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.
Last Saturday morning, a town in Quebec exploded. A runaway train carrying roughly 100,000 liters of crude oil derailed and subsequently exploded in the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic in the early hours of Saturday morning. A significant amount of the downtown is burnt or leveled, and as the search for survivors continues, residents are beginning to realize the scope of the destruction [more inside]
Canada has lost its famous politeness. With oil and gas now accounting for approximately a quarter of its export revenue, over the last decade Canada has not so quietly become an international mining center and a rogue petrostate.
The Canadian oil sand mines refused us access, so we rented this plane to see what they were up to: A slideshow of oil extraction from above Alberta's tar sands fields. (Warning: surreally-coloured pools of water inside) [more inside]
Canada is planning to withdraw from the Kyoto treaty. CBC, BBC, AFP. The Herald Sun claims that this is to allow shale sands oil extraction.
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.
Ahead of the global climate talks, nine photographers from the photo agency NOOR photographed climate stories from around the world. Their goal: to document some of the causes and consequences, from deforestation to changing sea levels, as well as the people whose lives and jobs are part of that carbon culture. Warming threatens lifestyle of Russian herders | Refugees flee drought, war in East Africa | Greenland’s shrinking ice hurts natives [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]
Shifting Sands. A great series from the Globe and Mail on the Alberta Tar Sands: An Empire Made of Goo, Black gold, Texas tea, The hollowing out of small Atlantic towns, Where rich and poor Albertas collide, Norway the gold standard for managing oil wealth, The climatic costs of rapid growth.
"The vast tar sands of Alberta in Canada hold oil reserves six times the size of Saudi Arabia's. But this 'black gold' is proving a mixed blessing for the frontier town of Fort McMurray, fuelling both prosperity and misery. As the social and environmental toll mounts, Aida Edemariam reports on the dark side of a boom town" - Mud, Sweat and Tears.
Oil spill in northern British.Columbia, nobody reports it.
Canada ambassador to the U.S. mobilizes ex-patriots in order to fight the F.U.D. coming from Fox News. But will the only thing paid attention to be the very, very large Canadian oil reserves?
Canadian Prime Minister surprises with pledge to put Kyoto accord to Parliament. Until now, with resistance from the oil-rich western provinces, Canada has been luke-warm on Kyoto. PM Jean Chretien surprised all of us (a pleasant surprise, for many) by making the announcement today at the Summit in South Africa. The PM recently announced that he'll be leaving office in 18 months - leaving him with a lot of power and little accountability - possibly working on his own legacy rather than for the good of his country. So far so good.