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Tar sands are one of the dirtiest forms of oil out there. Canada has the largest reserves in the world of tar sands oil and the US is the key target market.  THE major pipeline from Canada to the U.S. for tar sands oil has just been rubber stamped by the US State Dept.  Good bye climate.  

The full exploitation of the Canadian tar sands would account for 87% of ALL OECD country emissions in 2050 (Under a 450ppm stabilization pathway.) To put that into perspective, the entire developed world could reduce its emissions by 60% from today's levels and those reductions would be offset by the emissions from these projects. [Here's a background story I did on this a while back....]  

Whether this decision has been thought out at the highest levels of the administration, the State Dept.'s recent approval of a pipeline into the U.S. from Canada's tar sands operations effectively will mean that any GLOBAL progress on addressing greenhouse gas emissions will be undone in the forests of Alberta.  Here are the relevant details from an article on the Environmental News Service wire:

On Thursday, the State Department issued a Presidential Permit to Enbridge Energy, Ltd. for the Alberta Clipper - a 1,000-mile/1,607-kilometer crude oil pipeline that will run between Hardisty, Alberta, and Superior, Wisconsin.

With supply of crude oil from Western Canada oil sands developments expected to grow by as much as 1.8 million barrels per day by 2015, the industry has asked for more capacity out of the oil sands and into the U.S. Midwest markets.

In evaluating the Enbridge application, the State Department said in a statement, officials worked in consultation with "all relevant agencies and parties and with extensive public and stakeholder participation and outreach" and conducted an environmental review of the proposed project.

The department found that the addition of crude oil pipeline capacity between Canada and the United States will advance the strategic interests of the United States.
Syncrude Canada oil sands refinery on the Athabasca Oil Sands Deposit in northeastern Alberta (Photo courtesy Syncrude)

"These included increasing the diversity of available supplies among the United States’ worldwide crude oil sources in a time of considerable political tension in other major oil producing countries and regions; shortening the transportation pathway for crude oil supplies; and increasing crude oil supplies from a major non-Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries producer," the department said.

"Canada is a stable and reliable ally and trading partner of the United States, with which we have free trade agreements which augment the security of this energy supply," the department said.

The most important aspect to this story is the fact that syncrude - the distilled product from tar sands operations - cannot be transported in normal oil pipelines.  the U.S. is the major target market for this stuff.  Without a pipeline in place it severely limits the ability of the industry to expand.  This decision, if it stays final, will undo not only any improvements made by the Waxman-Marky bill, but could undermine any progress at the major IPCC summit in Copenhagen.  This is serious folks.  If you want to address climate change the number one single action we could take is to say "No" to tar sands as an energy source.  We need to do this if we are to have any credibility with the Chinese and Indians in climate negotiations.  Our future quite literally rests on this decision.  Contact your representatives and tell them to pressure the administration to say no the pipeline and say no to Canadian tar sands.
Cheers, Doolittle.  

Originally posted to Doolittle on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 05:32 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  How does it undercut Waxman-Markey? (4+ / 0-)

    if the cap proposed by W-M is made law, the supply of carbon intensive fuels would not matter, the USE of them would, which would come at a higher price through the cap and trade.

    Further, what possible "credibility" could we lose with China and India, who have specifically avoided being carbon emissions limitations under any IPCC agreement?

    •  Emissions happen in Canada (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, RunawayRose, Lujane

      for the production process which is much more intensive than traditional oil and gas production. Therefore W-M would treat oil from tar sands and conventional oil the same since it only regulates the tail pipe emission in this case.

      •  Regulation of the refining of tar sand oil in the (0+ / 0-)

        US would also be subject to caps. Besides, the whole purpose of US caps is to use as leverage to get an international agreement in Copenhagen.

        Bashing Obama while others aren't even mentioned is ridiculous and lazy.

    •  Coal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We need to get them to ween themselves off of coal.
      if we're using tarsands oil to run our cars we're ina pretty poor position to tell anyone else they should curb their emissions.  but I take your point - I have no faith that either country will do the right thing regardless of what we do.

  •  Diary Title Undoes ALL Progress (13+ / 0-)

    on curbing hyperbole.

    We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine,

    And the machine is bleeding to death.

    by Marcus Tullius on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 05:43:04 AM PDT

  •  Of course... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    B Amer

    the 450ppm level is way too high, btw.

    350 is the target (or should be).

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

    by RonV on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 05:44:54 AM PDT

    •  While 350 is the target...that is a long-term (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      goal at this point. First, we must stabilize the increase of CO2 which is increasing now. That means 450 is a stabilization point with a long-term goal of eventually reducing to 350. But that isn't reasonable in the short-term.

      I support the simple theme but realize it won't be achievable for decades at this point even IF we get our act together.

  •  Tar sands is a wrong-headed way to go.... (5+ / 0-)

    I agree with you. But your title is over the top, playing on hyperbole and bashing the Obama administration. From a strictly national security view (narrow) it isn't completely off-base to think that sources from a close ally is better than the mideast.

    But when we add in the environmental consequences, it will not be secure at all. So it does clash with other national security warnings in relation to climate change.

    Let's fight this intelligently rather than a knee-jerk reaction to Obama. His admin is our biggest ally. Attack BP and others for greenwashing while they develop the tar sands pipeline and refineries.

    •  With Friends like this... (0+ / 0-)

      I agree in general, but given the audience - mostly dem activists, we should be aware of what "our" administration is doing.  If they push to get Waxman-Markey passed but then make this ONE decision final we end up with a MUCH worse climate situation at the end of the Obama administration than we had when we started.  My title is intended to be a bit provocative but look at the numbers - it's not hyperbole.  We would become dependent upon an energy source that if fully exploited would constitute 87% of OECD emissions. BP and it's reps are not participants here...major Democratic pols and their constituents are. It's in their power to stop this.

  •  Oh hell, by 2050 (0+ / 0-)

    there will be 10 billion people on this planet, if we haven't started killing each other off more efficiently before then.
    But you're right of course about the long term consequences, all other variables remaining stable.  The current anti-climate change efforts are not sufficient, and moving ahead with all sorts of massive projects with enormous environmental effects makes it clear just how un-serious the ruling elite are about climate.
    Fortunately, changes will be forced upon the status quo long before then -- at least when things get ugly enough.

    "... it wasn't so much the underworld you had to fear as the overworld." ~Ian Rankin

    by Andhakari on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 05:53:12 AM PDT

  •  Can you please change the diary title? (8+ / 0-)

    It's hyperbolic and misleading.  The tar sands issue is an important one (btw, it's also very water intensive), but the sensationalistic title doesn't do anyone any favors.  

    We need to start getting serious about pushing ACES in the Senate instead of being all-healthcare-reform-all-the-time, and a diary title like this makes people just want to give up and not even try.

    Hike On! discussing national parks, public lands, and outdoor adventures Tuesdays 5 PM PDT

    by RLMiller on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 06:03:43 AM PDT

    •  No I will NOT (0+ / 0-)

      READ my diary please:

      The full exploitation of the Canadian tar sands would account for 87% of ALL OECD country emissions in 2050 (Under a 450ppm stabilization pathway.) To put that into perspective, the entire developed world could reduce its emissions by 60% from today's levels and those reductions would be offset by the emissions from these projects.

      What EXACTLY do those number mean to you guys?

      •  We're on the same team (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        polar bear

        RL/Doolittle - we're on the same team here. The title was meant to get eyes to the diary. If that works, it's a good thing b/c I agree that we have to get past the "All Healthcare All The Time" thing we have going on around here these days.

        •  I agree that we're on the same team (5+ / 0-)

          but I want to take a credible, sane, and level approach.  The healthcare diaries have turned off a lot of people because there are too many "oh noes, chicken little, the sky is falling" diaries -- on a subject that is relatively unimportant to 85% of Americans with health insurance.  Global warming is a far more depressing subject in and of itself, and it's far to easy for people to just give up hope and do nothing.  Diaries like this encourage that thinking.

          A minor change in the title -- a question mark, for example -- will do some good.

          Hike On! discussing national parks, public lands, and outdoor adventures Tuesdays 5 PM PDT

          by RLMiller on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 06:32:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  RL - since I have your attention (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RunawayRose, polar bear, RLMiller

            You're doing great work w/ Adopt a Senator. I want to take my home state's Carl Levin.

            And while I agree that climate change is more important that the health care stuff going on, I think that the reforms proposed would affect everyone, even those with insurance.

          •  Done (4+ / 0-)

            Your comments here are very constructive...I don't want to be overly critical of the Administration, but I've been following this story closely and the tar sands system has the potential to undo any progress made within the US. It's very important that people here on Daily Kos see the full picture and not just focus on W-M.  This one decision - allowing the pipeline - sets in motion an entire industry outside our borders over which we have no oversight - that will create massive emissions of greenhouse gases.  Because it's a small thing - a single state department decision - I fear it'll get lost in the daily wash of events.  We need this on the radar.  if we stop the pipeline, we effectively hamper any expansion in that industry.

            •  Thank you -- (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RunawayRose, Doolittle

              for both the small fix and for bringing attention to it.  I will look into the tar sands -- I've already emailed a friend who's been working on it for more background.  Peace.

              Hike On! discussing national parks, public lands, and outdoor adventures Tuesdays 5 PM PDT

              by RLMiller on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 06:53:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Obama bashing all the time it seems here (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Orbital Mind Control Lasers

          these days....

          •  constructive comments (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            might actually respond to the content of the diary.
            What Do you think about the State Dept. decision? Is is something you support?  I REALLY don't get the response to this diary.  Yes, I'm criticizing the administration - they just took an action that could undo every positive step on climate change - something they campaigned on promising to do the exact opposite.

      •  that's why we don't take it seriously (0+ / 0-)

        They want to filibuster? Fine, make 'em get on camera and read a phone book like REAL senators.

        by Orbital Mind Control Lasers on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 08:10:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  tipped/rec'd (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doolittle, EdlinUser, mieprowan, RLMiller

    Thanks for posting this.  Not only is the pipeline a large contribution to overall global emissions, it also sets an international precedent we don't want.  

    America honors leaders, not politicians - stop global warming now!

    by mogmaar on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 07:30:18 AM PDT

  •  Tipped, recced. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for this heads up.

  •  (Much later) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doolittle, polar bear, mieprowan

    I want to thank the diarist, again, for opening my eyes to the issue and for responding to (what I hoped was constructive) criticism without getting cranky about it.  The "name calling" diaries made me think of this, and how civility matters.  We are all on the same side.

    Hike On! discussing national parks, public lands, and outdoor adventures Tuesdays 5 PM PDT

    by RLMiller on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 10:44:36 AM PDT

    •  You really did make a difference (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I re-read it this morning and saw what you's is a bit shrill and not in a good way.  I think that if I'd spun the story about how we had a huge opportunity to score a major Env. victory by stopping the pipeline development that would have been a better way to address the issue.
      I think I'll go back and craft another diary that focuses on that after I figure out the right pressure points.  I know a lot of enviros working on this so they'll know who the best persons to contact are.
      Cheers and thanks again for your insights.  You'll make me a better diarist. :)

      •  and vice-versa :) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I urge you to keep following up the story.  I'm putting 99% of my energy into the Adopt a Senator For ACES project, and can only keep track of so many things; and I (and others here working on enviro issues) want to break through "all health care, all the time diaries" presently on DKos.  The more quality diaries on different enviro issues, the better.  Who knows, maybe we'll get one on the rec list one day? :)

        Mogmaar (diarist here) has been working on the issue through his Avaaz Action Factory (google name), so contact him.

        Hike On! discussing national parks, public lands, and outdoor adventures Tuesdays 5 PM PDT

        by RLMiller on Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 10:06:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What a shame. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

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