Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How the Hell did Enbridge get on the 2012 -2013 DJSI Leaders List?

The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) is ostensibly for companies who have a smaller impact on the environment, but some of the companies in the index are not even remotely green. One prominent example on the DJSI includes a Canadian oil gas company called Enbridge Inc. Enbridge is a company that is helping Canada to expand its role as a dirty energy superpower, they have proposed new tar sands pipelines.

Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway heavy crude pipeline would run between the Edmonton area in Alberta and Kitimat, British Columbia. The Pipeline would serve as a key export link to Asia that would see massive oil tankers navigating narrow coastal waterways.

The safety of Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway project has been challenged by a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Pembina Institute and Living Oceans Society.

Enbridge clearly has the ear of the ruling Conservatives. In 2011 Enbridge was one of the sponsors of the pro-oil federal provincial Energy Conference. Participation in the Enbridge pipeline hearings have been stymied by a Conservative national government more interested in tar sands oil than it is in Canada's environment. The federal Tories have also slashed environmental oversight including those responsible for the supervision of Enbridge's proposed pipeline.

While Enbridge tries to portray itself as a sustainability leader it has withdrawn from their carbon capture and storage efforts, opting to pay the penalties for emissions rather than cutting them.

People throughout the country are protesting Enbridge's activities. On 350.org's Climate Impacts Day earlier this year, First Nations people and their supporters traveled on a Freedom Train to challenge the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. The pipeline giant can expect another protest on October 22nd, when Canadians from coast to coast will be gathering to voice their opposition to Northern Gateway.

As reviewed in a recent Green.biz article, the inclusion of Enbridge on the DJSI makes one question whether sustainability rankings really matter.

In the US most will recall Enbridge for spilling 20,000 barrels of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. This spill ended up being the most costly onshore spill in U.S. history. What makes matters worse is the fact that the spill was deemed to be attributable to a failure to enforce adequate safety standards. This past summer Enbridge spilled more oil from a pipeline in Wisconsin.

Despite the company's environmentally destructive impacts, Enbridge is actively trying to associate itself with sustainability and renewable energy. One example is their sponsorship of the "Optimizing Wind Power O&M Conference Expo" event.

Enbridge is also making token investments in renewable energy, its current holdings include eight wind farms (1,017 MW capacity), four solar energy operations (150 MW capacity) and a geothermal project (23 MW capacity). However these activities are little more than clever PR when understood in light of the fact that Enbridge is Canada’s largest gas distribution utility and largest transporter of crude oil.

Enbridge owns approximately 24,738 kilometres (15,372 miles) of crude pipeline, delivering on average more than 2.2 million barrels per day of crude oil and liquids. They are the leading pipeline operator in both Canada’s oil sands region, the second largest resource play in the world.

Most destructively Enbridge is behind efforts to extract 170 billion barrels of proven recoverable reserves from Alberta's tar sands. As one climate scientist put it, burning all this dirty oil will mean game over for efforts to manage climate change.

How then did Enbridge end up on the DJSI?  The reason is that they are the best performer in their industry category not because they are actually a company that practices sustainability. This speaks volumes to just how dirty the oil industry is.

Sustainability rankings like the DJSI are important benchmarking tools and they offer helpful guidance for investors and other stakeholders. However, they are counterproductive when companies like Enbridge end up on the list.

It is not enough that we invest in companies that advance the green economy we must also divest from companies that directly contribute to activities that have massive footprints. At the very least they should not be masquerading as a sustainability leader.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Related Articles
Canadian Conservative's Support for Dirty Energy
Canada is a Dirty Energy Superpower
Action to Defend Canada's West Coast from Big Oil
Enbridge withdraws from Canada's Carbon Capture Farce
Canadian Conservatives Slash Environmental Assessment
Canadian Prime Minister Dismisses Resistance to the Northern Gateway Pipeline
Federal Provincial Energy Conference Sponsored by Big Oil
Tar Sands Day of Action in Washington DC
President Obama and the Fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline
NRDC November 6 Protest Against the Keystone XL in Washington DC
Nebraska's Special Session to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline
South Dakota Wants Additional Protections Against Spills from the Keystone XL Pipeline
Safety Measures for the Keystone XL Rejected by Environmentalists in Nebraska
State Department Hearings for the Keystone XL Pipeline
Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Protest
Cornell University Questions the Economic Benefits of the Keystone XL Pipeline
Keystone XL Protest Ends in Washington
Oil Spills Add to Concerns about the Keystone XL Pipeline
Nobel Prize Laureates Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline
Religious Leaders Join the Protest Against Keystone XL Pipeline
US Protests Against the Tar Sands Oil
Canada on Track to be a Dirty Energy Superpower
Bill McKibben and other Protestors Jailed for their Opposition to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline
Video: NASA's Leading Climatologist Addresses Crowd Before he was Arrested at the Keystone XL Tar Sands Protest in Washington
Bill McGibben: The Planet Wreckers
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