Up to 105,000 gallons of oil obtained via offshore drilling have spilled from a pipeline owned by Plains All American at Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County in California. At least 21,000 gallons have poured into the Pacific Ocean and the spill's impacts stretch nine miles, according to the Associated Press.
“Alberta is very much a petrostate,” says journalist and author Andrew Nikiforuk. “It gets about 30 per cent of its income from the oil and gas industry. So as a consequence, the government over time has tended more to represent this resource and the industry that produces it, than its citizens. This is very typical of a petrostate.”
The flow of money, he says, is at the heart of the issue. “When governments run on petro dollars or petro revenue instead of taxes then they kind of sever the link between taxation and representation, and if you're not being taxed then you're not being represented. And that’s what happens in petrostates and as a consequence they come to represent the oil and gas industry. Albert is a classic example of this kind of relationship.”
In this interview with DeSmog, Nikiforuk explains the basics of his petrostate thesis and asks why Canada, unlike any other democratic nation, hasn't had a meaningful public debate about the Alberta oilsands and how they've come to shape the Canadian landscape, physically as much as politically.
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:
There is spin-doctoring an issue and then there is just tearing up evidence.
Two weeks ago there was news that Canada’s Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development had literally torn up draft copies of a report looking into the impacts the country’s massive tar sands operations were having on the fresh water supply.
Writing on the Tyee, author and tar sands expert Andrew Nikiforuk outlines in shocking detail just how much evidence was covered up by the Committee.
It is well worth the read: What Those Who Killed the Tar Sands Report Don’t Want You to Know