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2013 SkS News Bulletin #13: Alberta Tar Sands and Keystone XL Pipeline

Posted on 21 May 2013 by John Hartz

  • 10 Reasons Canada Needs to Rethink the Tar Sands
  • A black mound of Canadian oil waste is rising over Detroit
  • Ads aimed at U.S. lawmakers
  • Could NAFTA force Keystone XL on United States?
  • Is Canada’s tar sands oil too dirty for Europe?
  • Keystone XL pipeline has become too big to approve
  • Keystone XL pipeline not a big deal
  • Lines in the sand
  • Major donors urge Obama to reject Keystone XL pipeline
  • Native Americans quit talks over Keystone XL pipeline
  • UK signals support for EU import of Canadian tar sands oil
  • US House set to approve construction of Keystone XL pipeline
  • US "national interest" argument for Keystone XL weakens

10 Reasons Canada Needs to Rethink the Tar Sands

As a Canadian it blows my mind that we can have the second largest deposits of oil in the world, but our government remains billions in debt and one in seven Canadian children live in poverty.

I feel like we are being played for fools here in Canada, because foreign owned oil companies like ExxonMobil, British Petroluem and PetroChina (71% of oil sands production is owned by foreign shareholders) are making billions exporting raw tar sand from our country, while us citizens are dealing with all the nasty downsides.

Time for a tar sands reality check.

10 Reasons Canada Needs to Rethink the Tar Sands by Kevin Grandia, De Smog Canada, May 16, 2013


A black mound of Canadian oil waste is rising over Detroit

Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.

A Black Mound of Canadian Oil Waste Is Rising Over Detroit by Ian Austen, New York Times, May 17, 2013


Ads aimed at U.S. lawmakers 

The Conservative government has launched a public relations advertising offensive on American lawmakers ahead of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip this week to New York, selling Canada as an environmental leader in hopes of winning U.S. political support for the Keystone XL oilsands pipeline.

Tories hope ads aimed at U.S. lawmakers will win support for Keystone pipeline by Jason Fekete, PostMedia News, Vancouver Sun, May 13, 2013


Could NAFTA force Keystone XL on United States?

As the public anxiously awaits the U.S. State Department’s final decision on the fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the discussion has largely ignored the elephant in the room: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.)

Could NAFTA Force Keystone XL On United States? by Farron Cousins, DeSmog Blog, May 13, 2013


Is Canada’s tar sands oil too dirty for Europe?

As the debate over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline continues in the United States, a Canadian trade delegation is insisting that Canadian oil extracted from tar sands — the product that would be transported by an expanded pipeline — should not be classified as being dirtier than other types of oil. 

Is Canada’s Oil Too Dirty for Europe? by Christopher Schuetz, International Herald Tribune, May 13, 2013


Keystone XL pipeline has become too big to approve

I have been making a documentary film about the Keystone XL pipeline for the past year and a half, and the story has changed dramatically in that time. I have focused on a group of landowners and activists in East Texas who tried to stop construction of the pipeline -- variously through the courts, political activism and civil disobedience. Theirs are the untold stories of how this pipeline fight has continued to burn for so long. For them, the fight is personal; at the end of the day, they don't have anywhere else to go. By looking closely at their stories, I have seen the many complex layers of the battle, and I have glimpsed social change in action in America. I'm quite certain that the Keystone confusion recently swirling around Washington is intimately tied to what's been happening over the past few years in the woods of East Texas, on the ranchlands of Nebraska, across Native American tribal lands, and at the gates of the White House. Keystone XL has become far more than a pipeline.

How the Keystone XL Pipeline Has Become Too Big to Approve by John Fiege, The Huffington Post, May 17, 2013


Keystone XL pipeline not a big deal

Last week, the Washington DC publication National Journal gave us the scoop, in an article entitled, “What People Close to Obama Think About the Keystone XL Pipeline”: Obama-connected environmental experts “are now saying publicly what many Democratic energy and climate advisers have said more privately over the past couple of years: The Keystone XL pipeline is not that big of a deal.” The National Journal article seems designed to persuade the DC policy community of the inevitability — and maybe even the correctness — of a decision by the Obama Administration to allow the controversial pipeline to go forward. In other words, game over.

Keystone Pipeline Not a Big Deal — Say Interests Supported By Oil and Gas Industry by David Halperin, Republic Report, May 11, 2013


Lines in the sand

President Obama will make a decision in the next few months—unless he puts it off again, as he did in 2011—about whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The question before him is whether it’s in the “national interest” to grant the permits needed for constructing Keystone, which is supposed to dogleg from Alberta to Nebraska, and join a pipeline that will extend to Texas, connecting Canada’s tar-sands deposits with American refineries. The latest figures from Mauna Loa reveal what’s at stake.

Lines in the Sand by Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, May 27, 2013


Major donors urge Obama to reject Keystone XL pipeline

Where money talks louder than science, the letter from the donors won't go unnoticed, the week before Prime Minister Harper is to visit Washington.

150 Major Democratic Donors Urge Obama to Reject Keystone Pipeline by David Sassoon, InsideClimate News, May 10, 2013


Native Americans quit talks over Keystone XL pipeline

Leaders from 11 Native American tribes stormed out of a meeting with US federal officials in Rapid City, South Dakota, to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which they say will lead to ‘environmental genocide.’

‘Environmental genocide’: Native Americans quit talks over Keystone XL pipeline


UK signals support for EU import of Canadian tar sands oil

Leaked papers show UK rejects proposal to classify oil from tar sands as highly polluting, a label that would deter EU countries from importing it.

UK signals support for EU import of Canadian tar sands oil by John Vidal, The Guardian, May 15, 2013


US House set to approve construction of Keystone XL pipeline

The House will vote Wednesday on legislation that would expedite construction of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline’s northern leg.

Week ahead: US House set to approve construction of Keystone XL pipeline by Zack Coleman, E2 Wire, Teh Hill, May 20, 2013


US "national interest" argument for Keystone XL weakens

U.S. oil production is suddenly growing so fast that some analysts are questioning how much the country really needs the Canadian tar sands oil that would move through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

With U.S. Awash in Oil, Nat'l Interest Argument for Keystone Weakens by John Cushman Jr. Inside Climate News, May 21, 2013


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  1. You have to agree with the article on Canada.  Even if the heads of their government officials are so far up where the sun doesn't shine that they can't recognize the disaster they are helping to cause, at least they could be accute business men.   Why on earth would Canada send raw oil, only just separated from the sand, to the USA for them to make most of the profit.  As the writer says, Canada is seeing precious little benefit from the exploitation of it's resource.  They should be pipeing or trucking refined petrol, diesel and other products to the US.  As far as her ecological record goes, look at how she has destroyed her east coast fisheries resources through glaringly faulty science and through bowing to the very short term interests of her fishing companies.  They behave like grasshoppers rather than ants (aesop fables) and show zero intestinal fortitude.  They went so far as to try to shift the blame onto the seals for the decline in their fisheries resources and actually subsidized seal hunters when the immages of the slaughter of baby seals trashed the fur market.  If you want an account of the stupidity of successive Canadian governments, get Sea Of Slaughter by Farley Mowat.

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