1. Andrew Nikiforuk, OnEarth:

    Prime Minister Harper, the son of an Imperial Oil accountant, has described the megaproject as “an enterprise of epic proportions, akin to the building of the pyramids or China’s Great Wall. Only bigger.” Over the next 30 years Canada’s bitumen miners will excavate 1,850 square miles of forest, digging enough 250-foot-deep holes to swallow up the state of Delaware. The highly profitable industry has already created enough toxic sludge — six billion barrels — to cover New York’s Staten Island or Washington, D.C. in several feet of waste. Instead of restoring a land of low-lying boreal wetlands and peat bogs, the miners have a legal mandate to create something called “equivalent land capability.” This vague term translates into an engineered landscape made up of manicured, grassy hills and fake lakes containing tons of mining waste.

    The scale and pace of the endeavor have shocked Americans and Europeans alike. Canada has failed to conduct a basic risk and liability analysis of the oil sands from which the bitumen is extracted, and in 2008 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development roundly criticized Canada for not properly assessing the project’s cumulative impacts or saving its oil wealth in a dedicated pension fund. While oil sands executives have attempted to rebrand Canada as a “clean” or “responsible” energy superpower, a government-appointed panel examining the state of environmental monitoring of the bitumen industry — co-chaired by Hal Kvisle, former chief executive of TransCanada, no less — found in 2011 that the existing monitoring system was “not a credible program because much of it is run by industry.” At the same time, the U.S. Congressional Research Office, having bluntly described the harmful impact of bitumen mining on forests, wildlife, water quality, and greenhouse gas emissions, warned that oil sands development could strain bilateral relations between Canada and the United States.

    Yet the Canadian government, which subsidizes the industry to the tune of $1.4 billion a year (the province of Alberta contributes another $1.1 billion), has been shameless in its defense of bitumen exports and pipelines. Diplomats have vigorously opposed both U.S. federal and state laws on carbon emissions and asked Big Oil to do likewise. The Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., objected to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 because restrictions on the use of high-carbon fuels by the U.S. military might jeopardize bitumen exports. Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs fought hard — though in the end unsuccessfully — against California’s low-carbon fuel standards. Canadian government officials have lobbied so forcefully for the Keystone XL pipeline that a congressional aide likened one Canadian diplomat to an “aggressive car salesman.”

    via

     

     Canada  tar sands  environment  Conservatives  Stephen Harper 

  2. From the article:

    In an interview with an anti-pipeline U.S. newspaper the Sundance Kid calls on President Barack Obama to veto the project, which has already passed stringent environmental hurdles.

    And while Obama ponders a decision that could create 20,000 jobs and wean the U.S. off oil from countries with a long list of human rights abuses and other atrocities, Republican politicians visited Alberta and slammed environmentalists for misleading the public.

    "They’re just wrong. Energy security and jobs trumps this environmental assault right now in the United States," Illinois Congressman John Shimkus said after a tour of the oilsands.

    Oh, really? Others disagree:

    The Canadian government insists that it has found ways to reduce those emissions. But a new report from Canada’s environmental ministry shows how great the impact of the tar sands will be in the coming years, even with cleaner production methods.

    It projects that Canada will double its current tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day. That rate will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest — a natural carbon reservoir. Extracting oil from tar sands is also much more complicated than pumping conventional crude oil out of the ground. It requires steam-heating the sands to produce a petroleum slurry, then further dilution.

    One result of this process, the ministry says, is that greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector as a whole will rise by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2020 — even as other sectors are reducing emissions.

    Also, here’s a video of David Suzuki and his thoughts on carbon capture technology and underground storage (technology that Alberta has invested heavily in to deal with increased emissions from increased oil sands output).

    Relevant:

    Terry Macalister: Money spent on tar sands projects could decarbonise western economies. The Guardian 

    The Canadian Oil Boom: Scraping Bottom (slideshow). National Geographic

    (Source: climateadaptation)

     

     energy  oil  tar sands 

  3. From the Montreal Gazette:

    RCMP officers quickly started making arrests Monday as protesters against oilsands development and TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline into the United States made their presence felt on Parliament Hill.

    A crowd of about 500 cheered “let them pass” as a small wave of protesters tried to get by a security fence.

    The first group was taken away by police, as activists on the sidelines shouted, “Thank you.”

     

     energy  protests  Keystone XL  tar sands 

  4. discoverynews:

The Sticky Problem With Tar Sands
To understand what tar sands are and why they have a slippery  reputation with environmentalists, here’s a cheat sheet on these  unconventional oil fields:
WHAT: Tar sands, also known as oil sands,  are a mixture of roughly 90 percent sand, clay and water and 10 percent  bitumen, a thick hydrocarbon liquid. After extracting that 10 percent  of bitumen from the tar-sand mixture, the bitumen can be purified and  refined into synthetic crude oil.
Read the rest here

    discoverynews:

    The Sticky Problem With Tar Sands

    To understand what tar sands are and why they have a slippery reputation with environmentalists, here’s a cheat sheet on these unconventional oil fields:

    WHAT: Tar sands, also known as oil sands, are a mixture of roughly 90 percent sand, clay and water and 10 percent bitumen, a thick hydrocarbon liquid. After extracting that 10 percent of bitumen from the tar-sand mixture, the bitumen can be purified and refined into synthetic crude oil.

    Read the rest here

     

     science  environment  tar sands  news 

  5. Against Keystone Oil Pipeline

    oscillatingwildly:



    August 2011

     

     Tar Sands 

  6. From Inhabitat:

    Much to the disappointment of environmental activists nationwide, the Obama administration has given Transcanada the go ahead to construct the 1,711 mile Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry heavy oil from Canada to Oklahoma and all the way down to the Gulf Coast in Texas. In a rather ambitious statement, the administration has concluded that not only will the pipeline provide a more secure source of energy, but that there won’t be any significant damage to the environment.

    The Obama administration dismissed criticism from environmental advocates concerned with the devastating impact the pipeline stands to have on the environment; especially granted the possibility of a leak or rupture in the 36-inch diameter pipeline. Many are also concerned about how the pipeline will, “prolong the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, threaten sensitive lands and wildlife and further delay development of clean energy sources.”

    Unfortunately, these grave warnings have fallen on deaf ears. The State Department is backing TransCanada, claiming that the oil giant has “reduced the risks of an accident to an acceptable level and that the benefits of importing oil from a friendly neighbor outweighed the potential costs.”

    Given the recent conflicts in the middle east, that might very well be true, and it does make sense diplomatically. But concerning the environment, the facts state otherwise. As we previously announced, construction of the pipeline would actually tear apart miles of land in the U.S, and would require Canada to double its tar sands production, destroying boreal forests while emitting high levels of greenhouse gas emissions – even more than traditional oil production.

     

     energy  oil  Keystone XL  tar sands 

  7. From Tessa Holloway, North Shore News:

    A 10-year-old North Vancouver girl is hoping her voice is the key to raising awareness about the threat of oil spills on the North Coast of B.C.

    Ta’Kaiya Blaney recorded a song she wrote last year with the help of her music teacher, which describes the coastal waters of British Columbia and her vision of what they might look like after a spill.

    The song, titled “Shallow Waters,” is in response to a proposal by Enbridge, an oil and gas company, to build a twin-pipeline to carry crude oil from the oil sands of Alberta to Kitimat on the coast of British Columbia, where supertankers will carry it to Asian markets. Condensate, a dilutant used in oil sands production, would be carried to Alberta.

    With the backing of Greenpeace, Ta’Kaiya released the song with a music video and plea to MPs and businesses that she doesn’t want to see TV images of an oil spill in B.C. like she saw after last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

    "It’s sad, because there’s a lot of people and animals there, and there’s people who are getting sick because of fumes and animals that were dying because of it," said Ta’Kaiya, with her mother, Anne Blaney, by her side.

     

     youtube  environment  music  tar sands 

  8.  

     CBC  documentaries  tar sands  environment 

  9.  

     Alberta  oil  tar sands 

  10. The Guardian: Trucks carry loads of oil-laden sand at the Albian Sands mine near Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. Photograph: Jeff McIntosh/AP (via)
China looks to boost energy investments in Canada. Billions could be injected into oil and gas industry. Vancouver Sun
List of Asian investments in Canada oil sands. Reuters




Dirty Oil Trailer - The Cooperative Group
Terry Macalister: Money spent on tar sands projects could decarbonise western economies. The Guardian 
The Canadian Oil Boom: Scraping Bottom (slideshow). National Geographic
Tar Sands tailings poisons muskeg and nearby First Nations community. Rabble
Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands
Campaign Against Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline Expands to Enbridge’s Customers in Barrie. Environmental Defence
     

     oil  tar sands  environment 

  11. saveplanetearth:

The Canadian federal government is actively co-ordinating with Alberta’s fossil-fuel industry to fight international global-warming policies, we’ve run this ad in the Hill-Times! @ Greenpeace Canada
Mike DeSouza @ Montreal Gazette ~ Three federal departments worked to put positive spin on ‘dirty oil’

Three major departments in the federal government have been actively co-ordinating a communications strategy with Alberta and its fossil-fuel industry to fight international global-warming policies that “target” oilsands production, newly released federal documents reveal.The documents, obtained by Postmedia News, suggest that Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, have collaborated on an “advocacy strategy” in the U.S. to promote the oilsands and discourage environmental-protection policies. (…)

    saveplanetearth:

    The Canadian federal government is actively co-ordinating with Alberta’s fossil-fuel industry to fight international global-warming policies, we’ve run this ad in the Hill-Times! @ Greenpeace Canada

    Mike DeSouza @ Montreal Gazette ~ Three federal departments worked to put positive spin on ‘dirty oil’

    Three major departments in the federal government have been actively co-ordinating a communications strategy with Alberta and its fossil-fuel industry to fight international global-warming policies that “target” oilsands production, newly released federal documents reveal.

    The documents, obtained by Postmedia News, suggest that Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, have collaborated on an “advocacy strategy” in the U.S. to promote the oilsands and discourage environmental-protection policies. (…)

     

     Canada  oil  tar sands 

  12. From Mother Jones:

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently that a controversial pipeline that TransCanada hopes to build from Alberta to Texas is likely to be approved, even though a full analysis of its impacts has yet to be completed. Her remarks didn’t sit well with ten senators, who on Friday blasted the proposal and urged Clinton in a letter to reject “dirty oil” from Canada’s tar sands.

    […]

    The proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline expansion would run 1,661 miles from Alberta to Nederland, Texas. A decision about the project isn’t expected until early 2011, but Clinton said in an October 15 speech that, while the State Department has “not yet signed off on it…we are inclined to do so.” Yet the pipeline remains highly controversial; oil from the tar sands has a carbon footprint two to three times higher than conventional fuels. The XL expansion pipeline would have the capacity to bring 510,000 barrels of oil from the tar sands to the US each day.

    The pipeline has also been criticized in the states it would cross, particularly Nebraska, where it would bisect a major aquifer. Given the recent history of oil spills and pipeline accidents in the US, folks in the path of the pipeline are growing increasingly concerned about the possibility of a spill in their area. Clinton’s remarks also drew ire from both of Nebraska’s senators, Mike Johanns (R) and Ben Nelson (D), who have raised concerns about the proposed path of the pipeline.

     

     tar sands  oil 

  13. This week, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) announced a $250-million private placement in a Calgary based tar sands company.

    While the CPPIB celebrates the move in having “attractive returns over the long term,” communities surrounding tar sands development continue to deal with treaty rights violations, raising cancers and health problems and a devastated ecosystem.

    People in Canada want to see us move towards a clean, just and green energy economy. Instead, the CPPIB’s investment of public funds into the tar sands is effectively increasing our dependence on fossil fuels and leaving us a toxic legacy for future generations.

    Call Prime Minister Stephen Harper and let him know you oppose CPPIB’s investment in tar sands. Instead of gambling with our future, we want investment in clean, green and just solutions!

    Ottawa Office: (613) 992-4211
    Calgary Office: (403) 253-7990
    or email him at pm@pm.gc.ca

    And contact your MP

     

     Canada  CPP  tar sands 

  14. From The Calgary Herald:

    In a newly released letter to the U.S. State Department, EPA officials suggested that, if approved, the $12-billion Keystone XL project, proposed by TransCanada, would bring oil into the country with a much higher environmental footprint than the average crude oil now being refined.

    "Alongside the national security benefits of importing crude oil from a stable trading partner, we believe the national security implications of expanding the nation’s long-term commitment to a relatively high carbon source of oil should also be considered," wrote EPA assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance Cynthia Giles in the letter dated July 16.

    "Accordingly, we estimate that GHG emissions from Canadian oilsands crude would be approximately 82 per cent greater than the average crude refined in the U.S., on a well-to-tank basis."

    Giles wrote that the additional pollution from the oilsands production would be equivalent to 27 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year or roughly equivalent to seven coal-fired power plants. She also noted that the pipeline would encourage more production in the oilsands industry.

    More on the tar sands

     

     energy  US  Canada  EPA  oil  tar sands 

  15. Indigenous Communities in Canada from Project Survival North

    Related: Royal Bank of Canada Awarded Most Environmentally Irresponsible Company 

    Tar Sands Watch - Polaris Institute’s Energy Program

    Alberta Energy: Oil Sands (Government Website)

    House of Commons of Canada - Bil C-311 

    Summary: The purpose of this enactment is to ensure that Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by committing to a long-term target to reduce Canadian greenhouse gas emissions to a level that is 80% below the 1990 level by the year 2050, and by establishing interim targets for the period 2015 to 2045. It creates an obligation on the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to review proposed measures to meet the targets and submit a report to Parliament.

    It also sets out the duties of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

    How’d they vote: Bill C-311, Second Reading and Referral to Committee

     

     tar sands  indigenous  communities  energy  pollution  oil  environment