Thursday, 5 June 2008

Tar Sands = tar baby

Tar baby cartoon courtesy of The Wilderness: life with Christ
You may remember the Brer Rabbit story. Once he laid paws on the tar baby, he was stuck with it. The Harper government and its allies* are sticking to the tar sands, whatever the environmental and human cost. They have taken great care to cast it in concrete by embedding it in the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership. Fortunately, US environmentalists are now putting pressure on their government to prefer real energy conservation to "intensity" measures and dirty oil.

A report just published online by the US Environmental Integrity Project states that more than 2/3 of U.S. oil refining capacity expansion is meant to use the heavier, dirtier crude oil from Canadian tar sands; and over 1/2 of existing capacity is to be modified. In the US this will mean a 1600% increase in refinery toxics such as sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, sulfuric acid mist, nitrogen oxides, lead and nickel compounds. Effects in Canada include clear-cutting and strip-mining huge portions of intact boreal forest, creating vast un-reclaimable toxic lakes (many of which are already leaking into the Athabasca River), consuming enormous amounts of water and energy, and producing 3-5 times more greenhouse gases than conventional oil. Tar sands producers now use as much natural gas every day as 3,000,000+ home furnaces. All this is the price of oil addiction.

*see industry list: Team Alberta's $25m public relations campaign aided by federal diplomats, Alberta Enterprise Group, Alberta Oilsands, Albian, BP, Bronco, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canadian Natural Resources, Canadian Oilsands Ltd, Canadian Oilsands Trust, Chevron, CNOOC China National Offshore Oil Company, CLAC Christian Labor Association of Canada, Connacher, Conoco/Phillips, Deep Well, Deloro, Devon, Enbridge, Encana, Enerplus, ExxonMobil, Firesteel, Gasland Group, Habanero, Husky, Ivanhoe, Keystone, Ledcor, Patch, Penngrowth, Penn West, Petrocan, Petrobank, Royal Dutch Shell, Saskatchewan, Sinopec, Southern Pacific, Source Petroleum, Suncor, Syncrude, Synenco, Talisman, Teck, Titanium, Total, TransCanada, UTS.

Further reading:
EIP facts at a glance and podcast
SPP (continental integration) as a threat to Canadian democracy and sovereignty; a much-reprinted article on "The Militarization and Annexation of North America" 19 July 2007 by Chicago-based policy analyst Stephen Lendman.
TarSandsWatch: online CCPA report Fuelling Fortress America includes the involvement of Bush-Cheney's NEPDG National Energy Policy Development Group, "yellow dog" union contracts, Ft McMurray social problems, and military implications. See also TILMA
Pembina Institute report Under-Mining the Environment
The Guardian 13 Dec 2007 The Biggest Global Warming Crime in History
Mostly Water: on government persecution of the doctor who reported downstream cancers
OilSandsWatch: of 1.8b tonnes of tailings a day, only 2/1000 are recycled. Current production is 1.3 million bpd, which could increase to 3 million bpd by 2015.
OilSandsTruth: native protests against tar sands
CBC documentary Tar Sands: The Selling of Alberta (2008) on the oil lobby, environmental impacts, SPP and its effect on sovereignty; view the video on Youtube

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