December 2007


 And I always said size doesn’t matter…go to the site below to see all things Dan Piraro

http://www.bizarro.com

Yes it’s a classic intellectual property rip off, but I love him and he hasn’t made me quit:

superman3.jpg 

 HAPPY NEW YEAR from Community Energy Systems and Energy Tough Love!  We started this blog in August and had no idea how hard or rewarding it would be. Thanks to both viewers and commenters. You all come back now yah hear.

Whose ever heard of Black chicks…I mean I know chicks that are Black but…hmmm they are cute anyway. ahhhhhhh

 friday3.jpg

Sure wish I could make photos larger..maybe I need photoshop?

Having trouble with the blog today so what follows is jumbled and has no active links…sorry we are trying to work it..

Forward 1: We sufferred a domain “PARK” yesterday and I nearly had a heart attack

Forward 2: All is better now and I activated the link! 

BUILDING A WORLD THAT WORKS TM

http://www.hydrogencommerce.com

Welcome to the International Clearinghouse for Hydrogen Commerce “First they laugh at you, then they ignore you, then they fight with you, then you win.” — Ghandi
     Richard D. MastersHydrogen CommerceCONTACT As the end nears for the dirty Carbon Age, cheap, clean, abundant wind power – soon to be followed by cheap solar energy- is preparing to deliver a knockout blow. Next up, the coup-de-grace: unlimited hydrogen fuel from renewable energy. Goodbye nuclear. Goodbye coal. Goodbye oil and gas. Only your bought-and-paid-for by Big Energy senators and congressmen can keep you in the dark while they poison your children, steal your savings, despoil your land, wage war for crude and keep America dependent on imported fossil energy. Wake up! There is no energy crisis. Our crisis is the sacrifice of American ideals and vision for graft on both sides of the aisle.
The International Clearinghouse for Hydrogen Commerce is a defense site in the War Against Renewable Energy currently being waged by Nuclear Power, Big Oil, Coal, Big Agriculture and a sickening majority of our elected officials who traitorously sell influence to foreign nations and corporations. Mankind’s future depends on America’s energy choices. Let’s clean house and abandon the phony solutions that led to war, environmental ruin, poverty, hunger, hatred and disease. We must lead. We must set the example and Build A World That Works!

“There are seven sins in the world: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice and Politics without principle.” — Ghandi

Has George pissed off Arnie yet?
EPA Denies California Waiver to Regulate Vehicle Global Warming Pollution
Statement by Michelle Robinson
Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists Clean Vehicles Program
UCS December 19, 2007

     WASHINGTON (December 19, 2007) – The same day the president signed a ground-breaking fuel economy bill, his administration reversed course and denied California a waiver to regulate global warming pollution from vehicles, the first time in the history of the Clean Air Act that the federal government has denied the state a waiver.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied the waiver despite clear guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court that miles-per-gallon standards and the global warming pollution standards required under the Clean Air Act are “wholly independent.” A recent Fresno, California, federal district court ruling added that “it would be the very definition of folly” to prevent the implementation of vehicle global warming emissions standards.

      Likewise, the EPA denied the waiver despite the fact that the Bush administration has touted the California standards as evidence that the United States is meeting its international commitments on climate change. While California and the 12 other states that have adopted California’s tailpipe standard will pursue legal avenues to overturn the denial, the announcement today could delay the implementation of the standards, undermining potential benefits.
The goals of a fuel economy standard and a vehicle global warming emissions limit are different. The Department of Transportation (DOT) sets fuel economy standards to reduce oil use. The DOT is not an environmental agency. The EPA regulates motor vehicle global warming emissions limits according to Clean Air Act requirements to protect public health. Under the Clean Air Act, California has the right to set higher standards for pollution reduction from automobiles, and recent court cases clarify that states have the authority and obligation to regulate vehicle global warming pollution. The Bush administration is illegally preventing California from exercising its right, under the Clean Air Act, to set pollution standards for automobiles.
     

        The following is a statement by Clean Vehicles Program Director Michelle Robinson:
“In the eleventh hour of this presidency, the administration is still doing what it can to throw roadblocks in the way of progress in combating global warming. California has the legal right to set stringent pollution standards and has historically led the way for the rest of the country. But the EPA is blocking California and a dozen other states from protecting their residents. Administrator Johnson has sadly chosen politics over his responsibility to protect public health and the environment.”

And even the WALL STREET JOURNAL AGREES with me. I am not going to reprint the whole article here because it is 5 pages long but the synopsis is that Bush has had a new “fuel” source per year since he announced that the USA is addicted to oil. 2 years ago Hydrogen was gonna be our savior. Now its switchgrass ethanol. Fact is it takes the political WILL to implement new clean energy advances and political will is something the Bush administration has but not GOODWILL.

http://www.iogen.ca/news_events/iogen_news/2006_02_02_addiction_treatment.pdf

 

The Wall Street Journal

 

Addiction Treatment

Bush’s Latest Energy Solution,

Like its Forebears, Faces Hurdles

Fuel from ‘Cellulosic Ethanol’ Is Costly, Hard to Dispense;

Broad Political Support, Enthusiasm From Detroit

By JOHN J. FIALKA and JEFFREY BALL

Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

February 2, 2006; Page A1

With oil prices stuck at more than $60 a barrel, President Bush is touting “cellulosic ethanol” as a 21st-century

panacea for the U.S.’s addiction to oil. In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Mr. Bush said energy made from

“wood chips, stalks or switch grass” could be available at gas pumps in six years and could supply nearly a third of

the fuel needed to keep Americans on the road.

The plan is the latest in a long line of promises from Washington to back new forms of alternative energy, going

back to President Carter’s promotion of synthetic fuels. It offers some intriguing new technology and the possibility

of widespread support from environmentalists, farmers and auto makers.

Like earlier promises, most of which failed, Mr. Bush’s surprise promotion of cellulosic ethanol also faces huge

hurdles. For one, the budget-constrained White House is offering little money to back up its rhetoric: just $150

million next year, hardly enough to revolutionize a multibillion dollar energy market.

The fuel also faces distribution problems and a lack of properly equipped vehicles. And an unpopular gas tax might

well be needed to make ethanol a competitively priced product at the pump.

The proposal marks a switch in emphasis for a politically weakened president. The administration previously has

said the route to energy independence lay in encouraging domestic oil and gas drilling, including opening the Arctic

National Wildlife Refuge. Such proposals, which have repeatedly died in

Congress amid bitter political wrangles, were notably absent in this year’s

speech.

By contrast, cellulosic ethanol can draw support from a surprisingly diverse

political coalition. Scientists, investors and policy makers say it is increasingly

viable to make fuel from farm waste, also known as “biomass.” For one, it is

cheaper than corn-based ethanol, the fuel that has been a heavily subsidized

favorite in Washington. Private-sector investors — from Virgin mogul Richard

Branson to Canada’s Iogen Corp. — are putting money into the concept in hopes

of seeing an ethanol boom in the U.S. similar to one in Brazil.

Environmentalists like the idea because burning the fuel doesn’t pollute as much

as conventional gasoline. Defense hawks, notably Reagan Secretary of State

George P. Shultz and Clinton Central Intelligence Agency Director James

Woolsey, promote it as a way to boost national security. Struggling U.S. auto

companies like it because they have a competitive advantage over the Japanese

on so-called flexible-fuel vehicles that can switch between gasoline and

alternatives.

And because the fuel can be made from a wide range of agricultural products, it draws backing from a

geographically diverse range of politicians, from New York Republican Gov. George Pataki to a bipartisan group

of elected officials in California. The fuel is even popular in farm states such as Iowa that tout conventional cornbased

ethanol, since it can make heavy use of corn stalks.

Many experts say conservation or a gas tax is the best way to dent import demand. Mr. Bush has rejected these

approaches as conflicting with his free-market bent and has preferred throughout his term to focus on new drilling

and new technologies. The White House estimates the president has provided $10 billion in spending on new

energy technologies since taking office in 2001.

Beyond ethanol, Mr. Bush’s new “Advanced Energy Initiative” includes spending for research on hydrogen cars and

hybrid-car batteries that can be recharged overnight, as well as money for solar and wind energy. His grand goal, as

he stated in his national address, is “to replace more than 75% of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.”  

 

Significant Departure

That would mark a significant departure from the future the government now predicts.

OH I am sorry…not a lie, its a significant departure…I will have to remember that, … a significant departure..

Merry Christmas!

 

 

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/10/miniwind_turbin.php

 

        

New Wind Turbine Harnesses Aerodynamics of Buildings

by Justin Thomas, Virginia on 10. 2.06

Science & Technology (alternative energy)
email this article

architectural_wind.jpg

A company called Aero Vironoment, has unveiled a compact wind turbine that sits on the parapets of a building rather than the roof. It catches the wind as it travels up the side of a building, which, in some cases, results in a 30% increase in energy production. The “Architectural Wind” turbine is 6.5 feet tall, and weighs 60 pounds. It requires only a 7 mph (3.1 m/s) breeze to start up, and produces roughly 55kWh per month per unit. There are two available optional extras for the turbine: a canopy, and an “avian protection” option, which is designed to keep birds out of the turbine. it was recently displayed at Green Pavilion of Wired’s Nextfest. :: Via: EcoGeek

Merry Christmas and a Wind Powered New Year!

You thought with the weighty Bali Summit on my plate that I would forget about the funny and light hearted tradition started by Susan Kay and my friend and respected scientist John Martin’s blog about all things Denver and recently Native Americans (yes he is part Illiniwick if anyone asks). See Links list for more info.

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I know its small but it is a crow apparently picking a ewe’s nose. I guess if you can’t pick your own…nature prompts you to pick some else’s…now thats eeeeeewwwwwwe.

The reporting about the Climate Change Summit in Bali was atrocious. That is why I held off writing anything about it until the dust had started to settle. I hate “horse race” style reporting where there is “almost an agreement”, then a suprise compromise, then a new wrinkle, finally an extended meeting that leads to A BREAK THROUGH! I do not mean to poopoo the accomplishments of either Kyoto (I lobbied for it) or even Bali, but it was clear that all the Bush administration wanted was to push the whole thing off until the next administration. He accomplished that, signed the Energy Bill and then turned around and used the bill to block California’s attempt to crack down on tailpipe toxins. And he did it with that gotcha smile of his. He knows that California will win its suit to do just that, because of the waivers they have gotten in the past and because the SUPREME COURT has always said they can. Again that will be on someone else’s watch…what a prick!

http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php

As you can see, all the fuss was about 5 pages of text.

Advance unedited version

Decision -/CP.13

Bali Action Plan

The Conference of the Parties,

Resolving to urgently enhance implementation of the Convention in order to achieve its

ultimate objective in full accordance with its principles and commitments,

Reaffirming that economic and social development and poverty eradication are global

priorities,

Responding to the findings of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental

Panel on Climate Change that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and that delay in

reducing emissions significantly constrains opportunities to achieve lower stabilization levels

and increases the risk of more severe climate change impacts,

Recognizing that deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention and emphasizing the urgency1 to address climate change as

indicated in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,

1. Decides to launch a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained

implementation of the Convention through long-term cooperative action, now, up to and beyond 2012, in

order to reach an agreed outcome and adopt a decision at its fifteenth session, by addressing, inter alia:

(a) A shared vision for long-term cooperative action, including a long-term global goal for

emission reductions, to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention, in accordance

with the provisions and principles of the Convention, in particular the principle of

common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and taking into

account social and economic conditions and other relevant factors;

(b) Enhanced national/international action on mitigation of climate change, including,

inter alia, consideration of:

(i) Measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation

commitments or actions, including quantified emission limitation and reduction

objectives, by all developed country Parties, while ensuring the comparability of

efforts among them, taking into account differences in their national

circumstances;

(ii) Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the

context of sustainable development, supported and enabled by technology,

financing and capacity-building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable

manner;

(iii) Policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing

emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and

1 Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate

Change, Technical Summary, pages 39 and 90, and Chapter 13, page 776.

Advance unedited version

2

the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of

forest carbon stocks in developing countries;

(iv) Cooperative sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions, in order to enhance

implementation of Article 4, paragraph 1(c), of the Convention;

(v) Various approaches, including opportunities for using markets, to enhance the

cost-effectiveness of, and to promote, mitigation actions, bearing in mind

different circumstances of developed and developing countries;

(vi) Economic and social consequences of response measures;

(vii) Ways to strengthen the catalytic role of the Convention in encouraging

multilateral bodies, the public and private sectors and civil society, building on

synergies among activities and processes, as a means to support mitigation in a

coherent and integrated manner;

(c) Enhanced action on adaptation, including, inter alia, consideration of:

(i) International cooperation to support urgent implementation of adaptation actions,

including through vulnerability assessments, prioritization of actions, financial

needs assessments, capacity-building and response strategies, integration of

adaptation actions into sectoral and national planning, specific projects and

programmes, means to incentivize the implementation of adaptation actions, and

other ways to enable climate-resilient development and reduce vulnerability of all

Parties, taking into account the urgent and immediate needs of developing

countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change,

especially the least developed countries and small island developing States, and

further taking into account the needs of countries in Africa affected by drought,

desertification and floods;

(ii) Risk management and risk reduction strategies, including risk sharing and

transfer mechanisms such as insurance;

(iii) Disaster reduction strategies and means to address loss and damage associated

with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly

vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change;

(iv) Economic diversification to build resilience;

(v) Ways to strengthen the catalytic role of the Convention in encouraging

multilateral bodies, the public and private sectors and civil society, building on

synergies among activities and processes, as a means to support adaptation in a

coherent and integrated manner;

(d) Enhanced action on technology development and transfer to support action on mitigation

and adaptation, including, inter alia, consideration of:

(i) Effective mechanisms and enhanced means for the removal of obstacles to, and

provision of financial and other incentives for, scaling up of the development and

transfer of technology to developing country Parties in order to promote access to

affordable environmentally sound technologies;

(ii) Ways to accelerate deployment, diffusion and transfer of affordable

environmentally sound technologies;

Advance unedited version

3

(iii) Cooperation on research and development of current, new and innovative

technology, including win-win solutions;

(iv) The effectiveness of mechanisms and tools for technology cooperation in specific

sectors;

(e) Enhanced action on the provision of financial resources and investment to support action

on mitigation and adaptation and technology cooperation, including, inter alia,

consideration of:

(i) Improved access to adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources and

financial and technical support, and the provision of new and additional

resources, including official and concessional funding for developing country

Parties;

(ii) Positive incentives for developing country Parties for the enhanced

implementation of national mitigation strategies and adaptation action;

(iii) Innovative means of funding to assist developing country Parties that are

particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change in meeting the

cost of adaptation;

(iv) Means to incentivize the implementation of adaptation actions on the basis of

sustainable development policies;

(v) Mobilization of public- and private-sector funding and investment, including

facilitation of carbon-friendly investment choices;

(vi) Financial and technical support for capacity-building in the assessment of the

costs of adaptation in developing countries, in particular the most vulnerable

ones, to aid in determining their financial needs;

2. Decides that the process shall be conducted under a subsidiary body under the

Convention, hereby established and known as the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative

Action under the Convention, that shall complete its work in 2009 and present the outcome of its work to

the Conference of the Parties for adoption at its fifteenth session;

3. Agrees that the process shall begin without delay, that the sessions of the group will be

scheduled as often as is feasible and necessary to complete the work of the group, where possible in

conjunction with sessions of other bodies established under the Convention, and that its sessions may be

complemented by workshops and other activities, as required;

4. Decides that the first session of the group shall be held as soon as is feasible and not later

than April 2008;

5. Decides that the Chair and Vice-Chair of the group, with one being from a Party included

in Annex I to the Convention (Annex I Party) and the other being from a Party not included in Annex I to

the Convention (non-Annex I Party), shall alternate annually between an Annex I Party and a non-

Annex I Party;

6. Takes note of the proposed schedule of meetings contained in the annex; 7. Instructs the group to develop its work programme at its first session in a coherent and

integrated manner;

Advance unedited version

4

8. Invites Parties to submit to the secretariat, by 22 February 2008, their views regarding the

work programme, taking into account the elements referred to in paragraph 1 above, to be compiled by

the secretariat for consideration by the group at its first meeting;

9. Requests the group to report to the Conference of the Parties at its fourteenth session on

progress made;

10. Agrees to take stock of the progress made, at its fourteenth session, on the basis of the

report by the group;

11. Agrees that the process shall be informed by, inter alia, the best available scientific

information, experience in implementation of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, and processes

thereunder, outputs from other relevant intergovernmental processes and insights from the business and

research communities and civil society;

12. Notes that the organization of work of the group will require a significant amount of

additional resources to provide for the participation of delegates from Parties eligible to be funded and to

provide conference services and substantive support;

13. Strongly urges Parties in a position to do so, in order to facilitate the work of the group,

to provide contributions to the Trust Fund for Participation in the UNFCCC Process and the Trust Fund

for Supplementary Activities for the purposes referred to in paragraph 12 above and to provide other

forms of in kind support such as hosting a session of the group.

Advance unedited version

5

ANNEX

Indicative timetable for meetings of the Ad Hoc Working Group on

Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention in 2008

Session Dates

Session 1 March/April 2008

Session 2 June 2008, in conjunction with the twenty-eighth sessions of the subsidiary

bodies

Session 3 August/September 2008

Session 4 December 2008, in conjunction with the fourteenth session of the

Conference of the Parties

– – – – –

That is it! Yes there are 13 other COP 3 documents, 11 othe CMP documents and 1 AWG 4 documents, but the above is the heart of the agreement. It would have been nice if someone in the press would have published it and not left it up to the U.N.

While most environmentals and us that have done energy issues for along time have the perspective that the Oil, Natural Gas, and the Coal Companies are the problem. That is they want to keep burning as much as they can and that the only thing that will stop them is the severe results of Global Warming. There is another perspective that says that we are running out of those resources, in particular Oil, and that we are barely adding alternatives fast enough to offset our shortfalls in standard energy sources. Before I talk about the Bali agreements I thought I should give them their due.

http://www.peakoil.com/

 http://www.fcnp.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2255&Itemid=35

Falls ChurchNews – Press ONLINE

The Peak Oil Crisis: Issues    
Written by Tom Whipple   
Thursday, 20 December 2007

As 2007 winds down, it is good time to review some of the major issues that those of us following the peak oil story are watching closely.

Depletion vs. Production is, of course, the heart of the peak oil story. Every year production from the world’s existing oil fields declines by several million barrels a day. Every year new sources of liquid fuel, new oil fields, more natural gas liquids, ethanol etc., must be found to replace the losses and hopefully to satisfy increasing demand. For the last two years, new supplies have been roughly balancing declines so there has been little growth in world production. Some day soon depletion will get ahead of new sources of oil and other liquid fuels for such an extended period that it will be obvious to all that peak oil has arrived.

The prospects for an economic recession or worse increased markedly during the past six months. In recent weeks, oil prices have been moving up and down rather vigorously on economic news — interest rates, subprime losses, government bailouts, etc. — rather than on traditional oil market concerns such as stockpiles and geopolitical threats to production. Many believe that the recent $25 a barrel jump in oil prices was largely the result of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cuts taken in hopes of forestalling an economic setback.

Should serious economic difficulties arise from the current mortgage/liquidity problem, then a significant drop in worldwide demand for oil is likely. If a reduction in demand for oil were to continue for many months or years, then it is likely that world oil production will never grow much beyond current levels. By the time demand was restored, geologic and economic constraints on production would prevent production from ever again reaching current highs.

So much of the world’s oil production comes from around the Persian Gulf that nearly everything that happens in the region bears watching for possible impact on oil exports. The machinations of Kurds, Iraqis, Iranians, terrorists, mullahs, and numerous small states, tribes, sects and clans all could be important to the uninterrupted flow of oil to the industrialized world.

As the world’s biggest exporter and the only one that may have some spare capacity to increase production, the Saudis are worthy of special attention. Not only are there questions about the ability of the Kingdom’s oil fields to sustain or increase production over the next few years, but concerns also are arising over Riyadh’s domestic consumption of its own oil production which is increasing rapidly. Expectations that the Saudis alone will fulfill the world’s rapidly increasing demand for oil, even at $100+, will never happen.

The rapid rise in oil prices in recent years has resulted in a wave of nationalism on the part of producing countries. Contracts with international oil companies that were written back in the days of $10 or $20 dollar a barrel oil are falling by the wayside as producing nations are demanding an ever increasing share of the profits. In the past year Russia and Venezuela have essentially taken back “their oil” from the foreigners and Nigeria and Kazakhstan are on the verge of doing the same.

From a peak oil perspective, it does not matter if governments or international companies take most of the profit, but as the internationals’ role declines, so does investment and the availability of technical know-how. As oil becomes increasingly difficult to extract from non-conventional sources, partnering with ideological soul mates such as Venezuela and Belarus to help produce oil is unlikely to result in increasing production.  

With a population of 1.3 billion and an annual growth rate in excess of 11 percent, the course of China’s economy plays a key role in the peak oil story. Beijing is now a major importer of oil and products. For several years now, the Chinese have been making a major effort to secure long-term bi-lateral contracts with oil producers and have had numerous successes. It is only a matter of time before China’s demand leads to shortages in the developed world.

Given the close balance of the supply and demand for oil, the world’s importing countries are in constant threat of a sudden interruption to oil supplies. A hurricane, coup, earthquake, terrorist attack, assassination, bird flu or something we have not imagined could easily stop the steady supply of oil to the world’s fuel tanks. Although there are reserves, depending on the nature of the interruption, these could only be sufficient for a few days before serious disruptions occur. There are numerous chokepoints in the Persian Gulf where an interruption of more than a few days would cause serious grief around the world.

Nearly 40 percent or 5.3 million of the 13.6 million barrels of oil and products that the U.S. imports each day comes from Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela. We are going to have a little problem shortly because these sources of oil are going to dry up. Mexico’s biggest field is collapsing so that within ten years they will be out of the oil exporting business. For political reasons, Venezuela is doing its best to sell its oil to anybody but the U.S. and is off to a good start. If Hugo Chavez hangs in there as president for another five years the 1.4 million barrels a day we are currently getting is likely to be a lot less.

To many, Canada is America’s greatest hope to continue happy motoring for a while longer. They look longingly at those billions of barrels of “oil” trapped in the Alberta tar sands and assume that it will soon be flowing south in whatever amounts we desire. This is unlikely to happen for extracting “oil” from Alberta is turning the place into one of the greatest environmental disasters on earth. While production from the Alberta sands will likely continue for centuries, it will never reach the level to replace even a fraction of the 13 million barrels of imports the U.S. requires each day. It will not be long before the Canadian people start thinking about their grandchildren and exports will slow.

 The Northern Regions of the Earth are under attack. Not only are the normally energy conscious Canadians joining in on the act but every ship’s captain on the planet wants to drive their boats through the Northwest Passage. If the Russians recent land grab is any indication they plan on drilling for oil there as well. The folly of this is plain for everyone to see.

 http://www.energy-daily.com/reports/Canadian_Oil_Sands_Development_An_Economic_Boon_But_Leaves_A_Mess_999.html

blog-headline.jpg 

   

ENERGY TECH

Canadian Oil Sands Development An Economic Boon But Leaves A Mess

 

by Guillaume Lavallee
Fort Mcmurray (AFP) Canada, June 22, 2007
The development of Canada’s oil sands is laying waste to its great northern forest and western plains, say critics who point to skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions, diverted rivers and razed backwoods. And the devastation can only get worse, they say, as energy companies pump billions of dollars into new projects to triple local oil production to some 3.0 million barrels per day within the next decade.

The Athabasca, Peace River and Cold Lake Oil Sands, at an estimated 173 billion barrels, rank second behind Saudi Arabia in petroleum resources.

But due to high extraction costs, the deposits were long neglected except by local companies.

While conventional crude oil is pumped from the ground, oil sands must be mined and bitumen separated from the sand and water, then upgraded and refined.

Since 2000, skyrocketing crude oil prices (now at about 70 dollars a barrel) and improved extraction methods have made it more economical to exploit the sands, and lured several international oil companies to mine the sands.

 alberta-oil-sands-field-bg.jpg

 

Open pits now dot the northern part of Alberta province where vast tracts of the Boreal Forest once stood, and giant mechanical shovels now devour black oil-encrusted soil day and night.

In an article in the June 2006 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, former US presidential candidate Al Gore offered a scathing sketch of the oil sands industry as wasteful and a blight on Canada.

“For every barrel of oil they extract there, they have to use enough natural gas to heat a family’s home for four days,” Gore told the magazine.

“And they have to tear up four tonnes of landscape, all for one barrel of oil. It is truly nuts,” he said, urging Americans, who are the main buyers of Canadian oil, to break their addiction to oil.

For Canada, which has stepped back from its 1997 Kyoto Protocol commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 6.0 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, the oil sands boom is a mixed blessing.

It creates wealth and jobs, but the industry is already Canada’s worst polluter and is bound to double its harmful CO2 emissions by 2015, now at 29 megatonnes annually, according to a government environmental audit.

“It’s almost impossible for us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions if we want to boost production from 2,000 to 250,000 barrels within a decade,” said Michael Borrell, president of Total Canada, a scion of the French oil behemoth Total SA.

The government has proposed a 20 percent reduction in the “intensity” of the sector’s CO2 emissions, but total emissions would still rise as oil production billows.

The boom is also prompting fears of local water shortages and declining water quality as oil companies drain 349 million cubic meters of water from the Athabasca River each year for use in oil production, then dump it into area tailing ponds.

A report by the Sage Centre and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on global warming said Alberta would have to curtail new oil sands projects, which now use 2.0 to 4.5 barrels of water and large amounts of energy to produce one barrel of oil, if warming persists.

The WWF called for no new water-taking permits for energy companies, noting water flows in the Athabasca River, down 20 percent since 1958, could diminish by another seven to 10 percent if temperatures continue to rise.

“Climate change (is) an issue because the flow in the Athabasca River has constantly been dropping and as the glaciers (that feed the river) disappear in Jasper National Park, it’s gonna get worse,” said Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute, an environmental group.

“Those people they just don’t care about the environment,” said Terry, a young aboriginal in Fort McKay in the heart of the oil sands. “Some people fish (in the Athabasca River) for fun … but nobody should eat the fish around here.”

Higher than average cancer rates at the nearby Fort Chipewyan Indian Reserve were recently linked to oil industry contamination of the environment, said reports.

Alberta law requires oil companies to restore excavated lands, but out of some 44,000 square kilometers (17,000 square miles) leased to them since 1967, “not a single square meter (foot) of land has been reclaimed,” Dyer lamented.

  

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