Saturday, February 23, 2008

Filthy Oil

Treehugger has this nifty map posted, courtesy of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a trilateral body established concurrently with NAFTA. The pretty picture shows some 34,000 industrial sites that reported the "release or transfer of pollutants in 2004". Looks kind of like a bad rash.

I don't suppose the nearly complete blanketing of Alberta would be related to the information in this report from Environmental Defence. Go have a look at the report and try to guess why the Conservative government is so eager to put off any sort of environmental protection or limits. Here are a few snippets from the report:

"The Tar Sands are now the biggest capital project anywhere on Earth and the biggest energy undertaking anywhere. Already, Canada is the largest foreign supplier of US oil.
With the Tar Sands, Canada has become the world’s dirty energy superpower."

"In the muted language of experts, independent scientists are scornful of the monitoring programs: “As typical of previous RAMP reports, changes in methods and means of reporting undermine the utility of the results... The result is the appearance of monitoring and management of environmental concerns in the public interest. The reality is a lack of timely publicly available information and the perpetuation of business as usual,” says Dr. Kevin Timoney following a review.
Dr. Peter Hodson of Queen’s University, a specialist in the toxic impacts of oil on aquatic ecosystems, concurs: "If you read the actual monitoring reports that have been published since 2001 ... they are pretty fractured, they are very, very difficult to read, very difficult to understand what people have actually done and what they've actually found. And so I think ... you’d be hard pressed to say the current monitoring effort is sufficient to answer the questions that have been raised.”
Downstream First Nations are more blunt. The Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan have pulled out of the industry-driven process. “[It’s] a parking lot where everything, all the major issues, are placed. Meanwhile, approvals [for new Tar Sands projects] are given," says Mikisew spokesperson Sherwin Sheh."

"There is no monitoring at all of the toxic chemicals travelling through groundwater. This, despite the fact that, as Canada’s National Energy Board has said, groundwater is the most obvious pathway for Tar Sands poisons to travel throughout the environment and into the major waterways."

"Consider the liabilities cost to the taxpayer just of the relatively small Sydney Tar Ponds, in which 31 hectares were poisoned by 700,000 metric tonnes of contaminated sediments. Government recently committed $400 million in taxpayers’ dollars to a cleanup. Contrast these 31 hectares with Canada’s Tar Sands where the tailings ponds alone already cover more than 5,000 hectares and grow with every passing moment."

And this detailed report, with stunning images of devastation, goes on for some 26 pages. Absolutely fucking disgusting and a crime against Canada's people, our land, water and air. A crime that will seep throughout the environment both here and abroad, spreading toxins and sowing disease. There is nearly no way to mitigate this devastation considering the monstrous scale. Exxon salutes you Prime Minister Harper, Minister Baird and all the representatives of the petrodollar currently squatting in our house of Parliament. The true north stained by greed.


Red Jenny said...

Doesn't it just make you so proud? Me, I get misty eyed and start to hum O Canada.

Canada, Home of Dirty Alberty

Lindsay Stewart said...

Red Jenny, it makes me so proud i could puke. Congrats on your F-Word nominations by the way.

Ti-Guy said...

I'm concerned about translating that oil wealth into political power within the central government. That's the thing that bothers me most, right now, since it brings in that particular blend of Reform/Christian fundamentalist insanity/sleazy politics (exemplified by people like Rob Anders, Ezra Levant, Richard Evans, etc.) that sets my teeth on edge.

Environmental issues are of course a Canada-wide concern, but the exploitation of the oil sands is an Albertan issue (and frankly, my feelings are 'let the western bastards drown in the sludge'). Since we don't want to go through another two decades (and counting) of NEP histrionics, we have to focus on the money and the pollution...but not the oil sands themselves.

I always wondered how many dollars from Klein's wealth rebates were laundered into donations to the Conservative Party of Canada?

Lindsay Stewart said...

all valid concerns ti but go look through the report and see how the filth is being exported explicitly and implicitly. the sludge isn't just an alberta issue.

Ti-Guy said...

Oh, I know...but at this point, I seriously don't believe non-Albertans can do anything about it. I've come to believe that there isn't anything that part of the ruling class that is desperately tied to oil wealth won't stoop to to impose their will on the rest of us.

They will fail of course, but it will be rough ride in the meantime.

burpster said...

The USA needs oil and Alberta has alot of it, so nothing will change in the near future.

I spent 30 years working in the oilpatch as a driller then a pipefitter. Drilling for oil was actually fairly clean compared to the refining end. The ground in the refineries is saturated with every chemical you can imagine.

The Alberta gov. has no need to filter rebates to the CPC. Just have a peek at the Heritage Trust Fund or the new ones they've created. They have billions of taxpayer money banked, who the fuck knows where it all goes?

I do agree that eventually this will come full circle to bite Albertans in the ass. By then the oilco's will have syphoned off all the wealth and left. Guess who will get the massive clean-up bill?

Gube said...

I still say we should trade Alberta to the United States for Oregon, Washington, and a first-round draft pick.

toujoursdan said...
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toujoursdan said...
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toujoursdan said...

Once upon a time there was a faraway land blessed with an important natural resource that was key to economic development in the world economy. Major world powers all jockeyed for control of this land and exploitation of this important resource. Finally, this land became independent under a parliamentary government who wisely foresaw that this resource would one day be used up and created a Trust Fund that would provide its citizens with wealth after its depletion.

However in the meantime the land became one of the wealthiest nations on earth with a per capita income in 1980 of US$35,000 (At the time the US income per capita was in the upper $20K). The citizens of this land had more money than they knew what to do with, took on western ways and ended up with western problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Then one day, the last bit of this resource was mined; no more money would be coming in. The citizens found out that the Trust Fund was mismanaged: some corruption, some greed, by mostly bad financial decisions and some international forces beyond their control had whithered away most of it. They realized that they didn't have the means to continue their wealthy lifestyle.

They also realized that about 85% of their land was in environmental ruin due to the mining. Efforts by government to plant trees and renew the environment have failed. The land was too poisoned and infertile. The citizens would be confined to small tracts of inhabitable land on the perimeter.

This nation become an international pauper. 95% of its citizens become government employees and the costs of government were borne by foreign nations. However, the real unemployment rate is about 90%. Per capita income dropped from $35,000 in 1980 to $2,700 in 2006. The national airline was repossessed by foreign creditors and charter flights are needed to bring in food and water to keep the citizens from starving. The nation was being used to house "undesirables" - refugees and alleged terrorists for the regional power but even that came to an end. Water and electricity are in short supply; brownouts are common.

Fact or fiction? Fact. May I present the nation of Nauru.

This is what the US State Department says about Nauru:

Having once boasted the second highest per capita GDP in the world thanks to its fabled phosphate mines, Nauru is today destitute. With the seeming depletion of readily accessible phosphate reserves in 2000, mining on a large-scale commercial basis ended. The decline of mining saw a dramatic economic contraction, compounded by past government corruption and disastrous mismanagement of trust funds that had been expected to provide post-mining revenue streams for Nauru's citizens. Since 2000, Nauru has relied largely on payments for fishing rights within its exclusive economic zone, earnings from hosting two Australian refugee processing camps, and massive injections of grants and development funding, principally from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and more recently Taiwan. In 2006, following rehabilitation of its industrial plant and marine loading infrastructure, the government-owned mining company, the Republic of Nauru Phosphate Company or RONPhos, resumed mining with the aim of exploiting the remaining harder-to-access phosphate.

Although Nauru had a nominal per capita GDP in excess of $2,700, its economy is in deep crisis, and the resumption of mining promises only a limited respite as the country seeks to find a sustainable economic future. The private sector is very small and employs less than 300. Currently, all public servants (even government ministers) and employees of state-owned enterprises receive bi-weekly payments from government of just A$140 (about U.S. $118) in lieu of their established salaries. Nauru imports well over 90 percent of its foodstuffs and other basic goods, but sea and air transport has become problematic. In December 2005, the national airline's remaining airplane was repossessed for non-payment, leaving Nauru dependent on chartered flights. In September 2006, with financing help from Taiwan, a replacement aircraft re-established scheduled commercial flights to Nauru and around the region under the new name of Our Airline. The provision of electricity and water, both dependent on expensive imported fuel, is limited and sporadic.

Could Alberta, and possibly Canada as a whole, become a Nauru-of-the-North albeit on a much much larger scale when the fisheries die and the oil, forests diamonds and freshwater run out? That is what I worry about.

Unknown said...

Prime Minister Harper, Minister Baird are gods look at all the little red dots they have created in only two

Where is a picture of Russia and China?

Frank Frink said...

Wayne, look. Over there. Shiny thing.