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Alberta Government Back Pedals on Role of CCS in Tar Sands

Posted by mhudema on November 25, 2008

Alberta reaction mixed to questions about carbon capture technology

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 | 10:25 AM MT

Senior Alberta government cabinet ministers expressed different opinions Monday on what effect carbon capture technology would have on reducing pollution from the oilsands industry in light of internal government documents that call that technology into question.

Previously secret ministerial briefing notes obtained by CBC News under freedom of information legislation said only a small percentage of carbon dioxide released by mining the oilsands can be captured and injected underground for storage.

The briefing notes are based on the findings of a joint Canada-Alberta task force on carbon capture and storage.

“Never has been arguments been made that this was any kind of panacea,” Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner said in response Monday. “There are opportunities for carbon capture and storage in Alberta. Those opportunities lie to some degree in oilsands.”

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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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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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Fort Chip to World: SOS

Posted by mhudema on September 15, 2008

Fort Chip to world: SOS

Climate change, water policy and aboriginal health. Three issues that should be atop the election agenda. Three issues that start with the oil sands.

Canadians are dying. Our government is doing nothing about it. Will it take world attention to end this injustice?

That’s what some residents of Fort Chipewyan, the small northern Alberta town at the mouth of Lake Athabasca, have concluded, starting a campaign for an oil sands moratorium that they plan to take across North America and Europe, until health and water concerns are addressed.

Residents in Fort Chipewyan, Alta., say they saw this fish, seen in this Aug. 15 photo, caught from Lake Athabasca the previous week. (Courtesy of Ling Wang)

Residents in Fort Chipewyan, Alta., say they saw this fish, seen in this Aug. 15 photo, caught from Lake Athabasca the previous week. (Courtesy of Ling Wang)

Fort Chip, an aboriginal community of 1200, has received increasing attention due to the high levels of cancer in the community. Dr. John O’Connor, a fly-in doctor first raised the issue publicly in 2005, noting the unusually high levels of a rare bile duct cancer, but was soon silenced by Health Canada and reprimanded by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta for causing “undue alarm”. Only last December was he finally cleared. Read the rest of this entry »

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More Birds Die in Alberta

Posted by mhudema on September 10, 2008

Alberta oil leak kills 300 birds
By BILL KAUFMANN — Sun Media

Crude oil leaked from an untapped well in southeastern Alberta has killed up to 300 birds, sparking outrage among environmental critics.

The leak of 60 to 90 barrels of sweet heavy crude oil from a suspended well at CFB Suffield, 200 km southeast of Calgary, has killed hundreds of birds, said David Inkstrup, a spokesman for the federal Canadian Wildlife Service.

Drilled in 2005 but never put into production, the well is licensed to Calgary-based Harvest Energy Trust.

The latest mass death of birds is part of a disturbing trend which governments are neglecting to halt, said Greenpeace Canada spokesman Mike Hudema.

“It’s imperative there be enough people in the field to make sure these kinds of mishaps don’t occur,” said Hudema. “There seems to be an environmental incident in Alberta every week.”

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Dene Water Worries

Posted by mhudema on July 15, 2008

Dene water worries
Brodie Thomas
Northern News Services
Published Monday, July 14, 2008

TETLIT’ZHEH/FORT MCPHERSON – Concern over the future of waterresources took centre stage at the 38th annual Dene National Assemblyin Fort McPherson last week.

Before the meetings even got underway, Dene chiefs had met with Premier Floyd Roland on Monday afternoon in Inuvik.

‘There was a lot of discussion on waterthat comes from the border. We don’t yet have an agreement with othergovernments,’ said Sahtu Grand Chief Frank Andrew.

With at least three conferences onwater planned in the next six months, including a national waterconference to be held in Yellowknife this November, some chiefs werecalling for a public inquiry into how the Alberta tar sands operationsare using water from the Athabasca River.

‘We have to make this as big orbigger than the Berger inquiry. We drink water. We don’t drink oil,’said Tlicho Grand Chief George Mackenzie.

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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
WILLIAM MARSDEN
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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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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Feds and Province Fail to Protect

Posted by mhudema on June 22, 2008

Harper and Stelmach Stall on Safe Water for Canada’s First Nations

    Alberta calls on Federal and Provincial governments to make water a
    priority

    EDMONTON, June 20 /CNW Telbec/ - From time immemorial, First Nations have
centered their existence on water. Unfortunately for all Canadians, care and
protection of our water has been left in the hands of governments that value
profits over people. We are currently at a crisis level with this resource,
and the First Nations community is being hit the hardest by this crisis. In
communities across Canada, safe potable water is something people have been
unable to depend upon.
    "It is deplorable," said CUPE Aboriginal Committee Chair Gloria Lepine.
"In the year 2008, there is no excuse for the fact that at least 85 First
Nation water systems are in high risk, and that there are close to 100 boil
water advisories in various communities."
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