tagged w/ Keystone XL pipeline
My name is David Daniel, and I'm a landowner from east Texas. Yesterday, I was arrested, for the first time in my life, in front of the White House. In the last week, over 500 people from across the country have have been arrested too. Let me explain why.
I purchased a beautiful 20-acre plot of land for my family to make our home. We take care of its 100-year-old trees, its wetlands, and waterways. My dream is to leave it for my daughter to enjoy with her family.
The Keystone XL pipeline, whose permit is on President Obama's desk today, would cut my property in half. But this isn't just about me; this is a national issue. It will damage wildlife habitat from Canada to the Gulf Coast, put our nation's largest aquifer at risk of contamination, and undermine our clean energy future. According to noted NASA climate scientist James Hansen, if we let this pipeline move forward, it's game over for our climate.1
Click here to tell President Obama to reject the Keystone XL permit.
Tar sands oil is a particularly nasty type of oil,2 dwarfing crude oil in terms of its damage to our climate. There's almost as much carbon in this stuff as in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia.3 Allowing this tar sands pipeline to go forward paves the way for even more dirty energy to pollute our future by creating the first international market for tar sands oil.4 I risked getting arrested yesterday because I could not let this happen.
TransCanada, the company behind this scheme, tried to scare me with intimidating letters and strong-arm tactics to get me to sign away my land. I may have signed a piece of paper, but I'm appealing to a higher power. They didn't know who they were messing with.
I'm joining with fellow farmers from Nebraska to Texas to educate people about the physical and environmental dangers posed by this toxic pipeline. We're talking to folks all over the country. Yesterday, however, I came to talk with the President.
Sign this petition and stand with me against Keystone XL. Tell the President to prevent another oil disaster on his watch.
Click here to sign the petition and tell President Obama to reject the Keystone XL permit.
This is an extraordinary moment where people like me who don't normally do things like this are taking a chance. Join us as we step up.
Seriously? We actually have to call your attention to a really bad idea because our representatives are so corrupt that they would be willing to kill us all for the sake of money.
The fact that this proposition ever saw the light of day is a disgrace.My name is David Daniel, and I'm a landowner from east Texas. Yesterday, I was... more
A proposed $7 billion Canada-to-Texas pipeline cleared a major obstacle on Friday with the release of U.S. State Department review that suggested it would have limited environmental impact.
The report found that the Keystone XL pipeline by itself would not likely boost output of Alberta's oil sands because demand for the oil means it will get to the market one way or another.
"Even without it ... the oil is going to develop and is going to get to different refineries that are demanding it," a State Department official said.
A broad environmental movement has coalesced against TransCanada Corp's pipeline that would bring more than 500,000 barrels per day of oil sands crude from Alberta to refineries in Texas.
More than 320 Keystone protesters have been arrested this week in demonstrations in front of the White House in an action expected to continue into early September.
The opponents want President Barack Obama to block the line, arguing that producing oil sands emits more carbon dioxide than developing other kinds of crudes.
Critics also say the pipeline risks polluting a massive aquifer in the center of the United States, which would hurt surrounding communities. TransCanada's existing Keystone pipeline suffered two small leaks this year.
Backers of the pipeline say it will create thousands of jobs and boost oil imports from a close ally.
Besides being a major project for TransCanada, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper sees it as pivotal in a national energy strategy to maximize production of the tar sands, the world's third largest crude deposit.
The Canadian and Alberta governments have lobbied hard in Washington to sell the benefits of the project, which they tout as way to reduce dependence on OPEC and to create jobs.
The oil industry believes the increased access to the huge Gulf Coast refining market would raise prices for oil sands-derived crude, which are depressed by a glut of crude in the U.S. Midcontinent region.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/26/us-pipeline-keystone-idUSTRE77P48F20110826A proposed $7 billion Canada-to-Texas pipeline cleared a major obstacle on Friday with... more
The largest act of civil disobedience by environmentalists in decades began outside the White House Saturday, as more than 70 activists were arrested at the north gates during a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline, which if approved by the administration would carry 900,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.The largest act of civil disobedience by environmentalists in decades began outside... more
It's day 3 of the two week sit-in which will be the beginning of the movement of the people to stop this senseless destructive path we are on as a species. This is about more than a long piece of metal winding its way through our country. This is about the global repercussions of continuing to be addicted to that which is killing us and the ecosystems that sustain life on this planet.
And while I too know that to go "cold turkey" would be just as much a catastrophe, we must now work together to make those in government understand that to continue on this path without adequate transition is even more catastrophic. But yes, I know the score and the odds just as those sitting in Washington DC do. However, this is about the survival of civilization as we know it and that is simply the reality of it all. This is a moral imperative.
The link to the thread above was the first post in what I hope will be a series over the next two weeks to virtually protest this unnecessary pipeline and to stand in solidarity with those who risk arrest in trying to make President Obama understand that a YES to this will also affect the world his children will live in.
So once again, please use this thread to comment NO, or any other encouragement you wish to convey to those sitting in to stand up for us that we are with them in spirit.
If you truly love your planet and wish to preserve it, this is the time to make it known.
They want it all but they won't get it without a fight!It's day 3 of the two week sit-in which will be the beginning of the movement of... more
Ain’t eBay grand? For $10 you can buy a sack of 50 assorted Obama ’08 buttons, and that’s what I’ve been doing. If you look closely, you might see them this weekend on the lapels of some of the global warming protesters holding a sit-in outside the White House.
Already, more than a thousand people have signed up to be arrested over two weeks beginning Aug. 20 — the biggest display of civil disobedience in the environmental movement in decades and one of the largest nonviolent direct actions since the World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle back before Sept. 11. (Among the first 500 to sign up, the biggest cohort was born in the Truman administration, followed closely by FDR babies and Eisenhower kids. These seniors contradict the stereotype of greedy geezers who care only about their own future.)
The issue is simple: We want the president to block construction of Keystone XL, a pipeline that would carry oil from the tar sands of northern Alberta down to the Gulf of Mexico. We have, not surprisingly, concerns about potential spills and environmental degradation from construction of the pipeline. But those tar sands are also the second-largest pool of carbon in the atmosphere, behind only the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. If we tap into them in a big way, NASA climatologist James Hansen explained in a paper issued this summer, the emissions would mean it’s “essentially game over” for the climate. That’s why the executive directors of many environmental groups and 20 of the country’s leading climate scientists wrote letters asking people to head to Washington for the demonstrations. In scientific terms, it’s as close to a no-brainer as you can get.
But in political terms it may turn out to be a defining moment of the Obama years.
That’s because, for once, the president will get to make an important call all by himself. He has to sign a certificate of national interest before the border-crossing pipeline can be built. Under the relevant statutes, Congress is not involved, so he doesn’t need to stand up to the global-warming deniers calling the shots in the House.
But the president does need to stand up to the fossil fuel industry, which has done its best to influence the decision. Since the State Department plays a role in recommending a decision, the main pipeline company helpfully hired the former national deputy director of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign as its lead lobbyist. WikiLeaks documents emerged recently showing U.S. envoys conspiring with the oil industry to win favorable media coverage for tar sands oil. If you were a cynic, you’d say the fix was in.
Still, the final call rests with Barack Obama, who said the night that he clinched the Democratic nomination in June 2008 that his ascension would mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Now he gets a chance to prove that he meant it. In basketball terms, he’s alone at the top of the key — will he take the 20-foot jumper or pass the ball? It’s a rare, character-defining moment. Obama can’t escape it simply by saying that someone else will burn the oil if we don’t. Alberta is remote, and its only other possible pipeline route — to the Pacific and hence Asia — is tangled in litigation. That’s why the province’s energy minister told Canada’s Globe and Mail last month that without the Keystone pipeline Alberta would be “landlocked in bitumen,” the technical name for the heavy, gooey tar that is its chief export. Critics may argue otherwise, but Obama’s call is key; without it, that oil will stay in the ground for at least a while longer. Long enough, perhaps, that the planet will come fully to its senses about climate change.
It’s hard to predict what will happen. Earlier this summer Al Gore tossed up his hands in despair: “President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis,” Gore said. “He has not defended the science against the ongoing withering and dishonest attacks.” Yet it’s hard to give up on the image of the skinny senator from Illinois and the young people who were his most fervent supporters — young people who, according to pollsters, wanted a climate bill by a 5-to-1 margin. That didn’t happen, of course; for now, the Keystone pipeline is the best proxy we have for real presidential commitment to the global warming fight.
More at the linkAin’t eBay grand? For $10 you can buy a sack of 50 assorted Obama ’08... more
Actually the "crude offense" belongs to the Big Oil Bullies and their minions of spineless suck-ups. This pipeline could be coming soon through your state too. You may begin to see the full page propaganda ads in your local newspaper. Stop the madness!Actually the "crude offense" belongs to the Big Oil Bullies and their... more
More than 100 environmental activists from across the country descended Tuesday on the Montana Capitol to demand Gov. Brian Schweitzer rescind his support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline and ExxonMobil's megaload transportation project.
Approximately 70 of those activists filled the governor's reception room, where they pounded homemade drums and chanted slogans such as: "No pipeline, no oil, the Big Sky State's too good to spoil."
Two activists also scaled the flagpoles in front of the Capitol and strung up a banner that read "Pipelines spill, Exxon kills. Big oil out of Montana."
Six activists from the environmental groups Earth First! and Northern Rockies Rising Tide, including one activist from Great Falls, locked their hands together within a mock oil pipeline made of PVC plastic pipe and said they wouldn't leave willfully until Schweitzer met their demands.
Law enforcement officials cut the activists out of the pipes. The group of activists dispersed late in the afternoon after police arrested two men and three women who refused to leave and were chained together.
Group members said earlier in the day that they would not leave until Schweitzer, a Democrat, gave up his support for two major projects related to oil sands development in Canada: the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport Canadian oil sands crude to the Gulf of Mexico; and the "Kearl Module Transportation Project," which would ship about 200 massive Korean-built oil sands processing modules across Montana highways to the Kearl oil sands region in northern Alberta. That megaload project is slated to start later this year.
Schweitzer met with the activists for nearly 20 minutes in the reception room of his office, but ultimately refused their demands.
"I'm not prepared to do that today," Schweitzer said.
Members of the group told Schweitzer that last week's rupture of ExxonMobil's Silvertip pipeline — which poured an estimated 1,000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River downstream of Laurel — is a prime example of why Schweitzer should "toss big oil out of Montana."
"We feel the Silvertip pipeline disaster on the Yellowstone is just a preview of what's to come if you continue to cater to big oil's interests and turn us into what would essentially be an energy extraction colony," said Missoula resident Max Granger of Northern Rockies Rising Tide, a group that has led protests against the Kearl Oil Sands project and the development of the Otter Creek coal tracts in Eastern Montana.
After listening to the protesters complaints and demands, the governor said he hoped the environmental activists would put their passion toward ending the nation's addiction to foreign oil.
"I will say to you that this country uses an inordinate quantity of hydrocarbons. I would say to you that 25% of all the oil that's consumed in the world is consumed by us — you, me," Schweitzer said.
Protesters cut off Schweitzer several times during the 20 minute meeting before one activist began playing a honky-tonk tune on a piano in the reception room. At that point more than a dozen protesters jumped onto the large meeting room tables and began dancing and chanting.
In a news release, Northern Rockies Rising Tide criticized Schweitzer for publicly chastising ExxonMobil while continuing to promote the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, megaload shipments bound for the Alberta oil sands and other "extreme fossil-fuel projects" throughout the state.
more at the linkMore than 100 environmental activists from across the country descended Tuesday on the... more
CALGARY — TransCanada Corp. vastly understated the risks inherent in its Keystone XL oil pipeline proposal, according to a report by a professor at the University of Nebraska, who is calling for increased analysis of the project.
The company made “flawed and inappropriate assumptions about the frequency and severity of expected spills from its pipelines,” John Stansbury said in his analysis.
Closer to 100 spills likely would happen over the course of a 50-year lifespan for the Keystone XL project, rather than the company’s 11-spill estimate, Stansbury noted in a study released Monday by U.S. environmental group Friends of the Earth.
At least a dozen of the spills could be large, affecting hundreds of miles of waterways, wildlife and human populations, the professor of civil engineering said.
“My study points out one main thing: a thorough and adequate assessment of the potential impacts from this pipeline has not been done,” he said. “We are not even sure what the composition of the oil is going to be. No one has done an adequate job of evaluating the impacts to drinking water and wildlife. This analysis needs to be done before this pipeline is permitted.”
Stansbury based his conclusions on the Calgary-based company’s so-called failure frequency calculations for its existing Keystone pipeline. The 500,000-barrel-per-day oil line, launched a year ago, has already reported 16 spills, all of them at pumping stations.
TransCanada’s XL project would expand the pipeline’s reach from benchmark oil storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma to refiners in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Environmental and political groups have lobbied against the development, on concerns over possible spills, worries heightened after a July 2 ExxonMobil oil spill into Montana’s Yellowstone River.
TransCanada has vigorously defended the project and its own safety record, calling many of the study’s statements “wrong.”
The project’s estimated failure frequency was based on risk-based assessments using analysis of applicable threats against risk reduction factors such as design, construction and operations integrity programs, said spokesman Terry Cunha.
“We would not put our reputation or the public at risk by doing the things that this document, released by the Friends of the Earth, suggests,” Cunha said in an e-mail.
He also disputed it would take two hours to detect a leak, noting a spill in May 2010 was discovered within 10 minutes.
Controversy around the Keystone XL project has led to numerous regulatory reviews and delays that have added a year to the project. The U.S. Secretary of State has committed to issuing a decision on the extension by December. However, concerns have been raised that the latest oil spill in Montana could throw a new spanner into the works and further delay the permitting process.
If new capacity out of the oilsands is not built, Alberta and the U.S. would be hurt economically, according to a new report by the Canadian Energy Research Institute.
The report, issued Friday, said a lack of pipeline capacity out of Alberta’s oilsands would dramatically reduce industry’s ability to build new bitumen projects.
Investment in the region would drop if there is no transportation outlet for crude volumes, the energy think-tank said.
“In short, the feasibility of these oilsands projects is predicated on assured pipeline access to markets,” CERI said.
The institute highlighted four scenarios, ranging from a status quo of existing and under-construction oilsands projects and pipelines, to one where all proposed projects go forward, including pipelines Keystone XL, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan’s Northern Leg expansion.
According to the institute, investment and revenues would double in 25 years to $4.7 trillion in the best-case scenario of all oilsands projects and pipelines going ahead, from $2.2 trillion in the as-is setup.
If current oilsands projects under construction come on stream and Keystone XL is cancelled, Alberta would forgo more than $122 billion in tax collection over the next 25 years, and $95 billion in royalties, the study said. Canada would forgo $632 billion in additional GDP over the same period.
In a scenario where oilsands projects now in the approval line are built, additional capacity will be needed from Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, British Columbia.
Without that link, Canada would stand to lose $400 billion in additional GDP in the next 25 years, 95 per cent of that within Alberta, the report said.CALGARY — TransCanada Corp. vastly understated the risks inherent in its... more
1 year ago
Last week, eleven veterans of the environmental movement issued an open letter to Canadians and Americans inviting them to participate in a massive public protest of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline expansion.
The letter’s signatories, which include David Suzuki, Bill McKibben, and Wendell Berry and climate scientist James Hansen, say that the time has come to move from letter writing and petition signing to something that’s more likely to get the government’s attention: civil disobedience at the nation’s capital.
The invitation can be read in its entirety at tarsandsaction.org, but here are a few choice excerpts (emphasis and links added):
As you know, the planet is steadily warming: 2010 was the warmest year on record, and we’ve seen the resulting chaos in almost every corner of the earth.
And as you also know, our democracy is increasingly controlled by special interests interested only in their short-term profit.
These two trends collide this summer in Washington, where the State Department and the White House have to decide whether to grant a certificate of ‘national interest’ to some of the biggest fossil fuel players on earth. These corporations want to build the so-called ‘Keystone XL Pipeline’ from Canada’s tar sands to Texas refineries.
The pipeline crosses crucial areas like the Oglalla Aquifer where a spill would be disastrous—and though the pipeline companies insist they are using ‘state of the art’ technologies that should leak only once every 7 years, the precursor pipeline and its pumping stations have leaked a dozen times in the past year. These local impacts alone would be cause enough to block such a plan. But the Keystone Pipeline would also be a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet, the one place to which we are all indigenous.
And Secretary of State Clinton has already said she’s ‘inclined’ to recommend the pipeline go forward. Partly it’s because of the political commotion over high gas prices, though more tar sands oil would do nothing to change that picture. But it’s also because of intense pressure from industry. The US Chamber of Commerce—a bigger funder of political campaigns than the RNC and DNC combined—has demanded that the administration “move quickly to approve the Keystone XL pipeline,” which is not so surprising—they’ve also told the U.S. EPA that if the planet warms that will be okay because humans can ‘adapt their physiology’ to cope. The Koch Brothers, needless to say, are also backing the plan, and may reap huge profits from it.
So we’re pretty sure that without serious pressure the Keystone Pipeline will get its permit from Washington.
This won’t be a one-shot day of action. We plan for it to continue for several weeks, till the administration understands we won’t go away. Not all of us can actually get arrested—half the signatories to this letter live in Canada, and might well find our entry into the U.S. barred. But we will be making plans for sympathy demonstrations outside Canadian consulates in the U.S., and U.S. consulates in Canada—the decision-makers need to know they’re being watched.
Twenty years of patiently explaining the climate crisis to our leaders hasn’t worked. Maybe moral witness will help. You have to start somewhere, and we choose here and now.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/environmental-leaders-encourage-civil-disobedience-to-stop-keystone-xl-pipeline.html#ixzz1R0IzA3Vn
more at the link
I say, hell yes.Last week, eleven veterans of the environmental movement issued an open letter to... more
Congress took a first step on Wednesday to fast-track a controversial Alberta tar sands pipeline, ordering Barack Obama to reach a decision on the project by 1 November.
The bill, voted through a panel of the house energy and power subcommittee, would compel Obama to over-rule demands for a further review of the project from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and disregard local opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline from landowners along its 1,700-mile route.
Republicans in Congress are planning further action to push ahead on the pipeline next week, environmentalists said.
Senator James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who is the main force among climate change sceptic in Congress, is working on a bill that would repeal a 2007 provision restricing the federal government's use of high-carbon fuels, such as those from the Alberta tar sands.
Between them, the actions are aimed at cutting off growing opposition to the pipeline – before it sinks the project.
The pipeline is intended to pass through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska before reaching the refineries on the Gulf coast of Texas.
But a series of pipeline accidents - including the shutdown of the Keystone itself for several days this month because of a leak - have amplified fears about transporting highly corrosive thick crude across the American heartland to the refineries of Texas.
Democrats said the accidents were a powerful reason not to rush to approval. "I don't think it makes any sense to set some kind of arbitrary deadline," said Henry Waxman, the ranking Democrat.
But Republicans said the pipeline was already three years in the planning, and that its construction would end America's reliance on Middle Eastern oil. "It makes perfect sense," said Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
More than 100,000 people wrote to the State Department this month to express their views on the project. Nebraska state legislaters and members of Congress have also written letters of concern.
Meanwhile the EPA issued a letter last week criticising the State Department for failing to fully take into account the risks of a pipeline accident, or of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the import of more fossil fuels.
Supporters of the project have been active as well, pushed in part by a new report suggesting the pipeline was running out of time.
cont.Congress took a first step on Wednesday to fast-track a controversial Alberta tar... more
The State Department is currently weighing whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar-sands oil some 2,000 miles southward, from Alberta, Canada, to Houston and Port Arthur, Texas. It would be an expansion of the now-operational Keystone pipeline that goes as far as Cushing, Okla. The original Keystone pipeline has been in operation less than one year, and its owner TransCanada predicts no more than one spill every seven years.
Instead of one spill every seven years, oil has spilled 11 times in the last year.
A May 7 spill of 500 barrels in North Dakota, which sent a geyser of oil spurting 60 feet into the air, was expected to shut the pipeline for a week. The spill apparently occurred as a result of a valve failure at a pumping station. TransCanada's response: Spills at pumping stations don't count toward the one-spill-every-seven-years estimate.
The Keystone pipelines carry diluted bitumen, a particularly thick, viscuous oil requiring up to 1,440 pounds per square inch (psi) pressure to move through a pipeline, according to a report [PDF] by the Natural Resources Defense Council. (The industry defines "high pressure" as anything above 600 psi.) The bitumen is particularly corrosive, and must be pumped at high temperatures that make it even more corrosive.
NRDC's Anthony Swift tallies 11 leaks in 11 months, all at pumping stations:
May 21, 2010
June 23, 2010
August 10, 2010
August 19, 2010
January 5, 2011
January 31, 2011
February 3, 2011
February 23, 2011
March 8, 2011
March 16, 2011
May 7, 2011
cont.The State Department is currently weighing whether to approve the Keystone XL... more
In Canada's tar sands, giant oil corporations are turning huge tracts of pristine forest into a wasteland of open pit mines, smoke stacks and toxic lagoons. This pollution is causing cancer hot spots in indigenous communities downstream.
Now Big Oil wants to double imports of toxic tar sands oil into U.S. by building a new pipeline called the Keystone XL. This pipeline would endanger the health of communities and ecosystems all along its path from Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas.
President Obama has the final say. Please join us in calling on him to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and focus on clean, safe energy alternatives.In Canada's tar sands, giant oil corporations are turning huge tracts of pristine... more
Our canoe emerged from that unsettled land, past the confluence with the Clearwater River, and into the stunning industry of the oil sands. We coasted past high banks of bermed-up sand. Yellow machines the size of houses roared down the roads, tore into the ground, stripped up the layers of earth to get at the seams of bitumen, or tar. Our mouths fell open - the scale of it, the sounds, and the effluent pouring back into the river that we had come to know. Even without understanding the challenges of refining that sludge, the transportation required and the environmental damage being done, we knew that we were gliding past a monster.
A quarter century has passed since that summer. The oil sands strip-mining effort has continued unabated, and steadily expanded. It has gone on non-stop, day after day, year after year, decade on decade: Knocking down forest, peeling up peat, dredging bitumen-soaked sand, denuding habitat, dumping countless gallons of tainted river water.
The Chipewyan settlement of Fort Chipewyan, downstream, worries about elevated instances of kidney failure, Graves disease, and the risk of cancer from river water tainted with arsenic, mercury, other metals and sediments laced with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - toxics commonly found in tailings pond water. Chipewyans are told not to eat fish caught in the river, but fish and game provide their traditional diet.
Polluted river water sullies the Athabasca delta, one of the world's most important wetlands and migratory bird habitats. Year by year the mining expands its footprint, a scar visible from outer space. Combined, the oil sand fields of northern Alberta cover an area of 54,000 square miles, an expanse larger than England.
Northern Alberta is far enough off the radar that it might as well be another planet. Very few people live there. It's easy to forget about that carnage, even if, like me, you've been there.
Two years ago, watching the movie Avatar it all came back.
This is an old, tired story, I thought, watching the industrial colonization of a foreign planet, the clear-cutting of ancient forest and the apocalyptic demise of the beings who lived there. But in that dark theater, I felt the canoe paddle in my hands again, felt the river beneath the hull, witnessed the assault taking place just over the Athabasca's bank. I know where this Hollywood plot is unfolding right now, I thought.
And right now I'm reminded again because trucks are hauling behemoth loads across Montana, where I live, delivering equipment on a scale even science fiction screenwriters didn't anticipate.
Mega-trucks are pulling loads nearly 600,000 pounds, three stories high and 220 feet long across Idaho and Montana. This equipment is manufactured in Asia, shipped to the west coast, transported on barges up the Columbia watershed to the port of Lewistown, Idaho, and then transferred onto trucks that wind their way through some of the West's most picturesque river canyons and mountain passes.
These are the test runs. Imperial Oil, the Canadian arm of ExxonMobil, has plans to truck 200 similarly gargantuan loads along the same route to the oil sands of the North.
The trucks will hammer the pavement, stop traffic, add nothing to local economies. Scenic lands which support recreation and tourism are at risk. Citizen groups are waging campaigns. The Missoula County Commission and several districts of the U.S. Forest Service have lodged complaints.
But we are a small state, and the pressures from industry are immense.
The oil sands produce roughly 1.5 million barrels of oil per day. Alberta's biggest customer is the United States. Long-range, the plan is to build a pipeline from Alberta through Montana and Wyoming to Denver, and perhaps on to the Gulf Coast.
The problems are tremendous. The oil doesn't flow, to start with. It has to be separated, steam-injected, and mixed with liquids before it will even move through the pipe. Once south, it has to be further refined before it can be rendered usable.
To turn one barrel of oil sands bitumen into something you can pump into your gas tank requires removing two or three tons of earth, using three barrels of water, and burning 1,200 cubic feet of natural gas in a convoluted series of expensive processes to separate the oil, liquefy it, and refine it. All of this produces two to four times the amount of greenhouse gases as refining conventional petroleum. Talk about burning the candle at both ends. The mines pull 359 million cubic meters of water from the Athabasca River each year. While land reclamation is part of the discussion, not one reclamation certificate has been awarded to date, and the challenges of returning the landscape to anything remotely approximating its original state are appalling.
It took days to regain our mental rhythm, to let "river time" reassert itself. Life, and the river, bore us on. But now, it comes stabbing back.Meanwhile, Alberta's regulators just approved the ninth open-pit mine north of Fort McMurray. An industry-led monitoring body concluded that the pit would produce "no significant adverse environmental effects on water quality."
cont.Our canoe emerged from that unsettled land, past the confluence with the Clearwater... more