The oil sands industry is in the throes of a major expansion, powered by C$20 billion ($19 billion) a year in investments. Companies including Syncrude Canada Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. affiliate Imperial Oil Ltd. are running out of room to store the contaminated water that is a byproduct of the process used to turn bitumen — a highly viscous form of petroleum — into diesel and other fuels.
By 2022 they will be producing so much of the stuff that a month’s output of wastewater could turn an area the size of New York’s Central Park into a toxic reservoir 11 feet (3.4 meters) deep, according to the Pembina Institute, a nonprofit in Calgary that promotes sustainable energy.
To tackle the problem, energy companies have drawn up plans that would transform northern Alberta into the largest man-made lake district on Earth. Several firms have obtained permission from provincial authorities to flood abandoned tar sand mines with a mix of tailings and fresh water.
One big concern surrounding end-pit lakes is that the contaminated water will spread through the boreal ecosystem, the tract of trees and marshland that stretches around the top of the world from Canada to Russia and Scandinavia. Boreal forests store almost twice as much carbon as tropical forests.
A train hauling crude oil caught fire in Canada sparking debate about reliability.
Rail safety has become a central issue in Canada since the July disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a runaway train carrying crude oil exploded in the center of the lakeside town, killing 47 people.
But in contrast to Lac-Megantic, where the explosions razed dozens of buildings in the center of town, pictures from near Gainford showed Saturday’s fire was burning alongside a road in open country, with fields and forests on either side.
Still, Gainford residents were asked to leave their homes because of the risk of another explosion, and Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said the evacuation would continue for as long as needed – up to 72 hours. The main east-west highway traversing central Alberta was also closed.
Nearly 75% of Americans and 68% of Canadians indicated they “support” or “somewhat support” the project, which would carry heavy crude from the Alberta oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast for refining, according to the poll conducted by Ottawa-based Nanos Research.
The poll also asked participants—1,007 Americans and 1,013 Canadians—which was more important: reducing greenhouse-gas emissions or having North America free from oil imports? Both a majority of Americans and Canadians, 63% and 55%, respectively, suggested reducing reliance on oil imports trumped environmental policy.
"Energy security, particularly in the U.S., is driving views on energy issues," said Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research.
Environmentalists argue that development of the Alberta oil sands for the crude that Keystone would carry will increase emissions of greenhouse gases.
The Nanos poll contacted Americans between March 28 and April 7, and Canadians between April 6 and April 9.
The Obama administration is, for a second time, reviewing TransCanada’s application to build Keystone after rejecting the project in 2012. Keystone faces stiff opposition in the U.S. from environmental groups and key Democratic policy makers.
Nanos Research conducted the poll and they’re pretty legit. Via WSJ.
In a letter to top State Department officials, the agency said it had “environmental objections” to their review, which concluded the pipeline would have minimal impact on the environment. The analysis could complicate efforts to win approval for the controversial $7-billion project.
A State Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If approved, Keystone XL would carry crude oil along a 1,700-mile route from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.
There isn’t enough capacity to refine both the Canadian oil and the Venezuelan oil," said professor Erick Langer, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University and an expert on Venezuelan politics.
"So if the pipeline is built, then Venezuela might be up a creek without a paddle, because they won’t have anywhere else to refine the oil.
“Can Rail Fill the Gap if Keystone XL Pipeline isn’t Approved?" Thoughtful round-up and analysis via one of my favorite sites, Planetizen. Did not realize 40% of Venezuelan oil is shipped and refined in Texas.
Canada’s conservative government, which has been pressing the Obama Administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, has come under sharp criticism for allegedly muzzling Canadian government scientists who talk about the pipeline, climate change and other controversial topics.
The Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria released a report called “Muzzling Civil Servants: A Threat to Democracy" that documents the ways in which Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration has prevented public scientists from speaking freely about their research.
The Law Centre and Democracy Watch, a leading Canadian public accountability group, have requested an official inquiry into whether these practices violate Canada’s Open Government laws.
It seems a foreign oil company dictated to John Kerry and Mr. Obama how, when, and why they should approve the oil pipeline. For more, see here.
Seems like a case of regulatory capture:
Regulatory capture occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.
“I can guarantee you that it will be fair and transparent, accountable, and we hope that we will be able to be in a position to make an announcement in the near term,” Kerry said of the proposed Alberta-to-Texas pipeline.
“I don’t want to pin down precisely when, but I assure you, in the near term,” he added.
The State Department is heading the federal review of TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline to bring Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. Via The Hill
The Keystone XL Pipeline will deliver billions of gallons of oil from Alberta, Canada to coastal refineries in Texas. The oil will be pumped through one very long pipeline, and will most likely be sold to foreign countries.
Thousands of people’s properties have been ‘condemned’ to build this line. It spans two countries, several states, and countless forests, farms, suburbs, Indian reservations, cities, rivers, lakes, and mountains. The above cartoon is a ridiculous, nefarious joke. Obama is expected to approve the line in coming months.