October 2015

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Canada’s energy sector may be significantly impacted by the recent election of liberal Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister. The last nine years have seen conservative Stephen Harper at the helm. A known ally of the energy industry, Harper came under attack by environmentalists for failing to do enough to reduce carbon emissions. Trudeau is expected to take more of a watchdog role in relation to the energy sector, having campaigned on a platform that included a rollback of tax breaks for oil and gas producers and greater attention to climate change.

Even without the change in political climate, Canada’s oil and gas sector has seen better days. With global oil prices at less than $50 a barrel, it has become increasingly expensive to produce crude oil from the tar sands of western Canada. Although clearly distinguishable from his conservative predecessor, Trudeau is not anti-energy. The Liberal Party supports several pipeline projects, including TransCanada’s Energy East project, Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain pipeline and the Keystone XL project.

In March 2015, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) became the most prominent governmental entity to join in on the attempts to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. More specifically, the DOI’s sweeping regulations that sought to increase restrictions on fracking on federal and Native American tribal lands were to be implemented by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Although the federal government carries much greater influence than the individual municipalities that have attempted to regulate fracking, its effort also proved to be unsuccessful. (more…)