Carol Linnitt's blog

Wed, 2013-02-20 09:00Carol Linnitt
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What's in a Number?: Media and Government Downplay Keystone XL Climate Rally Attendance

A Sunday report from the Globe and Mail gives a rather undersized account of what prominent environmental organizations are calling the largest climate rally in American history, suggesting Canadian media might be trying to downplay the extent of public opposition to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline planned to cut across the U.S. to reach refineries and export markets.

In the wake of the massively successful display of North American opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington DC on Sunday, February 17th, perhaps some Canadians are refusing to receive the message, or admit the significance of Canada's contentious, bituminous role in the whole ordeal.

Organizers for the event estimate 35,000 or more individuals attended Sunday's event, with some accounts citing figures as high as 50,000.

But as Paul Koring and his co-authors present the rally in the Globe and Mail, organizers only claimed 35,000 participants attended the protest, but “turnout seemed significantly smaller.”

Some protesters even “voiced disappointment at the numbers” after traveling across the country to be in Washington for the monumental day. An unofficial policeman's estimate, the article states, said the turnout amounted to perhaps 10,000, a meagre total evidenced by the unused portable toilets and protesters who skipped out early to leave nothing but a “straggling column” to march on the White House a mere two hours into the rally.

Sounds rather unimpressive. I suppose Canadians can rest easy, knowing rumours of growing tar sands opposition south of the boarder are exaggerated. Right?

Mon, 2013-02-18 15:49Carol Linnitt
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Tar Sands Tailings Contaminate Alberta Groundwater

The massive tailings ponds holding billions of litres of tar sands waste are leaking into Alberta's groundwater, according to internal documents obtained by Postmedia's Mike De Souza.

An internal memorandum prepared for Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and obtained through Access to Information legislation says evidence confirms groundwater toxins related to bitumen mining and upgrading are migrating from tailings ponds and are not naturally occurring as government and industry have previously stated.

“The studies have, for the first time, detected potentially harmful, mining-related organic acid contaminants in groundwater outside a long-established out-of-pit tailings pond,” the memo reads. “This finding is consistent with publicly available technical reports of seepage (both projected in theory, and detected in practice).”

This newly released document shows the federal government has been aware of the problem since June 2012 without publicly addressing the information. The study, made available online by Natural Resources Canada in December 2012, was still “pending release” at the time Minister Oliver was briefed of its contents in June.

Thu, 2013-02-14 11:43Carol Linnitt
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Science Silenced: US Scientist Caught in Canadian Muzzle

What a difference a decade makes - especially when it comes to government-directed communications policies regarding science, and especially when you're in Canada. 

In 2003 a Canadian-American research collaboration, involving scientists from US universities and Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), began in the Eastern Arctic to track oceanic conditions and ice flow in the Nares Strait.

Thu, 2013-02-14 08:00Carol Linnitt
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Enbridge "Integrity Dig" Reveals Two Potential Pipeline Leaks in NWT

A scheduled 'integrity dig' on Enbridge's Line 21 or Norman Wells Pipeline has alerted the company to contaminated soil in two locations along the line, according to an Enbridge news release, raising concerns the aging line may be leaking along its 870 kilometre route.

“The pipeline was shut down as a precautionary measure until repair sleeves were installed,” the release reads. “Further investigate is being conducted at each site.”

At kilometre post 457 along the line, near Fort Simpson, roughly 30 cubic metres of hydrocarbon tainted soil were removed from the area. At kilometre post 391, near Wrigley, between 60 and 70 cubic metres of soil were quarantined, the approximate equivalent of 6 or 7 dump truck loads. Enbridge has not indicated the cause of the leaks at this point.

Sat, 2013-02-09 06:00Carol Linnitt
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BC's Fracking Problem: Northern Gateway Not Only Concern for BC Residents

The British Columbia government has plans to double or even triple the amount of natural gas produced in the province in order to meet growing international demand. Although the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is a key issue of concern to British Columbians, widespread fracking for unconventional gas presents another significant challenge that should be on the public's radar, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

As the CCPA reports, BC's gas production targets all but ensure the province will fail to meet its own 2007 emission reductions targets as laid out in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act. Exported gas from BC is expected to contribute the emissions equivalent of putting 24 million new cars on the road, and all for a 0.1 percent projected increase in provincial jobs.

You can watch this animated video here for an overview:

Wed, 2013-02-06 11:31Carol Linnitt
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Is TransCanada Laying Defective Keystone XL Pipe in Texas?

TransCanada, the company currently constructing the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, claims to use “top quality steel and welding techniques” throughout its pipeline network. 

Last week, however, activists fighting the construction of the pipeline released images of what they claim are improperly welded pipeline seams. The photos were released by Keystone XL blockader Ramsey Sprague at the Pipe Tech Americas 2013 conference in Texas and were taken by blockader Isabel Brooks.

Brooks took the photographs from inside a pipe segment on December 3, 2012 to document what they say was daylight pouring through weld seams between segments. “All of us looked at it,” Brooks told DeSmog, speaking of the defective seam, “and it was clear light was coming in from the outside…It was definitely clear what it was.”

An hour after the protesters were extracted from the pipe segment, says Brooks, it was in the ground. “[Other protestors] told me that it was in the ground that day and buried. So they didn't test it again,” she said. “I know exactly the piece of pipe that it's at, so if we were to dig it up I know it would be right there and as clear as that day.”

These two images from inside the pipe were released by Sprague last week:

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