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Alberta

Where Iron and Earth Meet – Oil & Gas Workers for Renewable Energy

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Iron and Earth is a Canadian non-profit organization led by oilsands workers who advocate for a balanced approach towards a green energy transition. The organization was founded in 2015 during the economic crisis that led to the termination of thousands of oil and gas workers nationwide. It began as a collective of boots-on-the-ground employees who had experienced the hard times brought on by the boom-bust nature of the oil and gas industry, and wanted to be a part of the movement to diversify and build resilience in Canada.

According to the Iron and Earth mission statement, Where Iron and Earth Meet, “There’s a place for the oilsands, and there’s a place for renewable energy. The intention is not to shut down the oilsands, but to see they are managed more sustainably while developing our renewable energy resources more ambitiously.” 

Dialogues surrounding sustainability and diversification often place renewable energy alternatives at odds with the oil and gas industry, with little room for productive discussion. Iron and Earth provides a platform for oilsands workers, business owners, non-profits, politicians and consumers to meet at the same table and collaborate effectively to build a more sustainable future for all Canadians. Rather than contribute to divisive narratives that position oil and gas and renewable energy as mutually exclusive industries, Iron and Earth advocates for a balanced approach towards diversification, sustainability and a renewable transition.

“Iron and Earth is proof of the dichotomy of people working in the oil and gas industry who care about the environment very, very much,” says Bruce Wilson, board member for Iron and Earth. “There is a diverse array of political affiliations and backgrounds within the organization, from individuals presently working in oil and gas to those who have recently transitioned, to those who have never worked in the industry at all.” Wilson joined Iron and Earth in 2018 after more than 30 years in the oil and gas industry, including 17 years with Shell International. 

By focusing on industry overlaps, Iron and Earth highlights the ways in which fossil fuels and renewable energy can be beneficial, reinforcing sectors that can produce positive outcomes for the Canadian workforce and the global climate crisis. “Fortunately for many of the workers who are affected by the ongoing boom and bust cycles of the oilsands, many renewable energy jobs require the same skills and tradespeople that are currently working in the Canadian oil and gas industry” (1).

Iron and Earth streamlines the transfer of skills between industries by offering a number of programs and resources to support workers seeking to transition away from fossil fuels into renewable energy.  This includes offering training, classroom education, and hands-on experience to broaden the understanding of industry overlaps that will aid oil and gas workers in finding their fit in clean technology.

These processes and resources operate with respect to the reality that transitions away from oil and gas into renewables can be a daunting and difficult process for many. Former Canadian oil and gas worker and current Iron and Earth spokesperson, Nick Kendrick, came to Iron and Earth in 2018 after reaching a fork in the road in his own career path. After 5 years in oil and gas, Kendrick was faced with the employment insecurity many workers in the Canadian oil and gas industry are familiar with. “When I started in oil and gas, prices were booming,” he says, “but by the time I got up north, the industry was struggling. People were getting laid off, and I realized it might be time to make a move.” 

Kendrick made the decision to return to school at the University of Calgary, where he pursued a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Energy. It was there he connected with Iron and Earth for his capstone project, where he facilitated the drafting of a strategic path forward for the organization. This included mapping out geographic locations that offered the most opportunity to deliver impactful training workshops and support upcoming renewable energy projects, as well as encourage Indigenous participation.
“Leaving oil and gas for renewables is a very scary thing, especially in Alberta,” says Kendrick, “I admire how Iron and Earth’s approach is not to completely abandon the oilsands. They’ve been very foundational for Canada, but they’re not sustainable. It’s time to help each other progress onto something new.”

In September 2020, Iron and Earth unveiled their Prosperous Transition Plan, framing the future for Canada’s green transition. The Prosperous Transition Plan boldly calls on the Trudeau Government to invest $110 billion over the next decade into a green recovery for Canada. The plan highlights four focal points of the Canadian economy: workforce, business, infrastructure and environment. With an emphasis on repurposing oil and gas infrastructure and getting people back to work, Iron and Earth’s Prosperous Transition Plan focuses on recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, decarbonizing the economy and addressing inequality to ensure a prosperous future. 

With more than 1000 active members across Canada from a variety of industrial trades, Iron and Earth is continually expanding and advocating for ethical, legitimate solutions to facilitate Canada’s transition to renewable energy. “These are not utopian suggestions,” says Wilson, “they are pragmatic solutions that require purposeful, ambitious action from the government … Change and thrive is the business model for the future.”

To learn more about Iron and Earth’s mission and Prosperous Transition Plan, visit https://www.ironandearth.org

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

Alberta Energy Regulator suspends licences of oil and gas producer that owes $67M

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CALGARY — The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending licences for thousands of wells and pipelines after an oil and gas producer failed to bring its operations into regulatory compliance.

The regulator says it has ordered private SanLing Energy Ltd. to suspend its 2,266 wells, 227 facilities and 2,170 pipelines and ensure they are left in a state that’s safe for the public and the environment.

It adds the company currently owes $67 million in security to the AER for its assets’ end-of-life obligations.

The company has been producing about 4,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day, primarily dry natural gas, said AER spokeswoman Cara Tobin.

It is being asked by the AER to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination, ensure its emergency response number is working and provide a detailed plan to maintain its assets while they are suspended.

The AER says it issued an order to SanLing in September because of a poor compliance record and its outstanding security issues.

It says it met with the company several times over the past five months to request a plan to come back into compliance but the company’s responses proved to be inadequate.

“If SanLing, or any company, wants to do business in Alberta, they must follow our rules,” said Blair Reilly, AEB director of enforcement and emergency management, in a news release.

“We cannot allow a company that has ignored the rules continue to operate — that’s not in Alberta’s interest.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Ottawa unveils proposed federal carbon offset emission credit regulations

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CALGARY — The federal government is unveiling proposed regulations for its greenhouse gas offset program that will govern how developers can register and sell credits earned through projects that reduce emissions.

Environment and Climate Change Canada says one credit will be issued for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced or removed from the environment, adding that eligible projects must be in Canada and offer “real, additional, quantified, unique and permanent GHG reductions.”

The projects will have to be registered and approved, monitored and face third-party verification before credits can be sold to industrial buyers for use to offset their greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce their carbon tax costs.

In a briefing, department officials said the federal program will not compete with credit generators under similar programs offered in provinces such as Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, adding approved carbon offsets can only be used once.

The regulations are to undergo a 60-day comment period ending May 5 and final regulations are to be established by next fall.

Meanwhile, the department will be developing protocols to govern how various types of offsets will be regulated. On Friday, it unveiled proposed protocols for advanced refrigeration system upgrading, landfill methane reductions, and forest and agricultural land management.

In December, Ottawa announced a $15-billion plan to meet its climate change commitments that includes steady annual increases to its carbon tax from $50 per tonne in 2022 to $170 per tonne by 2030.

Canada wants to get to a 32 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, slightly more than its 30 per cent Paris agreement commitment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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