STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Posts Tagged ‘boreal forest’

Impacts of the Tar Sands

Posted by mhudema on July 30, 2008

Economic, Environmental Costs of Developing Tar Sands & Oil Shale “Unthinkable”: WWF-UK

by Matthew McDermott, Brooklyn, NY on 07.29.08

anti-tar sands protest action in calgary photo
Photo from a tar sands protest action in Calgary, January 2008 by Steve Loo via flickr.

We’ve written so many times about the unmitigated environmental disaster that is tapping unconventional sources of oil, such as Canadian tar sands and US oil shales, that the subject may be old hat to many TreeHugger readers. That said, a new report from WWF-UK has summed up just how bad the environmental impact of these projects actually is, that it’s worth passing on.

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Ontario Forest Act

Posted by mhudema on July 15, 2008

Act will protect boreal forest

Jordana Huber

Victoria Times Colonist / Edmonton Journal / Regina Leader-Post / Montreal Gazette / Ottawa Citizen

TORONTO — Ontario will prohibit mining and forestry across a swath of northern boreal forest larger than the Maritime provinces, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced Monday as part of a larger plan that will also include changes to the antiquated Mining Act.

Under a framework to be developed, McGuinty said 225,000 square kilometres — roughly half of Ontario’s boreal forest — will be protected and designated strictly for tourism and traditional aboriginal use.

The other half of the unspoiled forest will be subject to forthcoming changes to the Mining Act that will mandate early consultations and accommodation of First Nations, McGuinty said.

“Emerging economies are hungry for resources and their appetites are only going to grow,” McGuinty said. “It’s just a matter of time so that gives us time to plan for that development instead of just letting that happen.”

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Ontario Protects Boreal

Posted by mhudema on July 15, 2008

Ontario vows to protect boreal forest


Globe and Mail

TORONTO — The Ontario government has declared a huge swath of land in the Far North off-limits to industrial development, as part of a plan to combat climate change and preserve much of the province’s boreal forest and its endangered species.

The government has not yet drawn the boundaries for the areas to be protected. But it announced yesterday that it plans to ban mining exploration and forestry in one-half of the boreal forest, an area 1½ times the size of the Maritime provinces. About 225,000 square kilometres will be restricted to tourism and traditional aboriginal uses, such as hunting and fishing.

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McGuinty to make Forest Protection Announcement

Posted by mhudema on July 14, 2008

McGuinty to unveil ‘vision’ to protect Ontario’s northern boreal forest

1 hour ago

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty will announce a plan today to protect a huge swath of boreal forest in the north.

The Canadian Press has learned McGuinty will outline what is billed as his “vision” to protect one of the largest forest and wetland ecosystems on the planet. Government sources have refused to confirm details of McGuinty’s announcement.

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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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Investment and the Tar Sands

Posted by mhudema on June 27, 2008

June 26, 2008

Shelley Alpern on How Tar Sands Perpetuate Petro-Addiction
by Bill Baue

SocialFunds writer Bill Baue speaks with Shelley Alpern of Trillium Asset Management about its shareholder activism on oil company exploitation of tar sands. — In a 2006 Rolling Stone interview, Al Gore infamously likened the practice of extracting oil from tar sands to “junkies find[ing] veins in their toes” to inject heroin. Gore’s image simply extends to its logical conclusion George Bush’s 2006 State of the Union “addicted to oil” metaphor. Clean, renewable energy represents a healthy cure for petro-addiction. Tar sands, which increase the carbon intensity of petroleum extraction, represent an exacerbation of the climate-changing addiction — kind of like trying to cure heroin addiction by injecting arsenic.

SocialFunds writer Bill Baue recently spoke with Shelley Alpern, director of social research and advocacy at Trillium Asset Management, about her shareholder activism asking oil companies such as ConocoPhillips and BP to assess and disclose the social, environmental, and financial risks of tar sands exploitation.
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Alberta’s PR Machine goes to Chicago

Posted by mhudema on June 27, 2008

The filthiest crude: like squeezing blood from a rock and a zillion times more destructive.

POSTED June 25, 9:13 PM

Four tons of forest=one barrel of oil.

The practical…whatever will most predictably and most quickly make a profit…is synonymous with the immediate. The long-term effects of the values and acts of “practical men” lie outside the boundaries of their interest. For such people a strip mine ceases to exist as soon as the coal has been extracted. Short-term practicality is long-term idiocy.
~Wendell Berry

Last week, the Energy Minister for the province of Alberta stopped in Chicago. He was on a campaign to import oil wrung from Alberta’s tar sands into the U.S., via a pipeline that would run through Illinois.
Tar sands are extensive deposits of sand, clay and silt mixed with bitumen–a viscous, oil-rich tar–that sit beneath Canada’s Boreal forest. The only way to extract this bitumen, which makes up about 10% of the concoction, is by razing forests and then open-pit mining the sand. Only a fraction of the deposit can be reached by digging; the rest is forced to the surface by pumping steam underground. About four tons of earth is mined for every barrel of oil produced. Once the bitumen is separated out from other organic materials, it must undergo an energy intensive process to be converted into crude. Five barrels of water are polluted and over 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas are consumed to process one barrel of tar sands oil. The toxic water is held in storage lagoons large enough to be seen from space, poisoning surrounding wildlife and habitats. Tar sands oil refinement emits two to five times more carbon dioxide than conventional oil processing. Firsthand witnesses of the Alberta tar sands strip mining operation have likened the scene to Tolkien’s Mordor. Environmental Defence Canada released a report on the industry entitled The Most Destructive Project on Earth.
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Oil sands industry faces rough road

Posted by mhudema on June 25, 2008

International Herald Tribune
Oil sands industry faces rough road in reaching out to green groups
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

CALGARY, Alberta: Oil sands producers in Canada have a rough road ahead persuading environmentalists and an increasingly concerned public that they are serious about protecting the environment while investing billions of dollars in new projects.

The industry’s lobbying group and several chief executives began a new communications campaign this week aimed at countering a full-court press by environmentalists over the impact of oil sands development on air, land, water and local communities.

Top executives admit they have come up short responding to concerns over their operations and explaining the progress they say they have made in areas like investing in carbon capture technology and land reclamation.

“As a result, we’ve been a bit overtaken by the other side of that equation, which resulted in what we think is an unbalanced view of our industry, so we do need pick up the ball and tell our side of the story,” Marcel Coutu, chief executive of Canadian Oil Sands Trust, said Tuesday.

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Posted by mhudema on June 25, 2008

Albertans defend oilsands after criticism from U. S. mayors; Americans urge
municipalities to ban use of gas in vehicles because process produces too
much carbon dioxide;

Dateline: EDMONTON

Alberta politicians are rising to defend the province’s main economic driver
after U. S. mayors passed a resolution urging American cities to stop using
fuel derived from the oilsands.

“I wish I could talk to all of them one-on-one,” Finance Minister Iris
Evans said Tuesday.

“I continually am reminded that people in Alberta — as well as certainly
people in the United States — do not really comprehend the good things that
have been done in Alberta and that’s an elephant in the room, that lack of

On Monday, U. S. mayors passed a resolution at their annual conference in
Miami urging cities to ban the use of oilsands-derived gasoline in municipal

They took direct aim at Alberta’s oilsands, pointing out that developing a
barrel of oilsands oil produces three times as much carbon dioxide as
conventional oil. The resolution also alleges oilsands development damages
Canada’s boreal forest and slows the transition to cleaner energy sources in
the United States.

Energy Minister Mel Knight promised Monday that Alberta will soon announce
major strides in capturing and storing greenhouse gas emissions from the

On Tuesday, other politicians leapt to his side.

Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier invited a delegation of his American
counterparts to visit his city to learn more about oilsands production.

“Reducing greenhouse gas is an important issue, but it requires a
comprehensive, thoughtful and realistic approach,” he said.

“This resolution suggests a lack of understanding and we hope by extending
that invitation we can help set the record straight.”

Echoing the provincial government’s position, he said the mayors should have
focused more on conservation and technological innovation.

“We can pass all the `feel-good’ resolutions that we want, but the reality
of the situation is that production from the oilsands is necessary,” he

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach repeated a suggestion he has made before that
his province is a leader in environmental regulation.

“We are the first jurisdiction to put in place emission levies,” he said.

“We’re doing cumulative environmental impact assessments both in the
oilsands and also in the industrial heartland. We’re the only jurisdiction
in Canada to put forward a land-use framework and also our water-for-life
strategy is well ahead of many jurisdictions in North America.”

Evans said emissions per barrel of oil have been reduced by 45 per cent by
the industry since 1990 and that $40 million has been collected from
industries that failed to meet the province’s emissions targets.

“I think we’re doing more than anyone else.”

C 2008 Osprey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.

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Natural Resources Defense Council to Oil Companies: Stop Tar Sands Fuel

Posted by mhudema on June 17, 2008

Recently, 500 ducks mistook a lake of toxic tar sands waste in Alberta for one of the many pristine waters in Canada’s Boreal forests. Once coated with the oily residue, the ducks couldn’t fly away and they all died. Many had flown from the United States on their way to have their young in the Boreal. The deceptive waters of the enormous waste lagoons were likely too attractive for them on their long trek north. Tar sands oil is just as deceptive as a solution to our energy needs.

The death of 500 ducks was one more warning about harm caused by mining and drilling Canada’s Boreal forests for the tar sands oil that lies deep under the surface. Beneath the carpet of blue waters and green forests of the Province of Alberta, the tar sands are sand mixed with a sticky substance called bitumen. This bitumen – after using lots of energy and water – can be turned into synthetic crude oil, and from there into fuel for our cars, trucks and airplanes.

In addition to the problems of torn up forests and toxic lagoons, the process for making the synthetic crude produces three times the greenhouse gases per barrel as conventional oil production.

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