More than 13 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product depends on healthy ecosystems, according to Environment Canada. it seems absurd to try to assign worth to something so vital we can't survive without it. Who needs nature? We do. Without nature, we would not be here. How do we put an economic value on that?
A new report out today finds that environmental infractions by companies in the Alberta oil sands are addressed with an enforcement action far less often than similar infractions reported to the United State's Environmental Protection Agency. Of the more than 4,000 infractions reported in the oil sands, less than 1 per cent (.09 to be exact) were addressed.
Industry analysts agree that Keystone XL is a critical piece of the puzzle for the tar sands industry to build new extraction projects. Tar sands oil production causes the release of huge amounts of carbon pollution from its energy-intensive extraction methods and refining processes.
Approving or rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline is one of the critical decisions that will test whether the President is serious about his legacy to protect our shared climate. While the President has stated he will not approve the pipeline if it damages our climate (spoiler alert: it will), it's time to turn up the pressure to encourage President Obama to make the right decision for our future and reject the pipeline.
The mid-term outlook for even marginal players in Canadian oil sands looks optimistic. The energy tides may be shifting, however, suggesting that while production may gain steam, Canada's heavy reliance on heavy crude may run off the rail.
"Here," said a Heiltsuk friend as we began the walk, "put this in your pocket, it will help protect you." She handed me a piece of dried Devil's club bark, medicine from the B.C. coastal rainforest to carry with me as we walked by Alberta's tar sands facilities. Strong medicine was definitely in order as my lungs hurt, heart ached, and eyes welled up with tears with all that I witnessed.
Some fifteen years ago, at a Peace Gathering, an elder shared a prophecy. A baby boy would be born in a teepee on a buffalo robe, his birth signalling that now is the time to act. Last Thursday, on the eve of the 4th Annual Healing Walk in Fort McMurray, Alberta, a young woman went into labour. Her contractions came closer together. Grandmothers and mothers gathered to pray. And, at the stroke of midnight, inside a teepee, a healthy boy was born on a buffalo robe.
These are important questions that Secretary Kerry, and ultimately President Obama, must answer. The fact that neither man has any clue where TransCanada intends to place the Keystone XL pipeline is a troubling revelation that demands immediate and thorough scrutiny.
The 4th Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk taking place in Fort McMurray, Alberta this July 5-6, is an important opportunity for Canadians, and people from all over the world, to get a sense of the land at the heart of the largest unsustainable development project on the planet. Now it's time for Minister Oliver and Premier Redford to recognize their own responsibility, and meet some the people most directly impacted by the decisions made in Ottawa and Edmonton. It is time for them to get out of their cars and walk like regular folks through an area they aren't shy about selling on a global stage.
"We don't know what the hell is going on under the ground". That's what Crystal Lameman, a member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation told me this morning. On June 27, an oil spill occurred at Canadian Natural Resources Limited's Primrose operations. The spill happened on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, located in a region The Royal Canadian Airforce calls "the inhospitable wilds of northern Alberta and Saskatchewan." This 'inhospitable' region happens to be in her community's traditional hunting territory where her family traditionally hunted and trapped and where her elders are buried.
Although no coal production is actually taking place here, a filthy fuel with even more severe climate impacts than coal is leaving port bound for foreign power plants.
As the Mayflower lawsuits proceed and the Keystone XL northern half decision approaches, Mayflower can serve as a teachable moment as it applies to Keystone XL. Or it can serve as just yet another lesson not learned. Class begins now.
It's difficult to imagine what it looks like to dig the current 1.5-million barrels of tar sands out of the Boreal Forest each day. So what would it look like if industry gets its way to dig up 5.2-million barrels a day by 2030? We've crunched the numbers and it's not looking pretty.
It's important to remember that ERM was chosen on behalf of State by TransCanada itself . Further, one of the ERM employees tasked to conduct the SEIS, as exposed in Mother Jones investigation, is a former TransCanada employee.
Mr. President, we have clear evidence that tar sands development causes higher carbon pollution than conventional oil. And we have clear evidence that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will drive expansion of the tar sands. Keystone XL gets a failing grade on the presidential climate test.
On Tuesday, President Obama made it clear that a safe future for our children and climate comes first. While Canada used to be able to duck and hide behind the United States when it came to failing to act on climate change, with the U.S. stepping forward, Canada is now alone in its refusal to take climate change seriously.