alberta tar sands

South Portland's Ban on Tar Sands Oil Survives Court Challenge

Read time: 7 mins
Location of proposed pollution control towers in South Portland Maine's harbor

The City of South Portland, Maine, won a major legal victory at the end of August when a federal judge ruled that the city’s effective ban on tar sands oil did not violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The decision, like a similar one in Portland, Oregon, has potentially widespread implications for other communities fighting fossil fuel infrastructure projects within their borders.

This Small Branch of Trans Mountain Could Derail Canada’s Pipeline Purchase

Read time: 9 mins
Protester holding sign stating No Pipeline, No Consent, during a Kinder Morgan Pipeline Rally on September 9th, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada.

By , The Narwhal. Originally posted on The Narwhal.

The vast majority of oilsands crude moving to the West Coast passes through the little regarded Puget Sound Pipeline, which is now heavily entangled in troubled Canada-U.S. relations.

Politicians and industry have long boasted of the ability for an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline to get oil to lucrative Asian markets from Burnaby’s Westridge terminal.

But experts in Washington State are increasingly concerned that the twinning of the Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline may in fact lead to an expansion of the Puget Sound Pipeline, a 111-kilometer “spur line” from Trans Mountain that branches southward at Abbotsford to carry oil to four large refineries in the Puget Sound region.

Justin Trudeau's Risky Gamble on the Trans Mountain Pipeline

Read time: 5 mins
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

By David Tindall, University of British Columbia

In the lead-up to the last federal election [in Canada], Justin Trudeau said: “Governments might grant permits, but only communities can grant permission.”

Vancouver and Burnaby did not grant permission to the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. Neither did a number of smaller Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Nevertheless, Trudeau’s Liberal government approved the expansion. Then, this week, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the government was taking over the project from Kinder Morgan.

28 Activists Arrested at Kinder Morgan Pipeline Construction Site in British Columbia

Read time: 4 mins
Protester being arrested at Kinder Morgan's tank farm

By Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

Despite a court-ordered injunction barring anyone from coming within 5 meters (approximately 16.4 feet) of two of its BC construction sites, opponents of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion sent a clear message Saturday that they would not back down.

Twenty-eight demonstrators were arrested March 17 after blocking the front gate to Kinder Morgan's tank farm in Burnaby, BC for four hours, according to a press release put out by Protect the Inlet, the group leading the protest.

Is This New Tar Sands Technology a Game Changer for Exporting Canada's Bitumen?

Read time: 7 mins
Hockey pucks

A new technology has the potential to transform the transportation of tars sands oil. Right now, the already thick and slow-flowing oil, known as bitumen, has to be diluted with a super-light petroleum product, usually natural gas condensate, in order for it to flow through a pipeline or into a rail tank car. 

However, scientists at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering inadvertently found a way to make tar sands oil even more viscous, turning it into “self-sealing pellets” that could potentially simplify its transport.

The Keystone Pipeline Network Could Soon Be Completed Under Trump, But Will It Be Safe?

Read time: 8 mins
Keystone pipeline in Texas

In the coming months, TransCanada will likely receive a green light to build the final leg of its Keystone pipeline network, which would carry Canadian tar sands to Gulf of Mexico refineries. President-elect Trump has said that, during his first 100 days in office, he will reverse President Obama’s decision to block the Keystone XL Pipeline.

If built, TransCanada maintains that the Keystone pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever built. But an ongoing DeSmog investigation into the Keystone network’s safety record continues to raise questions about the veracity of TransCanada’s claim.

Exclusive: Q&A with Filmmaker Deia Schlosberg on Her Arrest While Filming an Activist Shutting Down a Tar Sands Pipeline

Read time: 8 mins
Deia Schlosberg. Climate Direct Action activists.

On October 11, 2016, award-winning documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg was arrested in North Dakota while filming an activist with Climate Direct Action as he turned off a TransCanada oil sands pipeline crossing from Canada into the United States. It was one of five actions that shut down all pipelines carrying tar sands into the U.S. from Canada that day.

In an exclusive interview with DeSmog, Schlosberg shares her experience, including what it’s like being a reporter facing felony charges with a potential maximum sentence of 45 years, her reaction when Edward Snowden tweeted about her, and a message for other journalists covering climate change and the oil and gas industry. 

I did not ever intend to be the story. It’s safe on this side of the camera usually,” Schlosberg told DeSmog. 

If the Keystone XL Pipeline is Dead, South Dakota Regulators Didn’t Get the Memo

Read time: 6 mins
TransCanada pipe yard

TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is not as dead as some of its adversaries claimed after President Obama denied the presidential permit for the border-crossing section of the tar sands pipeline. 

The company’s plans for the South Dakota part of the pipeline are still in play after the South Dakota Public Utility Commission (PUC) denied a motion to throw out the company’s request to certify its expired permit. 

TransCanada's Next Move After Keystone XL: Flood Mexico with Fracked Gas with State Department Help

Read time: 3 mins

TransCanada, the owner of the recently-nixed northern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, has won a bid from Mexico's government to build a 155-mile pipeline carrying gas from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the United States to Mexico's electricity grid. 

The company has benefited from Mexico's energy sector privatization promoted by the U.S. State Department, the same agency that denied a permit to the U.S.-Canada border-crossing Keystone XL. TransCanada said in a press release that construction on the $500 million line will begin in 2016 and it will be called the Tuxpan-Tula Pipeline. 

State Department Keystone XL Contractor ERM Bribed Chinese Agency to Permit Project

Read time: 4 mins

Environmental Resources Management (ERM Group), the consultancy selected by TransCanada to conduct the environmental review for Keystone XL's northern leg on behalf of the U.S. State Department, is no stranger to scandal.

Exhibit A: ERM once bribed a Chinese official to ram through major pieces of an industrial development projectERM was tasked to push through the project in Hangzhou Bay, located near Shanghai.

Accepting the bribe landed Yan Shunjun, former deputy head of the Shanghai Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, an
11-year prison sentence.

Yan “allegedly took bribes of 864,000 yuan (126,501 U.S. dollars), 20,000 U.S. dollars and 4,000 euros from seven contractors,” explained Xiuhuanet. “Yan was also accused of illegally setting up a channel to speed up environmental impact assessment processes, which are essential for companies wanting to build factories.”

BP, one of the companies standing to gain if Keystone XL North receives a presidential permit from the Obama administration as a major Alberta tar sands producer, was also mired in the Chinese ERM Group scandal. 

“Two firms on ERM's bluechip client list, BP and Sinopec, are big investors in a petrochemical complex on the site, but the Chinese authorities apparently saw no conflict of interest in awarding the environmental evaluation to ERM,” explained London's Sunday Times.

In a sense, history has repeated itself.

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