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Pathways Alliance files application for carbon capture megaproject as critics question its emissions end game


A consortium of Canada’s largest oilsands producers has began filing regulatory applications for a new carbon capture megaproject. 

The Pathways Alliance, which is comprised of six energy companies, confirmed the filing with CTV News Friday afternoon. 

The $16.5 billion project proposal is for construction of a 400-kilometre pipeline that would transport carbon dioxide emissions from oilsands production facilities in northern Alberta to an underground storage hub near Cold Lake.

Pathways claims the line would achieve net reductions from its operations of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year. 

The paperwork for the pipeline project will go through the Alberta Energy Regulator and could take up to a year to complete. Pathways has previously said it wants to have shovels in the ground soon after.


While Pathways is adamant the technology is the best way forward to meet emissions goals, some climate experts are less than optimistic. 

University of Calgary Earth, Energy and Environment professor Sara Hastings-Simon argues the system does little to actually curb our climate problem’s root cause. 

“There will continue to be demand for oil and gas for some time,” she said, “but this question of ‘can we simply produce as much as we have been all the way through to 2030 and 2050, and just capture the upstream carbon emissions,’ that’s not compatible with a world that’s taking action to avoid worsening impacts from climate change.”

The oilsands industry currently accounts for about 12 per cent of Canada’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is just a way for the oil and gas industry to continue to increase production,” Tim Gray with Environmental Defence said. “We should be taking this money and investing in the actual transition, which would protect Albertans from the future shock to the energy system that’s on the way.”


That transition has had some holdouts. 

Many in the energy industry have long insisted federal 2030 climate targets are too ambitious. 

Pathways says it has its sights set on 2050. 

“I still have a lot of questions around the pushback that we’re seeing on that oil and gas emissions cap, in light of the continued claims from Pathways and others that their intention is to proceed down this path,” Hastings-Simon said. “If companies are really serious and want to show a commitment, the best way they can do that is supporting the regulations that would tie them to those emission reductions.”

The Pathways Alliance denied a CTV News interview request Friday. Top Stories

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