alberta tar sands

"Our Fate Rests With This Appeal": First Nation Takes National Energy Board to Court Over Line 9 Approval

Joe Miskokomon

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation have launched a legal challenge against the National Energy Board’s (NEB) decision to approve Enbridge’s Line 9 oil pipeline project in southern Ontario and southern Quebec. The NEB – Canada’s independent energy regulator – approved the project to ship 300,000 barrels a day of oil and oilsands bitumen last month with soft conditions.

This 40-year old pipe is subject to corrosion and heavy crude is going to be shipped through in higher volumes. We feel that this raises the possibility of new impacts beyond the right-of-way and we are concerned about our water resources and the environment,” says Chief Joe Miskokomon of the Chippewas of the Thames or Deshkaan Ziibing* in the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) language.

Deshkaan Ziibing is one of fourteen Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee (Six Nations), and Lenape (Delaware) First Nations living along or near the 38-year old Line 9 pipeline. DeSmog Canada reported last November that the federal government’s failure to fulfill its legal duty to consult with all of these First Nations could land the federal government and the Line 9 project in court.

The legal challenge was filed last Monday with the Federal Court of Appeal on the grounds the NEB approved Line 9 without the federal government “conducting any meaningful consultation” with Deshkaan Ziibing.

Ontario Must Stand Its Ground On Line 9

The recent oil train derailment and subsequent explosion in North Dakota was yet another reminder tighter regulations and more independent research on transporting oil is needed — particularly where volatile shale oil is concerned. Last week another reminder hit close to home when a CN Rail train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire in New Brunswick.

The responsibility of protecting Canadians from an oil transportation disaster has largely fallen to the provinces while the federal government has weakened or eliminated rules and regulations that get in the way of its priority to sell as much Canadian oil as possible. 

Former Syncrude Exec to Chair Expert Panel on Oil Sands Technology

Eric Newell

Former Syncrude CEO and chairman Eric Newell has been tasked with spearheading an expert panel on the effect of energy technology on oil sands development.

The Council of Canadian Academies is convening the panel on behalf of Natural Resources Canada to do an overview of the available literature in order to report on how “new and existing technologies be used to reduce the environmental footprint of oil sands development on air, water and land.”

Newell was one of the architects of oil sands development in Alberta. In the early 1990s, he campaigned aggressively as part of the National Oil Sands Task Force, a group that sought to triple production within 25 years. The campaign was extraordinarily successful, reaching its goal within only eight years, reshaping Northern Alberta in the process.

Harper’s Climate Concession: Canada Increasingly Desperate to Secure Keystone XL Approval

Fort McMurray, AB

Prime Minster Stephen Harper’s hopes for the approval and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will transport Alberta tar sands crude across the US to refineries and export facilities in the Gulf Coast, hit a stumbling block this summer when Obama announced he will take Canada’s growing emissions problem into account when considering the project’s fate.

The tar sands, Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, have become the symbol of the country’s climate inaction, a position earning growing public censure across the globe.

Sources recently told the CBC that Harper addressed the issue in a letter he sent to Obama late August, inviting “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector,” if such efforts will help green-light the Keystone XL.

Alberta Tar Sands Demonstrate a Legacy of Negligence and Deceit, New Study Says

Operation Arctic Shadow, Fort McMurray

It’s no secret that the province of Alberta, the government Canada, and the titans of the fossil fuel industry pride themselves on robust regulatory and oversight structures when it comes to the extraction of natural resources.

“Environmental protection is a priority for our government and Canada is a global environmental leader,” said Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver. “This is why Canada's oil sands are subject to some of the most stringent environmental regulations and monitoring in the world.”
“The regulations that are in place are very stringent, the most stringent in North America and certainly around the world,” added Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Diana McQueen. “We have a lot of development in this province, but we also have very tough regulations with regards to any spills that happen.”
“The system is working,” continued Alberta Energy Regulator CEO Jim Ellis. “We have the resources we need now to properly regulate it. And that includes compliance, on the ground inspections, regulations… They are capably handling the workload right now.”
Yet that’s not the story that the numbers tell.

Canada-Alberta Oilsands Monitoring Portal Online, Environmental Groups Skeptical

Joint Oil Sands Monitoring Portal

After several months of delay, the federal and Alberta governments have finally followed through on their promise to release tar sands monitoring data to the general public. The Canada-Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring Information Portal came online Monday in time for Earth Day.

The portal aims to provide information on air, water, wildlife contaminants and biodiversity. It includes an interactive map with links to monitoring activities all over the province. The site will use satellite measurements to estimate emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide but it will not provide data on carbon emissions. 

Environment Minister Peter Kent touted the website’s launch as evidence that Canada is contributing and doing its part to protect the environment.

With this portal, our respective governments are actively encouraging informed discussions and analysis on the impacts of oil sands development based on high-quality scientific information.”

Premier Redford Spreads “Facts” in Washington with Speech on Keystone Pipeline

Alberta Premier Alison Redford on the campaign trail

Alberta Premier Alison Redford is all about facts for her fourth trip to Washington in 18 months. In a webcast speech to the independent think tank, the Brookings Institution yesterday, she said she was hoping to “change the conversation” about the Keystone XL pipeline.

To be honest, one of the reasons that I wanted to come this week is that the dialogue that’s going on right now does suffer some fairly glaring deficiencies,” she claimed.

She believes that groups opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline are “overshadowing essential truths and we need to make sure that whatever our perspective might be on this project that we’re talking about facts.”

Greenwashing the Tar Sands, Part 2: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Last week, I wrote a short history of the greenwashing campaign being waged by tar sands promoters, including (and especially) the Canadian and Alberta governments. It’s clear that as the battle over the future of tar sands development has intensified, so has the greenwashing necessary to promote it in the age of climate change and increasing environmental literacy. The more people know about the dangerous costs and risks associated with tar sands development, the more time, effort and money its promoters must invest in the alchemy of disingenuous propaganda.

The frustrating part for Canadians concerned with this egregious abuse and misuse of language is that there doesn’t appear to be any recourse. Tar sands supporters seem to disseminate their little black lies with impunity, and there is no way, in a democracy where free speech is sacrosanct, to stop the flood of tar sands bullshit sullying the airwaves.

If Canada is 'Oil Rich' Why are We So in Debt?

Canada has the third largest proven oil reserves in the world, but the province of Alberta is planning to cut education and health care spending this year, and Canada's national debt stands at a whopping $600 billion (CAD). 

How can that be? With so many people calling our massive tar sands reserves the “Saudi Arabia of the North,” how can we be so cash-strapped? How can the Alberta government be planning to cut funding to schools, education and health care if the province is so oil rich? 

The best answer can be found in Norway, which this year alone will enjoy a $44 billion budget surplus. The country has the 22nd largest proven oil reserves in the world and about 40-percent less oil is produced by that country, compared to Canada. 

On top of massive government budget surpluses, Norway also has no foreign debt, and $634 billion set aside as a public savings fund. This fund, called the Government Sovereign Wealth fund - set up to collect oil and gas revenues - is projected to be worth $1 trillion by 2020 and currently holds more than 1-percent of all the world's equity. 

Why Canadians Should Care about Keystone XL Pipeline Protests at the White House

This weekend, thousands of people will be out front of Barack Obama's White House to protest the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline – a 1,879 kilometer length of pipe that will allow oil to be pumped all the way from Northern Alberta to refineries in Texas.

It isn't the XL pipeline itself that is at the heart of the matter though. It is the 500,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude that will be pumped through the pipe that has so many Americans upset. And it should upset Canadians too. 


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