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Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore to produce this spoof video in the vein of Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now." Making its debut today in honor of Gasland 2, which features the details of the gas industry's psychological warfare scandal, here is "Frackalypse Now":

H/T to DeSmogBlog for sponsoring the creation of the Mark Fiore Frakalypse video.

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Thu May 16, 2013 at 10:21 AM PDT

10 Reasons Canada's Tar Sands Suck

by KGrandia

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.

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While clean up continues on the Exxon oil spill in Arkansas, another oil pipeline burst was detected over the weekend - this time in Houston, Texas.

The Shell Oil owned pipeline burst was detected Friday by the US National Response Center and has dumped an estimated 30,000 gallons of oil into a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico (as if it needed any more oil dumped into it!).

Operators of the Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary West Columbia pipeline, a 15 mile long, 16 inch diameter line, received warnings from the US National Response Center of a potential 700 barrel release (nearly 30,000 gallons) of crude oil on Friday, March 29.

Yesterday, representatives from the US Coast Guard acknowledged at least 50 barrels of oil had entered Vince Bayou, a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico.

So far this latest pipeline burst has received very little mainstream news coverage, likely because there has been so many spills lately (3 in the last week alone), that it is no longer considered "news."

Of course, this all comes at a time that the Obama administration is under great pressure to make a final decision on the new Keystone XL pipeline that will complete a span of pipe from Alberta, Canada all the way to Texas. The Keystone pipeline will transport diluted bitumen (also known as dilbit or "junk crude"), the same type oil that spilled from a burst pipe last weekend in Mayflower, Arkansas .

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The Helmholtz Association of Research Centres, a major German scientific body with more than 30,000 researchers and US$4.4 billion in annual funding, has dropped out of a joint Alberta tar sands project over fears that the project was damaging the institution's reputation. 

In April 2011, the Province of Alberta invested $25 million to form the "Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative" that would study ways to deal with leakage from the toxic tailings ponds that are a by-product of tar sands mining operations.

The HAI was also tasked with finding ways to upgrade the energy extracted from bitumen and lignite coal in order to reduce energy consumption, and a few other "sustainable solutions" to Canada's ongoing environmental and energy challenges.

Speaking on behalf of the Helmholtz Association, Professor Frank Messner, told EU media that: 

"It was seen as a risk for our reputation.  As an environmental research centre we have an independent role as an honest broker and doing research in this constellation could have had reputational problems for us, especially after Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol."

The Helmholtz Association has come under fire recently for their work on Alberta's tar sands operations, most notably in 2012 when Germany's Green Party (a very powerful political player) filed a query to the German government, asking why German taxpayers' money was going into a project that contradicts Germany's official climate policy agenda.

The response at the time from government was very evasive and concluded that the project had only just started and that it was too early to say anything more substantial.

This recent news is the latest in a string of stories about the Alberta tar sands and climate policy damaging Canada's reputation abroad.

Earlier this year, former BC Premier Gordon Campbell, and current High Commissioner to the UK, stated in a meeting that Canada's tar sands are  "a totemic issue, hitting directly on Brand Canada."

(Republished with permission from DeSmog Canada)

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The climate change site, DeSmogBlog has found that Environmental Resources Management, the consulting firm behind the Keystone XL Pipeline environmental impact assessment, has been at the center of controversial pipeline projects in the past. 

Activists working against the 2002 planned construction of British Petroleum's Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Turkey, singled out Environmental Resources Management (ERM) for what they saw as ERM "grooming" the BP pipeline for construction. Like the Keystone XL pipeline assessment, ERM's assessment of the Turkish pipeline was seen as flawed and drafted in a way that gave all but the green light for the pipeline to be constructed.

Environmental and human rights group London Rising Tide went as far as occupying ERM's offices in London, handing out pamphlets to employees stating that:

   

Your employer [ERM] plays a crucial role if low-key, in grooming BP's Baku Ceyhan pipeline for construction.

In recent days, similar concerns have been raised after the website InsideClimate News revealed that: 

   

The State Department's recent conclusion that the Keystone XL pipeline "is unlikely to have a substantial impact" on the rate of Canada's oil sands development was based on analysis provided by two consulting firms with ties to oil and pipeline companies that could benefit from the proposed project.

Researcher Brad Johnson writing on Grist then made the link to Environmental Resources Management, finding that,

   

The “sustainability consultancy” Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement, which is now an official government document.

The construction and operation of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline has impacted the livelihoods of local fishermen, as seen in this video:

   


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Yesterday, Gary Doer, Canada's Ambassador to the United States,made headlines when he stated that:

"If you ask the question: Do you want your oil from (Venezuelan President) Hugo Chavez or (Alberta Premier) Alison Redford, I think I know the answer."

Doer is making the argument that US President Barack Obama should approve the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, so America can get its oil from the friendly North, instead of the much maligned Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela.

What Doer fails to mention, or maybe he just doesn't know, is that the largest import commodity Canada receives from Venezuela is crude oil.


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Shattering the public perception that the Tea Party is a spontaneous popular citizens movement, a new academic paper provides evidence that an organization founded by David and Charles Koch, attempted to launch the Tea Party movement in 2002.  

The peer-reviewed study appearing in the academic journal, Tobacco Control and titled, 'To quarterback behind the scenes, third party efforts': the tobacco industry and the Tea Party, shows that the group Citizens for a Sound Economy launched a Tea Party movement website, www.usteaparty.com, that went live in 2002.

According to the website DeSmogBlog.com, who broke this story earlier today, CSE was founded in 1984 by the infamous Koch Brothers, David and Charles Koch in 1984. David Koch sat on the board of CSE for many years and the group's first president, Richard Fink, went on to become a senior VP at Koch Industries.

The common public understanding of the origins of the Tea Party is that it is a popular grassroots uprising that began with anti-tax protests in 2009.

Here's a screenshot of the archived U.S. Tea Party site, as it appeared online on Sept. 13, 2002:

The site is described as, "In 2002, our U.S. Tea Party is a national event, hosted continuously online, and open to all Americans who feel our taxes are too high and the tax code is too complicated." There is also "Patriot Guest book" available for visitors to voice their support and write a message for CSE and the U.S. Tea Party movement.

The US Tea Party site is no longer online and appears to have been taken down sometime in mid-2011. A DNS registry search, finds that the web address www.usteaparty.com is currently owned by Freedomworks, an organization heavily involved in Tea Party organizing today.

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Newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet on Friday with his Canadian counterpart, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. In any such bilateral meeting, it is paramount that each participant trust the words of their counterpart. After all, when it comes to the world of diplomacy, where wars are settled and treaties are signed, there's little more than words and trust. 

As a former employee in Canada's Foreign Affairs I have attended many bilateral meetings with foreign dignitaries. If I were advising Kerry, I would suggest one question he should ask of John Baird to see if he is an honest broker.

The question is: "Is Canada committed to confronting climate change?"

Poll

Will Kerry and Obama Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline?

50%21 votes
40%17 votes
9%4 votes

| 42 votes | Vote | Results

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So here I thought moving back to Canada from Washington, DC, I would get a little break from politics. That isn't happening and it's thanks to an amazing citizens movement that is taking the country by storm.

The movement is called Idle No More, and it is right now centered around an amazinglystrong-willed First Nations woman named Chief Theresa Spence who is now more than two weeks into a hunger strike. Spence will continue her hunger strike until Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with her to discuss her concerns over recent changes to laws concerning aboriginal rights and environmental protection.

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Tom Borelli, a former science director at Philip Morris who fought claims that secondhand tobacco causes lung cancer and respiratory illness in children, is now touted on Fox News as an expert on the cleanliness of the coal industry. Borelli was busy this election season fighting Obama's "war on coal" on behalf of his new employer, FreedomWorks.

Borelli has a long history of attacking the EPA on behalf of Big Tobacco. Serving in his role as Philip Morris' Director of Corporate Scientific Affairs, Borelli appeared in a notorious 1992 film produced by Philip Morris attacking the Environmental Protection Agency for declaring secondhand tobacco smoke a known cancer causing agent. Borelli states that:

"Based on careful review of the science we believe that environmental tobacco smoke has not been shown to be a risk factor in the development of lung cancer, respiratory disease in children or heart disease."

Watch it:

 

Borelli has come a long way since then, including a short stint as a professional climate change denier. He is now working at the right-wing think tank FreedomWorks as a Senior Fellow and a self-styled "expert" on the coal industry.

Here's Borelli on Fox News Business in July 2012 talking about the widely-debunked Obama 'war on coal':

Is their no dirty product that Tom Borelli won't defend for the right price? 

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Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass), has penned a letter to Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, looking for answers about a Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) containment dome that "crushed like a beer can" in tests earlier this Fall.

Markey, who is the Ranking Member the US Committee on Natural Resources, is referring to a story first broke by Seattle radio station KUOW, that in September Shell performed tests on a containment dome that was to be deployed as part of the company's controversial Arctic offshore oil drilling operations.

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According to government reports, when oil giant Shell (LON:RDSA) tested the containment dome they would use in the event of a spill at an offshore drilling operation in the Northern Arctic seas, the dome "crushed like a beer can" under pressure.

Thanks to the Gulf of Mexico spill two years ago we all know what a "containment dome" is and how important it is when it comes to an undersea oil drilling catastrophe.

According to documents obtained by the Seattle radio station, KUOW, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Shell's containment dome was tested off the calm shores of Seattle, Washington in September of this year and the dome test failed miserably.

In the documents, a federal official witnessing the test "on a dead call Friday night" at sea, reports that Shell's dome"crushed like a beer can."

Considering just how close we came to seeing Shell drilling offshore for oil in the Arctic this year, this is a pretty disturbing revelation. Never before has a company proposed to drill in the Arctic seas of the Chukchi and Beaufort (the same place they film the TV show World's Deadliest Catch).

If Shell can't even come close to getting it right on a calm evening in September off the coast of the protected waters around Seattle, then they are far from being ready to drill in the harsh conditions in the Northern Arctic seas.

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