Canadian Natural Resources Limited’s Horizon oilsands upgrader
By John Cotter in Edmonton
FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is facing 11 environmental charges over the release of a potentially deadly gas near an aboriginal community in northern Alberta.
The Alberta government said the charges stem from the release of hydrogen sulphide gas on August 2012 from the CNRL Horizon oilsands upgrader facility north of Fort McMurray.
The province said it learned of the leaks after getting complaints from the Fort McKay First Nation and reports from air monitoring stations.
“These are definitely serious charges,” Nikki Booth, a spokeswoman (Read more…)
The National Energy Board’s (NEB) announcement of its approval of Enbridge’s Line 9B pipeline is generating outrage among environmental activists across Ontario and Quebec. The pipeline, already in place for nearly 40 years, has a history of leaks and the repurposing of it to carry dilbit (diluted bitumen) under high pressure is seen as an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen. Mark Mattson, an environmental lawyer and president of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, is particularly concerned. “There are hundreds of rivers that feed into Lake Ontario. [Line 9] will be carrying dilbit, and this pipeline wasn’t made for that. It was made to carry other substances.” He goes on to add, “Line 9 is just one of many, many emerging threats to the Great Lakes.”
Luiza Ch. Savage on a letter from Canadian ambassador Gary Doer
by: Obert Madondo
Nearly 400 youth were arrested on March 2 outside the White House during the XL Dissent, a non-violent, student-led action to stop TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.
The students had marched from Georgetown University, where US President Barack Obama made a significant climate change speech last summer, to the White House.
“Oscar for best performances by a human being go to the youth who got arrested by the hundreds in DC today #XLDissent,” said Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, on Twitter. “I think #xldissent may be the biggest single day of civil disobedience in (Read more…)
CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge giving a talk paid by CAPP (image: facebook)
by Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
TORONTO – CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge defended himself Thursday after a report that he made a paid speech to petroleum producers, saying he has never publicly promoted or opposed oilsands development.
“If I leave a speech and those in attendance think they know where I stand on any controversial issue, then they’re guessing. Because they won’t find it in the words I’ve spoken,” he wrote in a blog post on the CBC website.
I would not, do not, and have not, given (Read more…)
Dr. John O’Connor (photo: saveourmedevac.ca)
Read this Feb. 26 story by Mychaylo Prystupa in the Vancouver Observer on Alberta doctor John O’Connor’s warning to US senators that Canada is concealing the health impacts of the Tar Sands.
A northern Alberta doctor warned U.S. Senators on what he says have been the devastating health impacts of the tar sands on families – effects, he says, that have been willfully “ignored” by the Canadian and Alberta governments.
“I appeal to you to keep up the pressure – this is an ongoing tragedy. A total disgrace,” said Dr. John O’Connor, (Read more…)
by: Obert Madondo
A new study by Environment Canada confirms what First Nations and environmentalists have been telling us all along: the Alberta tar sands are increasingly becoming a threat to our water sources.
The Toronto Star reports: “New federal research has confirmed that water from vast oilsands tailings ponds is leaching into groundwater and seeping into the Athabasca River. Previous studies using models have estimated the leakage at 6.5 million litres a day from a single pond.
“But the Environment Canada study used new technology to actually fingerprint the mix of groundwater chemicals in the area. It (Read more…)
Cognitive dissonance occurs when an entity embraces two or more contradictory beliefs or values at the same time. As social psychologist Leon Festinger showed, cognitive dissonance in an individual leads to psychological distress. To cope, that individual or entity may simply block out information that contributes to the stress of dissonance.
Case in point. Justin Trudeau is an avowed supporter of bitumen trafficking. It would seem he draws the line of environmental consciousness somewhere between bitumen and asbestos even though high-carbon fossil fuels, not asbestos, could well destroy our civilization and ruin Canada for future generations.
Assorted content to end your weekend.
- Lana Payne highlights the Harper Cons’ culture of hate with just a few recent examples: Veterans. Informed-debate. People’s right to a union and free collective bargaining. Voting rights. These are all under threat in Harper’s Canada.
This really is a government that hates; hates anyone that disagrees with them. Hates unions and the ability of people to work collectively to get a fair share of the economic pie. Hates democracy. Hates people who vote for other parties. Just plain hates.
This is not healthy for our country, our society. This is no way (Read more…)
Syncrude tailings pond (David Dodge, Pembina Institute)
Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON – New federal research has strongly backed suspicions that toxic chemicals from Alberta’s vast oilsands tailings ponds are leaching into groundwater and seeping into the Athabasca River.
Leakage from oilsands tailings ponds, which now cover 176 square kilometres, has long been an issue. Industry has acknowledged that seepage can occur and previous studies using models have estimated it at 6.5 million litres a day from a single pond.
The soil around the developments contains many chemicals from naturally occurring bitumen deposits and scientists have never able (Read more…)
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- Murray Dobbin points to the oil sector’s utter domination of Canada’s federal political scene. And Dr. Dawg sums up the problem: Briefly, the Harperium has now taken to grossly misusing the state apparatus to spy upon and intimidate citizens who dare to disagree with the Prime Minister. The RCMP and CSIS have been improperly deployed against perfectly non-violent folks who happen to oppose the development of the filthy, polluting Alberta Tar Sands—including a story-telling seniors’ group.
The cop-and-spook brigade have, as it turns out, been meeting in cabal with oil company execs, (Read more…)
Criticism of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline focuses, understandably, on the threat it poses to the environment, both in its construction and in its enabling more production from the tar sands. Too often overlooked is the political mischief that approval will contribute to.
According to an article in the CCPA Monitor, “Petroleum Coke from Oil Refineries Polluting the Atmosphere,” the pipeline
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A recently released State Department report claims the environmental impact of the Keystone pipeline would be “minimal.” So… I guess we have no choice, but to build the tarsands pipeline. No need to address the environmental impact of tarsands extraction, we can ignore that Harper is moving ahead – and faster – on this while muzzling scientists who raise concerns about climate change. Harper’s Tarsands Minister Joe Oliver was jumping up and down with this report, eager to use it to justify building (Read more…)
As far as I know, TransCanada’s proposed Energy East project is the biggest pipeline currently proposed in North America. It would carry a whopping 1.1 million barrels of crude (bpd) every day. Bigger then TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL…
Fumes from these bitumen storage tanks are allegedly driving Alberta families from their homes.
Read this Jan. 26th Vancouver Observer story by Mychaylo Prystupa on the extreme effects of bitumen fumes from Baytex Energy’s storage tanks on families near Peace River Alberta.
Northwest Alberta grain farmer Alain Labrecque recalls the first winter in 2011 when the fumes from oil tanks near his home in the Peace River area seemed to trigger terrible health effects for himself, his wife and two small children.
“I started getting massive headaches. My eyes twitched. I got dizzy spells. I often felt like I was going (Read more…)
Lac Megantic explosion.
We have been hearing more about the dangers of transporting tar sands, pipeline explosion in Manitoba – TransCanada pipeline’s “apology” is hardly enough – train derailments and, worse, explosions in the case of Lac Megantic. Despite all this, Harper is blind to reality, he wants to exploit and ship more tar sands crude oil, regardless of the health and safety consequences for Canadians.
Harper is muzzling scientists who dare present facts that contradict him, it’s all about making the oil and gas industry bosses happy, not about the health and safety of the general public. However, the inconvenient truth is still (Read more…)
The port of Churchill (John Woods)
Read this Jan. 18 story from The Winnipeg Free Press on a new government report envisioning the transformation of the northern port of Churchill, Manitoba into an export hub for Alberta bitumen and liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Shipping oil by rail across northern Manitoba could be just the beginning. A government report suggests exporting liquified natural gas (LNG) from the Port of Churchill and eventually building a pipeline for Alberta bitumen.
The report, posted on the Manitoba government website last fall, studied ways to bolster Churchill’s economy and diversify the commodities shipped from its (Read more…)
ACFN Chief Allan Adam on tour recently with Neil Young (Canadian Press)
FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – The First Nation that was the main focus of Neil Young’s recent concert tour about Alberta’s oilsands has withdrawn from a government environmental panel.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation announced Friday that it is pulling out of the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring program.
The program is the showpiece of federal-provincial efforts to monitor environmental change in the oilsands region.
A spokesman for the First Nation says it made the move because the program lacks meaningful input from aboriginals and doesn’t deal with concerns about (Read more…)
Debating the best way to do something we shouldn’t be doing in the first place is a sure way to end up in the wrong place. That’s what’s happening with the “rail versus pipeline” discussion. Some say recent rail accidents mean we should build more pipelines to transport fossil fuels. Others argue that leaks, high construction costs, opposition and red tape surrounding pipelines are arguments in favour of using trains.
Author Michael Ondaatje, actress Neve Campbell and rocker Gord Downie are all standing with Neil Young
by The Canadian Press
More than 20 notable Canadians have penned a letter to support musician Neil Young following his concert tour to raise money for a First Nation fighting oilsands expansion in northern Alberta.
The group includes creative and performing artists, authors, scientists, a lawyer, and Order of Canada recipients.
Actor Neve Campbell, Booker-prize-winning author and Officer of the Order of Canada Michael Ondaatje and musician Gord Downie of the rock group The Tragically Hip are among those who have signed the letter.
It (Read more…)
by Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON – Opposition politicians are raising concerns over a report done for Alberta’s energy regulator that suggests doctors are reluctant to draw links between health problems and the energy industry.
“We do have a culture in this province which actively diminishes healthy and important debate about the health and environmental effects of our dominant industry,” NDP critic Rachel Notley said Monday.
David Swann, a Liberal member of the legislature, said the government doesn’t even want to know the truth. Said Swann, who lost his job as a public health doctor for speaking out on climate (Read more…)
This and that for your Tuesday reading.
- Erika Shaker rightly questions why government policy toward business is based on a level of permissiveness which we’d recognize as utter madness in dealing with a child: Sure, all parents make mistakes, and all kids have meltdowns (some of which might have, admittedly, been handled better).
But it seems to me that even the worst examples of permissive parenting pale in comparison to the way politicians and pundits coddle, make excuses, and encourage double standards for questionable (even deplorable) behaviour from corporations and their representatives.
And perhaps it’s the post-holiday sugar-and-excessive-consumerism hangover (Read more…)
The unholy trinity of the Alberta tarsands industry, the Conservative Party and the right-wing media has gone all-out in its attacks on Neil Young for his stance against their destructive policies and actions. One thing that these corporate wolves and subservient sheep overlook is that, of course, Neil Young is right.
The main arguments by the Conservative tarsands mob are that:
1) Young hasn’t lived in Canada for a long time, so he has no right to talk about anything that happens in Canada.
2) He’s a rich rock star, so he has no right to talk (Read more…)
Friday, January 17, 2014
Canadians may soon know more about the chemicals being used to extract bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands, thanks to West Coast Environmental Law and our colleagues at Environmental Defence and the Association Québécoise de Lutte Contre la Pollution Atmosphérique (AQLPA). But, unless the federal government can be persuaded to drop it’s narrow interpretation of pollution disclosure rules, Environment Canada won’t be requiring oil and gas companies to provide information about what chemicals are used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking). This means that most Canadians will have little to no knowledge of the potentially harmful and toxic (Read more…)
Neil Young at a benefit concert in Toronto on Sunday (Mark Blinch/AP)
When Neil Young first wandered into Canadian energy politics last year, comparing Fort McMurray to Hiroshima following a trip to the northern industry town in his biomass-powered car, it provoked a handful of rebuttals from conservative columnists. But the legendary Canadian-born rocker’s latest wading into that political and geological morass known alternately as the Alberta oil sands or Tar Sands has been a very different story.
Young’s Canadian concert tour, in support of an oil sands-related legal challenge by the Athabasca-Chipewyan First Nation, has somehow struck a nerve. The media has been rife (Read more…)
2011 Rainbow Pipeline diluted bitumen leak in Alberta (Rogu Collecti/Greenpeace)
VANCOUVER – A new federal government study has concluded that diluted bitumen — the product that would be transported by the Northern Gateway pipeline — sinks in seawater when battered by waves and mixed with sediments.
However, when free of sediments, the molasses-like crude floats even after evaporation and exposure to light.
The report also says that the commercial dispersant, Corexit 9500, used in previous clean-up efforts had a limited effect on dispersing diluted bitumen.
The study examined two blends of crude, the Access Western Blend and Cold Lake Blend, (Read more…)
A visualization of industrial impacts across Canada as of 2010 (Global Forest Watch)
A national study suggests that Alberta has disturbed more natural landscape than any other province.
The analysis by Global Forest Watch adds that Wild Rose Country also has two of the three areas in Canada where the rate of disturbance is the highest.
“There were at least three major hotspots, two in Alberta,” said report author Peter Lee.
The report (download here) combines government data, satellite imagery and cropland maps to look at human intrusions in the last decade into all major Canadian ecozones. Those (Read more…)
Stephen Harper is an international embarrassment for his unconditional hawking of the tar sands, disregarding the rights of First Nations, and ignoring the negative environmental effects. On the latter, we already know that Harper is muzzling scientists, preferring to listen to corporate greed over facts and research. Neil Young is drawing new attention to the tar sands fiasco – and the overall fiasco of the Harper Conservative government – which is reckless about environmental conservation, the rights of First Nations, and Canada’s increasingly tarnished reputation. The responses from the PMO by Harper’s employee are amplifying all this.
Canadian rock legend Neil Young has blasted the Harper government for “trading integrity” in its single-minded appetite for Alberta tar sands dollars.
The post Canadian Rocker Neil Young Blasts Stephen Harper, Alberta Tar Sands appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.
Miscellaneous material to start your week.
- The Star’s editorial board sees Canada’s woeful job numbers as a signal that it’s time for some economic management in the interests of people (rather than artificial manipulation of numbers): Economists used words like “dismal” and “ugly” for these results, and no wonder. Last year turned out to be the worst year for job growth in Canada since the recession of 2008-2009. And this was just the latest evidence that Canada’s recovery has stalled. The experts are even starting to speculate about a possible cut in interest rates – not the eventual (Read more…)
Legendary rocker Neil Young should mind his own carbon footprint, says Stephen Harper
Read this Jan. 12 story from Sun News on Stephen Harper’s response to an anti-Tar Sands tour being led by Canadian-born rock legend Neil Young.
OTTAWA – Responding to Neil Young’s anti-oilsands tour, the Prime Minister’s Office says the rocker and political activist should mind his own carbon footprint before opposing projects it says present First Nations with economic opportunities unprecedented in Canada’s history
“The resource sector creates economic opportunities and employs tens of thousands of Canadians in high-wage jobs, contributing to a standard of living that (Read more…)
An earlier CNRL leak in Cold Lake, Alberta (Chester Dawson / Wall Street Journal)
COLD LAKE, Alta. – The Alberta Energy Regulator is investigating another leak from a Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) bitumen well near Cold Lake.
The regulator says 27,000 litres of crude bitumen were released underground on Jan. 3 at the company’s troubled Primrose field.
But agency spokesman Darin Barter said the leak has been stopped.
“There was no release to surface,” Barter said Friday. “There’s no aquifers that have been impacted by this incident.”
Barter said the release has been definitively attributed to a failed well (Read more…)
Security Intelligence Review Committee head and ex-Conservative MP Chuck Strahl (Adrian Wyld/CP)
Read this Jan. 10 story from CBC.ca on further revelations of Canadian spy agency watchdogs with lobbying ties to the oil and gas industry.
While the head of the watchdog committee overseeing Canada’s intelligence agency is under attack for also being a lobbyist for the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, it turns out that half of the other Harper government appointees keeping an eye on the spies also have ties to the oil business.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has joined a growing chorus of critics calling for the resignation (Read more…)
This and that to end your weekend.
- Paul Luke comments on the general stratification of workers into three groups: professionals facing extended hours and stress at a single job, service-sector workers juggling multiple jobs at more than full-time hours, and people struggling to find work at all. But it’s well worth asking whether it’s inevitable that we’ll keep moving in a direction which seems to offer few benefits for anybody but the employers who extract more work for less pay – and asking what public policy choices we could make to ensure manageable workloads for more of the would-be (Read more…)
Assorted content for your weekend reading.
- In keeping with the theme of this week’s column, the Star-Phoenix questions the Wall government’s choice to neglect existing school infrastructure. And Lana Payne’s message about how leaders react in a crisis also looks to be closely intertwined with the need to plan ahead before a crisis actually starts.
- But then, governments do have to choose their priorities. And once again, the Cons’ choice is to spend tens of millions of public dollars on public relations for a tar-sands sector which could easily afford to pitch its own products, while standing (Read more…)
Assorted content to end your week.
- Jim Stanford writes about the myth of a labour shortage in Canada: In this context of chronic un- and under-employment, it is jarring that so many employers, business lobbyists, and politicians continue to complain about a supposed shortage of available, willing, and adequately skilled workers. Employers routinely claim they can’t find qualified Canadians to perform even relatively straightforward jobs. They can’t entice Canadians to move from depressed regions, to areas with jobs. They can’t elicit desired levels of effort, discipline and loyalty.
According to this worldview, the biggest challenge facing our labour market (Read more…)
Our federal government’s policy on greenhouse gas emissions is simple: whatever the United States’ policy on greenhouse gas emissions is. And that means a target of reducing emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 to 2020. But, as the Pembina Institute pointed out this week, there is a very large fly in that particular ointment. And the fly is that the two countries have very different emissions
OTTAWA — Many Canadians feel the government is not properly balancing environmental issues and economic priorities, suggests a public opinion survey commissioned by Environment Canada. Two in five Canadians – 40 per cent – who took the telephone survey disagreed […]
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Thomas Walkom points out that many Canadians can expect to lose jobs without any social supports due to the Cons’ focus on political messages over real-life impacts. And Blake Zeff offers a reminder that while progressive economic policy may be receiving more attention over the last year, it’s always been extremely popular among the public (even as it’s been ruled out by policy-makers who focus primarily on serving corporate interests): Way back in 1992, President Clinton ran an explicitly populist campaign, telling voters, “The rich get the gold mine and the middle (Read more…)