Manitoba Hydro Meltdown

Manitoba Hydro to shrink workforce by roughly 900 positions

Crown corporation cuts will follow immediate 30% reduction in executive team, management restructuring

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Manitoba Hydro will cut 900 positions across the province and will increase rates by at least 10 per cent, the Crown corporation announced Friday.

The utility, which employs about 6,200 people, plans to offer voluntary buyouts starting later this spring. The reduction amounts to a 15 per cent cut to Hydro’s total workforce.

“We care about our employees, so we’re going to work and try to make this as smooth and as fair as we can,” said Kelvin Shepherd, CEO and president of Manitoba Hydro. “I think our voluntary program will get some good results.”

Starting immediately, the number of executive positions will be reduced by 30 per cent. Three vice-presidents have already been let go, Shepherd said.

The hands-on workers

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Cuts to staff are necessary to protect the financial integrity of Manitoba Hydro, the chair of the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board, Sandy Riley, said in a written statement.

Reducing costs will not only bolster Hydro’s financial future but can help protect Manitoba from future credit downgrades, he said.

Hydro’s debt was reported at $13 billion in October. Over the next three to four years, company debt could rise to $25 billion.

Some of the workers are getting out anyway they can.

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CEO Kevin Shepherd and the Manitoba Hydro board said cost reductions at the utility will not be enough to restore the Crown corporation’s fiscal outlook.

It is also planning “double-digit annual rate increases” for at least five years in order to re-establish “proper financial footing,” Riley said.

It is all so unreal!

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The future of NOAA, the world’s largest repository of climate data, is now in the hands of a climate-change denier

qz.com

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The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is home to the world’s largest repository of climate data.
It houses data from the United States and from other countries, many of which rely on NOAA’s archives to understand everything from the shifting global climate, to the health of fisheries, to ocean chemistry, to the paleoclimatic record—including million-year-old tree rings. NOAA’s information also figures into the daily lives of Americans perhaps more than any other agency; if you’ve checked the weather forecast lately, you can thank NOAA. And perhaps most importantly, NOAA’s records serve as the backbone of scientific evidence of human-induced global warming.
“The archive spans data that goes well over a hundred years,” Scott Stephens, a NOAA meteorologist, tells Quartz. “Especially for the US, there’s data that goes back almost to Independence.”
Now, all that is in the hands of Kenneth Haapala, selected by US president Donald Trump to help appoint top administrators at NOAA. Haapala serves on the transition team for the US Department of Commerce, which oversees the agency. He is also an unabashed climate-change denier.

Haapala is a policy expert at the Heartland Institute, a conservative group that has equated belief in climate change with terrorism and mass murder. The group devotes significant resources to promoting the false claim that there not a scientific consensus on climate change, and that, according to its website, “Most scientists do not believe human greenhouse gas emissions are a proven threat to the environment or to human well-being,” which is also false.
Heartland has also worked to influence public school curriculums away from teaching about climate change as a man-made reality. The group has been financed in part by donations from foundations tied to Koch Industries, a major oil refiner.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) of Rhode Island and Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva (D) wrote a letter to Trump last week, opposing Haapala’s appointment and citing his work downplaying the threat of sea level rise, the Huffington Post reported.

“We urge you to remove Mr. Haapala and any others who share his discredited views on climate science from the DOC landing team. He certainly does not understand or appreciate NOAA’s mission and therefore is unfit to serve in any capacity that oversees operations or personnel decisions at the agency,” the congressmen wrote.
Haapala will help choose NOAA’s leadership once the Senate votes on billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, Trump’s choice for secretary of commerce. Ross pledged during his confirmation hearing to support NOAA’s scientific research and advocate that it continues to be accessible to the public.
“If confirmed, I intend to see that the Department [of Commerce] provides the public with as much factual and accurate data as we have available. It is public tax dollars that support the Department’s scientific research, and barring some national security concern, I see no valid reason to keep peer reviewed research from the public,” he said. “To be clear, by peer review I mean scientific review and not a political filter.”

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Are Two More Pipelines Going To Have A Negative Impact On The Environment?

The anti-pipeline protesters have been stirred into a frenzy again by Trump’s recent announcement that his administration wants to go ahead with the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Everybody is concerned about the environment, at least most people, but these Standing Rock protesters and others don’t seem to be looking at the big picture.

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Pipelines will spring leaks, no doubt. But it is much safer than transporting oil by rail. When all is said and done the oil will be moved, basic economics. When leaks hit rivers, they can be controlled within a short period of time with today’s technology. The water of North America will not be permanently contaminated. Check out the North American map of current pipelines across the United States and Canada.

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With a leak reported every few months or so considering the number of pipelines out there, I don’t think that two new pipelines will make much of a difference.