I started out doing a short take for today's Squatch's Open Thread about TransCanada's NAFTA challenge, but things rather mushroomed. TC covered TransCanada in his lead article while I chose to take a broader approach.
There are two actions that TransCanada Corp has announced it is taking in regards to the Keystone XL rejection:
- a challenge under NAFTA against the US Government; and
- a lawsuit filed in US federal court in Houston, Texas.
National Post — TransCanada Corp. said Wednesday it intends to file a challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) seeking US$15-billion in damages from the United States government over President Barack Obama’s denial of the Keystone XL pipeline. …
In a 27-page notice of intent to pursue the NAFTA challenge, the Calgary-based pipeline company said Obama’s denial was politically driven, directly contrary to the conclusions of own administration’s studies, and in violation of U.S. obligations under the agreement.
From the Globe and Mail
Toronto trade lawyer Lawrence Herman said …
“I’ve thought for some time that that this was a politicized issue, and there are good arguments that decisions affecting Keystone were based on political considerations. To the degree that that is so, TransCanada has a viable if not a strong case.”
Continuing from the National Post
In addition, the Calgary-based company filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court in Houston claiming Obama’s decision to deny construction of Keystone XL exceeded his power under the U.S. Constitution. …
The lawsuit in Texas does not seek damages, but a declaration that the permit denial is without legal merit and that construction of the pipeline can proceed without further presidential action. …
TransCanada has pondered a NAFTA challenge for some time, but the Texas lawsuit — it names U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell — was not expected.
Some might remember that from the beginning, the Keystone XL and TransCanada Corp have been the focus of much talk, and not just over the water cooler. Here are some of the Politics Plus articles going back to 2011: Keystone XL WOULD Increase Carbon Pollution, Keystone XL Defeated, Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline, New Keystone XL Investigation, Deck stacked for Keystone XL, Keystone Delayed, The Keystone Debacle.
TransCanada has admitted in the past that it substantially inflated employment numbers in the US. During the 2012 election campaign, Republicans were pushing the "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" and invoked TransCanada as a jobs creator saying that there were tens of thousands of jobs. Ib fact there would be a couple thousand temporary construction jobs and less than 100 permanent jobs. Take into account that the EIS at one point was arranged and paid for by TransCanada. Shame on TransCanada for trying to hide that conflict and on the State Department for allowing it. Here's a record of TransCanada's lobbying through the first half of 2013 . . . big money.
In Canada, former PM Stephen Harper and the Conservatives backed the Keystone XL. DeSmog reported:
In October 2013 the Liberal party backed the Keystone XL pipeline and won confidence from oil industry supporters when Trudeau told the Calgary Petroleum Club, “Let me be clear: I support Keystone XL.”
But Trudeau also added, “Perhaps the greatest indictment of the [Conservative] government is this: it has had the better part of a decade to remove the barriers preventing the U.S. from approving this project.”
“The [Conservative government] poked and prodded, annoyed and irritated the Obama administration at every turn. Largely, I suspect, because they don’t know how to work with people who don’t share their ideology.”
… Both Dion and Trudeau indicated that although they support the Keystone XL, they respect the decision-making authority of the Obama administration — something the Harper government continuously strained diplomatic relations by failing to do. During his years of lobbying for the pipeline, Harper forcefully said he wouldn’t “take no for an answer” and called its approval a “no brainer.”
So both Canadian governments ultimately support the pipeline, the former government being more forceful, less respectful.
But there is also another NAFTA challenge that has been before the tribunal since 2013 — Lone Pine Resources Inc. v. Government of Canada. From Global Affairs Canada,
The claimant alleges that LPRC has contractual interests relating to five contiguous exploration licences for petroleum, natural gas and underground reservoirs (“exploration licences”) located near Trois-Rivières [see map below]. These interests stem from a farmout agreement signed with the holder of these exploration licences, a Canadian company named Junex Inc. Four of the exploration licences are located on land and one is located in the St. Lawrence River.
The exploration licence located in the St. Lawrence River was revoked following the coming into force, on June 13, 2011, of a Quebec law titled An Act to limit oil and gas activities (“Act”). The Act revokes exploration licences located in the St. Lawrence River and limits the area of those that cross the water’s edge to their land portion.
The Act was passed in response to the findings of a strategic environmental study on hydrocarbon development in the maritime estuary basin and the northwestern Gulf of St. Lawrence, which concludes that this environment is not conducive to hydrocarbon development activities. This study was preceded by numerous other studies that, since 2003, have been analyzing the impact of hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities on the biophysical and human environment of the St. Lawrence River.
In addition to studies on hydrocarbon development in the St. Lawrence River, the Government of Quebec devotes considerable resources to documenting and assessing the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the shale gas industry. Since February 2011, reports from Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (“BAPE”) and studies conducted as part of strategic environmental studies have been establishing the existence of risks to the biophysical and human environment tied to shale gas development activities involving hydraulic fracturing.
One thing to note, the St Lawrence River freezes each winter westward from Québec City, creating additional risks. You can also review the Lone Pine Resources' challenge at the Council of Canadians website.
Both of these challenges to the sovereignty of our two nations by corporations need to be put in their place . . . in the dumpster. Trade agreements like NAFTA, TPP, TTIP, TISA and CETA are nothing more than corporate power grabs. Where are the people in all these agreements? . . . slaves to corporations.
See lists of NAFTA challenges at the following sources:
- Global Affairs Canada, and
- US Department of State.