Monday, August 02, 2010

The Most Irresponsible Policy Iggy Has Ever Foisted on His Party

And that, of course, would be his promotion of the Athabasca Tar Sands and his dream of bitumen transforming Canada into a fossil fuel superpower for the 21st century.

Either Ignatieff can't be bothered to really look into this environmental debacle or he's willing to shrug it off as a cost of doing political business.  Oh he'll pay lip service to controlling the carbon emissions or solving the "water problem" but he won't come up with any concrete requirements.  He's apparently unwilling to tie Tar Sands expansion to a requirement that the existing mess be cleaned up, an ommision that speaks for itself.

The trouble Iggy and the other Fossil Fuelers face is that, finally, word is getting out about what's really going on in Athabasca, the filthiest fossil fuel project in the world.  People like Andrew Nikiforuk are dragging the Tar Sands, Big Oil and their political shills out into the light.  Writing in the latest The Tyee, Nikiforuk explores the lengths the Alberta government has gone to conceal the facts of Athabasca.   Here are a few pearls from the article.

"In a no-nonsense letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Henry Waxman, chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, noted that the carbon intensity of U.S. transportation fuel could increase by as much as 37 per cent if the country shifts to dirty tar sands crude. The great snake [pipeline]  and its diluted stream of bitumen would also act as a damper on clean energy investments.

Waxman also calculated that the pipeline, by doubling tar sands imports to more than three million barrels a day, would add the carbon equivalent of "18 million passenger vehicles to the roads." Waxman concluded that importing more of "the dirtiest source of transportation fuel currently available" would simply erase the benefits of new motor vehicle standards to reduce pollution...

...the EPA’s Cynthia Giles also focused on bitumen's nasty emissions and demanded more studies on the pipeline's impacts. Giles calculated that a barrel of refined bitumen makes 181 kilograms of greenhouse gases, while conventional U.S. crude makes only 99 kilograms.

...Now the well-reported Canadian claim that bitumen is only 10 per cent dirtier comes from an arm of the carboniferous Alberta government: the Alberta Energy Research Institute. PR guys renamed the institute Alberta Innovates this year and gave it a lovely new mandate to produce clean energy with a low carbon footprint or what it calls "market-ready, ecologically responsible energy." No matter. Albertans can only pray that the group will provide clean data and achieve its mandate."

Nikiforuk explores at length how the Alberta government and Big Oil ginned up the laughable "10 per cent" claim.

"Most of the models cherry-picked data. While some studies excluded CO2 emissions from tailing ponds, flaring, venting and fugitive emissions (leaks), others didn't acknowledge the striking variance in the quality of bitumen being mined or steamed. (The cleanest has already been exported.) Many excluded vital steam to oil ratios (a signature of energy and carbon intensity). Some ignored the fact that it takes 1.2 barrels of bitumen to make one barrel of crude. None included CO2 emissions from the construction or decommissioning of facilities. Hardly any included the destruction of peat lands, an incredibly important carbon sink.

In other words, Alberta's 10 per cent claim was purely a propaganda exercise.

... the Americans aren't going to wait for their number one oil supplier to cook up any more misleading data. The U.S. National Energy Technology Lab, which has no investment in bitumen exports, has already calculated that diesel fuel refined from bitumen creates 244 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional sources.

...when U.S. customers ask their Canadian crack dealers direct questions about the quality of their exports, it's best to come clean about what's going into the pipe. Yet transparency and good public data on bitumen's growing carbon liabilities don't really exist. It appears that industry and government have a Saudi fear of transparency. Why? Because some operators in the tar sands are much dirtier than others and the industry increasingly behaves like a fanatical drug cartel that only tolerates conformity and silence."

Why in hell is Ignatieff so eager to lash the Liberal Party to this eco-nightmare?   Is his judgment so weak that he doesn't realize he's almost certainly going to be overtaken by reality as the mask of secrecy and deceit is stripped away from the Tar Sands?   If the petro-state of Alberta with all the muscle of Big Oil have lost control of the Tar Sands narrative, does Iggy not realize the potential damage he might inflict on the Liberal Party with his inane policy?   And what of the Liberal Party rank and file?   Are they willing to stomach this nonsense?   Does Iggy really speak for them?  Does he speak for Canada?  Or is he actually speaking for Bay Street and Big Oil?


Saskboy said...

He may be actively working for Big Oil, but it's just as likely he's petrified of Dion's fate which he thinks is linked to being outspoken about Canada's dirty little secret.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi Saskboy. You may be right. Unfortunately "petrified" isn't much of an attribute for someone hoping to become prime minister.