Wednesday, April 23, 2014

You Can't Call It Momentum: Ontario Poll, Not Widely Circulated Yet

Their March poll had the OLP 3 up.  All margin of error stuff.  But note the NDP has lost a couple of points. Can't call that momentum.

Oil By Rail Just Got More Expensive

An account of the feds new rail safety improvements can be found here.  From it:

The federal government wants a three-year phase-out or retrofit of older tank cars that are used to transport crude oil by rail, but will not implement a key TSB recommendation that rail companies conduct route planning when transporting dangerous goods.

As well, certain tankers that Raitt said have "no continuous reinforcement of their bottom shells" will be removed within 30 days, by ministerial order. There are 5,000 of these cars in North America, she said, but could not give a figure of how many are used in Canada.

Raitt was speaking at a press conference in Ottawa Wednesday to announce the changes.

There are 65,000 of the more robust Dot-111 cars in North America that must be phased out or retrofitted within three years if used in Canada, Raitt said, adding, "Officials have advised us three years is doable."  She said she couldn't calculate the cost of the retrofits, but told reporters, "industry will be footing the bill."

Some rough cost estimates:

Retrofitting older cars can cost more than $70,000 each, while new tank cars cost well over $100,000.

If industry is indeed footing the bill, and if we assume about 1/10th of the total number of cars are operating in Canada, then we're talking billions in expenses over the next couple of years.  Which is to say that a standard argument for Keystone XL (and other pipelines)--block them and the product will just get to its destination by other means--is not necessarily true. Drive up the cost of hauling Alberta bitumen by rail, and you can probably drive down the total amount that gets out of the tar sands by that route. It becomes less economical, that is,  to get oil to market on trains if you're not allowed to immolate small towns along the route.

Jonathon Chait On Keystone XL

I've said it before, environmentalists aren't focused on Obama regulations re existing power plants because their role in that fight is largely over.  They did their bit. They won.  Chait acknowledges  this vaguely.  He writes:

I’ve argued that the EPA regulations on existing power plants due to come out this summer are Obama’s chance to fulfill his original climate goals that seemed to slip away when the cap-and-trade bill died in Congress during his first term. That doesn’t mean Obama is destined to succeed. Several things have to go right. First, the regulations have to be good — 200 to 500 metric tons per year is obviously a huge range. Then they have to survive a legal challenge from conservatives.

Yeah but this part of the process is not particularly amenable to mass action of the kind Bill McKibbon and specialize in.  Its a job for regulators and lawyers, the last of which have already done a bang-up job defending the EPA's right to treat C02 as a pollutant from any number of conservative interest groups.  So why not focus attention on new victories--ie shutting down Keystone XL?  And should said regulations come out on the weak side, well I'm sure the environmental movement can walk and chew bubblegum at the same time.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Anti-Wind Forces Vandalizing Property?

The OPP seems to think so.

And its worth noting this statement from Ontario Wind Resistance:

[Editors note: Before everyone jumps to the conclusion that it MUST have been an anti- wind protestor who did this, take a moment to remember other 'incidents' that may or may not have happened: fire in Haldimand, gun in Grey, threatening letters about stakes and farm machinery - all of these looked terrible in the media, pointed the finger squarely at us, and yet nobody was charged...? Really? It could very well be the PRO-wind who did this to make our resistance look bad in the media. Pardon my skepticism, but I'm tired of SLAPP suits and crap like this that are facades that the media falls for every time, to distract from the real destruction happening in our communities by the wind companies.]

So there you have it.  It would nice to get a straight up renunciation of violence from The Resistance, rather than a conspiracy theory. We shall see if they are willing to offer one.

PS.  I wrote about the incident in Gray here.

Update: Tom Adams, a generally speaking honorable man, comes through:

Target Excels... their profferance of electric scooters for disabled customers.  My wife, she of the broken ankle, who I call Gimpy, has been testing these scooters at various department/grocery stores.  The one from Target was promptly delivered, easy to control, and fast.  The one from Luongo's was slow to come and difficult to maneuver.  Luckily, they did not charge for the flowers my wife knocked over.  We have yet to sample the Walmart offering, but my wife suspects that, the aisles being so narrow there, it will be difficult to get her scooter up to full speed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Keystone Delayed!!!

...until after the November U.S. mid-terms.  So probably into 2015!  Although I don't see this as much of a Cdn election issue.  It doesn't really matter what your position is on a decision that's up to the yanks to make.  Which is why I am willing to cut Justin Trudeau some slack on this issue.  What's far more important is where he ends up on the Trans Mountain line.

MPAC Report: Wind Turbines Have NO Negative Effect On Home Values

MPAC is the Municpal Property Assessment Corporation.  They determine what each piece of property in Ontario is worth so that the various local governments can hit you up for taxes.  Several years ago they were asked to do a study to determine what if any effect the placement of wind turbines had on the value of neighboring properties.  They released their report yesterday.  From its executive summary:

I'll give the thing a good read, and may write more on it later.  But this result should be unsurprising.  In almost every case where MPAC has been taken to the Assessment Review Board on this issue, the same determination has been made.  Wind turbines do not bring down the value of adjacent properties.  This one can serve as an example.  What the MPAC study shows is that, overall, their assessors know their job. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

ROFO Campaign Kick-Off Wee Bit Of A Clinker

Let the Globe's Ivor Tossell tell it:

There.  That's a lot easier than actually writing something.

Mark Your Calenders

Summertime and an election is in the air...engineered, perhaps, by an intransigent Andrea Horwath. Victory or Valhalla!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Ontario Poll

From Innovative Research.  Looks like the gas plant fiasco has run out of steam.  And its hard to suggest with numbers like these that Andrea Horwath's NDP has any kind of "momentum". Therefore: a budget deal in the works?  A Spring election averted?  That's how I'm starting to lean.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Because There's A Difference...