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2013 SkS News Bulletin #4: Alberta Tar Sands and Keystone XL Pipeline

Posted on 20 March 2013 by John Hartz

  • Big Oil attempts to end-run Keystone XL
  • Billionaire joins fight against Keystone XL
  • Canada's Plan to Get Rich by Trashing the Climate
  • Furor over Keystone XL pipeline
  • German scientists quit oilsands project
  • Greenwashing the tar sands
  • Is the US State Department being downright fraudulent?
  • Keystone supporters hit back at Pelosi's export criticism
  • Keystone XL pipeline not a climate change cure
  • Obama's opportunity to get serious on climate change
  • Pelosi questions Keystone pipeline value
  • Rejection of Keystone XL would hurt Canada-U.S. ties
  • US Senators push for Keystone XL approval

Big Oil attempts to end-run Keystone XL

The oil industry is planning an end-run around the President and State Department as they linger over the impending decision on whether to authorize the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline by pushing for Big Oil friendly Congressional approval of the project.

Big Oil Attempts to End-Run Keystone XL with Congressional Approval by Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams, Mar 16, 2013

Billionaire joins fight against Keystone XL

The Keystone XL pipeline faces a new, formidable and deep-pocketed foe: Tom Steyer, a California billionaire, has targeted the controversial Canadian project to funnel Alberta’s landlocked heavy crude to Texas refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Billionaire joins fight against Keystone XL by Paul Koring, The Globe and Mail, Mar 19, 3013

Canada's Plan to Get Rich by Trashing the Climate

Like every other country in the world, Canada has promised to help keep global warming to less than 2 degrees C. However Canada's political and corporate leadership are committed to turning the country into a fossil-fuelled “energy superpower.” With a drug lord's just-providing-a-service hypocrisy Canada has openly declared it's future is tied to the profits from dumping hundreds of millions of tonnes of climate-heating carbon into the atmosphere every year.

Blame Canada Part 2: Canada's Plan to Get Rich by Trashing the Climate by Stpehen Leahy, DeSmog Canada, Mar 14, 2013

Furor over Keystone XL pipeline

Despite climate sweet talk from Alberta now, Keystone is a saga of missed opportunity and diplomatic failure, experts say.

Furor Over Keystone Pipeline Caught U.S. and Canada Flat-Footed on Climate Change by John Cushman, Inside Climate News, Mar 20, 2013

German scientists quit oilsands project

Pressure over environmental concerns has forced Germany's largest scientific  organization to pull out of joint research with Alberta on better ways to  upgrade oilsands bitumen.

German scientists with the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative will no longer work  on such projects, Bernd Schneider, lead scientific co-ordinator for the  Helmholtz Association, said Tuesday.

German scientists quit oilsands project over climate concerns by Bob Weber, The Canadian Press/CTV, Mar 19, 2013                        

Greenwashing the Tar Sands

This is Part One of a three-part series on the political greenwashing of the tar sands in Canada.

A Short History of Greenwashing the Tar Sands, Part 1 by Jeff Gailus, DeSmog Canada, Mar 19, 2013

Is the US State Department being downright fraudulent?

At least one of the several oil-friendly corporate authors was apparently paid by Trans-Canada, the corporate applicant for -- and the owner of -- the Keystone pipeline. And that's not all.

Is the State Department Being Downright Fraudulent in Assessing the Risks of the Keystone XL Pipeline? by William Boardman, Alternet, Mar 18, 2013

Keystone supporters hit back at Pelosi's export criticism

The energy industry is lashing out at a senior U.S. Democrat who suggested that oil flowing through the Keystone XL pipeline is destined for export, a criticism that strikes at the heart of the rationale for the controversial project.

Keystone supporters hit back at Pelosi's export criticism by Nathan VanderKlippe, The Globe and Mail, Mar 15, 2013

Keystone XL pipeline not a climate change cure

Barack Obama has seen protesters from his motorcade for years: McCain and Romney  campaign supporters, health  care reform opponents and all manner of Tea Party acolytes. But when he left  Argonne National Laboratory in a cold rain outside Chicago on Friday, there was  another breed altogether: environmentalists bearing bright hand-painted signs  with messages like, “No XL Pipeline.”

White House: Keystone XL Pipeline Not A Climate Change Cure by Michael Scherer, Time, Mar 16, 2013

Obama's opportunity to get serious on climate change

On Presidents' Day weekend, I was among the 35,000 who attended the Forward On Climate rally in Washington, D.C. to urge President Obama to make good on the promise in his second inaugural address to "respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations." The rally took aim specifically at Keystone XL, the hotly contested 1,700 mile pipeline project that would carry tar sands oil from northern Alberta, Canada all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Reject Keystone XL: Obama's Opportunity to Get Serious on Climate Change by Joel Wolfram, The Huffington Post, Mar 19, 2013

Pelosi questions Keystone pipeline value

A day after President Obama indicated that there will soon be a decision on the  Keystone XL pipeline, the top House Democrat questioned the value of the  controversial project.

Pelosi questions Keystone pipeline value by Mike Lillis, The Hill, Mar 14, 2013

Rejection of Keystone XL would hurt Canada-U.S. ties

Alberta’s premier says a U.S. rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal would undermine the Canada-U.S. relationship.

Rejection of Keystone XL would hurt Canada-U.S. ties: Redford by Stepaniew Levitz, Canadian Press, Fianancial Post, Mar 13, 2013

US Senators push for Keystone XL approval

These Senators are clearly looking at oil industry bottom lines in order to protect their campaign contributions, when they should be looking at what’s in the best interests of the public.

Senators Cashing in on Oil Money Push for Keystone XL Approval With New Bill by David Turnbull, Alternet, Mar 19, 2013

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Comments 1 to 11:

  1. How can I even respond to all this without knowing that my comments will be deleted?

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Do as bill advises below: consult the Comments Policy, take it to heart and always compose your comments to comply with it. You will then have no issues with moderation, as similarly do the vast majority of participants in this venue.
  2. Gee, let's see now, you don't know if your comments will be deleted, and this concerns you? (In fact you appear to be reluctant to make any unless you can be reasonably certain they will be deleted! Could this be what's known as a Freudian error? ;-) )

    Here's a suggestion; try reading the comments policy (handy link above), comprehending it, and then making them! See what happens!

    (If you reverse-engineer it enough you might even achieve your apparent goal! But I'm being facetious, of course; you wouldn't want to do that...)

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  3. John Hartz, your choice of linked-to articles show an extremely heavy left-wing liberal bias.  Are you posting articles that you personally like (and that is ok), or are you posting articles that advance the science?

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  4. Terranova@3,

    Please provide a proof to your point that John shows "extremely heavy left-wing liberal bias". If I was you, I would not pronounce such heavy weighed opinion without any proof (in this case an alternative choice of articles that acurately analyse KXL from an oposing, say right-wing, conservative point of view) otherwise, I could just be accused of sloganeering.

    Accordingly, I am interested in analysing any reputable article that you are going to cite, or I'm going to ignore the sloganeering.

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  5. Terranova - Please remember: Reality has a well known liberal bias

    On a more serious note, current American politics seems to involve the Republican party denying the scientific basis of reality, in favor of emotional/ideological constructs. It's a very sad state of affairs - the Republicans used to be the party concerned about the environment, but are now the party of social issues over facts...

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  6. What could I say that could be deleted? My comment to the effect that skepticalscience should not be saying that the U. S. State Department is being fraudulent.

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    Moderator Response: [JH] The contents of the articles linked to in the OP stand or fall on their own merits. SkS provides these links as a service to its readers. Readers are encouraged to provide links to other articles about the Alberta Tar Sands and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project in this comment thread.
  7. My opinion used to be that this site was politically dispassionate and concerned itself only with scientific facts. But I've had to revise that, because whenever energy is discussed there is an exclusive and overweening concentration on renewables. It surely hasn't escaped the attention of the people who edit this site that it's highly controversial as to whether renewables can provide more than a minor contribution to the AGW problem. This was pointed out most prominently in the UK by MacKay of course, but he's by far from the only
    qualified person arguing this (another tip: Scottish Engineers).

    Renewables as the panacea betrays a political agenda, which, it seems, is more important to the authors of this site than global warming.

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    Moderator Response: [JH] As stated in the SkS Comments Policy, we have a zero tolerance approach to trolling and sloganeering. Please cease and desist from doing either.
  8. sotolith7 - I've never seen this site as politically dispassionate, quite the reverse. How can they not be when the forces against them seem not to  be scientifically motivated.

    The choices we make in the energy mix are political given the levels of subsidy and levels each type faces but stating that this site sees "renewables as the panacea" is laughable. 

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  9. Sotolith, I'd say that a remark such as "it's highly controversial as to whether renewables can provide more than a minor contribution to the AGW problem"  is at least suggestive of a bias in itself, let alone for the moment being contradicted by facts.

    A case can be made that many people are deeply conflicted over technological choices we need to make in order to confront the subsitution problem required to deal with global warming. This dissonance might express itself as antipathy to a particular technology due to perceived ideological associations, which I think is often the case w/"renewable" (fusion-powered) energy capture/liberation systems, or it might be expressed by unreasoning fear of more judicious and scrupulous application of technologies with a somewhat dubious history of failure statistics. 

    Pragmatism expresses itself best in such cases as China, where even as the country moves to consolidate and improve coal generation systems, plans for nuclear generators go ahead and simultaneously the WE of well over10 fission plants has been already installed in the form of "renewable" (fusion-powered) domestic hot water augmentation. Parenthetically, it is in the latter case that your supposition of the scant potential contribution of "renewable" (fusion-powered) energy capture/liberation schemes fails to comport with facts. 

    Compartmentalizing distaste for so-called "enviromentalists" and separating actual risk and hazard from visceral fear will be very helpful in performing clear-eyed assessments of technological choices. In at least some cases doing so makes the matter of choice much easier; paralysis over unjustified and often irrelevant abstractions is not helpful to improving our situation.

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  10. sotolith7 - Having read MacKays book, I would have to agree with him - on the point that the UK cannot generate enough renewable power within the confines of the UK to replace all of their energy use. Not enough area, too far north WRT solar, etc. Note that he does not argue this on a world-wide basis, however. 

    Of course, even now the UK is an energy importer according to the World Bank, importing between 20-30% of its energy over the last few years. If they were to import that as electricity sourced in, say, North Africa, rather than oil from the MidEast, I really don't see that as a barrier. 

    If you wish to discuss such matters further, I would suggest taking it to whichever thread on renewables you feel is most appropriate. Most readers follow the recent Comments page, and will see such a post on whatever thread it is made.

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  11. sotolith7

    It is pretty hard to see how we can fight global warming without using renewables. Given that hydroelectic is also a renewable, the main alternative to both fossil fuels and renewables is nuclear power, which I personally strongly support. but is itself very controversial.

    My issue with the anti-Keystone movement is not about whether we should be using hydrocarbons or renewables. Few people expect us to convert to renewable power tomorrow. A lot of scientists are promoting an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which really means an 80% reduction of fossil fuel use. The issue is whether the remaining 20% of fossil fuels in North America should come from overseas or from North American sources. Flaring over OPEC countries or potential "Exxon Valdez'" will not save the polar bear. And whether or not the remaining 20% of hydrocarbon consumption in 2050 leaves room for Keystone and the Alberta oil sands should be for the market to decide. Unless you are an investor, worse things could happen than for Keystone to be built, but not used because of everybody driving an electric car.

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