tar sands

Sat, 2014-09-27 12:17Carol Linnitt
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Climate Changes Everything in Canada Too: Naomi Klein Says DeSmog Canada “Indispensible Tool” in Her Work

In her new book, This Changes Everything, Canadian author Naomi Klein positions climate change as a form of social disaster, which, like a lot of other disasters cannot be gazed upon for too long.

We are constantly finding ways and reasons to “look away,” she writes, “or maybe we do look – really look – but then, inevitably, we seem to forget.”

Climate change is like that; it’s hard to keep it in your head for very long. We engage in this odd form of on-again-off-again ecological amnesia for perfectly rational reasons. We deny because we fear that letting in the full reality of this crisis will change everything.”

And we are right.”

Part of the strategy of this forgetting or looking away, as Klein frames it, is in the myriad technical, lifestyle or personal ‘solutions’ to a warming globe that refuse to question the deeper roots of the climate crisis, the structural and socio-economic logic both creating the problem and masquerading as its solution.

Fri, 2014-09-19 12:30Mike De Souza
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Harper’s Timeline: Canada on Climate Change from 2006-2014

stephen harper, climate change, desmog canada, un climate summit

This article originally appeared on mikedesouza.com.

On the eve of an international climate change summit of government leaders in New York, Canada is being challenged about its own domestic record in addressing the heat-trapping pollution that contributes to global warming.

Here’s a historical timeline of some of the major climate change policies, statements and related decisions made by Canada since 2006 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was first elected to form a government.

From a pledge to introduce a carbon tax in 2007 to internal debates about climate change science, this timeline covers the promises and the action by the Canadian government in recent years.

Wed, 2014-09-17 11:16Mike De Souza
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Harper Government Evades Questions After Quietly Dissolving Oil and Gas Pollution Group

tar sands, oilsands, carbon pollution, kris krug

This article originally appeared on mikedesouza.com.

You may have seen this report in the Toronto Star about a mysterious end to a secretive group [an oil and gas pollution committee] that was created to draft new rules to reduce carbon pollution from oil and gas companies.

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq was asked about the long-delayed rules for oil companies on Tuesday in the House of Commons by NDP environment critic Megan Leslie.

Aglukkaq responded by changing the topic.

We have taken action on some of the largest sources of emissions in this country, the transportation and the electricity-generation sector,” said Aglukkaq in the Commons. “I’m also looking forward to taking part in the UN climate summit in New York next week to speak to Canada’s record in taking action on climate change.”

Leslie recommended that the federal government should “quit stalling” in addressing climate change.

Tue, 2014-09-09 13:58Carol Linnitt
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Arctic Gateway Pipeline: Alberta Looks Far, Far North to Potential Oilsands Export Route

arctic gateway pipeline, tuktoyaktuk, arctic, alberta oilsands

While the Keystone XL, Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain and Energy East pipelines remain stalled in political upheaval, environmental opposition and regulatory processing, the government of Alberta could start moving landlocked oil to tidal waters via the Arctic as early as 2015, according to a technical report recently released by the Alberta government. 

The report, authored by Canatec Associates International Ltd., an Arctic petroleum consultation firm, considers three scenarios for exporting oilsands product, all of which were deemed technically feasible. An early, exploratory shipment of oil to the Arctic could be on the move as early as next year, the report states.

The Arctic Gateway Pipeline, previously considered logistically unfeasible, has been eyed with increasing interest recently, as a warming climate begins to open up the north to new development and previously inaccessible shipment routes.

The report notes the new export route stands to benefit from a combination of a changing northern climate, hunger for resource development in Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories, and the growing desperation to move Alberta oil to Asian markets.

Tue, 2014-09-02 16:18Chris Rose
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Canada’s Premiers Agree to Address Climate in Proposed National Energy Strategy

kathleen wynne, climate change, canadian energy strategy

Canada’s premiers have agreed to expand the nation’s developing energy strategy to address climate change and green energy while acknowledging the Alberta oilsands are still an important part of Canada’s economic future.

Endorsing the proposed Canadian Energy Strategy when they met last week at an annual conference on Prince Edward Island, the premiers said in an accompanying document that the plan “will express a renewed vision that describes the kind of energy future that provinces and territories aspire to achieve.”

The premiers added visions and principals included in the plan will allow “provinces and territories to work together, in respect of their own jurisdiction, on energy issues and grow the economy, protect the environment, mitigate climate change, create new opportunities for individuals, organizations and businesses, and enhance the quality of life for all Canadians.”

Sun, 2014-08-17 13:50Carol Linnitt
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The Oilsands Cancer Story Part 3: The Spotlight Turns on Fort Chip Doctor

Fort Chipewyan Cemetery. Fort Chip, located downstream of the oilsands, has higher than average cancer rates.

This is the third installment in a three-part series on Dr. John O'Connor, the family physician to first identify higher-than-average cancer rates and rare forms of cancer in communities downstream of the Alberta oilsands.

Part 3: The Spotlight Turns On Fort Chip Doctor

After the story of Fort Chip’s health problems broke, Health Canada sent physicians out to the small, northern community.

Dr. John O’Connor said one of the Health Canada doctors went into the local nursing station and, in front of a reporter, filled a mug with Fort Chip water and drank from it, saying, ‘See, there’s nothing wrong with it.’

That was such a kick in the face for everyone,” O’Connor said. “Just a complete dismissal of their concerns.”

Health Canada eventually requested the charts of the patients who had died. Six weeks later they announced the findings of a report that concluded cancer rates were no higher in Fort Chip than expected.

For O’Connor, however, the numbers “just didn’t match up.”

Wed, 2014-08-06 10:01Guest
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Canada Needs Some Serious Climate Honesty

climate oilsands, kris krug, mark jaccard, harper government

This is a guest post by Mark Jaccard, professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University. 

In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government asked me and four other economists if we agreed with its study showing huge costs for Canada to meet its Kyoto commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. We all publicly agreed, much to the chagrin of the Liberals, NDP and Greens, who argued that Kyoto was still achievable without crashing the economy. It wasn’t.

As economists, we knew that the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien should have implemented effective policies right after signing Kyoto in 1997. It takes at least a decade to significantly reduce emissions via energy efficiency, switching to renewables, and perhaps capturing carbon dioxide from coal plants and oilsands. Each year of delay jacks up costs.

Mr. Harper’s government knew this too. Years later, when environment minister Peter Kent formally withdrew Canada from Kyoto, he charged the previous Liberal government with “incompetence” for not enacting necessary policies in time to meet their target.

Mon, 2014-08-04 12:05Carol Linnitt
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The Oilsands Cancer Story Part 2: Deformed Fish, Dying Muskrats Cause Doctor To Sound Alarm

Robert Grandjambe Jr. Shows DeSmog Sick Fish from Lake Athabasca

This is the second installment of a three-part series on Dr. John O'Connor, the family physician to first identify higher-than-average cancer rates and rare forms of cancer in communities downstream of the Alberta oilsands.

Part 2: Deformed Fish, Dying Muskrats Cause Doctor To Sound Alarm

When Dr. John O’Connor arrived in Fort Chipewyan in 2000, it took him a little while to get familiar with the population.

The town was a bit larger than his previous post of Fort MacKay, with a population of around 1,000 at that time. Locals had few options when it came to medical care. Their town was 300 kilometres north of Fort McMurray and accessible only by plane in the summer or by ice road for a few of the colder months.

O’Connor recognized it was a close-knit community and yet hard to get a foothold in.

You had to be trusted to gain their respect, I guess,” he said.

Most doctors hadn’t established a continuous practice up there, O’Connor said, so the community hadn’t received continuous care by the same medical expert for many years.

What they were looking for was one pair of eyes, one pair of hands. Consistency,” he recounts.

That was one of the reasons why I was approached to provide service. So that made it easier to get to know people and for them to get to know me.”

O’Connor immediately began poring over patient files, piecing together what a series of seasonal doctors had left behind. Patients there felt there was no continuity between what rotating doctors would say about their symptoms.

Tue, 2014-07-15 15:53Kevin Grandia
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New Map Shows Dramatic Time Lapse of Tar Sands Deforestation

Alberta oilsands development tar sands

A time-lapsed map released today by the World Resources Institute using satellite imagery from Global Forest Watch shows how much forest is being lost in Northern Alberta to make way for major industrial operations, mainly to extract oil from the tar sands, also referred to as the oilsands.

According to the data compiled by Global Forest Watch, industrial development and forest fires in Canada's tar sands region have cleared or degraded almost 2 million acres (775,000 hectares) of boreal forest since 2000.

The pink regions depict forest loss. Watch what happens at year 2010:

Sat, 2014-07-12 08:00Derek Leahy
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Is Canada Putting All of Its Eggs in the Oilsands Basket?

Eggs in basket

The recent shelving of the Joslyn mine oilsands project in Alberta is a reminder of the fragile economics of the oilsands. No economic formula could be found to make the $11 billion project work and it has been put on hold indefinitely.           

Oil major Total E&P, the biggest partner in the project, said the Joslyn mine project “cannot be (financially) sustainable in the long term.” Interestingly, Total did not blame lack of new pipelines for squeezing profit margins either.

You run the risk in developing fossil fuels that one day will either become fully depleted or too expensive to extract,” Philip Gass, a policy analyst at the International Institute of Sustainable Development, said from Winnipeg.

It would be difficult to deny Canada has economically benefited from developing the oilsands, a particularly difficult and expensive fossil fuel to mine and refine into light fuels — but failing to diversify the Canadian economy beyond an oil and gas ‘energy superpower’ makes for a very uncertain economic future for Canada.

Canada could find itself an energy superpower overspecialized in the ‘old economy’ (resource extraction) in a world rapidly trying to cut carbon emissions and avoid catastrophic climate change,” Andrew Jackson, a senior policy advisor with the Broadbent Institute, told DeSmog Canada.

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