tar sands

Thu, 2010-11-25 09:46Emma Pullman
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Alberta and Canadian Governments Complicit in Killing Climate Policy in EU & U.S. to Support Toxic Tar Sands

The Alberta government’s multi-million dollar public relations campaign to spin dirty tar sands production in a positive light has received quite a bit of flack from those who see through efforts to tout the tar sands as green, or as a “national treasure”

They haven’t just been investing in $56,000 advertisements and op-ed pieces. The governments of Canada and Alberta are also engaged in something much more insidious: a concerted effort to weaken climate policies in other countries, with the aim of ensuring that no impediments exist to Canada’s filthy tar sands. 

The shocking report released by Climate Action Network Canada shows that the Alberta and Canadian governments have been complicit with industry in efforts to undermine climate legislation in the EU and U.S. The report highlights three devious efforts by industry and government to oppose or weaken energy policy abroad: California’s low-carbon fuel standard, which encourages cleaner fuels and discourages burning dirty fuels; Section 526 of the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act, which stops departments from buying the dirtiest kinds of fuels and the European Union’s Fuel Quality Directive, an effort to lower CO2 emissions and move toward cleaner-burning fuels.

Government and industry are behind “a concerted effort to weaken climate policies outside our borders, with the aim of ensuring that no doors are closed to Canada’s highly polluting tar sands,” the report’s authors write. This is the heart of corporate-government complicity, with the secret oilsands advocacy strategy being led by the Foreign Affairs Department, with officials working in both the U.S. and the European Union.  The report’s authors fear that these examples appear to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Wed, 2010-11-24 17:04Brendan DeMelle
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Alberta Tar Sands Have Irreversible Impact on Indigenous Culture

The Alberta tar sands are increasingly recognized as a major threat, not only moving us in the opposite direction from where we need to go to solve the climate crisis, but also with the enormous environmental and public health risks that tar sands development entails.  However, another major negative and irreversible consequence of the tar sands’ gold rush is often overlooked - the tremendous impact on the culture and legacy of northern Alberta’s indigenous peoples.

As this amazing multimedia presentation by acclaimed climate change photographer Robert van Waarden demonstrates vividly, the tar sands are leaving an indelible mark on First Nations’ communities, whose livelihoods and culture are threatened by the tar sands.  Watch this, then please share it with your family and learn more about the tar sands.  This destruction can be stopped, but not without major public pressure.

Tue, 2010-11-23 06:55Brendan DeMelle
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Had Enough Tar Sands Greenwashing? Join the CAPP Ad-Jam Contest

Are you sick and tired of the greenwashing efforts by the Alberta government and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to paint Canada’s toxic tar sands as ‘clean’?

Greenpeace Canada is launching an ad-jamming contest to combat the greenwashing campaign launched by CAPP in a series of print and video ads

“It is time to show CAPP that any attempt to greenwash the tar sands will not go unchecked,” say Greenpeace organizers, who have set up a Facebook group to “Put a CAPP on Tar Sands Greenwashing.”

Thu, 2010-11-18 12:02Emma Pullman
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Toxic Tar Sands Coming to a Community Near You: Profiles From The Front Lines

Many Americans who have never heard of the Alberta tar sands soon will. The tar sands is one of the largest, dirtiest, and most destructive projects on Earth, and is likely coming to a community near you.  The oil industry is expanding facilities to process toxic tar sands oil in the U.S. through a network of refineries and pipelines.  With plans to triple refining and transportation of tar sands by 2015, there is no question that air pollution and health problems in communities from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast will increase.

Public health in several U.S. states is already under threat from dramatic increases in refining pollution, and massive pipelines are planned to cross the United States’ largest freshwater aquifer, which supplies one-third of U.S. agriculture.

Tar sands crude contains heavy metals, and refining tar sands releases polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons linked to pre-natal brain damage, and smog and ozone-depleting chemicals and compounds.  Exposure to these toxics is linked to asthma, emphysema and other lung diseases.  That says nothing of the devastating impacts on air, water, and soil.

With the environmental and health impacts of the tar sands well known, but no sign of an end to the environmental trauma, the Sierra Club’s latest report shows the personal side of the impacts of dirty oil in North American communities. Americans and Canadians are worried about Alberta’s tar sands expansion poisoning their water, destroying their farmland, and contaminating their air. 

Mon, 2010-11-08 14:25Emma Pullman
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75 Groups from Canada, US and Europe Call for End to Toxic Tar Sands Tailings

Photo courtesy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council

75 groups from across Canada, the U.S. and Europe have signed a petition calling on the federal and Alberta governments to immediately phase out existing tailings lakes and deny any proposed project that would create new tailings lakes. Greenpeace issued the call-out last week, and 45 groups across Canada, including 23 Alberta-based groups, six U.S. groups, and one group from Europe have signed on to support a moratorium on destructive tar sands practices.  To date, there have been over 600 signatories to the petition.  

Greenpeace’s petition comes as European members of Parliament (MEPs) wrapped up their tour of the Alberta tar sands late last week.  European members of Parliament were visiting to weigh in on the controversial dirty crude and were to report back on their findings regarding fuel legislation that could inhibit or impact the use of tar sands products. At stake is possible legislation and restriction on the importation of the dirty crude, or the labeling of it as “dirty” or “high carbon”.

Mon, 2010-11-01 18:28Brendan DeMelle
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Koch Brothers Are Kings of Alberta Oil Sands Too

The Tyee notes today that billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch and their company Koch Industries are a major player in Alberta’s dirty oil sands, a fuel source far more polluting than even regular oil.  Leave it to the Koch brothers to gravitate towards (and profit from) the dirtiest sources of energy on the planet - while ignoring investments in cleaner alternatives that could help rescue and stabilize the U.S. economy - and collect love letters from the Tea Party’s “patriots” for their efforts. 

Tyee reporter Geoff Dembicki notes the Kochtopus’s role in spawning the fake ‘grassroots’ Tea Party movement, especially through the Koch-filled coffers of Americans For Prosperity, and points to the Kochs’ role in funding the climate denial machine as a key indicator of why the TeaOP is overrun with anti-science sentiment

The looming threat of a TeaOP takeover in Washington - even if exaggerated in its scope - is bad news for science-based policy, particularly in the arena of climate change policy.  With a fresh crop of climate deniers set to assume seats formerly held by moderate Republicans and Democrats, the silly season antics that typically crop up during election time appear to be stuck on auto-repeat for the foreseeable future.

Dembicki details Koch Industries’ role in sponsoring the Tea Party rise, but also probes Koch’s extensive control over Alberta’s filthy oil sands, including this excerpt:

Tue, 2010-07-06 13:45Kevin Grandia
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Powerful US Congressman Sends Serious Opposition to Canada Oil Sands Pipeline

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), a senior member of Congress and chair of the powerful Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce has penned a public letter to the Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton, in which he states strong opposition to a planned oil pipeline that would transport Canada’s controversial tar sands oil to the US Gulf Coast.

In the letter Waxman writes:

The State Department’s decision on whether to permit this pipeline represents a critical choice about America’s energy future.

This pipeline is a multi-billion dollar investment to expand our reliance on the dirtiest source of transportation fuel currently available. While I strongly support the President’s efforts to move America to a clean energy economy, I am concerned that the Keystone XL pipeline would be a step in the wrong direction. (hftsuuuttt)

You can download a full PDF copy of the letter from Waxman to Clinton here.

Mon, 2010-05-17 11:52Kevin Grandia
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Fossil Fuel Industry's 65-Page Strategy to Sell Carbon and Capture Technology

A report shows how the coal, oil and tar sands industry, along with government plans to sell carbon and capture and storage technology to a skeptical public.

The 65-page report titled, Communication of carbon capture and storage: outcomes from an international workshop to summarize the current global position [pdf], was produced by the Global Carbon Capture and Storage (GCCS) Institute, an organization formally launched by US president Barack Obama and Australian president Kevin Rudd at the 2009 G8 summit.

Communications recommendations for selling carbon capture and storage in the report include:

“…when multiple stakeholders join forces to communicate a message the message is more likely to be well received and trusted, particularly if those communicating the messages are generally known to have opposing views. For example, when NGOs team up with industry partners…”

“Within each community there are various audiences that need to be considered, particularly for targeting engagement processes and key messages.”

Members of the GCCS Institute include major coal producers and Canada tar sands operators who have the most to gain by selling the idea that carbon capture and storage can work on a commercial scale, including Enbridge, ConocoPhilips, Duke Energy, Arch Coal and the Integrated CO2 Network.

While billions of dollars continue to be invested in carbon capture and storage technology, it remains little more than a pipe-dream that industry will find a way to capture and store greenhouse gases at the level needed to significantly reduce worldwide emissions and avoid the most devastating effects of climate change.

H/T to Geoff Dembicki at The Tyee for this story.

Sun, 2009-09-20 09:27Jim Hoggan
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Edelman Oilsands Advice - Embarrassing and Wrong

It is often infuriating to see the advice that my PR colleagues are giving to compromised companies, but sometimes it’s just embarrassing.

Such was the case with the advice that Edelman Public Relations principal Richard Edelman was doling out to the tar sands industry this week. Edelman was quoted in the Vancouver Sun telling tar sands insiders at a conference in Alberta that they should start pushing their position on Facebook and Twitter.

“You have to go where the conversations are,” he said.

This is bad advice on so many counts.

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