Project Oil Sands - "In the late 1950s, Dr. Manley Natland, a passionate, lifelong geologist working for the Richfield Oil Corporation, hatched a gonzo idea to harness the power of a nuclear explosion for the benefit of bitumen extraction in Alberta’s oil sands. He proposed a plan to plant an atomic bomb deep below the oil sands, set it off and start pumping the oil freed up by the intense heat of the explosion."
For several months, bitumen from the Athabasca oil sands has been leaching out of the ground near Cold Lake, Alberta, so far amounting to roughly half of the oil leaked in the Enbridge-caused disaster in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Nearby sites of high-pressure steam injection used to extract the bitumen (and which is already associated with violent seismic activity in natural gas fracking operations) are suspected to have caused fractures that push bitumen "sideways" and out to the surface. As Vice reporter Sarah Berman notes, "The oozing leaks will continue until the underground pressure subsides. How long that will take is anybody’s guess." While tons of contaminated vegetation and dead animals have been removed from the sites, access to the region and to government data by First Nation representatives has been repeatedly denied.
Charles C. Mann writes for The Atlantic:
This perspective has a corollary: natural resources cannot be used up. If one deposit gets too expensive to drill, social scientists (most of them economists) say, people will either find cheaper deposits or shift to a different energy source altogether. Because the costliest stuff is left in the ground, there will always be petroleum to mine later. “When will the world’s supply of oil be exhausted?” asked the MIT economist Morris Adelman, perhaps the most important exponent of this view. “The best one-word answer: never.” Effectively, energy supplies are infinite.[more inside]
For the first time in its 120 year history the board of the Sierra Club has authorized the use of civil disobedience, to protest the proposed construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. (Previously) [more inside]
A series of emails released through a Freedom of Information Act request shine light on collusion between the United States government and TransCanada, a corporation building a controversial pipeline from the Canadian Athabasca oil sands into its southern neighbor. The controversy extends beyond the currently poor safety record for delivering oil between the two countries, and beyond the environmental and health consequences of the oil extraction process for locals and the cost of climate changes it will contribute to, all the way to legal wrangling between Canadian media and Saudi Arabia over the "death panels"-like term "ethical oil", based upon a conservative group's advertising that argues that the purchase of Canadian-sourced oil is a morally superior act, because of oppression of women and human rights violations by the Saudi kingdom.
During the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, The Yes Men put out a statement in which they purported to be the Canadian environment minister, Jim Prentice. The statement pledged to cut carbon emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. The statement was followed by a response from the Ugandan delegation, praising the statement, that was also faked. A fake statement was issued on behalf of Environment Canada celebrating the fake Ugandan statement. Another fake statement was then put out blasting the falsehoods of the original fake statement. A fake story in a European edition of the Wall Street Journal was also posted online. Jim Prentice (Canada's Environment Minister) described the hoax as "undesirable". [more inside]
Scraping Bottom: The Canadian Oil Boom. "Once considered too expensive, as well as too damaging to the land, exploitation of Alberta's oil sands is now a gamble worth billions."
Oil sands will pollute Great Lakes The environmental impacts of Alberta's oil sands will not be restricted to Western Canada, researchers say, but will extend thousands of kilometres away to the Great Lakes, threatening water and air quality around the world's largest body of fresh water. *****Report: How the Oil Sands Got to the Great Lakes Basin***** (pdf) Policy makers around the lakes, in both Canada and the U.S., are largely unaware that the tar sands will lead to massive industrial development in their region, and consequently have no strategy to minimize the environmental impacts. [more inside]
Ducks die a crude death. Alberta's oilsands (previously) (map) have a new emblem -- hundreds of ducks coated and killed in oily toxic sludge. About 500 birds landed and died in an oil sands pond. The pond full of toxic sludge sits along a major flight path for migrating waterfowl. [more inside]
Black Gold in Alberta. The tar sands located in northern Alberta, containing 85% of the worlds bitumen could provide for america's oil needs for the next century. The trillion barrell oil pit will continue to grow in importance as the price of oil continues to climb, and investors from around the world pour billions of dollars into the rich dirt.