STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Archive for September, 2008

US upholds Tar Sands Ban

Posted by mhudema on September 26, 2008

Bid to amend U.S. ‘dirty-oil’ bill fails
Existing legislation could limit business for Alberta’s oilsands
By Dan Healing
Canwest News Service
A U.S. bill would seemingly bar U.S. federal agencies from buying "dirty oil" products - including those originating in the Canadian oilsands. Here, a protest banner hangs over a tailing ponds in northern Alberta.
CREDIT: Greenpeace
A U.S. bill would seemingly bar U.S. federal agencies from buying “dirty oil” products – including those originating in the Canadian oilsands. Here, a protest banner hangs over a tailing ponds in northern Alberta.

CALGARY – A last-ditch effort to amend an energy bill that appears to ban the sale of “dirty oil” products – including those originating in the Canadian oilsands – to U.S. federal government agencies has failed in Washington.

Section 526 of the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 bars U.S. federal agencies such as the military and the postal service from buying alternative fuels if the production creates more greenhouse gases than conventional fuels.

Since it was signed into law last December, opponents have been fighting to repeal or amend it, not so much because they are concerned about Canadian energy exports, but because it appears to counter U.S. Defense Department experiments with coal liquefaction fuels.

Late Wednesday, the U.S. Senate denied an amendment to Section 526 that had been packaged with a Senate authorization bill.

“This is a big step for clean-energy supporters,” said Alberta Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema.

“Especially in a Canadian context, it severely limits the U.S. government’s ability to enter into contracts to get oil from the tarsands because of how large an emitter the tarsands are compared with conventional-oil operations.”

He agreed the bill could also be read to prohibit other non-conventional fuels – possibly even biofuels, depending on how they are produced – unless the section is clarified.

The defeat Wednesday means the end of the battle for this president and this Congress, said Matt Letourneau, spokesman for New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici, the senior Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“This is really largely a problem for the next administration to deal with because of the very real issue of making sure the military has the resources it needs and the ability to purchase what it needs.”

He said the amendment didn’t have a realistic chance of passing the Senate anyway, which is controlled by Democrats, but added that a growing number of Washington politicians in both parties are worried about the section’s implications.

“Our concern would be that when those (fuel) contracts expire, a group could interpret 526 in such a way to say that it prohibits the U.S. from obtaining oil from tarsands, for instance, and then there would be a lawsuit from Greenpeace or whoever else and it would work its way through the courts.

“Meanwhile, our military relies on that fuel and we’re fighting a war.”

More than half of the crude oil produced in Canada comes from the oilsands and that proportion is expected to rise.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and several Canadian politicians have called for clarification of the clause.

© Calgary Herald 2008

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US upholds ban on Tar Sands Oil

Posted by mhudema on September 26, 2008

U.S. Congress upholds restrictions on high-carbon fuels

Last Updated: Thursday, September 25, 2008 | 10:18 PM ET

Mining trucks carry loads of oil-laden sand after being loaded by huge shovels at the Albian Sands oilsands project in Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2005.Mining trucks carry loads of oil-laden sand after being loaded by huge shovels at the Albian Sands oilsands project in Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2005. (Jeff McIntosh/Associated Press)Fuels derived from Alberta’s tarsands could find a tougher market in the United States after Congress decided Thursday to uphold legislation restricting imports of fuels from high-carbon sources.

The decision was celebrated by environmental organizations that have been campaigning against changes to Section 526 of the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Members of Congress have spent the past nine months contemplating whether to repeal or weaken Section 526, which deals with fuels from high-carbon sources such as tarsands oil, liquid coal and oil shale.

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Dead Duck Lake

Posted by mhudema on September 25, 2008

Oilsands: Fowl play

Andrew Nikiforuk
From the September 29, 2008 issue of Canadian Business magazine
On a late July morning, 11 members of Greenpeace did what entrepreneurial activists do best: bold ventures. Armed with bolt cutters, the green crew drove north of Fort McMurray, Alta., severed a chain lock and then broke into Syncrude Canada Ltd.’s Aurora North settling basin, now known to millions around the world as the infamous watery graveyard for 500 migrating ducks. (Locals just call the waste pond “Dead Duck Lake.”)

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Dirty Business: The Tar Sands of Alberta and Toxic Waste

Posted by mhudema on September 25, 2008

Dirty Business: The Tar Sands of Alberta and Toxic Waste

Dirty Business
The Tar Sands of Alberta and Toxic Waste

By Andrew Nikiforuk; September, 21 2008 – Znet
http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/18878

Fred McDonald, a Métis trapper and storyteller extraordinaire, often questioned the reasoning and science behind the proliferation of toxic ponds and end-pit lakes. Before he died in 2007 of kidney failure, McDonald lived in Fort McKay, an Aboriginal community 72 kilometres north of Fort Saskatchewan. The stench of hydrocarbons from the surrounding mines often hangs heavily in the air there, and in 2006, an ammonia release from a Syncrude facility hospitalized more than 20 children.

On a fall day in 2006, McDonald sat in his kitchen, sipping a glass of rat root juice (“It’s good for everything,” he told me) and breathing through an oxygen tube. The day before, he had spent several hours on a dialysis machine. McDonald’s kidneys were failing but not his mind. He recalled the days when Tar Island was a good place to fish and hunt. (Tar Island was so named by local Cree and Métis after the bitumen that often oozed down its banks. In the late 1960s, Suncor transformed the island into a tailings pond, the first in the tar sands.) “It always had moose on it. We loved that island. We are slowly losing everything.”

McDonald was born on the river, and he had trapped, fished, farmed and worked for the oil companies. He fondly remembered the 1930 and 1940s, when Syrian fur traders exchanged pots and pans for muskrat and beaver furs along the Athabasca River. Families lived off the land then and had feasts of rabbit. They netted jackfish, pickerel and whitefish all winter long. “Everyone walked or paddled, and the people were healthy,” McDonald said. “No one travels that river anymore. There is nothing in that river. It’s polluted. Once you could dip your cup and have a nice cold drink from that river, and now you can’t.”

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Lawsuit may Stop Tar Sands

Posted by mhudema on September 17, 2008

Following the massive lawsuit filed by the Beaver Lake Cree Nation last month (and the one filed by the Woodland Cree last year), the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation came forward on June 4th to file their own lawsuit against the Alberta government.

The CPDFN say they weren’t consulted when the government leased away “the heart” of their traditional territory to MEG Energy Corporation for an oilsands (tarsands) project.

Focusing primarily on their Treaty Rights, CPDFN hope the lawsuit will require Alberta to hold ‘meaningful consultations’ so as to protect one of the few remaining places in their Traditional Territory where they can exercise their rights.

See below for a press release from the Chipewyan Dene Prairie First Nation.

First Nation Files Lawsuit Challenging Oilsands Tenure and Regulatory Approval System

EDMONTON, ALBERTA–(June 4, 2008) – Today the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation (”CPDFN”) filed legal action in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench against the Alberta Government alleging a breach of Alberta’s constitutional duty to consult with the First Nation on MEG Energy Corp.’s Christina Lake Regional Project, Phase 3. This Project is planned to be located in the heart of CPDFN’s Traditional Territory, between Christina Lake and Winifred Lake, the breadbasket of the First Nation.

“Our lakes, our land and the animals and fish we have relied on for thousands of years to support our way of life and cultural values are being destroyed by out-of-control oilsands developments,” said Chief Vern Janvier of CPDFN. “Because our constitutionally-protected rights are at risk in one of the few remaining places in our Traditional Territory where we can exercise them, we’ve asked the Courts to step in before it’s too late.”

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Oilsands needs special reporting rules: Environment, investor groups

Posted by mhudema on September 17, 2008

Randy Boswell
Canwest News Service

Canada’s oilsands industry, already the target this week of a major British investment firm’s campaign against the “climate-hostile fuel,” is now under fire from an international alliance of environment and investor groups, which has urged the U.S. securities regulator to rewrite proposed new rules on reporting petroleum reserves to reflect the “potentially enormous risks” – financially and ecologically – associated with the “carbon-intensive” Canadian energy source.

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Tar Sands – the new toxic investment

Posted by mhudema on September 17, 2008

Environment: Tar sands – the new toxic investment

Report warns against oil industry’s equivalent of the sub-prime mortgage crisis

Shell and BP have been warned by investors that their involvement in unconventional energy production such as Canada’s oil sands could turn out to be the industry’s equivalent of the sub-prime lending that poisoned the banking sector and triggered the current financial crisis.

The criticism came as a report was released yesterday warning of the potential financial risks of tar sands, and members of the UK Social Investment Forum met in London to consider a Co-op Investments campaign on halting oil industry involvement in the carbon-intensive oil projects.

The report, BP and Shell, Rising Risks in Tar Sands Investment, co-authored by Greenpeace and fellow campaign group Platform, argues that oil majors are trying to make up a shortfall in conventional reserves by an irresponsible dash to extract oil from bitumen and other sources.

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US Fuel Law Bans Tar Sands

Posted by mhudema on September 16, 2008

Alberta blindsided by U.S. fuel law
Ottawa, province must work together to protect our interests on Capitol Hill
Paula Simons
The Edmonton Journal

The U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act passed last December, without a fuss on this side of the border.

Yet Section 526 of the 822-page piece of legislation should have set Canadian alarm bells ringing. The section forbids any federal agency — such as the Defense Department or the U.S. Postal Service — from buying “synthetic” fuel from non-conventional sources for any “mobility-related” uses.

The section was authored by Congressman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, and chair of the House of Representatives committee on oversight and government reform.

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Big Oil Rejects Wetlands Policy

Posted by mhudema on September 16, 2008

Oilsands firms balk at wetlands policy
‘No net-loss’ rule could cost oil producers billions
Kelly Cryderman
Calgary Herald

Two major industry associations representing oilsands producers are refusing to support key tenets of a long-awaited plan to protect Alberta’s wetlands, citing concerns about rigid rules and restoration costs that could stretch to $1 billion and beyond.

Environmental groups say they have been blindsided by the decision.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize how critical wetlands are,” said Danielle Droitsch, executive director of Water Matters, a Canmore-based environmental group.

Rules to protect the province’s disappearing wetlands — key to both healthy water supplies and wildlife — are long overdue, say environmentalists and other industry groups that are members of the wetland policy project team.

“While we’ve been negotiating this policy for three years, the Alberta government has been licensing (oilsands) operations in the absence of a policy,” Droitsch said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Poll: Albertans want a healthy environment

Posted by mhudema on September 15, 2008

Albertans torn between resource riches, protecting environment
Kelly Cryderman
Canwest News Service

CALGARY — Albertans are torn between wanting to reap the full benefits of their natural resource wealth and protecting the environment, a new survey suggests.

“They’re very concerned about the environment, but they don’t want to mess around with the economy,” says Leger Marketing pollster Marc Tremblay.

More than half the Albertans surveyed in the poll for the Calgary Herald – 58 per cent – said governments should take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – even if it means limiting economic development or eliminating jobs.

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