alberta tar sands

Mon, 2011-12-12 14:52Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

BREAKING: Canada Pulls Out of Kyoto Protocol

Canada is pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, the cornerstone of international climate negotiations, in the wake of the failed COP17 climate talks in Durban. Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent announced Canada's bail-out of Kyoto as he returned from Durban.

The Kyoto Protocol was ratified by Canada in 2002, when the agreement became legally binding. Canada's decision to turn its back on its international obligations confirms yet again that Stephen Harper and his carbon cronies are securing a hellish future for generations to come.  Canada's 'leaders' are brashly choosing pollution-based profiteering over public health and cooking the climate to make a killing in the tar sands. 

BBC reports: 

Peter Kent said the protocol “does not represent a way forward for Canada” and would have forced it to take “radical and irresponsible choices”.

The move, which is legal and was expected, makes it the first nation to pull out of the global treaty.  …

“Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past, and as such we are invoking our legal right to withdraw from Kyoto,” Mr Kent said in Toronto.

CBC has details on Kent's timing, as well as a news poll showing 62% disapproval of the decision (as of 3pm PST) on CBC's Inside Politics Blog: 

Kent returned to Ottawa from Durban Monday afternoon and made the announcement about two hours after landing.

He said he waited to formally pull out of the Kyoto Protocol because he'd promised a top UN official in Durban not to distract from the talks.

Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner, Mike Hudema, reacts:

“The Harper government has imposed a death sentence on many of the world's most vulnerable populations by pulling out of Kyoto. The decision to leave Kyoto behind destabilizes the promise of action on the climate crisis. This is a further signal that the Harper government is more concerned about protecting polluters than people.”

Sun, 2011-12-04 13:39Guest
Guest's picture

The twisted logic, and ethics, of nature's opponents

By David Suzuki (originally published on the David Suzuki Foundation website)

Who is influencing Canada's resource priorities? In a puzzling appeal to anti-American sentiment, some industry supporters claim that U.S. foundations are threatening Canadian policy by donating money to environmental groups here. These arguments have appeared in publications such as the Vancouver Sun and Calgary Herald, and on Sun TV.

Greenpeace has released research that points in a different direction, one that seems more logical. The Greenpeace report, “Who's Holding Us Back?”, shows that multinational and U.S. corporations in the oil, mining, and chemical sectors, among others, have been spending money and using industry trade associations, think-tanks, lobbying, and revolving doors between government and industry to block action on climate change and influence resource policy in Canada and elsewhere.

Opponents of environmental initiatives point to recent protests against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to B.C.'s north coast. They say this opposition is part of a conspiracy by U.S. funders to ensure that oil keeps flowing to the U.S. and not to Asia. That the same people also oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, which would take bitumen from the tar sands to the U.S., doesn't faze those who promote this twisted logic.

If these conspiracy theorists were truly upset about U.S. influence on Canadian infrastructure and resource development, they would lobby for greater national control of the oil industry, much of which is owned by U.S. and Chinese corporations. They might also question U.S. industry and foundation funding for organizations such as Canada's right-wing Fraser Institute, which has the same charitable status as the David Suzuki Foundation and other conservation groups and is thus governed by the same rules.

Thu, 2011-10-27 06:55Emma Pullman
Emma Pullman's picture

Why Ethical Oil's Deceptive 'Women's Rights' Defense of Tar Sands is Insulting and Wrong

EthicalOil.org’s new spokesperson, Kathryn Marshall, authored an insulting piece this week on the Huffington Post titled “Care About Women's Rights? Support Ethical Oil”. Marshall’s piece is a response to the October 11 article by Maryam Adrangi at It’s Getting Hot In Here.  Adrangi argues that the underlying motive of the “ethical oil” campaign is to deflect negative attention from the tar sands, not to actually engage in a conversation about women’s liberation.

If women’s rights were of genuine concern to EthicalOil.org” writes Adrangi, “then there would be a conversation about the impacts that tar sands extraction has on women”.

You’ll notice that Marshall’s attempted rebuttal fails to actually address the substantive criticisms made in Adrangi’s piece - Marshall never mentions the impacts of Alberta’s tar sands development on women, but instead repeats the same arguments and general hand-waving that sparked Adrangi’s criticism of EthicalOil.org's conservative pundits in the first place.

Marshall’s promotion of tar sands oil is framed around a central argument that if we care about women’s rights then we must support tar sands expansion, and by extension the Keystone XL pipeline, because Canadian women fare far better than women in petrocracies, such as Saudi Arabia.  But Marshall’s argument doesn’t hold up to scrutiny for three major reasons.

Wed, 2011-10-05 12:45Steve Horn
Steve Horn's picture

Koch Brothers Dishonest About Keystone XL, Tar Sands Interest

On the heels of a 21-page investigative article by ​Bloomberg ​Magazine, which covered the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, and its numerous subsidiaries over the past several decades, more damning news arrives about their dirty deeds in Canada.

Today, ​InsideClimate News​ reported in a story titled “Koch Subsidiary Told Regulators It Has 'Direct and Substantial Interest' in Keystone XL”, that contrary to the narrative the Kochs have been dishing out to the U.S. government, Koch Industries has a huge fiscal stake in both the Keystone XL Pipeline and in Tar Sands production more generally. 

​Inside Climate reports:

​In 2009, Flint Hills Resources Canada LP, an Alberta-based subsidiary of Koch Industries, applied for—and won— 'intervenor status' in the National Energy Board hearings that led to Canada's 2010 approval of its 327-mile portion of the pipeline. The controversial project would carry heavy crude 1,700 miles from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.

In the form it submitted to the Energy Board, Flint Hills wrote that it “is among Canada's largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters. Consequently, Flint Hills has a direct and substantial interest in the application” for the pipeline under consideration.

To be approved as an intervenor, Flint Hills had to have some degree of “business interest” in Keystone XL, Carole Léger-Kubeczek, a National Energy Board spokeswoman, told InsideClimate News. Intervenors are granted the highest level of access in hearings, with the option to ask questions. The Energy Board approved Canada's segment of the pipeline with little opposition, and Flint Hills did not exercise its right to speak.

Tue, 2011-10-04 13:43Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Government Watchdog Report Confirms Canada's Failures on Tar Sands Monitoring and Climate Action

Canada's top environmental watchdog official released a damning report today acknowledging the federal government's complete failure to account for the cumulative impacts of Alberta tar sands development. The report from Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan also confirmed that information about Canada's greenhouse gas emissions is so poorly collected that the country really has no idea whether it is on track to meet its pollution reduction targets - targets which Canada has repeatedly scaled back despite its legally-binding international commitment to action dating back 20 years. 
 
According to the report, “The government has not put in place management systems and tools needed to achieve, measure and report on greenhouse gas emission reductions.” 
 
Vaughan describes the government's current climate action plan as “disjointed, confused, non-transparent.”
“I think it's next to impossible that Canada is going to be able to reach its Kyoto target, that's a given. The gap is so wide now, but I think what we've said as well is the basic problems that we've seen now, and the overall federal-wide co-ordinaton of these climate change programs really needs to get its act together. And if they don't, then we have some doubts on whether or not they are going to be able to meet any target, Vaughan said at a news conference today.
The report also slammed Canada's oversight of the filthy Alberta tar sands industry. By failing to collect baseline data prior to the industrialization of the area - and then adding insult to injury by failing to conduct regular monitoring of impacts from tar sands development - Canada has dropped the ball on its responsibilities to protect the health of local communities and the environment in northern Alberta and beyond. 
Wed, 2011-09-28 11:10Guest
Guest's picture

Tar Trek: Two BC Teenagers Take on the Tar Sands [Video]

This is a guest post by our friend Heather Libby.

In my job at TckTckTck, I spend a lot of time worrying about the Alberta tar sands. I've read hundreds of articles, watched dozens of films and worked on my fair share of infographics about them. I could spend hours listing out all of the reasons why the tar sands are such a dangerous operation. And if after all that, you still didn't believe me, I'd tell you to visit them for yourself.

This summer I had the pleasure of meeting seventeen-year-old students Liam and Daniel as they prepared to spend their summer vacation in Fort McMurray doing just that. When polarizing discussions around the tar sands began to dominate the media earlier this year, Liam and Daniel convinced their parents to allow them the space to make up their own minds. The best way to do that, as Liam wisely says in the film “is to see them for ourselves.”

During their time in Fort McMurray, Liam and Daniel toured an active tar sands operation and met with working residents. They talked to a doctor at the Fort McMurray hospital treating locals and workers. They stopped off in Calgary to speak with Andrew Nikiforuk, author of a defining book about the tar sands and its impacts on Canada. The resulting 10 minute film of their experiences is equal parts thoughtful, earnest, playful and honest. Don't believe me? Watch it yourself: 

Tue, 2011-08-23 06:45Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Photo Essay on Canada's Filthy Tar Sands - This Is Why Keystone XL Must Be Stopped

Robert van Waarden, an excellent photographer and friend of DeSmogBlog, has compiled this great visual essay on Canada’s filthy tar sands to show people just a few of the reasons why the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline must be rejected by the Obama administration. 

Robert’s photos are accompanied by quotes from First Nations’ people whom he interviewed on a recent trip to the Alberta tar sands. First Nations communities living near the industrial tar sands development suffer the worst of the impacts, a fact often overlooked by the mainstream media. 


View the tar sands photo essay below:

Wed, 2011-08-03 06:15Ben Jervey
Ben Jervey's picture

U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Launches Campaign To Lobby For Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

keystone pipeline keystone xl

Last Friday, after applauding the House’s vote to rush a decision on TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a new campaign to boost the controversial project. The Partnership to Fuel America is run out of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, and seems positioned to be the U.S. Chamber’s main influence channel to drum up support for Keystone XL. Supportive comments aside, it’s also the first time the U.S. Chamber has so publicly and overtly aligned with the Canadian company’s project.

The launch comes at a pivotal moment for Keystone XL. The Obama administration has the final say in approving the pipeline, and they’ve said the decision will be made by the end of the year. The new House legislation declared that the Obama administration must make the call by November 1st. A final environmental review of the prospective project is expected from the State Department in August. (To learn more about how tar sands pipelines like Keystone XL are a much greater risk than normal crude pipelines, see my earlier post.)

Sun, 2011-07-10 11:10TJ Scolnick
TJ Scolnick's picture

Independent Panel Tells Alberta To Clean Up Tar Sands Impacts On Water

The much anticipated findings [pdf] from the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel, appointed to make recommendations on how to fix Alberta’s failing tar sands pollution monitoring system, were recently released to the public.

The panel was convened in January in response to co-authored research, published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, from David Schindler, a University of Alberta biologist and one of Canada’s top scientists.

Over the past several years, Schindler and his team have studied the high levels of mercury, lead and eleven other toxic elements in the oil sands’ main fresh water source, the Athabasca River. Their results contradict those from the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP), a government-supported and industry-funded agency which has long claimed that water quality is not impacted by tar sands development.

Siding with Schindler, the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel’s final report states that existing water monitoring systems are insufficient, ineffective, and unable to assess the cumulative effects of tar sands production on the environment. To improve the situation, the panel calls for government action and makes some 20 recommendations organized around three main conclusions:

Mon, 2011-06-13 12:43TJ Scolnick
TJ Scolnick's picture

Canada Hiding Its Carbon Emissions Growth Amidst Rapid Tar Sands Boom

Each year, in advance of United Nations (U.N.) climate discussions, governments around the world submit an inventory of their carbon emissions. This year, Canada is taking a unique approach to lower its reported emissions in preparing the annual carbon inventory – it has purposefully excluded information in order to give the false impression that when it comes to climate-altering tar sands pollution, “everything is fine.”

In reality, Canada’s carbon emissions have tripled since 1990, and Canada is making only minor progress to lower its carbon production 17% by 2020, according to Environment Canada’s own figures.

Last week, however, it was revealed that in the 567-page report detailing the country’s emissions, the Canadian government decided not to include 2009 data. Why? Perhaps because it documents a 20% increase in pollution from Alberta’s tar sands industry. The elusive data was only gradually released through emails in response to an investigation by Postmedia News.

Pages

Subscribe to alberta tar sands