As you know, GMP is owned by Gaz Metro, which in turn is owned by various other corporations and holding companies. At the top of this pyramid are two companies, Trencap and Enbridge. Trencap (which owns 61.1% of Gaz Metro) is made up of Caisse de depot et placement, Quebec employees retirement fund; Fonds de solidarité, a private retirement fund; BC Investment Management Corp, British Columbia pension fund; Regime des rentes du mouvement desjardin, another pension fund; Regime de retraite de l’universite du Quebec, college pension fund.
Enbridge (38.98%) is another story: they are considered one of the key players in tar sands development, and not a green company overall. They’re primarily a pipeline company, with lines running from the Alberta tar sands fields all the way to near Chicago. About a year ago, one of their pipes leaked 840,000 gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, a disaster still not cleaned up. This is just the latest in a series of more than 800 Enbridge spills over the last 10 years, releasing a total of 168,000 barrels of oil, not including the Kalamazoo spill.
Perhaps worst of all, they are planning a project called the Northern Gateway Pipeline (similar to TransCanada’s Keystone XL) running from Alberta to ports on the British Columbia coast. The intent is to ship tar sands crude to China, Japan, and other Asian markets. Like the Keystone pipeline, it’s likely that this would mean “game over” for the climate, as Bill McKibben likes to say: according to a report by a Canadian environmental group (the Polaris Institute) “the 525,000 barrels per day flowing through the Northern Gateway pipeline would facilitate an expansion in the tar sands that would produce an additional 6.5 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.”
Enbridge has a long and dismal record of expropriating land from farmers and Native peoples for their projects (sound familiar?), often using eminent domain.
Their corporate structure is almost impossible to decipher, with numerous partnerships and holding companies created for god knows what purpose. Here’s a typical passage from the Polaris report:
“Houston-base Enbridge Energy Partners (EEP) owns many of Enbridge’s US pipelines and natural gas infrastructure…. EEP is actually operated by another independent company, Enbridge Energy Management, whose principle activity is to manage EEP’s business and affairs. However, neither EEP nor Enbridge Energy Management … have any employees [because] all of EEP’s pipelines and other assets are operated by employees of Enbridge… Yet, EEP is legally an independent U.S. company and its stocks are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2008 EEP’s $10 billion in annual revenue was good enough to rank it 268th on Fortune magazine’s list of the 500 largest U.S. companies by revenue.” And that’s only one of the many subsidiaries and shell companies Enbridge owns partially or outright.
The connection between GMP and Enbridge — one of the worst climate change actors — should rub some of the greenwash off the Lowell project, and raise concerns about the merger. At the very least, GMP ratepayers should know that every time they pay their bill, a portion of the profit climbs the ladder into Enbridge’s coffers; maybe it’s invested in further tar sands development or maybe it goes towards the CEO’s $6 million annual salary, but it’s not particularly green in any case.
There’s likely a lot more here, especially in light of the part of the Comprehensive Energy Plan that calls for a natural gas pipeline down the western side of the state, the desire for transmission corridors from Hydro Quebec to southern New England, and so on.
The Polaris report is at http://indigenouspeoplesissues.com/attachments/5063_EnbridgeProfile.pdf
The NWF story on the Kalamazoo River spill is at http://www.nwf.org/Global-Warming/Policy-Solutions/Drilling-and-Mining/Tar-Sands/Michigan-Oil-Spill.aspx
And to see Gaz Metro’s corporate structure, go to http://www.corporatif.gazmetro.com/lentreprise/structure-corporative.aspx?culture=en-ca