STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Archive for April, 2008

Hundreds of ducks dead or dying after landing on tailings pond

Posted by mhudema on April 30, 2008

Breaking News

Updated: April 30, 2008 at 08:11 AM CDT

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. — Hundreds of migrating ducks are dead or dying after landing on a tailings pond owned by Syncrude Canada Ltd. and ice surrounding the small lake full of toxic sludge is hampering rescue efforts.
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Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach was visibly angry Tuesday as he questioned why noise-making canons were not deployed to scare the waterfowl away from the pond filled with oilsands wastes.

“The problem here is that there’s ice around the pond and you can’t just push a boat in (to rescue some of the birds),” said the premier. “The company will have to lower the boats by crane into the water.”

Company and government officials estimate there are roughly 500 birds trapped in the toxic pond in a disaster that has never before been witnessed in the northern Alberta oilsands region.

“Many of them will die as a result of this incident,” said Syncrude spokesman Alain Moore. The birds landed on the pond Monday.

Moore said the company is working with Alberta Fish and Wildlife in hopes of rescuing some of the birds.

“Our CEO is taking a personal commitment to lead this investigation team because it’s definitely a top priority at Syncrude,” he said.

But Environment Minister Rob Renner told The Canadian Press late Tuesday that it’s now looking doubtful that any of the birds can be saved.

Renner explained that the surviving birds are diving under the toxic water when approached, making recovery nearly impossible.

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Greenpeace activists let it all hang out at Premier’s fundraising dinner

Posted by mhudema on April 25, 2008

A Greenpeace activist dangles from the catwalk during Alberta Premier  Ed Stelmach's fundraising speech tonight, April 24, 2008, at the  annual Edmonton Premier's Dinner at the Shaw Conference Centre.

A Greenpeace activist dangles from the catwalk during Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach’s fundraising speech tonight, April 24, 2008, at the annual Edmonton Premier’s Dinner at the Shaw Conference Centre.

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Edmonton, Canada — On April 24, 2008, Greenpeace activists delivered a clear message to Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, dropping from the ceiling above the annual Edmonton Premier’s Dinner as he was delivering his fundraising speech, unveiling a banner as they descended that read: “$telmach: The Best Premier Oil Money Can Buy.”

Two climbers dangled from the catwalk, distracting the over 1000 supporters of the Alberta Conservative party, who each paid $450 to listen to Premier Stelmach speak at the dinner, held at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton. The Greenpeace protest disrupted the activity as the audience turned their attention to the activists and the hanging banner while Tory staff hurried to deal with the unexpected message.

“This government has approved every tar sands proposal that has come across its desk, last year the Premier appointed Suncor VP Heather Kennedy as deputy minister of tar sands development and his former Campaign manager Randy Dawson has been hired as a nuclear power lobbyist by Bruce Power. If this doesn’t speak to lapdog politics, I don’t know what does,” said Mike Hudema, tar sands campaigner with Greenpeace. “There hasn’t been a single tar sands project that has been rejected. It appears the Premier is either unwilling or unable to say no to big oil, despite the massive costs to Albertans.”

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Opponents line up against proposed Canada oil pipeline

Posted by mhudema on April 23, 2008

April 22, 2008

A new oil pipeline proposed in northern Minnesota is getting resistance from an unusual direction. Opponents say the large pipeline would contribute significantly to global warming — not so much from the oil itself, but for how the oil is extracted in Canada.

Duluth, Minn. — Enbridge Energy plans a 36-inch diameter pipeline running almost 1,000 miles, from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wis. Dubbed the Alberta Clipper, this line would cut a diagonal across northern Minnesota.

Some opposition is predictable — from property owners who would lose land to right-of-way, and others concerned about wetlands and oil spills.

But this project is getting lots of flak from people worried about climate change. Janette Brimmer is with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.

“While there are concerns about the landscape through which the pipeline travels, we’re quite concerned from the policy perspective with what it’s carrying, and where it’s coming from and where it’s going,” Brimmer said. “What it’s carrying is oil that is produced in Alberta, Canada’s tar sands, or sometimes called the oil sands region.”

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Budget falls short on climate, water problems: critics

Posted by mhudema on April 23, 2008

By JEREMY LOOME, LEGISLATURE BUREAU

Alberta will spend nearly $1.4 billion over the next three years to address climate change and water issues, but critics say the plans accompanying that spending will leave the province playing catchup.

“We will pursue a leading role in responding to climate change through carbon capture and storage, saving energy, and greener energy production,” said Finance Minister Iris Evans.

Program spending will double in 2008-2009 to $403 million, from $183 million. Much of the total spending, however, isn’t in direct program delivery but in research to develop new technologies such as carbon capture storage. The government will put $155 million of that into the climate change technology fund and $300 million over three years into its water strategy. Direct climate change strategies will receive about $30 million in the coming year.

There is nothing in the budget to suggest the government is moving away from its much-criticized plan to slowly phase in carbon emission reductions over the next 42 years, with carbon capture and storage underground starting somewhere around 2015.

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STERN UNDERESTIMATED CLIMATE CHANGE

Posted by mhudema on April 23, 2008

Climate expert says he underestimated threat

Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:55pm BST

By Gerard Wynn

LONDON (Reuters) – Climate change expert Nicholas Stern says he under-estimated the threat from global warming in a major report 18 months ago when he compared the economic risk to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Latest climate science showed global emissions of planet-heating gases were rising faster and upsetting the climate more than previously thought, Stern said in a Reuters interview on Wednesday.

For example, evidence was growing that the planet’s oceans — an important “sink” — were increasingly saturated and couldn’t absorb as much as previously of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), he said.

“Emissions are growing much faster than we’d thought, the absorptive capacity of the planet is less than we’d thought, the risks of greenhouse gases are potentially bigger than more cautious estimates, and the speed of climate change seems to be faster,” he told Reuters at a conference in London.

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Signed, sealed and delivered

Posted by mhudema on April 22, 2008

Posted: April 21, 2008
by: Stephanie Woodard
Environmental concerns plague fast-tracked oil pipeline

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – In March 2008, the U.S. Department of State issued a federal permit for the 2,000-mile TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, which would carry heavy crude oil from the oil sands of northern Alberta across seven U.S. states to Oklahoma. The document was signed, even though mandated government-to-government consultations with concerned Native nations were described as ”ongoing” by the State Department.

Issues of importance to tribes that are still unsettled include environmental concerns, protection of sacred sites, and employment opportunities and other economic benefits.

Why the rush?

The problem the State Department needed to solve was surging production in the oil sands region. Output will rise from 2.4 million barrels of oil per day in 2006 to as many as 5.3 million barrels per day in 2020, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. This is occurring just as other reserves of oil are depleting worldwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Once extracted, the raw product must be sent to refineries. However, Canada can’t expand refinery capacity fast enough to cope with the increase – a situation Canada’s National Energy Board has described as ”urgent.” As a result, major oil companies working in Alberta have to get the oil someplace that can deal with it, said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of the Canada Program of the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C.

And that’s where the United States and the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline come in.

However, this one pipeline isn’t all the oil companies need, said Casey-Lefkowitz. She pointed to more pipelines planned or under construction and proposed increases of U.S. refinery capacity.

”Concurrent with the Keystone proposal, U.S. refineries have expansion plans, including a new plant that [Dallas-based] Hyperion Resources is proposing in South Dakota,” she said, adding that this, in turn, means more local pollution and increased U.S. contribution to global warming.
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Alberta defers decision on oil sands moratorium

Posted by mhudema on April 22, 2008

DAVID EBNER AND NORVAL SCOTT

CALGARY — The Alberta government has for now dismissed a call for a moratorium on oil sands development, but says it will reconsider the issue in June when the broadly-based group that made the call completes a more comprehensive proposal.

In January, the Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA), comprising oil companies, federal and provincial government agencies, First Nations and environmental groups, asked Alberta to halt the sale of new exploration rights in three areas around Fort McMurray until 2011.

The group is concerned about the effect on the boreal forest of massive development of the oil sands. It called for the moratorium because it feared development going on now might undermine its plans to propose a new land use framework for the region in June.

While a majority of the association’s members supported the moratorium, there wasn’t a full consensus, with companies including EnCana Corp. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. saying the January proposals weren’t clear enough.

Last month, the Alberta government told CEMA in a letter that it “will assess” the idea but wants to see the full package of land management proposals. The letter in which the government disclosed its position was obtained last week by The Pembina Institute, an environmental group that’s a member of CEMA.

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Alberta: A survival guide

Posted by mhudema on April 21, 2008

NEW RULES FOR ENTERING ALBERTA

1. Bring your own house.

2. If you are going to the Oil Sands, bring your own house, school, and hospital.

3. If you are going to Edmonton, wear your flak jacket. This is the murder capital of Canada.

4. If you are driving to Edmonton, note that it is also the auto theft center of Canada .

5. If you are bringing drugs, head straight to Fort McMurray, the drug capital of Canada .

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Investors Decry BP’s Entry Into Tar Sands

Posted by mhudema on April 18, 2008

Statement to be submitted at BP annual meeting today in London

(CSRwire) BOSTON, MA – April 16, 2008 – A group of American and British investors released a statement today expressing disappointment at BP’s (NYSE: BP) investment in the Canadian tar sands, calling the move a “disturbing step backwards.” A representative from the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility intends the statement at BP’s annual stockholder meeting, which is taking place today at ExCeL London in London Docklands at 11:30 a.m. GMT. The investor group includes Trillium Asset Management, Boston Common Asset Management, MMA Praxis Mutual Funds, Christian Brothers Investment Services, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, Rathbone Greenbank Investments, Newground Investments, Pax World, Northstar Asset Management, Sierra Club Funds and Green Century Capital Management.

In December 2007, BP announced its entry into the tar sands business via two joint ventures with Husky Energy of Canada (Toronto: HSE.TO) with a total joint investment of $3 billion. Husky brings its “Sunrise” oil sand project to an upstream partnership, and BP will contribute a refinery based in Toledo, OH. The first output is expected to commence in 2012, and build to 200,000 barrels per day within a decade.

Citing the heavy environmental footprint of the tar sands, which have caused Canada to fall behind in meeting its Kyoto Protocol commitments, the statement also raises questions about BP’s long term business strategy. “We fear the implication that BP is retreating from an excellent strategic position designed to exploit the long term shift away from high-carbon fuel sources, and question whether this may undermine [BP’s] future competitiveness…..We do not wish to see the benefits of BP’s leadership as a renewable energy innovator and market leader to be offset by the harsh environmental impacts unleashed by tar sands development.”
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Stern Underestimates Climate Crisis

Posted by mhudema on April 18, 2008

By Gerard Wynn

LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) – Climate change expert Nicholas Stern says he under-estimated the threat from global warming in a major report 18 months ago when he compared the economic risk to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Latest climate science showed global emissions of planet-heating gases were rising faster and upsetting the climate more than previously thought, Stern said in a Reuters interview on Wednesday.

For example, evidence was growing that the planet’s oceans — an important “sink” — were increasingly saturated and couldn’t absorb as much as previously of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), he said.

“Emissions are growing much faster than we’d thought, the absorptive capacity of the planet is less than we’d thought, the risks of greenhouse gases are potentially bigger than more cautious estimates, and the speed of climate change seems to be faster,” he told Reuters at a conference in London.
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