Tar Sands Hell 4

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M. Spector M. Spector's picture
Tar Sands Hell 4
M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://www2.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/latest/story.html?id=6182886]S... government memo warns oilsands damage may be irreversible[/url]
by Mike De Souza, Postmedia News, February 21, 2012

Collateral damage from Canada's booming oilsands sector may be irreversible, posing a "significant environmental and financial risk to the province of Alberta," says a secret memorandum prepared for the federal government's top bureaucrat.

The memorandum, released by the Privy Council Office through access to information legislation, also raises doubts about recent industry and government claims that oilsands companies are reducing heat-trapping gases produced by each barrel of oil.

The industry has suggested that a shift in oilsands extraction to use steam to remove synthetic crude oil from natural bitumen deposits on site can reduce land disruption and provide for reductions in energy and emissions. But the memo, prepared for Wayne Wouters, the clerk of the Privy Council Office - the lead department in the federal government's bureaucracy - said this shift is actually accelerating the industry's impact on climate change, with emissions growth projected to be greater over the next decade than all other Canadian economic sectors combined.

"While the industry has taken steps to reduce emissions, the shift from mining to in situ production, which is almost three times as emissions intensive as mining, is resulting in a continued acceleration of emissions from this sector," said the memo....

"While the industry has taken steps to recycle water and collaborate on the development of innovative tailings management technologies, at this point in time, it is far from clear that tailings ponds can be adequately restored," said the memo, obtained by Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin. "Other environmental issues, such as the loss of wetlands and habitat, also exist and pose a risk to the ecological integrity of the oilsands region. At present the cumulative impacts of oilsands development are not adequately understood."...

The memo to Wouters noted the oilsands sector extracted six billion barrels in its first 40 years of commercial production, from 1967 to 2007, while it is expected to match that total production in the coming decade. It said this rapid growth "has shed light on the significant environmental challenges associated with this economically important sector," including the greenhouse gas emissions, tailings management, and habitat degradation and loss.



From the testimony of Lee Brain at the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel:

 Converging onto a thin strip of man-made road spanning about two miles in length, we arrived at the Jetty, greeted by military personnel. After a lengthy process of clearing me for entry, we walked onto couple massive docking stations. To my right, men were conducting repairs on a rather standard sized vessel, no larger than the ones you would see here in our Harbour. In the distance, a ULCC fresh from the Middle East was rolling in from the horizon. The size of the vessel stopped me in my tracks. After 10 minutes, the ship stopped and made a slow bank horizontally out at sea.

I asked one of the managers -- Jitesh was his name -- why the ship stopped so far out. He told me that because of the size of the ship, they had a floating unloading station, and through another piping system they unload and load way out there, and that connects to the main routing station at the Jetty, to be piped a few miles back to the refinery.

I asked him why, and he said, "Even though we have docking stations here, it is for the smaller vessels that are used for domestic purposes. But these larger vessels that come from the Middle East can run aground easily."

This, in open seas, I thought.

So we all stood there, suspended in what felt like an eternal moment -the heat waves rising above the calmed Arabian Sea, and the ship danced in the horizon as I stood dumbfounded by its sheer mass. One man comments: “I always forget just how large those vessels are.” 


A few moments pass as we all stood, just watching.

Out of the silence, Jitesh says to me “Do you see what we are doing here Mr. Lee?”

I asked “What’s that, Jitesh?”

He replied, with an unexpected, sobering tone: “We are destroying future generations for now, and forever.”

And in this kind of slow motion life moment, I felt this kind of tingling feeling on the top of my head– and with sweat dripping down from the inside of my hard hat onto my face, the sun beaming into my eyes -- I squint over at six men slowing nodding their heads in silent agreement.

It was such a profound statement, and in that moment, there was silence.




M. Spector M. Spector's picture

That's a very important speech, Ripple.

But you buried the lead! The speaker, Lee Brain, is the 26-year-old son of an oil company executive!

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84zIj_EdQdM]The True Cost of Oil[/url]

In this TEDxVictoria video, photographer Garth Lenz (yes, that's his name) shows his photos of the Tar Sands and argues powerfully that the mining of Tar Sands bitumen must stop.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Oil patch has concerns with NDP’s Mulcair

OTTAWA • Thomas Mulcair, the New Democratic Party leadership candidate most likely to assume the prime-minister-in-waiting mantle after next Saturday’s final balloting, has issued some soothing words about his plans for the oil sands sector.

“You’ll never hear me speaking against the development of the oil sands,” he told the Toronto Star last week before laying out his polluter-pay policy for the oil and gas industry.

But Mr. Mulcair’s long record as a consistent oil sands industry critic puts him on a collision course with the industry and large chunks of public opinion in Western Canada, according to one analyst....


M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Ian Angus wrote:
The oil giants, and the governments that supposedly regulate them, frequently claim that after mining the Alberta tar sands they will restore the area to its previous condition.

They are lying.

Much of the area they are despoiling is peatland, which cannot be restored. What’s more, digging up the peat releases massive amounts of CO2 that has not been included in previous calculations of the global warming impact of the world’s worst environmental crime.

A paper published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) examines the actual closure agreements between the oil companies and the Alberta government. The authors write:

Contrary to claims made in the media, peatland destroyed by open-pit mining will not be restored. Current plans dictate its replacement with upland forest and tailings storage lakes, amounting to the destruction of over 29,500 ha of peatland habitat. Landscape changes caused by currently approved mines will release between 11.4 and 47.3 million metric tons of stored carbon and will reduce carbon sequestration potential by 5,734–7,241 metric tons C/y. These losses have not previously been quantified, and should be included with the already high estimates of carbon emissions from oil sands mining and bitumen upgrading.”

This, bear in mind, is based on agreements. None of the tar sands mines has yet been restored at all....


Yesterday's  federal budget shortened the time for environmental reviews and that is a clear sign that the Gateway will begin construction this fall or winter.... when protests and potential saboteurs will be less able, and less likely, to disrupt the construction.

As part of the justification for ramming the Gateway pipeline through, we can expect to hear oil people and government conservatives say that "there is too much money invested in the Oil Sands to have it's bitumen stranded", and "Canada stands to lose too much by not accessing new markets for Oil Sands bitumen".

 Ahh, so never mind that they made a huge mistake going ahead with $Billions in new tar sands expansion, its never industry's fault for being shortsighted. [a huge new expansion project started just a few months ago]

 When the big bucks are at stake, they will be fascists about it. The broader definition of violence is to force one's views on others... they are using violence... it just might come to that to make everybody's opinion count!!





Snowd wrote:

Yesterday's  federal budget shortened the time for environmental reviews and that is a clear sign that the Gateway will begin construction this fall or winter.... when protests and potential saboteurs will be less able, and less likely, to disrupt the construction.

As part of the justification for ramming the Gateway pipeline through, we can expect to hear oil people and government conservatives say that "there is too much money invested in the Oil Sands to have it's bitumen stranded", and "Canada stands to lose too much by not accessing new markets for Oil Sands bitumen".

 Ahh, so never mind that they made a huge mistake going ahead with $Billions in new tar sands expansion, its never industry's fault for being shortsighted. [a huge new expansion project started just a few months ago]

 When the big bucks are at stake, they will be fascists about it. The broader definition of violence is to force one's views on others... they are using violence... it just might come to that to make everybody's opinion count!!

Construction would also be delayed over the winter I think. In any case the Northern Gateway probably faces court challenges too.


Hell, even the editorial board of the Globe and Mail is distressed:

"The Conservatives are continuing their dishonourable attack meant to intimidate environmental groups, in a budget item that stands out for adding a needless new cost.

"Non-profit groups will be required to 'provide more information on their political activities, including the eztent to which these are funded by foreign sources,' budget documents say. And somehow the government has found $8o-million, at aq time fo rest4raint, for the Canada Revenue Agency to spend on 'education and compliance,' $3o-million of which is for extra audits to ensure the existing 10 per cent rule is maintained (no more than 10 per cent of the funds can be spent on advocacy). Witch hunts don't come cheap."


Of course, if a closing down of sources of information did not cause concern for that paper, they would look even sillier than they do now, suppressing any news of social democratic demands.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I posted in the other thread that the BC Grand Chief said on P&P two days ago that the Northern Gateway faces both court challenges - meaning delays - and physical blockages.  (think Oka) One of the P&P pundits reminded viewers that the review process can also turn down the project entirely.

Then Joe Oliver came on the show and said the native communities will change course when they realize the huge potential benefits of the pipeline. (in other words, the feds will shower them with money)


Boom Boom wrote:

I posted in the other thread that the BC Grand Chief said on P&P two days ago that the Northern Gateway faces both court challenges - meaning delays - and physical blockages.  (think Oka) One of the P&P pundits reminded viewers that the review process can also turn down the project entirely.

Then Joe Oliver came on the show and said the native communities will change course when they realize the huge potential benefits of the pipeline. (in other words, the feds will shower them with money)

If Enbridge wants to bribe FN groups they're going to have to try harder. At the moment what they are proposing is not so much to shower them with money, but rather to bathe them in debt.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Carol Linnitt wrote:

Over the last several years, Alberta has killed more than 500 wolves using aerial sharpshooters and poisoned bait in order to conceal the impact of rapid industrial development on Canada’s iconic woodland caribou. 

Independent scientists say that declining caribou health stems chiefly from habitat destruction caused by the encroachment of the tar sands and timber industries. But in a perverse attempt to cover industry’s tracks, the Alberta government is ignoring the science and shifting the blame to a hapless scapegoat: the wolf.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The Canadian Oil Sand Mines Refused Us Access, So We Rented This Plane To See What They Were Doing
(long webpage with photos - awesome)



ETA: a friend who lives less than 250 km south of the tar sands says the sky is quite often hazy, and they get acid rain.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Question: if the NDP form the next federal government, what will be their policy with regard to the tar sands? Can they change anything, clean it up, what?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Bob Rae Praises Oilsands www.huffingtonpost.ca Alberta's oilsands are a tremendous benefit to Canada, but they need strong regulation from the federal and provincial governments, says federal interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Interesting debate on P&P tonight, although the host (Hannah Thibedeau substituting for Evan Solomon on summer break) was clearly trying to set up confrontations I guess to get more excitement and feedback.
First was a clip of Allison Redford saying Alberta's royalties belong to the people of Alberta and can't be negotiated with BC. Then Christy Clark saying the royalties have to be negotiated with BC as a partner - taking all the enviro risks - or the project will not go through BC. Then, Brad Wall of Sask siding with Redford because he's deathly afraid of the precedent that could be set - basically that the federation could collapse - because any province shipping hazardous or dangerous material could be then forced to pay royalties to every other province the shipment has to go through. Wall is concerned that uranium shipments from Sask could be held hostage by any province deciding it doesn't want uranium shipped through it unless there's royalties to be paid for taking the risks. I think Wall suggested that the pipeline owners - not the province (Alberta) should have to pay for the environment risk of shipping through BC. Interesting argument.

They're meeting in NS this week I think, and it - according to the P&P panel - could be a nasty meeting.



(Source URL: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/24/northern-gateway-pipeline-royalt...)


"Is that an election or are you just happy to see me?"

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Weird. Last night on P&P, Christy Clark was complaining about the frosty reception she got from Allison Redford recently in Edmonton for their secret meeting.


There has been some speculation that if Clark and Redford can stage a spat and make Clark look better in the eyes of BCians, then Clark has some chance in hell of getting re-elected, so that once she is, she can get back on board with NGP v2.0.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

No doubt. Brad Lavigne on P&P attacked Clark for being too late in demanding more from the pipeline proposal, as did the other NDP critic on P&P.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Enbridge in the news - again!!
U.S. pipeline agency to probe Enbridge oil spill in Wisconsin   
This incompetent company should be driven out of business.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture
kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

No problem Boom Boom if you just ship the filthy bitumen east instead of west all the problems are fixed. 



The reality is that for most open-pit tar sands mines, restoring the land to its natural state has never been part of the plan. For decades now, the industry has been digging gargantuan holes, each one averaging four kilometres wide and as deep as an eight storey building, to strip mine tar sands.  Instead of trying to fill the holes with dirt – a huge volume – they’re opting for the cheaper option of using them as a toxic waste dump. Then covering it with clean water and calling it a “lake”.   Feel like going for a swim yet?   In addition to fresh water, many of these lakes will also be filled with toxic tar sands ‘tailings’ that includes water, clay, mercury, arsenic, lead, benzene and particularly nasty chemical known as naphthenic acid. The hope is that the bad stuff stays at the bottom and never mixes with the clean water up top. Sounds risky.   Want to hear the real kicker in this plan?  That’s basically all the oil industry plans to do. Fill them with toxic water and walk away. No replanting of trees, no bucolic buffalo grazing, no restored wetlands and muskeg. Just a pit filled with dirty water. A massive experiment that could leave a dangerous toxic legacy behind. 


The upside of environmental degradation, for me as an analytical chemist, is that I'll never run out of nasty things to be hired to test for :P

Perhaps I should be testing for naphthenic acid in Alberta-grown produce...

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Kevin O'Leary is on 'The Lang and O'leary Exchange" saying we should be teaching children in school that the oilsands is the most valuable resource in Canada and we need to preserve it for future generations as well. :mad2


You know, considering it a valuable resource and something to keep around for future generations is not such a bad angle. I consider myself an environmentalist, but I think the undeniable truth about fossil fuels is that they are the ultimate backup power. If the transmission systems go down, and your local hospital can no longer tap into the waterfalls, windmills, solar panels, etc, and their high-tech backup batteries deplete... well they can crank up a diesel generator. If running that hospital for a few hours or a few days on diesel saves lives when nothing else can, I consider it a justifiable use. (Sure, maybe they could keep a tank of recycled biodiesel. But let's just say for argument's sake that in a future where renewable energy is used to its maximum potential, biodiesel is in super-hot demand and not always available in large quantities.)

If we maximized the uses of renewable energy and reserved fossil fuels for emergency backup, public safety, health protection etc, then the extractable fuels left on the globe would pretty much never run out, and the overall rate of consumption would be negligible compared to the present day.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Well, aside from being a terrible polluter and a driver of climate change, reliance on tar sands steals away investment that might otherwise go to environmentally sustainable energy alternatives. It is absolutely inexcuseable to me to support in any way further exploitation of this filthy project, and it should not only be scaled back but stopped in its tracks entirely. Anyone defending this project has zero environmental cred with me whatsoever.


ETA: *sigh* For all my words, I'm also a realist - there is as much chance of an NDP federal government shutting down the tar sands as there is of an NDP federal government disbanding the military. Frown


I do agree the sands are dirty.

I was just thinking of how, say, Norway takes the "sovereign wealth fund" approach to their resource extraction, building up assets for future generations and diverting some of that money into alternative energy. And they are still willing to come to the table and agree to emissions reduction targets. Will they be able to meet those targets? I don't know. But they seem more likely to than with Canada's "everything to the lowest bidder" approach.

If the sands were treated as a resource with future value and with environmental impacts accounted for in their cost... and as one part of a diversified economy in a country that acknowledges that science is real... we'd have some hope of scaling them back and/or reducing their impact to no less than conventional extraction.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Someone posted recently that Chinese investment in the Alberta tar sands will reach 70% - and I lost that link.

Okay, if China has a 70% investment in the tar sands, what exactly does that mean? That they are entitled to 70% of the profits? That they own 70% of the tar sands? That they expect to export 70% of the tar sands product?

And - if Northern Gateway is not approved or otherwise blocked by BC, how does China retaliate? Or will they simply ask permission to  expand pipeline production through Vancouver (Kinder Morgan pipeline I think it's called)?

Question: can the Kinder Morgan pipeline be slowed down by the BC NDP government once elected?

I think Vancouverites would like to see fewer tankers in their waters, although that is just a guess - I'm in Quebec.

(I have relatives and friends in Vancouver and Surrey I used to visit, though)



Oil Sands Workers Re-Hired After Getting Sacked For Cheap Croatian Labour


"The AFL said that the ironworkers would have been paid over $36 an hour but the temporary workers were going to get $18 an hour for the same work..."

Just noticed this is also posted to the Jason Kenney thread. Any comments or discussions should go there..

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Children near Baytex Oil operation wake up sweating chemicals

In an unprecedented hearing on the odours and emissions associated with heavy oil production near Peace River, Alberta, grain farmer Alain Labrecque testified that his two small children would wake up soaked from sweating out chemicals. These chemical sweats would lead to burns and rashes.

Alain Labrecque's two small children would wake up soaked from sweating out chemicals. These chemical sweats would lead to burns and rashes. Labrecque, a farmer near Peace River, Alberta, made these and other claims during an unprecedented hearing on the odours and emissions associated with heavy oil production in the region.

  The sweats and rashes were only some of the symptoms experienced by Labrecque's family. He believes his wife's vertigo (she fell down the stairs while carrying a basket of laundry), his "massive headaches," and his children's constipation, black under-eye circles and walking difficulties, were all caused by the heavy oil emissions from the Reno operation field, 500 kilometres Northwest of Edmonton and 500 m from the Labrecque home. Run by Calgary-based Baytex Energy, the operation is a grouping of 86 bitumen storage tanks that release toxic vapour including dangerous organic compounds such as benzene, toulene, and sulfur. Details uncovered at the hearing show that in 2010, Baytex initially failed to install proper vapour recovery systems....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture


APTN Investigates

Cracked earth in Alberta causing environmental concerns

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Oilsands tailings ponds leaking toxic chemicals: federal govt study

New federal research has strongly backed suspicions that toxic chemicals from Alberta’s vast oilsands tailings ponds are leaching into groundwater and seeping into the Athabasca River.

Leakage from oilsands tailings ponds, which now cover 176 square kilometres, has long been an issue. Industry has acknowledged that seepage can occur and previous studies using models have estimated it at 6.5 million litres a day from a single pond.....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Alberta doctor tells U.S.: Canada is ‘lying’ about tar sands’ health effects

A northern Alberta doctor warned U.S. Senators on what he says have been the devastating health impacts of the tar sands on families – effects, he says, that have been willfully “ignored” by the Canadian and Alberta governments.

“I appeal to you to keep up the pressure – this is an ongoing tragedy.  A total disgrace,” said Dr. John O’Connor, Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

He sighted statistics for rare cancers – of the bile duct for example – that have shot up 400 times for what is considered normal for a tiny community, such as Fort Chipewyan – which is downstream, to the north of the oil sands.

“These are published, peer-reviewed studies that indicate that the government of Alberta and Canada have been lying, misrepresenting the impact of industry on the environment,” said O’Connor.....



Senators Boxer, Whitehouse Expose Harmful Health Impacts of Tar Sands and Keystone XL Pipeline


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Alberta Partners with Major Oilsands Companies to Develop Kindergarten to Grade Three Curriculum

The province of Alberta has recently released a development plan for public schools that enlists Suncor Energy and Syncrude Canada in the creation of future Kindergarten to grade three curriculum. Oil giant Cenovus will partner in developing curriculum for grades four to 12.

The oil and gas industry’s involvement in the province’s educational development is creating concern among opposition parties and environmental organizations.

NDP Education Critic Deron Bilous called granting partnership status to industry “appalling.”

“Kindergarten to grade three is a very formative time in a child’s education where their minds are still developing. It is outrageous and appalling to have oil and gas companies involved in any way in developing curriculum for Alberta’s youngest students,” he said.

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema said “it’s definitely very disturbing that the Alberta government would see oil giants Syncrude and Suncor as key partners in designing Alberta’s K to three curriculum. Big oil doesn’t belong in Alberta’s schools....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

TransCanada looks to ship oil to U.S. by rail amid Keystone XL delays

TransCanada is in talks with customers about shipping Canadian crude to the United States by rail as an alternative to its Keystone XL pipeline project that has been mired in political delays, according to company president and CEO Russ Girling.

"We are absolutely considering a rail option," Girling told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in New York Wednesday. "Our customers have needed to wait for several years, so we're in discussions now with them over the rail option."

The comments are the first to confirm growing speculation that TransCanada might use more costly and controversial railway shipments as a stopgap alternative to the Keystone XL pipeline, whose approval has been delayed by the U.S. government.

Girling said the firm was exploring shipping crude by rail from Hardisty in Canada, the main storage and pipeline hub, to Steele City, Neb., where it would flow into an existing pipeline to the Gulf refining hub.....


Hardisty, AB


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

First Nations' cancer linked to oil sands’ toxins in wild food: study

Deeply frustrated by provincial denials of health concerns, two First Nations commissioned their own study using out-of-province university researchers to examine oil sands pollutants in their foods.

Two northern Alberta First Nations downstream of massive oil sands smoke plumes and tailing ponds released a human health study Monday, implicating the growth of the industry to many serious Aboriginal health concerns, including cancer.

The worry?  Oil sands pollution is contaminating their wild food.

“I don’t know what it is that they’re hiding.  What’s causing these cancers?  Why is it so hard that they cannot take it out of their production, so it’s not hurting anyone or killing anyone?” asked Chief Steve Courtereille of the Mikisew Cree First Nation at an Edmonton press conference.

The new scientific study states the region's "country food" contains elevated levels of toxic metals and carcinogens, that members of the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations traditionally eat.  

But recent fears that oil sands pollution is contaminating the food, has led fewer people to eat it.

The research was partly funded by Health Canada and reviewed by federal scientists....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Fort MacKay residents short on cash after oilsands profits dip

Some residents from the wealthy Fort McKay First Nation are in financial trouble after the band failed to provide an expected dividend from oilsands profits last month.

Band members have long been receiving the payment, known as a PCD, which the band is able to pay out due to profits gained from oilsands-related operations. Recently, members collected more than $10,000 per year from the funds. 

But band CEO George Arcand says oilsands profits took an unexpected dip last year – leaving the band with a $13 million shortfall....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Canada's campaign to block NAFTA's oil sands tailings pond probe slammed by critics

Canada and international environmental regulators collide over alleged oil sands tailings pond seepage into Athabasca River.

Reactions to the federal government's attempts to stop NAFTA's environmental oversight commission from investigating environmental damage caused by tailings ponds in Alberta's oil sands came fast and fierce from critics.

“There’s compelling evidence that [industry contamination] is happening," said Dale Marshall of Environmental Defence, "and that the federal government is denying it, and not allowing that information to be known to Canadians and the people who live in that area." 

"It's disheartening. The Canadian government is more interested in protecting oil sands companies," added Marshall. 

Canada has already stopped NAFTA twice from investigating its environmental record in the past year. The trade organization’s environmental oversight commission seeks to review public complaints that Canada is ignoring its fishery laws by not acting strongly enough to protect the Athabasca River from industry pollution. 

Environmental Defence is one of the complainants to the NAFTA review process, and says the Harper government is "blocking" science from getting out about the oil industry's harm to the watershed....



montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

We know the land is poisoned from bitumen mining. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from farmers and aboriginals. The question is, how bad is it? 


Tar Sands Map Rap. In Standing on Sacred Ground's second episode, Profit and Loss, we have a couple brief scenes featuring Mike Mercredi explaining a detailed map of the tar sands that he and Lionel Lepine created for their Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation tribal government. The four clips we use in the film are about 20 seconds each, but they are cut from a 19-minute “map rap” in which these two amazing indigenous activists run through a powerful stream of consciousness describing the tar sands from a dozen angles. Enjoy the full story!



epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..txs lagatta

Revealed: Canadian Government Trying to Buy First Nations Support for Tar Sands

The government of Alberta, Canada is trying to buy the approval of First Nations opposed to tar sands development by offering them royalties or possible investor-shares in the fossil fuel project profits.

According to a draft proposal of an agreement seen by Canada-based Guardian reporter Martin Lukacs, the provincial government is seeking to create a task force that includes representatives from First Nations who would meet regularly with energy companies TransCanada, Enbridge, and Kinder Morgan, charged with the task of persuading other First Nations groups to support pipelines such as the Energy East project in exchange for oil royalties and "opportunities to become investors or owners of oil enterprises or projects."

Lukacs reports:

Documents obtained by the Guardian show that under a proposed agreement the province would have funded a task force of Alberta First Nations and government officials to “work jointly on removing bottlenecks and enabling the construction of pipelines to tide-water in the east and west coasts.”

The push was part of a broader diplomatic offensive launched by Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice after he came to power in late 2014, making approval of pipelines his highest priority. Prentice is currently struggling to win re-election.

Alberta First Nations have largely led the opposition to the development of tar sands and, as Lukacs notes, several tribes have launched legal challenges against the government for violating treaty rights in their "management and rapid development" of what environmentalists consider the world's dirtiest form of fossil fuels.   

According to the draft, the tribes that signed onto the endeavor would be committed to "urge others engaged in litigation against Alberta to withdraw their legal challenges."...


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Lockdown: The End of Growth in the Tar Sands

The pipelines exporting tar sands out of Alberta are almost full, according to new analysis by Oil Change International. Without major expansion-driving pipelines such as Energy East, Kinder Morgan or Keystone XL, there will be no room for further growth in tar sands extraction and tens of billions of metric tonnes of carbon will be kept in the ground. This would be a significant step towards a safer climate.

All proposed new pipeline routes out of Alberta are facing legal challenges, opposition by local authorities and regulators, and broad-based public opposition. All of the major projects have been significantly delayed with some cancellations seemingly imminent. No pipeline has been built since 2010, despite active industry efforts....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Oil’s Violent Disturbances


I am invited by Mikisew Cree First Nation locals to attend a government and industry relations cultural retreat taking place near Doré Lake. Before we eat a large “free” meal, cooked with ingredients flown into the community, oil industry representatives pass out small paper bags of fruit to the Elders. An Elder sitting next to me laughs and jokingly says, “This will last the whole year … I thought these bags were going to be full of money.”

I leave the retreat to meet Rigney, an Elder who describes herself as “a proud Dene woman who lives off the land as much as she can and will fight to the bitter end for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” As her grandchildren and dogs run around a yard brimming with plant life, Rigney recounts how the water began to change in the 1960s, when BC Hydro’s W.A.C. Bennett Dam was constructed. In the years that followed, she witnessed the installation of the oil industry and its attendant harms: violence, toxicity, displacement, and cancer. Now, a swimming pool is being built for children forbidden from swimming in the lake. As a cancer survivor, Rigney knows all too well the effects of the oil industry’s rampant expansion.


The unconventional oil of Alberta is extracted in two ways: open-pit mining and in situ drilling. Only 18 per cent of Alberta’s tarsands are shallow enough to mine from the surface. The rest are accessed using in situ techniques. Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), the more common method of in situ extraction in Alberta, is a process of injecting steam deep into the earth in order to reduce the viscosity of the bitumen, allowing it to be pumped out for processing. By 2012, in situ production surpassed open-pit mining.

The fracking of liquefied natural gas from First Nations’ unceded territories in B.C. produces the liquefied natural gas that is subsequently used for in situ drilling projects. Tarsands processing occurs near the Aamjiwnaang community in Sarnia, Ontario. Kilometres of rail lines and pipelines transport oil across treaty territory. The oil industry is only able to exist through neocolonial land grabs and occupation.


The extensive greenwashing of in situ projects has resulted in what Cardinal says is “pretty much 99 per cent approvals on in situ mining applications. There are definitely groups and organizations that are hugely concerned about it, but the approval process is set up in a way that they have fewer steps to do than the open-pit mining, which expedites their application process.” In situ mining projects are currently excluded from federal environmental assessment.

Under the new provincial NDP government, the Alberta Energy Regulator introduced very limited water restrictions in August, regulating the use of only a small portion of the Athabasca River and permitting Syncrude, Shell, and Suncor to continue operations. By September, however, these meagre restrictions were lifted.

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First Nations across North America sign treaty alliance against the oilsands

The thunderous pounding of Indigenous drums echoed in the air on Thursday as more than 50 Indigenous nations across North America rallied together to sign a historic, pan-continental treaty alliance against oilsands expansion in their traditional territory.

The collaboration, formalized at simultaneous ceremonies in Quebec and B.C., aims to block all proposed pipeline, tanker, and rail projects affecting First Nations land and water, including TransCanada's Energy East pipeline, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion, Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline, and Enbridge Northern Gateway.

At the signing on Musqueam land in Vancouver, the lineup of chiefs waiting to put their names down filled up an entire room. It was a powerful ceremony, and participants clad in the regalia of their nations travelled from across B.C. and northern Washington to be part of the growing movement.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, who also signed the document, said Indigenous people will no longer stand for dangerous projects on their territory that advance the threat of climate change.

"In this time of great challenge we know that other First Nations will sign on," he said, extending the invitation to Indigenous communities far and wide.

"Based on our sovereign, inherent right to self-determination, we have collectively decided that we will pick up our sacred responsibilities to the land, waters, and people. We will come together in unity and solidarity to protect our territory from the predations of big oil interests, industry, and everything that represents."


Meeting the call to climate change duty

The document, called the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, commits its signatories to assist one another when called upon in the battle against oilsands expansion, and to work in partnership to move society towards more sustainable lifestyles. By aligning themselves with other Indigenous nations across Canada and the northern U.S., participants hope to ensure that dangerous projects are not able to "escape" by using alternative routes.

“We have the right and the responsibility to stop these major threats to our lands, our waters and our peoples,” said Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon. “For example, from Quebec, we will work with our First Nation allies in B.C. to make sure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline does not pass, and we know they’ll help us do the same against Energy East.”

It comes not only from a legal and cultural responsibility to protect their land, water, air, and climate from harm, said Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, but a desire to safeguard a future for all peoples, Indigenous and non-Indigenous as well.

“We want to work with the Prime Minister and the government to develop a sustainable economy that does not marginalize our people,” he said. “This is a time of great spiritual awakening for our peoples as we reinvigorate our Nations and ensure a better tomorrow for all.”

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..the web site.



The alliance is part of an Indigenous Sovereignty resurgence taking place all over Turtle Island where Indigenous Peoples are reasserting themselves as the legitimate governments and caretakers of their territories.

The allied signatory Indigenous Nations aim to prevent a pipeline/train/tanker spill from poisoning their water and to stop the Tar Sands from increasing its output and becoming an even bigger obstacle to solving the climate crisis. The world might not be able to immediately stop using oil tomorrow, but the last thing it needs is more oil, and especially not more of the dirtiest oil on the planet. It is critical that we urgently start building a more sustainable future and signatory Nations want to be at the heart of that building process....