For the Liberal leadership, supporting the operation and expansion of the Athabasca Tar Sands involves a wobbly conjuring trick - pretending that the Tar Sands can somehow be made environmentally acceptable. I'm not excusing the other two parties, they're as bad or worse, but it's the Liberal Party that has always been my home team.
Making the Tar Sands palatable has entailed the idea that all those massive carbon emissions could be captured and then pumped into safe storage underground. It's telling that the other environmental devastation wreaked by the Tar Sands tends to go unmentioned, swept under the carpet.
Carbon Capture & Sequestration, CCS, or, as I sometimes think of it, Michael Ignatieff's Magic Wand. It's the stuff of charlatans, hucksters and swindlers. It doesn't work and, worse, it's lethal when it fails. To do it properly would render Athabasca's bitumen commercially unviable. No one's going to pick up that tab. Certainly Big Oil won't. Neither will Alberta or Ottawa. The best they're willing to do is pump the stuff underground and then look the other way.
A few days ago Andrew Nikiforuk, writing in The Tyee, blew the whistle on Canada's CCS showcase demonstration project in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. About a decade ago it was decided to pipe carbon dioxide from a coal gasification plant in North Dakota and pump it into the partially-empty Weyburn oilfield. So far about 17-million tonnes of CO2 have been pumped into the Weyburn reservoir. Government regulators have declared it safe but it's not. In fact that CO2 has begun leaking back to the surface as it was bound to do and has been detected in concentrations twice the level necessary to asphyxiate a person. Nikiforuk chronicles the leakage and a variety of other problems now facing residents in the Weyburn area.
In short, this CCS business is hogwash, potentially highly lethal hogwash. It's time the Liberal Party picked itself out of the petro-gutter and took the high ground on Athabasca. The Tar Sands are dirty, far dirtier than the Alberta or federal governments have been willing to admit. There is no Magic Wand solution to the Tar Sands and there never will be. A real Liberal leader would have the courage to say so.
The movie Dirty Business covers coal in the US, and delves into the UofR and Weyburn/Estevan CCS project and how it's not going to work.
The worse thing about this is the fact that Canadians are not even benefiting monetarily from the sale of this faux oil....not by a long shot...we get enough to keep the majority quiet. A person would think Healty Care in the Province of Alberta would be the best in Canada and also has the potential to be the best in the world from oil taxes. However, that is not where the meer taxes are being put. Anyong
The Kerr's story is shocking evidence of oil companies failing to monitor the environmental damage they are causing, and governments letting them get away with it. As Nikiforuk notes, initially, Weyburn was said to be "highly suitable for the secure, long-term storage of CO2", but the site would require monitoring for 5,000 years! After the leaks began, the Saskatchewan government promised a year long study, but all that happened was a few day long tests. The Kerrs were forced to hire a private contractor to provide an independent report in order to get anyone to pay any attention to their claims.
So, who is going to monitor leakage from CCS projects planned for the Tar Sands? At the very least, Ignatieff should be promising improved regulation and independent monitoring for these projects, and demanding that oil companies be on the hook for environmental damage. I can't see even that happening, because it might slow down the expansion of the Tar Sands which, as Ignatieff keeps saying, are the economic future of our country. Disgusting.
In Athabasca the oil companies have wrangled a Faustian deal from the Alberta government whereby their liability for CCS leakage is minimal and the government (i.e. taxpayers) are on the hook to indemnify Big Oil almost in perpetuity against civil claims. After a limited number of years all liability passes to the province both for damages and for monitoring the reservoirs. It's a truly shitty deal being foisted on future generations by wholly unscrupulous Conservative politicians. Then again you don't hear the IgLibs raising so much as a whimper in protest.
I don't think any politician will have the balls for such a tactic. My plan is just not to breed, because I'm not looking forward to the world we'd be leaving to any offspring I'd have. We can bitch and moan, and protest, and petition, but we don't have the money, so why would the politicians care. Maybe I'm just bitter.
@Anon2:08. Deciding not to procreate is a tough one. I can truly understand your viewpoint and I'm not sure I'd want my children (both now at that age) to start families of their own. Yet there's an element of resignation in that decision that is just as tough to accept.
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