Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Something Completely Different: Tar Sands

(This is something a friend asked me to boost the signal on. It's not my usual ambit, but it is important, so I'm doing something on it, rather late.)

The climate activist group is leading various protests against the development of tar sands oil. My friend, who lives in BC, tipped me to the opposition of Prof. Lynne Quarmby, department head of the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry department of Simon Fraser University. Prof Quarmby went to jail in opposition to pipeline construction in BC. She was later released. But that is only the Trans-Mountain Pipeline expansion. Efforts are being made to ship oil tar sands from the tar sands fields of Alberta and Saskatchewan to, literally, all four points of the compass. So there is the Energy East project, leading east to New Brunswick, the Keystone XL Pipeline, running south through the USA to Houston, the Trans-Mountain Pipeline running west to Vancouver, and even a proposal for an Arctic Gateway Pipeline (PDF), that would take advantage of the warming climate the ship oil through Tuktoyaktuk on the Beaufort Sea, and thence through the newly opened Northwest Passage through the Arctic Sea.

I wrote about this two years ago, quoting James Hansen, but here's his remarks on the tar sands oil again:
The truth is that the tar sands gook contains more than twice the carbon from all the oil burned in human history. If infrastructure, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, is built to transport tar sands gook, ways will be developed to extract more and more. When full accounting is done of emissions from tar sands oil, its use is equivalent to burning coal to power your automobile. This is on top of the grotesque regional tar sands destruction.—Hansen: Norway, Canada, the United States, and the Tar Sands (PDF)
We badly need to leave this in the ground, and we badly need to start relying on other sorts of energy.

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