tar sands

Sun, 2014-10-19 09:28Guy Dauncey
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Something Amazing Just Happened with Solar Energy in B.C.

solar power, clean energy, BC, guy dauncey

This article originally appeared on the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association website.

It’s known as “the warm land,” and as soon as you get off the highway Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley certainly has the feeling of pleasant summer warmth, filled with agricultural fecundity. It was the Coast Salish Cowichan people who gave it the name - that’s what cowichan means in the Hul’q’umi’num language.

So solar energy lies deep in the heritage of the valley, and maybe its appropriate that British Columbia’s first solar bulk buy has sprung unto life here, and is pioneering a new approach to solar installations.

Peter Nix—who calls himself a Cowichan carbon-buster—started pondering the possibility in May, so he was ready to leap when the opportunity arose to place a bulk order for 720 solar panels, totaling 200 kilowatts. A large project had fallen through, and the panels were available at 72 cents a watt, much less than the market norm of $1.00 a watt for solar PV of this quality.

Tue, 2014-10-14 13:35Steve Horn
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Tar Sands Trade: Kuwait Buys Stake in Alberta As It Opens Own Heavy Oil Spigot

Chevron made waves in the business world when it announced its October 6 sale of 30-percent of its holdings in the Alberta-based Duvernay Shale basin to Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) for $1.5 billion.

It marked the first North American purchase for the Kuwaiti state-owned oil company and yields KUFPEC 330,000 acres of Duvernay shale gas. Company CEO and the country's Crown Prince, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, called it an “anchor project” that could spawn Kuwait's expansion into North America at-large. 

Kuwait's investment in the Duvernay, at face-value buying into Canada's hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) revolution, was actually also an all-in bet on Alberta's tar sands. As explained in an October 7 article in Platts, the Duvernay serves as a key feedstock for condensate, a petroleum product made from gas used to dilute tar sands, allowing the product to move through pipelines. 

And while Kuwait — the small Gulf state sandwiched between Iraq and Saudi Arabia — has made a wager on Alberta's shale and tar sands, Big Oil may also soon make a big bet on Kuwait's homegrown tar sands resources.

“Kuwait has invited Britain’s BP, France’s Total, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron, to bid for a so-called enhanced technical service agreement for the northern Ratqa heavy oilfield,” explained an October 2 article in Reuters. “It is the first time KOC will develop such a big heavy oil reservoir and the plan is to produce 60,000 bpd from Ratqa, which lies close to the Iraqi border [in northern Kuwait]…and then ramp it up to 120,000 bpd by 2025.”

In the past, Kuwait has said it hopes to learn how to extract tar sands from Alberta's petroleum engineers.

Thu, 2014-10-09 13:19Guest
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Climate Litigation is Here and it Could Cost Canadian Oil Companies Billions

people's climate march, zack embree

This is a guest post by Andrew Gage, Staff Counsel and head of the Climate Change program at West Coast Environmental Law, and Michael Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia. This article originally appeared in the Globe and Mail.

Climate change is no longer a distant threat. Peer-reviewed science has already linked climate change to drought in Texas and Australia, extreme heat in Europe, Russia, Japan, and Korea, and storm-surge flooding during Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan.

Climate change is already causing about $600-billion in damages annually. Here in Canada, the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy estimated that climate change will cost Canadians $5-billion annually by 2020.

Canadian oil and gas companies could soon find themselves on the hook for at least part of the damage. For as climate change costs increase, a global debate has begun about who should pay.

Thu, 2014-10-09 11:55Carol Linnitt
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After Years of Intensive Lobbying, EU to Drop Oilsands’ Dirty Fuel Label

oilsands alex maclean

The European Union will not label fuel from Alberta’s oilsands as highly polluting despite years of efforts to distinguish the crude and other unconventional fuels for their high environmental impacts.

A proposal released Tuesday by the European Commission lifts a requirement forcing refiners to identify when supplying fuel from unconventional sources such as oilsands or oil shale. The commission will lift the requirement even though internal estimates show these fuel sources contain higher carbon emissions than conventional sources.

The dropped requirement within the European Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) comes after years of intense lobbying on behalf of the Canadian and Albertan government.

“The Harper government, in collaboration with the major oil companies, unleashed an unprecedented assault on clean fuels legislation in Europe even as they gutted environmental laws at home,” Keith Stewart, energy and climate campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, told DeSmog Canada. 

I think the question Canadians should ask themselves is: Do we want our diplomats to operate as a lobbying arm of Big Oil?” he said.

Stewart also noted the federal government's Pan-European Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy labelled oil companies as “allies” while environmental and Aboriginal groups were listed as “adversaries.”

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.”

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