encouraging cooperation, but are wary of an ideological competition between democracy and authoritarianism. They favor a return to the Iran nuclear deal and intend to continue to play America’s traditional role in the Middle East. They generally support free-trade deals and embrace globalization.

A second group, which I call “reformist,” challenges key orthodoxies from the Obama era. Philosophically, these advisers believe that U.S. foreign policy needs to fundamentally change if it is to deal with the underlying forces of Trumpism and nationalist populism. They are more willing than restorationists to take calculated risks and more comfortable tolerating friction with rivals and problematic allies. They see China as the administration’s defining challenge and favor a more competitive approach than Obama’s. They view cooperation with other free societies as a central component of U.S. foreign policy, even if those partnerships result in clashes with authoritarian allies that are not particularly vital. They want less Middle East involvement overall and are more willing to use leverage against Iran and Gulf Arab states in the hopes of securing an agreement to replace the Iran nuclear deal. They favor significant changes to foreign economic policy, focusing on international tax, cybersecurity and data sharing, industrial policy, and technology, rather than traditional free-trade agreements.

Biden’s worldview is broad enough to be compatible with the restorationist and reformist schools of thought. He obviously trusts many of Obama’s senior officials and is proud of the administration’s record. At the same time, he chafed against Obama’s caution and incrementalism — for example, Biden wanted to send lethal assistance to Ukraine, when Obama did not. Biden has spoken more explicitly than Obama about competition with China and Russia, and he favors a foreign policy that works for the middle class. It is important to note that the legitimate and substantive disagreements between restorationists and reformists are between people who get along with each other. Restorationist sounds pejorative in the sense that the term looks backward, but it is not intended to be. Obama’s foreign policy was successful in many respects, and the case for restoring it is reasonable, as is the case for significant departures from it. Some officials are also restorationist on particular issues and reformist on others.

The progressives who staked out new ground on foreign policy during the primary campaign will be a significant force inside the Democratic Party in a Biden administration. Progressives believe foreign policy should primarily serve domestic economic and political goals. They are skeptical of high defense spending and want to demilitarize U.S. foreign policy, but they are also alarmed by the rise of autocracy globally and want to push back against it. Several Biden advisers, in particular Jake Sullivan and Tony Blinken, made a special effort to engage progressives from the Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders campaigns after the primary. Now that the election is over, progressives mainly focused on domestic politics are very much inside the tent shaping Biden’s economic agenda, but some foreign-policy progressives have adopted a more confrontational approach toward the Biden team, hoping to pressure it from the outside on China, Iran, and defense spending.

Biden should see these contrasting perspectives as assets, and proactively create a team that reflects the broader foreign-policy debate and avoids groupthink. But he will need to actively manage the different views. He should start by learning lessons from Obama. In late 2012, Obama chose John Kerry to be his second secretary of state because he was the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was an old political ally, and was widely perceived to be the most logical candidate. Obama’s signature foreign-policy accomplishment in his first term was the pivot to Asia away from the Middle East, but Kerry wanted to pivot back. Obama returned to a Middle East-centric State Department, seemingly without intending to do so. Blinken, then Kerry’s deputy, was left to manage America’s alliances in Asia—something that he did effectively and that might fall to him now.

Similarly, Biden could unintentionally create a uniformly Obamian worldview in his national-security team, unless he purposefully decides to go another route. Biden’s governing goal should be a genuinely intellectually honest process in which fundamental assumptions and policies of restorationist, reformist, and progressive ideas are constantly stress-tested and assessed with an open mind. This process needs to be outcome-oriented and not devolve into the “more meetings” mindset that creates gridlock and trends toward the lowest common denominator. Biden needs a variety of strategic choices. As a seasoned foreign-policy leader, he is ideally positioned to adjudicate this debate and to choose among the options that it will present.

Biden should certainly entrust senior positions to people who tend toward the Obamian worldview, but he should also find roles for people who might advocate for a new direction, including Pete Buttigieg, Senators Chris Coons and Chris Murphy, and former officials Jake Sullivan, Toria Nuland, Kurt Campbell, and others who have written or spoken in favor of major policy changes since 2016. Sullivan is likely to take a domestic-policy job, but given his role in developing reformist ideas over the past four years, it is important that he also remain an influential voice on national security, and he is well positioned to help connect the domestic to the foreign. Given the substantive nature of the debate thus far and that it has generally been amicable, an ideologically diverse Cabinet should bring out the best in all factions, sharpening thinking and policy options.

Biden will need a variety of ideas because he faces significant political challenges at home. By any metric, Biden certainly has a mandate. He won 306 electoral votes and more popular votes than any president in history. However, the election was not the sweeping repudiation of Trump that Democrats craved. Trumpism has not gone away and instead appears to have transformed the Republican Party into a force for populist nationalism, including hostility toward international cooperation and skepticism about alliances.

The Republicans are well positioned to retain control of the Senate following the two runoffs in Georgia in January. If Mitch McConnell reprises the obstructionist role he played in the Obama administration, he could kill Biden’s domestic agenda on arrival. Many Biden Democrats believe that a successful foreign policy requires rejuvenation at home, so McConnell’s tactics may be a big problem. Republicans will likely put Biden’s nominees through intensive hearings, and they may be willing to reject appointees, particularly at the subcabinet level.

All Democrats and many Republicans agree on the need to repair and strengthen America’s alliances and partnerships, but this is more complicated than the campaign rhetoric made it appear. The year 2021 will not be like 2009, when Obama was widely greeted as a conquering hero, winning the Nobel Prize after less than a year in office, simply because of what his election signified. The world is a less cooperative and liberal place today. Just consider the rise of nationalist-populist governments in Brazil and India and the erosion of democracy in Turkey and Hungary.

America’s closest allies will all work with Biden and welcome the end of Trump’s erraticism, but they have lingering doubts about where things are headed. The Australian and Japanese governments, for example, are quietly concerned about Biden’s approach to China and are watching his early appointments very closely. The French worry that Democrats will leave Europe high and dry as they try to withdraw from the Middle East and from the war on terrorism more broadly so that they can pivot to the China challenge. The British are wondering whether Biden will invest in their special relationship, given that he opposed Brexit. Several officials I spoke with from America’s allies in Europe and Asia have reservations about the planned summit of democracies that Biden made a centerpiece of his election. They worry that the meeting could become an end in itself and be too inwardly focused and beset by problems about which countries qualify as democracies.

So how should Biden navigate this complicated landscape? Although he is absolutely right to claim a mandate and to convey optimism about the future, Biden must also be cognizant of the precariousness of his liberal-internationalist worldview. Liberalism is under siege at home and abroad. It will not automatically endure.

In COVID-19, Biden will inherit the greatest international challenge facing the United States since the height of the Cold War. The pandemic is a moment of global reordering — not to deal only with the coronavirus but also the underlying issues it revealed, including an uncooperative China and the vulnerabilities of interdependence. Biden must be ambitious at home and abroad, because these realms are inextricably linked. The tricky part is that he must construct a bold policy within the political constraints of Washington, where Democrats may not carry the Senate.

Biden should use competition with China as a bridge to Senate Republicans. Their instinct may be obstructionist, particularly because Trump is pressuring them not to recognize Biden’s win as legitimate, but many of them also know that the U.S. cannot afford four years of legislative gridlock if it is to compete with China. A number of Republican foreign-policy experts pointed out to me that some senators, including Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz, may be out for scalps, but that others, including Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, and Dan Sullivan, are mainly interested in the substance of Biden’s foreign policy, especially toward China. Biden, then, can use competition with the country to gain support for other political measures.

He can create goodwill with some of these Republicans by, in the first few weeks of his term, supporting pending legislation on investments in the semiconductor industry and 5G infrastructure, appointing assistant secretaries for Asia at the State Department and the Pentagon who can easily win bipartisan support, and showing that he is serious about using the Treasury and Commerce Departments to compete with China.

These efforts would lay the groundwork for crucial elements of Biden’s Build Back Better domestic program: targeted infrastructure investments, including clean technology; an industrial policy to compete with China on 5G, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence; a limited and strategic decoupling from China in certain areas; and bolstering the resilience of the U.S. economy to external shocks, which would include making supply chains more secure.

Although some in Biden Land support this bipartisan give-and-take, others, including many of the restorationists, are very skeptical of using competition with China as a framework for U.S. foreign and domestic policy. Some also have substantive reservations about any decoupling from China. They expect China to reach out for a reset early in 2021—probably regarding the pandemic and climate change—and would like to explore opportunities for cooperation. Foreign-policy progressives are also generally opposed to building Biden’s foreign policy around competition with China, believing that the strategy risks creating a Cold War.

These restorationist and progressive fears are overblown. Almost all of these early measures are about enhancing domestic competitiveness, not engaging in an arms race or a clash of civilizations. Indeed, Elizabeth Warren advocated for domestic reforms to compete with China during her presidential campaign. Domestic progressives are much more inclined than their foreign-policy counterparts to support this conceptual framework if it unlocks the politics of an ambitious domestic agenda, which will include new jobs through investments in clean technology—a vital part of a climate policy.

Getting serious about competing with China is also justified on the merits. Xi Jinping’s China has become more dictatorial and aggressive. Even the European Union, which is about as benign a geopolitical actor as China could hope for, has all but given up hope that engagement and cooperation will change China or fundamentally moderate its behavior, even on shared interests such as global public health. Cooperation with China on shared interests should occur, but we need to be realistic about the limits. To prevent competition with China from spiraling into outright confrontation, Biden should situate the strategy as part of a larger affirmative vision for strengthening the free world. This policy would include making free societies more resilient to external shocks such as pandemics and economic crises, fighting corruption and kleptocracy, standing up to autocratic countries that try to bully or coerce democracies, and combatting democratic backsliding. This approach would be more effective than organizing a global summit of democracies.

The inescapable political reality in Washington is that competition with China is the only way to persuade a Trumpian Republican Party of the benefits of international cooperation—whether through alliances providing a counterweight to Chinese power, through vying with China for influence inside international institutions, or through relying on international law to prevent Chinese revisionism in the South China Sea. Without the China component, Biden has no hope of creating any kind of domestic consensus around internationalism.

After addressing the China issue, Biden should shockproof U.S. foreign policy against the return of Trumpism in 2025. Republican senators may hope to harness populism for future elections, but they are, for now at least, committed to America’s alliances. Why not codify their support by introducing legislation that requires congressional approval if the United States is to leave NATO? Biden could proactively build redundancy into the alliance system by supporting EU security and defense cooperation, even if the action risks a duplication with NATO. Biden should also press Congress to enact new commonsense restraints on presidents—for instance on their ability to circumvent the confirmation and security-clearance procedures for appointees—to prevent a recurrence of Trump’s abuses of power. On climate change, he must prioritize carbon-emission cuts at the state and city levels, which are less likely to be stopped or reversed by Congress.

In managing relationships with allies, Biden cannot rely only on shared problems to bring them closer. He must also engage these leaders on their terms, paying special interest to their political situation and priorities. It would be a disaster if France were to fall into the hands of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in 2022, so Biden should bolster President Emmanuel Macron, including by showing solidarity with France in the face of a domestic terrorism threat. He should make a genuine effort to help Britain succeed after leaving the EU, as long as it respects its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement. And finally, a bipartisan consensus on China will reassure Japan and Australia.

Managing nondemocratic allies—including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Hungary, and the Philippines—is more difficult. They will try to put him in a vise by flirting with Russia and China. Biden won’t succeed by appealing to the better angels of their nature, and he cannot be tricked into thinking that America needs these regimes more than they need America. Biden must be feared by the so-called strongmen before he can be respected by them. He must show that he is willing to push back and that he can wield power and generate leverage more effectively than Obama. He must introduce red lines that cannot be crossed. Only then can transactional cooperation on matters of mutual interest really occur.

Biden’s election is a reprieve from Trumpism. Whether that break is permanent or temporary depends very much on the choices that Biden makes. Biden must act with a degree of urgency and boldness to demonstrate that his brand of liberal internationalism effectively addresses the real concerns and anxieties Americans have about the world.

Source;- Brookings Institution

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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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