STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Archive for July 13th, 2008

Sands of Time

Posted by mhudema on July 13, 2008

The Sands of Time?

The rocketing rise in the cost of a barrel of oil could, at least in theory, favour attempts to develop alternatives to this declining (and rather dangerous) resource. Having said that, it could also make things worse by encouraging people to exploit what were, until recently, regarded as marginal deposits. One such are the tar or bitumen sands of Fort McMurray in Alberta ( that could, in theory, make Canada the second largest oil producer in the world. The trouble is that the tar sands are messy to extract.

470 square km of forest were removed to get access to the deposits, giant excavators are used to remove the sand and masses of water are used to separate the oil from the sand. The last activity results in great lakes of toxic waste. Even worse, although it is estimated that obtaining a barrel of conventional oil generates 30 kg of carbon dioxide, a barrel of tar sand oil produces about a 120 kg. This could rapidly turn Canada from one of the ‘good boys’ in terms of greenhouse gas generation to a serious offender. It is natural that Canadians argue that they currently produce relatively little carbon dioxide per capita and that they need the oil profits for their economy to grow.

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Tar Sands Go Nuclear

Posted by mhudema on July 13, 2008


While the idea has been discussed and debated since the oil sands has come into existance, it looks as though Alberta’s oil sands could finally be turning to, of all things, nuclear power to satisfy the outrageously large demand for electricity. The ambitious project, spearheaded by the local subsidiary of a mega-conglomerate, is focused on loosening up large quantities of bitumen encased in limestone. As usual, both investors and environmental activists looking for up-to-the-second facts and opinion are turning to the blogosphere.

NEI Nuclear, a well-respected blogthat offers news and commentary on the commercial nuclear energy industry, observes that while the idea of nuclear power in the oil sands has been considered before, “[it] looks like this is an idea with some staying power.” NEI Nuclear has been chronicalling the goings-on in the oil sands and has seen its fair share of smoke and mirrors in regards to nuclear energy powering oil sands projects they seem confident that the big name involved in the concept indicates that action could be close at hand. The difference? “This time, the name involved is Royal Dutch Shell.”
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Dirty to the Last Drop

Posted by mhudema on July 13, 2008

Dirty and wasteful to the last drop
Oil sands development is one of the most environmentally wrong-headed ideas ever
The Gazette

In some ways, shipping 61 per cent of our oil and gas production to a foreign country while both Canada and the world is running out of the stuff might be considered a good thing, but you would have to be fairly twisted – or just plain stupid – to go along with the reasoning.

Which just about sums up where Canadians are today when it comes to managing their most vital resource: fossil fuel energy.

In a nutshell, we continue to expand our fossil fuel exports into the United States while our conventional natural gas and crude oil supplies begin to dry up.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, which keeps track of world supplies, at its present rate of production Canada could be out of conventional natural gas in six years. That doesn’t mean every well will have run dry by 2014. That just means we will no longer have enough production to supply our needs. That will pose a horrendous situation both for the millions of Canadians who rely on natural gas to heat their homes and for the industrial sector that uses it to manufacture a wide variety of products, including fertilizer to help grow the cheap food to which we have become perhaps too blithely accustomed.

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Fun with Numbers: Gov’t’s new plan a lot of hot air

Posted by mhudema on July 13, 2008

Fun with numbers
Calgary Herald

Re: “Alberta pumps $4B into eco plan,” July 9.

The premier’s new climate sham is trying to win over Albertans by emphasizing transportation, which we need. But it’s not a solution to the climate crisis, nor does it address the other environmental and health implications of tarsands development — air pollution, the clearcutting of the boreal forest, water contamination, cancer rates in downstream communities and wildlife deaths. This climate sham is also relying on carbon capture and sequestration, an incredibly expensive and unproven technology with extremely long lead times.

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Economy or the Environment

Posted by mhudema on July 13, 2008

The Economy and The Environment – Can They Coexist?

Canada’s Harper government has been blasted by many for not taking aggressive action against climate change. However, the Canadian economy is largely upheld by the ultra-dirty tar-sands industry. Is there a way to balance the environment and the economy?If the Canadian government were a person, it would have both its hands full. In one, the feds have to protect and promote the internationally accepted image of Canada as a vast and green, environmentally forward nation. In the other, the Canadian government has to, quietly but effectively, ensure the economic stability of the nation, which in turn means protecting the dirty business of tar-sand oil production.But before we analyze the predicament that is trying to be both environmentally forward and pro-oil production, consider this. In 2007, according to the CIA, Canadian exports totaled $569.3 billion dollars, while Canadian imports totaled $555.2 billion; thereby resulting in a $14.1 billion dollar trade surplus at the end of 2007 – a crucial statistic that in turn allowed the feds to pay off some of the Canadian national debt.

However, included in the $569.3 billion dollars are the profits derived from the 2.274 million barrels of oil that are exported each day. When we subtract the 1.185 million barrels of oil that are imported daily, Canada produces for export and profit roughly 1.089 million barrels of oil a day. And if the average price for one barrel of oil was a meager $125 per barrel (it is currently $147), those 1.089 million barrels of exported oil would translate into a $49.685 billion dollar a year input into the Canadian economy. In other words, Canadian oil production and exportation is the pivotal factor that determines whether the Canadian economy records a surplus or a deficit at the end of each year.

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