Canada to Buy Controversial Tar Sands Pipeline
The Canadian government plans to spend $4.5 billion Canadian dollars ($3.5 billion) to buy Kinder Morgan's existing Trans Mountain pipeline and its controversial expansion project that will triple the amount of tar sands transported from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia.
The pipeline has been at the center of widespread protests by environmentalists and some Indigenous groups. The announcement was met with condemnation from 350.org organizers, who slammed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government for "turning Canada into a fossil fuel company."
Kinder Morgan halted all non-essential spending the pipeline project last month, citing continuing opposition in British Columbia. The company set a May 31 deadline to get assurances it can proceed with the project without delays.
Bill Morneau, the federal finance minister, said in Ottawa Tuesday that the government's purchase will guarantee the summer construction season for workers and will ensure the project is built to completion.
"Our message today is simple—when we're faced with an exceptional situation that puts jobs at risk, that puts our international reputation on the line, our government's prepared to take action," he said.
The agreement was approved by the Cabinet this morning and is subject to approval by Kinder Morgan shareholders. The purchase is expected to close this August, he said.
Morneau said the government will eventually sell the expanded pipeline back to the private sector.
BREAKING: Federal government to buy Trans Mountain pipeline, all of Kinder Morgan Canada's core assets for $4.5 bil… https://t.co/22a3pmuSE9— Globalnews.ca (@Globalnews.ca)1527599581.0
Kinder Morgan Canada CEO Steve Kean said he was pleased with the deal.
"The outcome we have reached represents the best opportunity to complete the [Trans Mountain Pipeline system and the expansion project] and thereby realize the great national economic benefits promised by that project," Kean said in a statement.
Aurore Fauret, 350.org's Canadian tar sands campaign coordinator, said in a statement that "in a single mandate, Justin Trudeau transformed from a climate champion into a Big Oil CEO."
Trudeau, Fauret said, "had an opportunity to walk away from pipeline politics and get on with the real work of leading Canada, and the world, in a 100 percent renewable energy revolution, but instead he's opted to ignore science, Indigenous rights and the voices of people across Canada and bailed out a dangerous, unwanted pipeline with public money."
Since taking office, the Liberal party leader has introduced several environmental mandates, including a national price on carbon and a $1.5 billion ocean protection plan. However, environmentalists have criticized Trudeau's support of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. He insists that "the environment and the economy need to go together."
Oil Change International pointed out that while Trudeau has signed up to the Paris climate goals, the amount of carbon that would be transported and ultimately burned by the pipeline means that Canada would miss those goals.
What's more, The Star Vancouver reported that Kinder Morgan has reported 82 spills to the National Energy Board since 1961. The most recent spill occurred this past Sunday, when 100 liters (26 gallons) of a medium crude blend was released at the Darfield Pump Station near Barriere, British Columbia.
Opponents said the latest leak highlights the risks of the project. "We know spills happen and we know that it won't get 100 percent cleaned up," Charlene Aleck, a Tsleil-Waututh Nation councillor, told The Star, adding that the spill gave her a "sinking feeling" and "it reinforces the risk that Tsleil-Waututh has been speaking of all along."
350.org vows to continue protesting the project.
"Today is not the end of this story. Kinder Morgan abandoned this project because people organized all across the country to stop it, and we'll do it again," Fauret said. "This fight is far from over, and now that Justin Trudeau has turned the Canadian government into a fossil fuel company, it's crystal clear who we're up against."
236 Civil Society Groups to Justin Trudeau: 'The Time for Investment in New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Is Over'… https://t.co/MYATeBUbyc— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1527213627.0
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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