Showing posts with label tar sands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tar sands. Show all posts

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Slanted Media Coverage of the Keystone XL

Balance in reporting by major US outlets
The Canadian media is certainly slanted towards the pro tar sands angle.  Just today, an article quoted three MP's and Harper and not one Aboriginal voice or environmental position.  It's almost as if silence has descended on this issue.

Media continued to frame the story as a jobs issue, as a cudgel by which to punish Obama's reluctance to move forward with a nasty Republican power struggle, and as an ethical oil alternative.

Breakdown by medium and message bias
Television often played down environmental risks.  That's a surprise, given that the Concordia disaster played constantly as front page news.  Normally, disasters make good press.  I guess not oil spills.  Protesters were often seen being dragged away, or were called "actors".

Headlines are extremely important in digital culture as this determines whether we pay attention or not.  A continuation of positive headlines made the story seem to be always a "no brainer". 

Of those quoted by the major newspapers, 45% were in favor of the pipeline and 31% were opposed. The New York Times was the most balanced, quoting 35% in favor and 27% opposed. The Wall Street Journal was the least balanced, with 52% in favor and 21% opposed.
I'm sure if you used an aggregator to determine sentiment, one would find that the same lack of balance would be found in social networking sites like Twitter, Blogs and rss feeds.  So we do have the same perceptions repeated in the minds of the readers and media consumers.  Don't forget too that there is a huge media machine pushing the tar sands in the social media.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Environmental Assessments are Mangled and Botched by Canadian Government
Environmental Law Site
It is commonly held that too much legislation is being rammed through Parliament without adequate consultation and the proper approval of members of the House of Commons who are left out of the back room machinations.  Ceres, an American organization  has very thorough podcasts about environmental actions and businesses wishing to work within an ecologically sound framework.

Ceres Mission Statement: 

Integrating sustainability into day-to-day business practices for the health of the planet and its people.
Reputable businesses know the parameters required by governments when setting up a business plan.  

Here is one particularly pointed podcast speaking to the issue of the importance of having a sound business partnership between industry and environmental law.
Re-Energizing America: How Passing Climate and Energy Legislation Can Keep the U.S. Competitive in the Global Race for Energy

Posted on May 25, 2010
In this episode, we speak with Kevin Parker, Global Head of Deutsche Asset Management, about the need for a strong regulatory environment that will spur energy investment here in the U.S. instead of sending investment dollars outside our borders.

What went wrong with the Conservative government approach is very clearly outlined here:  WCEL
Too fast, too haphazard, delays due to not enough information provided by the company.  Sloppy.  Unprofessional all round. The amount of influence from large corporations to get access to oil, gas, land rights is not being adequately scrutinized with any criticism of resultant fallout on environment.

Done correctly, EA is more than a bureaucratic process. EA can be an effective long term planning tool to assist the government in making decisions that recognize environmental and societal values, identify alternatives for human uses of and development of resources, prioritize how resources are used within ecological limits and advance the kind of Canada in which we believe the majority of Canadians want to live.

It is safe to say that none of these processes or safeguards are being implemented in the planning stages for the tar sands.  The auditors report, the EA have recommendations, none of which have been met.  Evasion, postponement of accountability, and more legislation rushed and unfairly done is the strategy of this government.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tar Sands are Responsible for Canadian Job Losses
Source:  Matt Price, Huffington Post

What follows is a brief excerpt in terms even a non literate economist like myself would understand.  I did expect that the tar sands were a sink hole for federal monies, not only directly in terms of capital investment based on tax write offs but also in giveaways through lack of environmental cleanup, CO2 emissions and resultant burden on the environment.  I did think that as we were up until recently tied to costing on carbon tax, that there would be monies owed by high polluting companies.  It is, in the main, a factor of petro dollars dictating our real finances.

The term "Dutch Disease" was coined in the 1970s after the Netherlands discovered a large natural gas field. The country's exchange rate became tied to the rising price of natural gas, pricing its manufacturing goods out of international markets and leading to job losses.

In 2011, the Canadian dollar traded on average above the U.S. dollar for the first time since 1976. This puts an extra burden on Canadian companies who export, since it makes their products less competitive versus products from other countries.

While experts will tell you there are various factors behind our exchange rate, it's hard not to see the close correlation between the price of oil and the exchange rate, charted in a graph here. Thanks to increased oil production, we now have a petro-dollar that rises and falls with the price of oil.
And, with oil being a finite commodity, its price will only rise, taking our dollar and manufacturing jobs in Ontario and Quebec along with it.

How many? One economist at the University of Ottawa has estimated that 42 per cent of manufacturing job losses in recent years are due to Canada's case of Dutch Disease. Another study out of Montreal points out that while 95 per cent of Canada's oil reserves are in Alberta, 75 per cent of Canada's manufacturing output is located in Eastern Canada, making this a growing issue of regional fairness.
So when you hear boosters argue how great the tar sands are for the Canadian economy, it's a new kind of snake oil, this time of the viscous and toxic kind called "bitumen."

If we were at all serious about both regional economic fairness and about charting a new economic future that isn't based on trashing our planet, we'd reverse the growth of tar sands production and instead invest heavily in the ample renewable energy resources that exist all across the country.

Friday, January 6, 2012

In the Interests of Oil
Big Push By Harper to Peddle Influence 

"The Prime Minister was also asked about a proposal by Alberta Premier Alison Redford to create a national energy strategy that would pull together Alberta's oil sands, the hydro power of British Columbia, offshore oil in the Atlantic and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's green-energy agenda."

So it's going to be a bundle of bad oil with a bit 'o green to sweeten the deal. B.C. is suffering the lowest job growth of all the provinces and is running out of options given the lack of government stimulus ideas other than gas plants.

The Northern Gateway push seems to be only concerning the Canadian provinces, without any discussion or attention paid to all the native bands who vehemently oppose the pipeline. They see the Chipewyan experience.

The people have complained of illnesses caused by the pollution of water and air. It will take 10 years to guarantee the results of scientific studies to prove their allegations. They don't have that much time. So it is up to us to bring attention to this horrible crime.

“We want to ensure in Canada that we have a regulator system that protects our environment and obviously protects worker safety and various other community interests,” Mr. Harper said. “At the same time, though, we have to have processes in Canada that come to a decision in a reasonable amount of time and processes that cannot be hijacked.”

Harper cannot bring himself to utter the words of the native bands in opposition.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Will the Pipeline Stand Up or Will it Fail?

Imported Pipe from India, S. Korea
Rumours spread that the pipeline might not stand up to possible fractures as there has already been 12 breaches.  Do we dare continue building this project where benzine may spill into rivers, wetlands or muskeg that could catch fire?

It seems the pipeline was built not in Canada, but outsourced from a not very reputable company which has used inferior grade steel.  source:  Pipe dreams?
Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of Keystone XL
a report by Cornell university Global Labor Institute

KXL will require over 800,000 tons of carbon steel pipe.23 TransCanada has contracted with an Indian multi-national company, the Mumbai-based Welspun Corp Limited, and a Russian company, Evraz, to manufacture steel pipe for KXL.24. In fact, a significant portion of the $1.7 billion already invested in KXL by TransCanada has likely been used towards the manufacture and import of the pipe. Clearly, this is an investment that is for the most part generating economic activity and job creation outside of the US. TransCanada’s claims that US manufacturing would reap considerable benefits from the project need to be viewed in the light of these data.

Of this writing, TransCanada has not received the Presidential Permit that is required to construct the KXL pipeline, but has already signed contracts for almost 50% of the steel pipe for the project.25 The Russian company, Evraz, will manufacture about 40% of KXL pipe in its Camrose and Regina mills in Canada. This information is based on Evraz’s own contract announcements and their contracts with Bredero Shaw, the company coating the KXL pipes.26

The Indian company, Welspun, is likely to be manufacturing the rest of the pipe for the KXL project. To date, Welspun has manufactured and imported almost 10% of the pipe for KXL. Shipping and customs records show that TransCanada imported over 70,000 tons of carbon steel pipe from Welspun through the Port of New Orleans since April 2011.27 The pipe TransCanada has imported from Welspun since April 2011 meets the specifications for KXL (36 inch diameter) and has been imported after the completion of Keystone Phase 2, which also used 36 inch pipe. It therefore seems likely that the rest of the pipe needed for KXL will probably be manufactured in Welspun’s Indian plants and then shipped to the U.S for final processing (double jointing and coating) or manufactured in Welspun’s Arkansas plant, which imports raw coiled steel and other production inputs (notably from India and South Korea.)28 These arrangements allow TransCanada to state that “approximately 75% of the pipe for the US portion of the proposed project would be purchased from North American pipe manufacturing facilities.”29 This claim is misleading on two levels. Firstly, it is possible to purchase from a North American facility, but this does not necessarily mean that the steel was produced in those facilities. Secondly, the jobs created in Canada-while important to the Canadian economy—should not then be pitched as “American jobs” to the media and the American public.30

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Water Quality is Not Being Monitored, Seriously Under Reported

  • Why did it take three months for the results to reach the desk of John Baird and why isn't he responding to questions about the study?
  • Why is a perfectly credible study not being taken for its perfectly credible results and recommendations?  The study is comprised of cross panel of Aboriginal, industry, scientific and environmental contributors. 
  • Why have recommendations from 2004 not been taken?

The Athabasca River Basin

At 159,000 km square kilometers, the Athabasca River Basin (the area in green ) is the world’s third-largest watershed. The basin contains 94 rivers, 150 named creeks, and 153 lakes, and contains 4 of Alberta, Canada’s 6 natural regions: Rocky Mountain, Foothills, Boreal Forests, and Canadian Shield. Topographically, the region includes ecosystems as varied as snow-capped mountains, boreal forest, and wetlands. Due to the diverse habitats the basin supports, it is recognized as one of the most diverse, and therefore essential, providers of ecosystem services in the world.

Yet water monitoring has been entirely mismanaged by the tar sands industry, neglected by the Alberta government and highly under reported in the media.

A December 2009 campaign blog notes that the Canadian Press reported: “(A) study (that suggests pollution from Alberta’s oilsands is nearly five times greater and twice as widespread as industry figures say).  Full verification can be found in an American publication  Proceedings of National Academy of Science, and also criticizes Alberta’s monitoring program. ‘Our study confirms the serious defects of the (regional aquatic monitoring program),’ it says. ‘More than 10 years of inconsistent sampling design, inadequate statistical power and monitoring-insensitive responses have missed major sources of (contamination) to the Athabasca watershed. …(David) Schindler said nothing has changed in the province’s monitoring program since it was criticized in a 2004 review.” E & E News adds that, “The (Alberta) government has relied in part on the industry-funded joint Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) to monitor aquatic ecosystems near the oil sands sites. But RAMP lacks scientific oversight and keeps its methods and its data confidential, the study said. …RAMP has not measured PACs for several years after its tests revealed little or no water pollution, Schindler said. …RAMP should submit to oversight by an independent board of experts and make its data available for public scrutiny, the authors said.”

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