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Posted: 07 February 2014 03:04 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Canada’s oil sands are one of the least efficient and most polluting ways to provide energy. The project requires mining millions of tons of material a day, which then must be processed using large amounts of water and natural gas to remove about 20% of the bitumen from the other material present. This leaves raw bitumen which is then upgraded to synthetic crude status in a process which uses further energy, much of it produced by coal power in Alberta. The final step is to ship the synthetic crude to refineries where even more power is required and the last step is distributing the final products to market where it is then burned.

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/athabasca.php

The process of extracting oil from the sand is expensive. It takes two tons of sand to produce one barrel of crude oil. Great Canadian Oil Sands opened the first large-scale mine in 1967, but growth was slow until 2000 because the global cost of a barrel of oil was too low to make oil sands profitable.

At every step oil sands crude has a significant impact on the environment and the overall release of greenhouse gases means there is no way that Canada will ever meet it’s climate change commitments and still develop the Athabasca tar sands.

In the immediate region, toxins present in the tar sands end up in the watershed and surrounding land, these include mercury, lead, PAHs, arsenic and other hazardous material. There is already evidence of the toxic effect of all this material in area.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2010/09/17/deformed_fish_found_in_lake_downstream_from_oilsands.html

EDMONTON—The fish are hard to look at.

One whitefish has a golfball-sized tumour bulging from its side. Another is simply missing part of its spine, its tail growing from a stumpy rear end.

One has no snout. Another is coloured a lurid red instead of a healthy cream. Others are covered with lesions and still others are bent and crooked from deformed vertebrae.

All were taken from Lake Athabasca, downstream from the oilsands in northern Alberta, and were on display Thursday. All are reasons, say a group of scientists and aboriginals, for the federal government to conduct an independent study on what’s happening to the Athabasca River and its watershed after decades of industry expansion.

There are clusters of rare cancer in First Nations populations who have been in the region for millenia.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/health/Fort+Chipewyan+councillor+latest+resident+diagnosed+with+rare+cancer/9293994/story.html

On Oct. 29, the day after Chadi was sworn in as a councillor in the municipality of Wood Buffalo, the couple travelled to Edmonton. He had not been feeling well, and she insisted he see a doctor.

“His symptoms were vague, but he looked really, really sick,” Voyageur said. “His skin had started to turn yellow.”

Within 48 hours, Chadi was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, the same extremely rare incurable disease that has stricken other residents of Fort Chipewyan, a remote First Nations community with a population of about 1,100 people in northeast Alberta.

A cancer of the bile duct, cholangiocarcinoma occurs in one of every 100,000 to 200,000 people — yet Fort Chipewyan has had three confirmed diagnoses and several other suspected cases over the last decade.

Due to the need to ship the heavy crude from the oil sands to specialized refineries that can handle all the impurities still in the synthetic crude there has been a dramatic increase of rail traffic and equally dramatic derailments that in one case burned out the center of one Canadian town and killed almost 50 people. There have also been recent crude oil derailment here in Alberta and in New Brunswick that required large scale evacuations. St. John New Brunswick is the terminus for a lot of these trains and residents there are becoming stressed from the constant train traffic and the significant risks involved.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Mégantic+spill+even+worse+than+first+feared+investigation+shows/9063521/story.html

More oil spilled in the Lac-Mégantic train disaster than was previously reported, according to new information made public by Quebec’s environment department.

While the department had previously estimated that the 72-car train that crashed July 6 was carrying 7.2 million litres of crude oil, it now says it was in fact carrying nearly a half million litres more of oil — an estimated 7.6 million litres.

In July the environment department estimated 5.6 million litres of that oil spilled from the crashed train cars or burned in the ensuing fire. But the department’s October update now says nearly 6 million litres — 5.978 million to be precise — burned or was spilled in the devastating accident that left 47 people dead.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/train-carrying-petroleum-crude-oil-gas-derails-near-edmonton/article14946678/

Tanker cars on a train carrying propane and oil derailed and caught fire outside of Edmonton on Saturday, forcing the evacuation of a small community.

The derailment caused explosions, through no injuries were reported. Fire and hazmat crews were on the scene, but firefighters have since opted to let the flames burn themselves out.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/cn-train-carrying-crude-oil-derailed-on-fire-near-plaster-rock-1.2487977

A CN freight train carrying dangerous goods has derailed and caught fire in northwest New Brunswick, not far from the U.S. border.

Jim Feeny, director of public and government affairs for CN Rail, said 16 cars are believed to have derailed, including four carrying propane and four carrying crude oil.

The train derailment happened just after 7 p.m. AT about five kilometres outside of Plaster Rock in Wapske, N.B. Feeny said the train was coming from central Canada and heading to Moncton.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/railway-track-expansion-underway-in-saint-john-1.2506263

 

Instead of finding a better alternative to the ongoing disaster created by mining, processing, shipping, refining and then burning massive amounts of bitumen from the tar sands, our government has instead shut down research that might negatively effect the industry, undermined the democratic process here, and brought in foreign investment at a massive scale that calls into question our sovereignty. Much of our future policy will be determined by governments like China which has invested more than $30 billion dollars in the project.

We now have one of the least responsible governments in the world as a result of this ecological nightmare.

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Posted: 07 February 2014 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Ad yet some of my Republicans friends and relatives are buying the lie that the Keystone XL pipeline will provide clean oil to the United States. One of them even posted such to a Facebook thread last week. She disappeared when I explained the facts.

Thanks for posting this FL. We need to do everything we can to get the ugly truth in front of the public.

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Posted: 07 February 2014 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I hope the US government doesn’t cave into to Canadian pressure over Keystone XL, it’s a bad deal for most Americans. After buying Nexen and other oil sector interests in Canada, China is becoming the biggest player in the project. Chinese interests in making sure energy needs are met there shouldn’t drive economic, ecological and safety concerns here.

http://business.financialpost.com/2013/02/25/cnooc-completes-contentious-15-1-billion-acquisition-of-nexen/?__lsa=9922-7e3a

The contentious $15.1-billion takeover of Canadian oil and gas company Nexen Inc. by Chinese state-owned entity CNOOC Ltd closed on Monday, more than seven months after China’s largest-ever foreign takeover was announced.

Nexen, based in Calgary, Alberta, said in a statement on Monday that the deal had closed and its shareholders would receive $27.50 in cash for each Nexen share.

Nexen said its common and preferred shares would be delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange in a few days, while its common shares were expected to cease trading on the New York Stock Exchange prior to the market opening on Feb. 26.

The company said Kevin Reinhart would remain chief executive of Nexen, which will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of CNOOC.

Synthetic crude from the oil sands is far more hazardous to ship by pipeline as is explained in e Pembina Institute article.

Diluted bitumen is not the same as conventional oil; it is
more likely to cause corrosion in the pipelines through which
it flows, as well as in the tankers that carry it through marine
ecosystems. Compared with conventional crude, bitumen
blends are more acidic, thicker, and more sulphuric. Diluted
bitumen contains organic acid concentrations 15 to 20 times
higher than conventional crudes, and contains 5 to 10 times
more sulphur than conventional crudes.22
Because raw tar sands bitumen is a thick form of crude oil
that is nearly solid at room temperature, producers “dilute”
bitumen with light natural gas liquids or other light, or with
volatile petroleum products that contain highly volatile
petrochemicals (including benzene, toluene, and xylene).23,24
This mixture, called diluted bitumen, is still very thick, but
can be moved through pipelines at very high pressures.
In fact, the high viscosity (thickness) of diluted bitumen
requires pipelines to operate at significantly higher pressures
than conventional crude pipelines, depending on the diluted
bitumen’s temperature.25
As thick diluted bitumen moves through pipelines, it
creates significant friction, which heats the mixture to very
high temperatures and promotes corrosion.26 The high
temperatures thin the diluted bitumen and increase its speed
through the pipeline. As a result, the speed at which acids
and other chemicals corrode the pipeline increases as the
temperature increases. An accepted industry rule of thumb
is that the rate of corrosion doubles with every 10 degrees
Celsius increase in temperature.27 The risks of corrosion are
also augmented by the abrasive nature of diluted bitumen,
which contains significantly higher quantities of sediments
such as quartz and pyrite sand particles.28 These sediments
increase the amount of erosion within the pipeline, making
diluted bitumen a sort of liquid sandpaper, as though the
Northern Gateway project is sandblasting the inside of
its pipe with more than eight million kilograms of hard
sediment every year at high pressures.29 These sediments
can also settle in the pipeline, causing the type of localized
internal corrosion that led to the 800,000 litre leak of British
Petroleum’s pipeline on Alaska’s North Slope.30 Meanwhile,
high pressures increase the likelihood that a diluted bitumen
pipeline weakened by corrosion will rupture.

There’s also this good piece on DeSmogblog

http://www.desmogblog.com/many-problems-tar-sands-pipelines

Once upon a time, the tar sands oil that flowed through North American pipelines was in the form of a synthetic crude. In other words, the sticky, viscous tar sands bitumin was upgraded to a more free-flowing form of crude before entering the pipes. But recently, the industry has found it cheaper and easier—if not as safe or stable—to dilute the bitumen with liquid natural gas, creating a substance called diluted bitumen, or “DilBit.”

A joint report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Pipeline Safety Trust, the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, released in February, spotlights the specific hazards of pipelines carrying this tar sands “DilBit.”

The report describes DilBit as “a highly corrosive, acidic, and potentially unstable blend of thick raw bitumen and volatile natural gas liquid condensate.”

Testifying this past Tuesday in front of the House Energy and Commerce’s Energy and Power Subcommittee, NRDC expert Anthony Swift laid out the specific risk of this DilBit to the pipelines themselves:

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Posted: 07 February 2014 09:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It would be better named the Keystone Kops pipeline.

Lois

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Posted: 07 February 2014 09:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Good one Lois.

After all his bluster about the environment, it seems Obama is going to approve this fiasco.

The only reason Obama has any semblance of a positive approval rating is the Republicans are so inept.

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Posted: 08 February 2014 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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From the brief newsflash I got I understand that the EPA ruled in favor due to the fact that the pollution generated
through alternate means of piping or rails etc would be equal to that of Keystone anyways.
So might as well build the pipeline. LOL

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Posted: 08 February 2014 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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So let’s talk about private property rights and eminent domain.

What haven’t our politicians taken a stand for the people?

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Posted: 08 February 2014 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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DarronS - 08 February 2014 08:21 AM

What haven’t our politicians taken a stand for the people?

Wasn’t that Huey Long….where did he go? Ralph Nader?
Hell I’ll take Carter. Did you ever see his speech at that country club?  I forget the event or the reference to the speech, but it is
probably easy to find on You-Tube.

Anyways Foto, I know you know the answer to your own question.

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Posted: 08 February 2014 01:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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DarronS - 07 February 2014 09:11 PM

Good one Lois.

After all his bluster about the environment, it seems Obama is going to approve this fiasco.

The only reason Obama has any semblance of a positive approval rating is the Republicans are so inept.

What a hypocrite(Obama). According to the best sources, people like James Hansen, if we develop the oil sands along with everything else we’re doing wrong with fossil fuels then it’s pretty much game over due to extreme shifts in climate. I hoped the American political system wasn’t as corrupted as ours has become.

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Posted: 08 February 2014 09:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I hate to do the “some study” bit, but I can’t remember where I read it, and I’m not in the mood to spend my time wading through oodles of search results to try and find it, but there’s apparently a study which says that the US would benefit hugely from blocking the construction of the Keystone pipeline.  By blocking the pipeline, Canada effectively can only sell that oil to the US (for what the US is willing to pay for it), if the pipeline is completed, then Canada can sell the oil on the open market at a much higher price.

I don’t know how much faith I put into that, but if the price of gas spikes shortly after the pipeline is completed, I’m not going to be surprised.

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Posted: 09 February 2014 05:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Actually, TransCanada is owned by a consortium of Chinese energy companies. This oil will never reach the open market as it is destined for China.

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Posted: 09 February 2014 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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According to this site in 2011 the oil sands were producing 1.7 million barrels a day, that would require mining 3.4 million tons of material a day.

http://www.energy.alberta.ca/oilsands/791.asp

In 2011, Alberta’s production of crude bitumen reached over 1.7 million bbl/d; of this surface mining accounted for 51 percent and in-situ for 49 percent.  In 2011, about 57 percent of crude bitumen production was sent for upgrading to SCO in the province. 

Production is expected to more than double by 2021 to 3.7 million barrels a day.

By 2021, crude bitumen production is expected to more than double to 3.7 million bbl/d.

We’re already seeing serious effects from climate change, Canada had its worst year for insurance payout last year with multiple flooding in urban centers and ice storms that did massive damage. It’s also almost certain that the polar ice sheets will breakdown and melt as we increase the atmospheric concentration of CO2, James Hansen and his team calculated that between 350 ppm and 550 ppm CO2 the breakdown of polar ice is inevitable we’re already at 400 ppm, which will drown extensive coastal areas in the coming decades. In Alberta industry and government are talking about developing the tar sands for the next 70 years.

It’s clear that in no sense are the tar sands projects sustainable or ethically responsible and yet it seems to be full speed ahead.

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Posted: 13 February 2014 08:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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It looks like fracking is tied into the issues also.

http://desmogblog.com/2014/02/05/keystone-xl-northern-leg-fracked-oil-pipeline-tar-sands

But flying under the media’s radar so far, the State Department review also highlights the prospect that Keystone XL will not only carry tar sands, but also be tapped to carry up to 100,000 barrels per day of oil extracted via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin.

“[Keystone XL] would have the capacity to deliver up to 830,000 bpd, of which 730,000 bpd of capacity has been set aside for [tar sands] and the remaining 100,000 bpd of capacity set aside for [Bakken] crude oil,” the report details.

“[TransCanada] has represented that it has firm commitments to transport approximately 555,000 bpd of [tar sands], as well as 65,000 bpd of crude oil from the Bakken.”

I’m starting to think stupidity is too kind of a description of what’s behind things like this.

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Posted: 14 February 2014 12:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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DarronS - 08 February 2014 08:21 AM

So let’s talk about private property rights and eminent domain.

What haven’t our politicians taken a stand for the people?

“The people” haven’t come up with the money.

Lois

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Posted: 20 February 2014 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Looks like the courts are getting involved again, which is good to see.

When you look at the dynamics of this project, there’s no way it’s in the interests of the people who will be most immediately impacted. In Nebraska legislators passed a law that would have given TransCanada Pipelines eminent domain on landowners who might be in the way. So a company that’s partnered with the Chinese to move oil from a project with significant Chinese ownership to refineries to meet Chinese energy demands can arbitrarily confiscate land from Americans who stand in the way if the Nebraska law is allowed to stand.

http://www.npr.org/2014/02/20/279956111/nebraska-court-ruling-voids-approval-for-keystone-xl-pipeline

At issue in Wednesday’s ruling was a 2012 law that allowed Gov. Dave Heineman to approve the route through Nebraska. The governor’s approval gave Calgary-based TransCanada the power to use eminent domain on landowners who deny the company access to their property. Three landowners filed a lawsuit saying the decision should have been made by the Public Service Commission.

http://www.thestar.com/business/2012/10/29/transcanada_chinese_firm_form_pipeline_partnership.html

TransCanada Corp. has entered a partnership with a Chinese-owned company to build a new $3-billion oilsands pipeline in Northern Alberta, pushing further into a business that has traditionally been dominated by rival pipeline giant Enbridge Inc.

TransCanada and Phoenix Energy Holdings Ltd., a unit of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp., would each own half of the Grand Rapids project, which would carry up to 900,000 barrels of crude per day along with 330,000 barrels per day of diluent, which helps thick oilsands bitumen to flow through pipelines.

The pipeline would run about 500 kilometres between an emerging oilsands area northwest of Fort McMurray, Alta., to the industrial heartland near Edmonton. It’s expected to be in service by early 2017.

http://business.financialpost.com/2013/02/25/cnooc-completes-contentious-15-1-billion-acquisition-of-nexen/?__lsa=9922-7e3a

The contentious $15.1-billion takeover of Canadian oil and gas company Nexen Inc. by Chinese state-owned entity CNOOC Ltd closed on Monday, more than seven months after China’s largest-ever foreign takeover was announced.

Nexen, based in Calgary, Alberta, said in a statement on Monday that the deal had closed and its shareholders would receive $27.50 in cash for each Nexen share.

Nexen said its common and preferred shares would be delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange in a few days, while its common shares were expected to cease trading on the New York Stock Exchange prior to the market opening on Feb. 26.

The company said Kevin Reinhart would remain chief executive of Nexen, which will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of CNOOC.

http://www.nexencnoocltd.com/en/operations/oilsands/ouroilsandsbusinesses.aspx

As an early entrant in Canada’s oil sands, Nexen recognizes the long-term value of this abundant, secure and reliable energy source. More than a decade ago, we began to build a significant land position in Northern Alberta.

Today, Nexen has an interest in more than 300,000 acres in the Athabasca region, with billions of barrels of contingent recoverable oil sands resource.1

So a country that has already shown blatant disregard for ecological health and citizens interests in its own territory will be in the drivers seat when it comes to ramming a pipeline through the American heartland that will be carrying a form of crude that is far more acidic, abrasive and viscous than light crude. The number of things that can go wrong and have already gone wrong politically with this situation is astounding.

[ Edited: 20 February 2014 01:58 PM by Fuzzy Logic ]
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Posted: 20 February 2014 04:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Fuzzy Logic - 20 February 2014 01:39 PM

So a country that has already shown blatant disregard for ecological health and citizens interests in its own territory will be in the drivers seat when it comes to ramming a pipeline through the American heartland that will be carrying a form of crude that is far more acidic, abrasive and viscous than light crude. The number of things that can go wrong and have already gone wrong politically with this situation is astounding.

But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

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