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International Coal Summit’s Glorious Pipe Dream of Carbon Capture and Storage

5:59 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

The mythical distraction of “clean coal” is still unrealized

A new study released today at the UN climate conference underway in Warsaw, Poland finds that new coal plants cannot be built if we are to keep global warming below the 2° Celsius threshold.

That is, unless the coal industry can deploy commercial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The report, titled: New unabated coal is not compatible with keeping global warming below 2°C, finds that of all the fossil fuels, coal is the easiest to substitute with renewable technologies and that:

“The current global trend of coal use is consistent with an emissions pathway above the IEA’s [International Energy Agency] 6°C scenario. That risks an outcome that can only be described as catastrophic, beyond anything that mankind has experienced during its entire existence on earth.”

In other words, CCS better work and work fast.

Down the road from the UN conference, the Polish government (of all people) is hosting the “International Coal and Climate Summit” which heavily features CCS experts and discussion panels.

There will likely be little talk at the coal summit of just how ridiculous the idea of commercially deployed CCS is becoming.

CCS technology has been a “future” solution for many years now, with governments abandoning experimental projects due to cost overruns and lack of progress. Governments like the United States, at the behest of the coal lobby, have pumped billions into CCS technology experiments, yet it continues to fail as a commercially viable option.

A recent study by the Global CCS Institute found that the number of large scale CCS projects has dropped to 65 from 75 over the last year. If this was the grand solution to the urgent issue of climate change, you would think we would be seeing more projects coming on line, not fewer.

Even if we saw a breakthrough in CCS, huge issues remain. The first hurdle is finance.

As renewable energy technology prices continue to drop and reach parity with fossil fuels like coal (something we are already seeing), CCS begins to make less and less sense from a financial point of view. Coal prices will inevitably go up to cover the costs of CCS development making it uncompetitive with renewable energy.

A second big hurdle is regulation of carbon storage. CCS can only work as a solution to climate change if the captured carbon stays safely in the ground forever. So who is in charge of ensuring that all that carbon stays underground? Coal companies? If a coal company takes on that responsibility, what happens when that company goes under? Who then is responsible? Taxpayers?

What if there’s an earthquake near a carbon storage facility? A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science concludes that,

“even a small earthquake event in the US has the potential to release stored carbon back into the atmosphere, making “large-scale CCS a risky, and likely unsuccessful, strategy for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

In the United States, the coal industry argues that the government (read: taxpayers) should take on the responsibility and the liability for stored carbon – a convenient stance for the coal industry.

Finally there are the logistics of capturing carbon and moving it either by pipeline, train or truck to a designated storage facility.

2008 article on CCS by author Jeff Goodell describes the challenge of transporting carbon best:

“Vaclav Smil, an energy expert at the University of Manitoba, Canada, argued recently in Nature that ‘carbon sequestration is irresponsibly portrayed as an imminently useful option for solving the challenge [of global warming].’ Smil pointed out that to sequester just 25% of the CO2 emitted by stationary sources (mostly coal plants), we would have to create a system whose annual volume of fluid would be slightly more than twice that of the world’s crude-oil industry.”

Smil’s own words, to sequester just a fifth of current CO2 emissions:

“… we would have to create an entirely new worldwide absorption-gathering-compression-transportation- storage industry whose annual throughput would have to be about 70 percent larger than the annual volume now handled by the global crude oil industry whose immense infrastructure of wells, pipelines, compressor stations and storages took generations to build.”

Any practical thinker should by now be asking themselves: Wouldn’t it just be easier to put up a bunch of solar panels and wind turbines? 

Unfortunately, the mythical distraction of ‘clean coal’ and still unrealized CCS commercialization remain a shiny penny for the technocentric crowd.

New Study: Koch’s Could Make $100 Billion on Keystone XL Pipeline Deal

1:17 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

One Hundred Billion Dollars

A new study released today concludes that Koch Industries and its subsidiaries stand to make as much as $100 billion in profits if the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is given the go-ahead by U.S. President Obama.

The report, titled Billionaires’ Carbon Bomb, and produced by the think tank International Forum on Globalization (IFG), finds that David and Charles Koch and their privately-owned company, Koch Industries, own more than 2 million acres of land in Northern Alberta, the source of the tar sands oil that will be pumped to the United States via the Keystone XL pipeline.

IFG also finds that more than 1,000 reports and statements in support of the Keystone XL pipeline project have been made by policy groups and think tanks that receive funding from the Koch brothers and their philanthropic foundations.

“The Kochs have repeatedly claimed that they have no interest in the Keystone XL Pipeline, this report shows that is false.” Said Nathalie Lowenthal-Savy , a researcher with IFG. “We noticed Koch Funded Tea Party members and think tanks pushing for the pipeline. We dug deeper and found $100 billion in potential profit, $50 million sent to organizations supporting the pipeline, and perhaps 2 million acres of land. That sounds like an interest to me.” Nathalie continued, “We all know they will use that money to fund and expand their influence network, subvert democracy, crush unions like in Wisconsin, and get more extremists elected to congress.”

Download a PDF copy of the study here: Billionaires’ Carbon Bomb: The Koch Brothers and the Keystone XL Pipeline Read the rest of this entry →

Dear United States: We’re Being Total Hosers, Sorry About That

1:00 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

 

It wasn’t too long ago when Canadians were shouting at the top of their lungs about George Bush, the Iraq War, Guantanamo Bay, Gay Rights and a myriad of other “American” issues.

But the tides have turned quickly. Canada is now what the US was in the George W. Bush days. I can’t point to exact moment, but all I can say it happened really fast.

Look no further than a series of over 200 community protests against Canada being organized for this weekend across the US. This is just the latest anti-Canada protest and I for one am getting more embarrassed each time this happens. I used to get no end of pleasure making fun of my American friends and their crazy backwards politics. I mean, come on, Fox News! Need I say more!

I lived in the United States for the last three years and only moved back 8 months ago. When I first moved there, people would snigger and say something like: “Hey, did you move here to run away from the right-wing nuts running your country!” At first it was in jest, but by the time I left folks were saying: “You’re not seriously moving back there are you? Canada is a mess right now.”

I might have missed the exact moment the devil horns were passed from South to the North, but what I do know is who is to blame, and it can be summed up in two simple words: Stephen Harper.

Our Prime Minister, who was elected into office by less than a majority of voters, is running recklessly over Canada’s image. We were once this mighty gem in the crown of the world, with untouched natural wonder. A country who was so polite that it became the butt of jokes! A country that punched way above its weight class when it came to international diplomacy – more than once I have heard it said that America is good at taking over countries, but it is the Canadians that are the best at rebuilding a country.

Now we are being protested. Our country has become a rallying point for people in other countries who want to make things better. Stephen Harper wants to ram regressive policies down the throats of its own people, and down the throats of Americans. He quite literally wants to ram a pipeline through US homesteads in places like Nebraska and pump our dirty crude to waiting offshore oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico. And the consequences be damned.

You know. That just isn’t the polite thing to do. To my American friends, I hate to say it, but you have every right to be pissed at Canada right now. We’re acting like total hosers. Sorry.

New Report Another Blow to Keystone Pipeline Supporters

9:55 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

A new report out today finds that enforcement of environmental infractions by companies in the Alberta oil sands are 17 times lower than similar infractions reported to the United State’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The report [pdf], authored by the environmental non-profit Global Forest Watch, looked at more than fifteen years of data on recorded environmental mishaps by oil sands companies, tracking the follow-up actions taken and the final verdict on fines.

The findings are shocking and come at a very inconvenient time for government and industry supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline project that would greatly increase tar sands processing and shipments to the United States.

Of the more than 4,000 infractions reported, less than 1-percent (.09 to be exact) received an enforcement action (that would be less than 40 of 4,000). Compare this the US Environmental Protection Agency, who has an enforcement rate of 16% for similar infractions by companies under their Clean Water Act.

Global Forest Watch also found that the median fine for environmental infractions in the oil sands over the past 16 years was $4,500. If you were an oil sands player like ExxonMobil, who reported a profit last year of $44.9 billion, would you change your ways over a $4,500 fine?

Royal Dutch Shell Oil’s CEO, another big player in the oil sands, probably spent $4,500 on golf and dinner yesterday.

TransCanada, the company trying to convince US president Barack Obama to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, was out last week touting Canada as a world leader in environmental protection. TransCanada wrote in the Globe and Mail that:

“The only relevant question is whether the U.S. wants to source its heavy oil from Canada, a friendly and stable ally with strict environmental standards, or from other suppliers whose interests are not aligned with those of the United States and have limited or no environmental standards.”

Relevant question indeed, and here’s the answer: Canada does not have “strict environmental standards” at all and this report puts even more pressure on President Obama to not approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Kelloggs Killing Last Sumatran Tigers for Cheap Processed Snack Food

12:36 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

Sumatran Tiger

The Sumatran tiger is awesome. One of the most beautiful creatures in the world, and there are less than 400 left in the wild.

To give you an idea of how fast this creature is being wiped out, I remember only a couple of years ago writing that there were only 500 Sumatran tigers left. Now there is less than 400.

The Sumatran tiger is being killed by poachers to a certain degree, but the much bigger problem lies in the cereal you eat and those shitty little processed snacks that just make us all fatter. No kidding, these tigers live in an Indonesian jungle that just happens to be the same area being deforested to grow palm oil plantations.

The palm oil from these plantations, the same ones that are wiping out the last of the Sumatran tigers, is being used by cereal-maker Kellogg to make cheap snack foods in China.

The irony of Kellogg’s mascot Tony the tiger looking a lot like a Sumatran tiger is not lost on the advocacy group Sum of Us, who has launched a campaign this week that’s going totally viral online. Thousands of people are signing a petition and publicly speaking out via social media against Kelloggs and their role in killing off the last the of the Sumatran tigers.

All in the name of cheap, packaged and processed garbage food to flood the Chinese marketplace. Other companies used to use this palm oil that was killing tigers, like Kentucky Fried Chicken, but they came to their senses earlier this year after a massive outcry from the marketplace (which is you by the way). Read the rest of this entry →

Company Behind XL Pipeline Environmental Assessment Member of Major Oil Lobby Group

4:24 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

It has been discovered today that the company charged with writing the official Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline is a member of the American Petroleum  Institute - the largest lobbying group for the US oil and gas industry.

The company hired by the State Department and at the center of this latest controversy, the Environmental Resources Management Group, has already come under fire for what many critics call an overly favorable report of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In the report, ERM stated that the pipeline project, “is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development” of the tar sands. Therefore, it will also have little impact on climate change.

On the heels of today’s evidence of ERM’s close ties to the American Petroleum Institute, six major environmental groups are calling for a new environmental assessment to be done by State on the Keystone Pipeline project.

To date, the American Petroluem Institute has spent over $22 million lobbying in favor of the construction of the Keystone Pipeline project.

Is Obama’s Faith in Carbon Capture a Technicolor Dream?

11:18 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

President Obama’s climate action announcement yesterday relies heavily on carbon capture and storage technology eventually paying off as a commercially viable option. But carbon capture and storage (or CCS) continues to be more of a dream than reality. And a very expensive dream at that.

According to a database maintained at MIT’s Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies program, there are currently six large scale CCS projects underway in the United States. Five of the six projects are still in the planning phase, with one project listed as under construction. The current projected price tag of these six projects is a whopping $16.7 billion.

That’s a lot to gamble on a risky technology that continues to struggle to prove it’s even possible to deploy on a global scale. And $16.7 billion is only the opening bet. A full scale deployment of CCS technology across the entire US would likely be in the hundreds of billions. Estimates run as high as $1.5 trillion a year to deploy and operate enough carbon capture and storage worldwide to significantly reduce carbon emissions from the fossil fuels we consume.

President Obama announced his administration would make $8 billion available in loan guarantees for the development of enhanced fossil energy projects, which includes CCS technology.

In a follow-up announcement today, the Interior department and the US Geological Survey released “the first-ever detailed national geologic carbon sequestration assessment.”

While the Interior’s asessment shows there is major potential to store carbon underground, mainly in the Gulf of Mexico region, the assessment does not look at the economics of CCS or the land management issues. Speaking at a press conference about the assessment, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said, “if enough of this capacity also proves to be environmentally and economically viable, then geologic carbon sequestration could help us reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change.”

Price remains a huge issue for many fossil fuel companies looking at developing CCS technology. In fact, the current list of canceled projects in the MIT database is at eight in total for the US, two more than those listed as at least in the planning phase.

Many of the failed projects cite financial difficulties as the reason for cancelation. For instance, BP states that the expected cost of their now-defunct CCS project in Carson, California was, “…around $2 billion, twice the initial estimate.”

Price aside, there remain two big unadressed issues when it comes to the idea of capturing and storing CO2 underground:

1. The Pipes

Right now, the most promising form of CCS involves burying carbon way down deep in the earth in natural saline aquifers. There remain many complications with saline aquifer injection, and I will leave many of those for another day. The biggest and most practical challenge of burying carbon in deep saline aquifers is that these aquifers do not span the entire US continent. Where much of the carbon will be extracted at coal plants, there is not a nearby saline aquifer to pump that captured carbon into. The carbon will have to be transported, which is no small task.

A 2008 article on CCS by author Jeff Goodell describes the challenge of transporting carbon best:

“Vaclav Smil, an energy expert at the University of Manitoba, Canada, argued recently in Nature that ‘carbon sequestration is irresponsibly portrayed as an imminently useful option for solving the challenge [of global warming].’ Smil pointed out that to sequester just 25% of the CO2 emitted by stationary sources (mostly coal plants), we would have to create a system whose annual volume of fluid would be slightly more than twice that of the world’s crude-oil industry.”

In Smil’s own words,to sequester just a fifth of current CO2 emissions:

“… we would have to create an entirely new worldwide absorption-gathering-compression-transportation- storage industry whose annual throughput would have to be about 70 percent larger than the annual volume now handled by the global crude oil industry whose immense infrastructure of wells, pipelines, compressor stations and storages took generations to build.”

That is an almost unimaginable amount of pipeline that would need to be constructed and the cost would be massive if it could even be done. To put this in perspective, consider that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline alone is estimated to cost about $6 billion to construct.

2. Who is Responsible for all that Buried Carbon?

If carbon capture and storage is to work, the carbon needs to remain buried forever. Not one hundred years or five hundred years. Forever.

Will BP still be around in 100 years to deal with the carbon they buried? Even if the company is still around, are you going to trust that BP can keep carbon buried forever? Remember their big “junk shot” plan to stop the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster by shooting golf balls and shredded tires into the ruptured pipe? Enough said.

The solution to date, favored by fossil fuel companies not surprisingly, is that the US government would be responsible for the long term storage of the underground carbon. In a way, this makes the best sense, given that governments are typically longer lasting than corporations.

However, this transfers the liability and maintenance of carbon storage onto the backs of taxpayers, an inviting load for fossil fuel companies to shrug off their shoulders onto ours.

Beyond the long term climate effects of this buried carbon being re-released back into our atmosphere at some point in the future, the short term impacts of such an event could prove deadly.

In 1986, a large natural pocket of carbon was suddenly released during volcanic activity at Lake Nyos in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The concentration of carbon was enough to asphyxiate 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock in nearby towns.

A 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science concludes that even a small earthquake event in the US has the potential to release stored carbon back into the atmosphere, making “large-scale CCS a risky, and likely unsuccessful, strategy for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Some state governments have begun to look at the issue of the long-term liability of stored carbon, but to date the US government has not developed legislation to deal with this very large, and potentially deadly, question mark hovering over CCS technology.

Carbon capture and storage is in many ways President Obama’s moonshot, but with one big difference. If America had not been the first to land on the moon, it would have been disappointing. But if the president’s carbon capture and storage plans fail, the impacts could be devastating to the only planet we have. Read the rest of this entry →

United Airline’s Top Customers Call Company Out Over Pollution

11:02 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

Some of United Airline’s most valuable and loyal customers are calling out the company today over its prolonged fight to stop new regulations aimed at reducing global climate pollution emissions from the airline industry.

And these aren’t your everyday frequent fliers we’re talking about, twenty are members of United’s Global Services flyer program – a privilege bestowed by invite to only the most elite of the elite frequent flyers.

Billionaire investor and United Global Services member, Tom Steyer, clean technology expert and six-million miler, Michael Walsh, and million + miler Frank Loy, joined together on a press call today with the Flying Clean Alliance, a coalition of organizations. They are voicing their concerns about United Airlines leading the U.S. aviation industry in opposing multiple efforts to curb climate change pollution, at home and abroad, in contradiction to its stated commitment to being environmentally responsible.

“United is hyping up its recent efforts to reduce emissions on one hand, while on the other, fighting commonsense policies that would curb emissions on a much greater industry-wide scale. That doesn’t fly,” said Walsh.

The Flying Clean Alliance has gathered more than 500 Premier status flyers on an open letter to United’s CEO Jeff Smisek, along with another 85,000 + signatures from concerned citizens, many also longtime United flyers. One petition signer commented that,

“I fly all the time, and knowing that United Airlines is putting out the message that they are “green” while fighting against any policy that will really reduce pollution means I will NEVER fly United again. Additionally I will tell everyone I know for as long as.”

Not good for business I would say, considering that airlines are more competitive than ever before, with hairline profit margins and more consumer choice. Ironically, United Airlines took a major loss a year ago to the tune of more than $90 million in revenue due to delayed and cancelled flights after Hurricane Sandy devastated the U.S. east coast. Scientists attribute stronger and more powerful hurricanes as one of the results of climate change.

And the worst is yet to come for airlines and travlers. A recent study published in the peer-reviewed science journal Nature, concluded that the atmospheric disruption caused by climate change will lead to more turbulence and higher costs for flights spanning the Atlantic Ocean.

The airline industry is a huge producer of climate pollution. So huge, that if aviation was a country it would be the 7th largest emitter of climate change pollution in the world. Meanwhile, more and more people around the world are flying, and if left unchecked airplane pollution will double by 2020 and quadruple by 2050.

As consumers we can of course choose to fly less, but that only gets us so far in a world of increased overall air travel worldwide. Grander solutions to reduce fuel consumption and offset carbon pollution from airplanes exist, and as customers with a choice, we can make an even greater impact by speaking out when companies are willingly choosing to ignore (or even worse, fight against), these solutions.

Photo by InSapphoWeTrust released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.

Google Promotes Failed Coal Lobby Work to Stop EPA Mercury and Toxic Air Regulations

9:56 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

Painted bear sculpture with boxing gloves, "Don't Be Evil" motto

Neither a clever motto nor a boxing bear kept Google from aiding Big Coal.

Google, the search giant with the famous motto: “Don’t be evil,” is boasting about its involvement in a 2012 coal industry lobbying effort to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to protect the public from dangerous and potentially lethal coal plant emissions, according to a recently discovered Google case study.

In February 2012, long time coal industry supporter, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution proposing the elimination of the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for power plants. The emissions from coal-fired power plants are the largest human-caused sources of the neurotoxin mercury, arsenic, cyanide, and a range of other dangerous pollutants, according to the EPA. Inhofe’s proposal was ultimately voted down in the Senate by a vote of 53 to 46.

Legislative and policy experts close to the issue said that if Inhofe’s proposal had been passed, it would have removed vitally important public health protections more than two decades in the making that every year prevent up to: 

  • 11,000 premature deaths;
  • nearly 5,000 heart attacks;
  • 130,000 asthma attacks;
  • 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits; and
  • 540,000 days when people miss work and school

The EPA regulations, approved under President Obama, are designed to reduce emissions of mercury and other pollution up to 90 percent by requiring plant owners to install pollution control mechanisms. Energy companies oppose the regulations for being too costly. The lobbying campaign was initiated by the American Coalition for Clean Coal electricity (ACCCE), whose membership includes electric utilities such as Southern Company and American Electric Power, two of largest air-borne mercury polluters in the country.

A Google promotional document, Four Screens to Victory [PDF], describes Google’s involvement in the 2012 election cycle, and specifically highlights its role in garnering support for Inhofe’s proposal to abolish the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards:

“In the spring of 2012, the U.S. Senate was considering legislation critical to the clean coal industry. As the industry’s voice in Washington, the American Coalition for Clean Coal electricity (ACCCe) sought ways to mobilize grassroots supporters of the legislation across the country to make their voices heard in the nation’s capital. The bill that the Senate would vote on was not on newspaper front pages or leading nightly newscasts, s ACCCE needed to find creative ways to identify citizens who backed its position – and then needed a mechanism to connect those people with their U.S. Senators.”

A web version of Four Screens to Victory can be found on Google.com, however the mercury campaign case study is not included in that version.

The document describes how Google and New Media Strategies - since renamed MXM Social - worked together on the implementation of ACCCE’s lobbying plan:

“Social media marketing firm New Media Strategies (NMS) [now MXM] and Google implemented a groundbreaking click-to-call mobile advertising campaign on ACCCE’s behalf, connecting constituents with their U.S. Senators to support an amendment to stop regulation harmful to the clean coal industry. ACCCE’s campaign, which generated 3,000 phone calls to Senators over about two weeks, is the first time an issue advocacy organization has used mobile click-to-call advertising on Google to connect constituents to Senate offices at this scale.”

An inquiry to MXM confirms as much. In response to my questions, Ross Parman, MXM’s manager of insights and public affairs said,

Read the rest of this entry →

10 Reasons Canada’s Tar Sands Suck

10:24 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

Alberta Tar Sands

Canada’s right-wing Prime Minister is in New York today trying to convince lawmakers that the tar sands are okay, and that the Keystone XL pipeline should go ahead.

At the same time, Canada’s environment minister is in London trying to convince politicians there that tar sands crude is the same as regular sweet crude, and should not be subject to a polluter tax.

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.

Here’s the top 10 reasons Canada needs to rethink their unrelenting desire to expand tar sands operations:

1. The Canada tar sands isn’t just an environmental issue, it is also a social justice, human rigths and health issue. A higher incidence of rare and deadly cancers has been documented in First Nations communities downstream of the oil sands by doctors, the Alberta Health Department and First Nations since 2007.

2. Like birds? Me too. Did you know that over 30 million birds will be lost over the next 20 years due to tar sands development?

3. 95% of the water used in tar sands surface mining is so polluted it has to be stored in toxic sludge pits. That’s 206,000 litres of toxic waste discharged every day.

4. Canada’s tar sands make Hoover Dam look like lego blocks, because we are home to 2 of the top 3 largest dams in the world. The dams are used to hold back all that toxic sludge produced by mining tar sands.

5. Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces 3.2 to 4.5 times more greenhouse gases than conventional oil produced in Canada or the United States. To put that in perspective, a Honda Accord burning tar sands gas has the same climate impact as driving a Chevy Suburban using conventional gas.

6. According to an annual climate change performance index, because of the tar sands, Canada’s climate performance is the worst in the entire western world. We rank 58th out of 61 countries on the index, beating out only Kazakhstan (59th), Iran (60th) and Saudi Arabia (61st).

7. 11 million litres of toxic wastewater seep out of the tailing pits into the boreal forest and Athabasca river every day. That’s 4 billion litres a year. Anyone want to go fishing?

8. Norway has saved $644 billion in its petroleum production investment fund. Meanwhile, Alberta, where all the tar sands deposits are, has only saved $16 billion. There is no Canadian federal fund.

9. The International Energy Agency says up to two thirds of known fossil reserves must be left in the ground to avoid a 2°C global temperature rise. MIT reports that when a global price on carbon emerges to prevent climate change, it will make the oil sands economically non-viable.

10. And if you think the tar sands are going away, think again.The oil sands underlie approximately 140,000 square kilometres of Alberta – an area about the size of Florida. Oil sands leases cover about 20% of the province’s land area. If the oil companies have it their way, the tar sands operations are on a trajectory to triple in size, with literally no end in sight.

So there you go. The tar sands are paying off for the oil companies, while everyday Canadians see little upside, and a whole lot of downside.

Thanks to the Tar Sands Reality Check project for putting all these facts together, and getting them signed off by top experts.  Read the rest of this entry →