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!

Read moreAmbassador Doer Defends the Tar Sands

Keystone approval: a bargain with the devil?

The world knows that Ambassador Doer has been a cheerleader for the Keystone pipeline. So his writing a support letter for Keystone XL is not really a news story.

What makes his letter to the US State Department interesting was a two line statement buried in a three page letter. Doer wrote:

“Our energy and environment officials are currently assessing common energy issues, including potential oil and gas issues, which we could usefully address together.”

At beginning of 2013, we reported on the efforts of a group of Canadian politicians who blitzed Washington pressuring for a favourable decision on Keystone XL.  During discussions with high-ranking members of the US administration hints were dropped that approval would be easier if the Canadian Government showed it was serious about regulating GHG emissions from the tar sands.

Premier Redford of Alberta was negative about further regulation.  She stated that she was proud of Alberta’s management of the tar sands.  She wrote a column for the business newspaper US Today  “Keystone was Responsible oil Sands Development.”

Read moreKeystone approval: a bargain with the devil?

No stopping the exploitation of the tar sands!

Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law, penned an article with the title “Dear President Obama: In Canada climate change affects none of our decisions!”

His article is a good analysis of the recent State Department Review of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  He compares the process followed by the State Department in conducting that Review with similar decisions of Canadian Government agencies.

We know that the State Department accepted that the tar sands bitumen would get to international markets whether or not the cross-border Keystone XL link was built.   Gage disputes this conclusion.

Regardless, he is right on the key issue!

Read moreNo stopping the exploitation of the tar sands!

The Other Side of Keystone Sales Pitch – Job destruction

The current hype surrounding Keystone seems to have moved away from energy security to the creation of jobs.  Certainly the construction phase will result in jobs: trenching, laying the pipe, installing pumping stations.  After construction tar sands bitumen will flow to the Gulf Refineries, and for some time there will be continuing jobs in the oil kingdoms of Alberta and Texas.

But there is another side and it concerns the smallest State in the United States: Rhode Island.  For centuries there has been a fishing industry in this small State.  Not that large but large enough to support a way of life in coastal communities.  Now the industry is suffering – suffering because climate change has brought warmer temperatures to the Atlantic Ocean. (Flashback:  the warmer temperature aided and abetted the destructive force of Hurricane Sandy.)

Read moreThe Other Side of Keystone Sales Pitch – Job destruction

Tar Sands Toxins

Research in 2010 by Dr. David Schindler, a leading environmental scientist previously employed by the Alberta Government, established that tar sands contaminants were present in a large area around the mines.  The Alberta Government criticized his findings on the ground of bias and professional credibility.  The principal reason for this criticism was that the contaminants he identified in his research could equally be naturally occurring.

Now a recent report from the Federal Government scientists corroborates Dr. Schindler’s findings.  The report concludes that the tar sands mines and tailing ponds are in fact the source of contaminants.

Read moreTar Sands Toxins