All the Protesting for Naught? Welcome to Tar Sands Nation

I guess Bill McKibben's protests and arrests against US approval of a pipeline to allow dirty Canadian tar sand oil to flow to the United States appears to be all for naught, according to the NY Times:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration gave a crucial green light on Friday to a proposed 1,711-mile pipeline that would carry heavy oil from Canada across the Great Plains to terminals in Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast, saying the project would provide a secure source of energy without significant damage to the environment.

In reaching its conclusion that the Keystone XL pipeline from the oil sands deposits in Alberta would have minimal environmental impact, the administration dismissed criticism from environmental advocates, who said that extracting the oil would have a devastating impact on the climate and that a leak or rupture in the 36-inch-diameter pipeline could wreak ecological disaster. Opponents also said the project would prolong the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, threaten sensitive lands and wildlife and further delay development of clean energy sources.

Woohoo! Access to and production of oil from the second largest deposit of carbon on the planet (next to Saudi Arabia) available for pumping into the ever more CO2 endowed atmosphere of earth is now almost certain to be approved by the Obama administration. Change Big Oil can believe in, at least. So does this mean we will stop off shore drilling in the Gulf and proposals for drilling in the Arctic? I wouldn't bet on it.

By the way, tar sand oil production is up to 10 times dirtier than drilling in the North Sea. It looks like we have found the enemy and it is us, as Pogo said so eloquently decades ago:


In 2008, Royal Dutch Shell examined two possible energy scenarios for an oil-dependent civilization. One (“Blueprint”) envisioned radical reductions in GHGs, conservation and clean energy. The other (“Scramble”) explored what would happen if companies and countries exploited unconventional fuels without clear conservation goals or effective climate change action.

Shell’s “Scramble” scenario painted a bleak global future: “. . . international discussion on climate change becomes bogged down in an ideological ‘dialogue of the deaf,’” and CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions “grow relentlessly.” Civil societies experience both climate and energy insecurity, and face “expensive consequences beyond 2050.” Powerful water and carbon lobbies protest unconventional fuel development. Canada’s rapid development of the tar sands has primed the global community for a volatile scramble on energy and climate.

In turn, the Canadian government, the No. 1 financial benefactor of tar sands development, has obstructed energy conservation at home and effective international climate change action. [...]

If exploitation of the tar sands continues unabated, by 2020 it could produce more GHGs than either Austria, Portugal, Ireland or Denmark. The project’s CO2 output could even rival or exceed that of Belgium, a nation of 10 million people. Emissions from the tar sands currently [2009] exceed those of several European nations including Estonia and Lithuania. Climate changing gases from two major mining operations now dwarf the emissions of Cyprus and Malta. […]

Due to their extreme energy intensity, the tar sands have a higher carbon footprint than any other commercial oil product on the planet. The dirtiest projects burn extreme volumes of natural gas to create steam to melt oil out the ground. These in situ, or steam plants, now use four times more natural gas than mining operations. Some projects are now 10 times dirtier than production of oil in the North Sea.


Those if us who thought the administration would work to reduce carbon emissions just got the Clark Gable to Vivian Leigh response to our pleas not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

Booman Tribune / By Steven D. | Sourced from

Posted at August 27, 2011, 6:08am

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