By: Dr. James Hansen
Today (May 9, 2013) 36 Norwegian organizations sent an open letter to Prime Minister Stoltenberg expressing opposition to development of Canadian tar sands by Statoil (the Norwegian state is majority shareholder of Statoil).
Signatories include not only environmental organizations, but a broad public spectrum, including, appropriately, many youth organizations. It is encouraging that Norwegian youth press their government to stop supporting tar sands development, given the fact that Norway saves much of its oil earnings for future generations and given the fact that Norway is not likely among the nations that will suffer most from climate change.
WASHINGTON – May 16 – The Big Apple proved to be an unfriendly landing spot today for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose sales job for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was interrupted by scores of climate activists who want President Obama to reject the pipeline and for Harper to re-commit Canada to confronting climate change.
An estimated 100 activists greeted Harper before his visit to the Council on Foreign Relations with a large banner that read “Harper: Tell the truth on climate change. Tar Sands = Climate Disaster.” On Tuesday, over 500 people met President Obama here to ask him to reject the Keystone.
“Harper is here to sell tar sands oil and his country’s record on dealing with the climate crisis but Americans are skeptical of both and for good reason,” said 350.org spokesperson Daniel Kessler. “The US is cutting its emissions while Canada’s are rising. Tar sands expansion will stall progress in both of our countries and concerned citizens are speaking out.”
On cloudy days, heavy smoke fills the air of Ponca City, Okla., with grey smog that camouflages itself into the sky. The ConocoPhillips oil refinery that makes its home there uses overcast days as a disguise to release more toxins into the air. These toxins are brimming with benzene — a chemical that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, can cause leukemia, anemia and even decrease the size of women’s ovaries. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2008 the ConocoPhillips refinery released over 2,000 pounds of this chemical into the air in Ponca City.
“Of the maybe 800 of us that live locally, we have averaged over the last five to seven years maybe one funeral a week,” explained Casey Camp-Horinek, a Ponca woman and longtime activist. “Where we used to have dances every week, now most people are in mourning.”
The powerful U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems to be taking its mandate seriously. At least as far as the State Department’s recent evaluation of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is concerned.
In an official letter issued last Monday, the EPA trashed the State Department’s draft report, the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), released in March. It expressed grave concern that the report gave an overly-positive environmental assessment of the $7 billion project. That it bizarrely concluded that the 875 mile long pipeline was environmentally sound.
As you’ll recall, the State Department’s conclusions upset a lot of environmentalists. For many good reasons.
Source: Toronto Star
In exploiting every last drop of tar sands crude, the government is impoverishing our country, its democratic freedoms and its future prosperity.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Canada is fast becoming a place that I no longer recognize. In the last year, federal policy has aimed to remove any obstacles to tar sands expansion using repressive tactics that undermine our longstanding democratic traditions. There seems to be no higher federal priority than doing whatever multinational oil companies demand and we – you and I – are being systematically denied any role in Canada’s natural resource future.
The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and oil executives have consistently claimed that the dirty Alberta tar sands oil, the Canadian petro state and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline are a boon to U.S. energy security. Here are seven reasons why this isn’t the case:
1. Tar sands cannot break the power of OPEC. The oil cartel, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), controls the world market for oil, and this will remain true with or without tar sands. The International Energy Agency forecasts show that OPEC’s share of the market is set to increase with or without tar sands growth. Even if the United States were to greatly increase its consumption of tar sands oil, it would not change the dynamic of the market or challenge OPEC control.