Phasing Out Coal

In one country – the US – reducing GHG emissions requires replacing coal-fired generating plants.  In another – India – emissions will increase as many more such plants are built. At the September UN Summit in New York, the Indian Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar said his government is not planning to cut its greenhouse gas emissions any …

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And a Big step forward!

President Obama is not acting like a lame-duck president.  He recognizes the grave threat posed by climate change. The subject will remain  a primary concern of his government’s foreign policy. Obama and President Xi Jinping of China announced a US/China Agreement on climate change.  The Agreement does not introduce new measures limiting GHG emissions. Rather it elevates, …

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Global warming? Nothing can be done about it!

So says Margaret Wente.  How can global warming be stopped if countries that are the largest contributors are not committed to the necessary reductions in their GHG emissions?

Ms. Wente referred to the proposed new US regulations on coal-fire electricity generating plants, such as the large Ohio plant in the attached image. (Source Wikipedia) As she points out, these regulations are subject to review and comment, a process that will last into next year.  Expected legal challenges could result in further extensive delay.  So there could be little reduction in US GHG emissions for some years, a circumstance that may result in the US missing its Copenhagen targets.

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Stating the Obvious that wasn’t stated!

Former President Jimmy Carter and other Nobel Prize winners signed a letter to President Obama urging him to reject the Keystone Pipeline. Prime Minister Harper’s office responded quickly, citing the many arguments in favour of Keystone that its supporters have presented over the past three years.

This response also referred to the problems of oil supply that followed on the Iranian crisis of 1979, a factor contributing to President Carter’s defeat in 1980.

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A human god with feet of clay?

Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a very effective critic.  His most recent criticism is directed at President Barack Obama, who is a hero to people who look to the US for leadership on climate change.

Chomsky’s criticism was preceded by his short summary of the world’s bleak situation:

“But another dire peril casts its shadow over any contemplation of the future – environmental disaster. It’s not clear that there even is an escape, though the longer we delay, the more severe the threat becomes – and not in the distant future.  . . .  “

Chomsky referred to a speech of President Obama’s two years ago in the oil town of Cushing, Okla., in which the President stated:

 “Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That’s important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.”

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Ambassador Doer Defends the Tar Sands

The Keystone battle is at a decisive stage.  So, like many environmental organizations, we are stepping up our campaign against this infrastructure that will deliver the carbon bomb of tar sands bitumen!

Last October we commented on a sales pitch for Keystone XL from Gary Doer, the Canadian Ambassador in Washington. We invited his response to our blog and promised to reprint any reply. Here is the full text of the Ambassador’s response.

Like many answers to Parliamentary questions the Ambassador’s reply recites a lot of background “facts”.  It includes the assertion “The oils sands operate on a closed water cycle”, and goes on to explain that “none of the produced water is released back into the environment”.

He might have believed this when he wrote his reply, but recent research reported on the CBC and in the Globe and Mail has showed that this is incorrect – as we have pointed out in this articleHow ironic that the tar sands advocates insist that their case is based on “facts” but they can’t get the facts straight!

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Keystone XL: The real issue must be addressed!

The US State Department released its report confirming an earlier conclusion that approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would not significantly increase Greenhouse Gas emissions. The operative paragraph of the report states:

“Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs, and supply-demand scenarios.”

Essentially the State Department found that bitumen from the tar sands would still be extracted and transported to the US Gulf Coast Refineries by other means of transport (rail), as is the present situation.

A spokesperson for the fossil fuel industry claimed that the report proves that the Keystone Pipeline is safe for the environment.   This statement is a wrong characterization of the report’s finding, quoted above, which was directed only to how the pipeline would affect the rate of extraction.

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