The Dirt ~ April 16, 2013

By Der T. Tarsands

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“It’s crazy. It helps Canada, but it does nothing for the United States. I don’t see why I need to be a mule for Canada to pump its tarsands oil through my ground and through my water. We don’t want to take that chance – not for a product that’s not U.S.”

~ Nebraska farmer Jim Tarnick

FEATURE DIRT

Going for one million “No to Keystone XL” comments

As Exxon admits that its Pegasus Pipelinespilled at least half a million gallons of tar sands crude, more than three times larger than its initial estimates, into the streets and waterways of Mayflower, Arkansas, a diverse coalition environmentalists, ranchers, landowners, Native Americans and politicians are getting ready to prevent TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline from ever committing a similar disaster in the Midwest.

The “All Risk, No Reward Coalition” launched a flurry of TV ads that, according to the press release, “will educate the  American people on the ‘All Risk and No Reward” of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and urge President  Obama  and  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to reject it.” The TV ad is saturating the airwaves in Grand Island, Nebraska in anticipation of a ThursdayState Department hearing on the Northern Route Approval Act, a bill that would remove the final decision on the fate of Keystone XL from President Obama’s hands and approving the pipeline outright.

“[Alberta Premier Alison] Redford and Canadian oil companies may benefit from the pipeline, but folks here at home will be the ones taking on all of the risk, without any reward,” said Rachel Wolf, a spokeswoman for the All Risk No Reward group, in response to Redford’s recent visit to Washington to lobby for the approval of Keystone XL.

The Nebraska hearing follows a similar affair held in Washington for the House energy committee, where Canadian climate economist Mark Jaccard testified that, despite the conclusion in the State Department’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), “The denial of Keystone XL will help to slow development of the oil sands. As a growing source of carbon emissions, slowing the expansion of oil sands is an important step.” Numerous oil industry pundits and executives have made the same claim.

Meanwhile, U.S. environmental organizations are ramping up a 10-day online campaign to deliver one million #NoKXL comments to President Obama and Secretary Kerry by Earth Day (April 22), the last day of the public comment period for the Keystone XL SEIS. More than 700,000 people have said no to KXL already, and organizers are hoping to break the one-million mark before the weekend.

According to 350.org’s website, “The Keystone XL Pipeline is dangerous, dirty, and destructive – and the latest Environmental Impact Statement was both inaccurate and incomplete. It ignores the pipeline’s significant risk for toxic spills, ignores its catastrophic impacts on our climate, and ignores the clear consensus among financial analysts and oil executives who agree Keystone XL will make the difference in tar sands development.”

Cooking the Books, a new report from Oil Change International, calculates the true carbon footprint of the Keystone XL pipeline. If approved, Keystone XL would be responsible for at least 181 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year, comparable to the tailpipe emissions from more than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal-fired power plants. Between 2015 and 2050, the pipeline alone would result in emissions of 6.34 billion metric tons of CO2e – an amount greater than the total carbon dioxide emissions of the United States in 2011.

To have your voice heard loud and clear, visit 350.org today.

CLEANING UP DIRTY OIL

Joe Oliver, Canadian Government Out of Touch with Reality

-3_9This just in: More evidence that the Canadian federal government, especially Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver, is clearly out of touch with reality.

Just three days before the United States and China, the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, signed what could be a ground-breaking agreement to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas pollution, Oliver was telling the La Presse editorial board (in French) that, “I think that people aren’t as worried as they were before about global warming of two degrees. Scientists have recently told us that our fears (on climate change) are exaggerated.”

When pressed, Oliver was not able to identify which scientists he was using as a source, La Pressereported, but his staff pointed to an article by Lawrence Solomon, a Canadian writer and infamous climate-change skeptic and denier, and the founder and executive director of Energy Probe, an environmental policy organization and fossil fuel lobbyist group.

“The minister is getting briefed by distorted media reports about climate change,” said Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaign co-ordinator for Greenpeace Canada, who also called Oliver’s views on the most serious threat humanity ever has faced “appalling” and “shocking.”

In direct contradiction to Oliver’s unverifiable claims, a statement issued by the United States and Chinasaid the signatories of the new agreement “consider that the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding climate change constitutes a compelling call to action crucial to having a global impact on climate change,” and that the “urgent need to intensify global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions… is more critical than ever…. Such action is crucial both to contain climate change and to set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world.”

Meanwhile, Oliver might want to check the results of a new poll conducted by Forum Research Inc. that indicates that Canadians overwhelming believe climate change is real (81 per cent) and, to a lesser degree, that it is caused by human activities (54 per cent). Perhaps Oliver was simply speaking to (and/or on behalf of) his base – only 60 per cent of Conservatives believe climate change is a reality, compared to 88 per cent of Liberals and 92 per cent of New Democrats. Only 55 per cent of Albertans who actually believe in climate change think it is caused by humans, compared with 44 per cent of Conservatives across Canada.

Oliver’s comments should come as no surprise. His boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has beenquoted often enough disparaging or countering the science on climate change. In 2007, a letter written by Harper in 2002 stated that anthropogenic climate change is based on “tentative and contradictory scientific evidence” that focuses on carbon dioxide, which is “essential to life.” He also referred to the Kyoto Protocol, which required that Canada make significant cuts in emissions, while countries like Russia, India and China face less of a burden, as “essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.”

It’s no wonder the Harper government pulled out of Kyoto, gutted Canada’s environmental laws, and pimps for the tar sands industry as if it were the only way to build a responsible and sustainable economy in Canada.

Oil Industry Behind Gutting of Canada’s Environmental Laws

Turns out, it wasn’t even the Harper government’s idea to gut Canada’s most important environmental legislation. It was the oil industry’s.

Recently released internal documents indicate that the strategy to put multiple changes to a series of environmental protection laws into a single piece of legislation was recommended by lobbyists for the oil and gas industry. The briefing scenario, prepared for a senior Environment Canada official attending an industry awards gala organized by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), suggested that oil and gas companies didn’t want a series of separate legislative changes, but rather an “omnibus” approach.

“CAPP did not express any opinion on what legislative process the federal government should use to implement the changes,” CAPP vice president, Janet Annesley, told Postmedia News’ Mike De Souza. According to the same article, Annesley’s comment contradicts the industry demands regarding environmental laws such as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Species At Risk Act.

“CAPP has raised issues with the ‘one-off’ reviews of specific legislation such as CEAA and SARA and would rather have a more strategic omnibus legislative approach,” said the briefing material, released through access to information legislation.

Makes you wonder who is running the show in Ottawa, Annesley and CAPP, or the politicians we elected to represent us.

STOPPING DANGEROUS PIPELINE EXPANSION

Poll: Canadians oppose pipelines the government wants to build

On April 12, just two days after a new pollindicated that Canadians oppose both the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines, Canada’s National Energy Board released 199 “potential conditions” that Enbridge would need to fulfill if it gets the green light to build its Northern Gateway Pipeline.

Although the 45-page list of conditions “does not constitute approval,” the conditions set out the terms, according to the Globe and Mail, “under which Enbridge will have to abide if it gains approval for Northern Gateway.” One would have thought, perhaps naively, that many of the items should go without saying, things that should have been included in Enbridge’s application for a permit to build Northern Gateway in the first place. Things like actually implementing Enbridge’s “voluntary” spill and tanker safety plan, and holding nearly $1 billion in liability coverage, including $100 million in “ready cash” that can be accessed within 10 business days of a large spill to pay for cleanup costs. You can see the whole list here.

What’s most troubling, perhaps, is that these same conditions were not placed on the Canadian portion of the TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which went ahead with just 22 conditions. “By the Keystone XL measure,” the Globe and Mail wrote, “the proposed Enbridge conditions are nearly an order of magnitude more numerous, and far more stringent.”

For example, the NEB asked TransCanada to simply file “a list of pipe that was received from the pipe supplier” before it began pumping oil. With Gateway, the NEB wants Enbridge to provide numerous bits of documentation, including a full engineering report on the steel it intends to use – and that report must be filed three months before the pipe is manufactured.

Hmmm. If Enbridge must meet such stringent requirements, why not TransCanada, or any company that wants to build a new pipeline or repurpose an old one?

The conditions, of course, may be moot, considering that only 32 per cent of Canadians are “in favour” of building the Northern Gateway. A majority of Albertans (55 per cent) support the project, compared with just 33 per cent of British Columbians, who would bear the brunt of the risks and the consequences from the inevitable oil spills. Just 38 per cent of Canadians support the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

If Canadians don’t want them, one wonders why Canadian politicians spend so much of their time and money trying to shove them down our throats.

Spills, spills and more spills go unreported

Oil spills, it seems, are something of an epidemic these days. While North Americans gape in horror at the disastrous consequences of the Pegasus pipeline rupture that covered Mayflower, Arkansas with a thick blanket of toxic tar sands oil, details of other spills are either reported late or not at all.

A Manitoba pipeline gushed 100,000 letres of oil for as long as a month, one of 47 so far this year in Manitoba, before it was finally reported by the media. Suncor, which leaked 350,000 litres of toxic tar sands wastewater into the Athabasca River for 10 hours last month (for the second time in two years, it turns out), also spilled 225 barrels of soybean-based diesel fuel into Burrard Inlet from its Port Moody, BC facility, but didn’t bother to tell anyone about it.

Tests indicate that the wastewater Suncor leaked from the tar sands tailings pond did not meet Alberta’s Surface Water Guidelines and did not pass Alberta’s rainbow trout acute toxicity test. According to the government, pyrene “was present at twice the chronic guideline for aquatic life.”  The acute toxicity in the rainbow trout test is “most likely” caused by the naphthenic acid concentration.

Suncor spilled toxic water for three days at the same site in 2011, but the leak wasn’t made public until the second incident took place in late March. It is unclear whether any tests were done after the 2011 spill, and Suncor was never charged or punished for the leak, which likely contravened Alberta and/or federal legislation.

The Dirt ~ April 10, 2013

By Dirty Tar Sands

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The best weekly review of tar sands and pipeline
campaign news and commentary.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“They’re highly organized, and they know exactly what they’re doing.”

~ John Kingston, writing about opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline for Platts, a leading source of information on global energy issues

FEATURE DIRT

More lessons from Arkansas tar sands spill

8625628693_e14b12a11b_nAll eyes are now on Mayflower, a quaint little suburban town in rural Arkansas surrounded by streams, lakes and wetlands. And now, tar sands crude.

On Date, Exxon’s underground Pegasus Pipeline  ruptured, spilling as much as 294,000 gallons of dirty tar sands crude in and around Mayflower. And by “in”, we mean down streets, across lawns, and into gardens, canals, storm sewers, creeks, wetlands and even into nearby Lake Conway, a popular among locals for its fishing and other recreational activities.

If Mayflower has taught us anything, it’s that pipeline spills can happen anytime, anywhere, with disastrous consequences (especially when it’s in the path of tornado). “All of us are in shock,” David Fox, the pastor of the local First Baptist Church, told Inside Climate News. “Manmade disasters are so rare in our state … you don’t think this kind of thing can happen to you.”

But there are a few more specific lessons to be mulled over by those, like President Obama, who must decide whether to allow new tar sands pipelines to be built, and like the NEB, who are deciding whether to allow old oil and gas pipelines to carry more corrosive tar sands crude, through communities across the United States and Canada.

Tar sands crude is nasty stuff

Seven years ago, Exxon reversed the flow of the pipeline and turned it into a higher-volume line carrying diluted bitumen, or dilbit, flowing under greater pressure from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Dilbit, you may be interested to know, is much more dangerous to transport by pipeline than conventional oil. Dilbit is created by diluting bitumen, a heavy tar-like substance containing numerous toxic substances, with either conventional light crude or diluent, a cocktail of natural gas liquids. In this form, it has the consistency of conventional crude and can be pumped through pipelines, but it carries additional risks. The exact composition of diluents are secret, but the mixture often includes benzene, a known human carcinogen.

The secret and not-so-secret ingredients in dilbit may mean it’s even more toxic than regular old light crude. “Without more information on the chemical characteristics of the diluent or the synthetic crude, it is difficult to determine the fate and transport of any spilled oil in the aquatic environment,” wrote the EPA in response to the U.S. State Department’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Pipeline. “For example, the chemical nature of diluent may have significant implications for response as it may negatively impact the efficacy of traditional floating oil spill response equipment or response strategies. In addition, the Draft EIS addresses oil in general and as explained earlier, it may not be appropriate to assume this bitumen crude/synthetic crude shares the same characteristics as other oils.”

Dilbit, unlike synthetic crude, also is more acidic and corrosive than conventional oil. This increases the risk of pipeline leaks, something Congress recently ordered the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to study. Studies also indicate that pipelines operating at temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit spill up to 23 times more often due to external corrosion than conventional oil pipelines. The State Department estimates the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would operate at between 130 to 150 degrees. It was corrosion that caused an Enbridge pipeline to rupture and spills not once, but twice near Marshall, Michigan.

It is also harder to clean up when, inevitably, it spills. When Enbridge’s Pipeline 6B split open in 2009 and spilled one million gallons of dilbit into the Kalamazoo River, near Marshall, Michigan, the dilbit initially floated on the water like conventional crude. But once the volatile diluents evaporated into the atmosphere, the heavy bitumen sank into the water. Because you can’t see it, it’s more difficult to remove.

“[It's] not something a lot of people have dealt with,” said an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official at the Kalamazoo River clean-up site. “When you can’t see [the oil], you don’t know where it is, so it’s very hard to clean it up.”

Old pipelines leak more than new ones

The Pegasus Pipeliold-pipe-graphic1_0ne was 65 years old when it ruptured. Older pipelines, which have undergone decades of wear and corrosion, can be more prone to leaks, and thus less safe, than new pipelines—especially pipelines carrying corrosive dilbit at higher temperatures.

According to the corrective action order issued by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the “age of the pipeline”, as well as the reversal of its flow and its location near water resources and populated areas, makes the Pegasus Pipeline “hazardous to life, property, and the environment” until “corrective measures” are taken. Even Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver blamed the spill on the pipeline’s age.

Reversing pipelines can be dangerous

When Exxon reversed the Pegasus Pipeline in 2006, it was the first time it had ever been done, a feat of engineering Exxon (ironically, in hindsight) called “historic”. According to federal rules, no permit application or safety review was required to reverse the flow of the Pegasus Pipeline.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) sees things differently now. After the spill, PHMSA issued a corrective action order that admits “a change in the direction of flow can affect the hydraulic and stress demands on the pipeline.”  (Woops. Should have thought of that before I guess.)

The Mayflower-Pegasus spill now brings into focus, perhaps for the first time, the increasingly popular industry practice of reversing and repurposing existing pipelines in order to transport booming supplies of heavy crude out of the tar sands region north of the border.

Think tar sands pipelines are safe? Think again.

All of these characteristics make transporting tar sands crude by pipeline much more dangerous than conventional crude, and is something decision makers must carefully consider when they review permits for the growing network of new and repurposed tar sands pipelines that will run through or near hundreds of communities and thousands of streams, rivers, wetlands, lakes and aquifers in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

‘Cause really, no one should have to live with the risks and consequences of tar sands oil spilling into their own backyard, local water supply or favourite fishing hole. I mean, really.

(Read more about dilbit in Inside Climate News’s Dilbit Primer, and about the enhanced risks dilbit poses to pipelines at NRDC’s website. There’s also a good article on National Geographic’s site.)

CLEANING UP DIRTY OIL

Developing the tar sands means cooking the planet

cracked-earth-texasWhen NASA climate scientist James Hansen said developing the tar sands and other unconventional sources of oil would mean “game over for the planet,” pro-tar sands politicians, industrialists and pundits came unglued, calling him everything from a whacko and fear-monger to a biased (and therefore untrustworthy) scientist.

Well, it turns out that senior members of the Canadian federal government believe, or at least have said, much the same thing. An internal memo, sent by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s deputy minister Serge Dupont and released to Postmedia’s Mike De Souza through access to information legislation, highlighted a section of a Conference Board of Canada report that said demand for fossil fuels could drop if countries attempt to prevent the planet’s atmosphere from warming by more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

De Souza points out that the two-degree threshold is a “goal set out in recent international climate change negotiations, based on scientific and economic studies, to prevent irreversible damage to the planet’s ecosystems and economy. Countries have not reached a consensus on a legally binding deal to achieve the target.”

“The Conference Board analysis hinges on global oil prices and demand rising steadily to 2035,” reads the memo, dated Oct. 26, 2012 and signed by Dupont. “If, for example, new supply sources outpace demand, or if the global energy mix changes drastically in response to global climate change initiatives, then the benefits from oilsands investments may be considerably less.”

Another way to say this is that the expansion dreams of tar sands proponents – namely, Big Oil and the Alberta and Canadian governments – relies on the failure of the global community to implement a meaningful greenhouse gas reduction strategy that quickly reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, especially dirtier hydrocarbon sources like tar sands crude.

In large part, this explains why the Alberta and Canadian governments, in cooperation with the oil industry, have been lobbying to undermine progressive climate policy, such as the European Union’s Fuel Quality Directive and similar proposals in many U.S. states.

If that’s “responsible resource development,” as federal and Alberta politicians to characterize Canada’s tar sands industry, well, we’re in deep, deep trouble.

Federal government implements Orwellian rules to limit pipeline oversight

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpgIf there’s one thing the Harper government knows it’s this: If you don’t like the rules, just change ‘em. After gutting most of Canada’s federal environmental legislation to expedite tar sands development and pipeline proposals at the behest of the oil industry, now the federal government is making it more difficult, and in some cases impossible, for members of the public to participate in the National Energy Board’s (NEB) review of Enbridge’s proposal to reverse its Line 9 pipeline through southern Ontario and Quebec. The flow of the aging pipeline is being reversed so it can carry dangerous tar sands crude to the East Coast for export to Asia.

Under the new rules, which the NEB put in place at the direction of the federal government in response to overwhelming opposition from the public during the NEB’s review of the Northern Gateway pipeline, Ontario residents who live along the 639-kilometre pipeline route and want to submit public comments about their concerns – are you ready for it – fill out a long and complex application to ask permission from the NEB, Canada’s pipeline regulator, before they can even submit a letter to the NEB on the Line 9 pipeline proposal.

That’s right. First, set aside your income tax return and spend a couple of days filling out a 10-page application, which includes enough of what the Toronto Star calls “cryptic hurdles” to stymie even the most experienced tax lawyer. Be ready, because you will be asked to describe, in detail, “your specific and detailed interest” in the Line 9 pipeline reversal project, including how you, and you alone, are “directly affected” and/or have “relevant information” to offer up. “Note,” it kindly reminds you, “that mere opposition to or support for the proposed Project will not be enough.” Oh, and don’t forget to include your resumé and some references (presumably high-ranking members of the Conservative Party would be your best bet), because not every average, run-of-the-mill citizen has the skills and experience to stick their noses in the oil industry’s business.

Then sit back, finish your taxes, and wait patiently for the paternalistic NEB, which makes it very clear that not all letters of comment will be accepted, to let you know if you’re worthy enough to participate. There’s no details on how the NEB will decide who’s in and who’s out, but that’s OK. The federal government has demonstrated quite clearly over the last year or two that it is an objective and unbiased arbiter of anything to do with the oil industry. Not.

“Since when does someone’s resume determine if they have the right to be concerned about what’s happening in their home community?” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. “Anyone who lives and works in southern Ontario could be affected by a spill and everyone is affected by climate change. The right to send a letter of comment and have it considered by public agencies is part of the basic rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy.”

The Ontario government agrees. As a result of the Orwellian attempt to limit public input, the province of Ontario has decided to step in and, on behalf of the Ontario public, seek intervener status over concerns about the pipeline, which  runs through the Greater Toronto Area. “It’s certainly a significant issue for the people who might be impacted, for the environmental concerns around the pipeline and therefore it’s a serious issue for the province,” Ontario Infrastructure and Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said at a press conference. “We want to make sure that the interests of the people who might be affected are protected, that the environment will be protected, that the interests of First Nations will be protected in the process.”

Chiarelli, a former mayor of Ottawa, urged other levels of government, particularly those municipalities through which the pipeline runs, to get involved and register as interveners if they’re worried about the potential impacts of the pipeline proposal.

This problematic new process stems from federal Bill C-38 – the omnibus budget bill last spring that gutted federal environmental laws. Enbridge’s proposal for its Line 9 pipeline could allow dangerous tar sands oil to be shipped east through an aging pipeline that crosses some of the most heavily populated parts of Ontario and Quebec. This is the first new pipeline proposal to be up for approval since Bill C-38 passed last year.

Unhappy? Visit Environmental Defence’s website and ask the Ontario and Quebec governments to hold their own environmental assessments on the project. For those who want to voice your displeasure directly to the NEB, the board has kindly “appointed an official to help navigate the process.” His name is Michael Benson, and he can be reached at michael.benson@neb-one.gc.ca.

STOPPING DIRTY PIPELINE EXPANSION

Arkansas Oil Spill Response a Keystone Cops Rerun

8621520980_e33b31e002_nIt looks like Exxon’s response to the catastrophic rupture of its Pegasus Pipeline, which leaked as much as 294,000 gallons of dirty tar sands crude into the streets, gardens, canals, storm sewers, creeks and wetlands of Mayflower, Arkansas, is turning into another Keystone Cops rerun.

We’ve seen this episode before. A scathing government investigation into the devastating July 2010 oil spill near Marshall, Michigan found Enbridge, the Calgary-based company that owned the pipeline, handled their response like the “Keystone Cops.”

The spill began after the Enbridge pipeline ruptured and spilled almost one million gallons of diluted bitumen into the Kalamazoo River, poisoning 35 miles of waterway, exposing 320 people to crude oil, and causing the most damaging onshore oil spill in US history. In its report, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said that the accident could have been avoided, and that Enbridge botched their response to the oil spill.

“When we were examining Enbridge’s poor handling to their response to this rupture you can’t help but think of the Keystone Cops,” said Deborah Hersman, the board chairperson, when the report was released.

Now, new evidence dug up by the award-winning Inside Climate News indicates that we may have another Keystone Cops episode in the making in Mayflower, Arkansas.

It’s unclear exactly what happened, but according to transcripts of 911 calls to the police, ExxonMobil, the company responsible for the accident, didn’t know the pipeline had ruptured – there was a 22-foot gash in the pipeline – until someone called to let them know there was oil running through people’s yards and down the street.

The first call, by a resident who said there was oil spilling through the neighbourhood, was made at 2:49 p.m. Contact was made with Exxon at 3:19 pm, fifteen minutes after the evacuations started. Exxon responders didn’t show up until 3:46 pm, almost an hour after the massive leak was reported.

It gets worse.

Apparently, Exxon told the federal National Response Center (NRC) that it noticed a problem at 1:15 p.m. when it spotted a drop in pressure, 90 minutes before the first 911 call reached the Faulkner County sheriff. But the transcripts show that Exxon didn’t place its first call to the NRC until 4:06 p.m., about 20 minutes after its responders arrived on the scene.

The details will eventually come out, but it looks like another case of Keystone Cops running around like chickens with their heads cut off while they try to keep us safe from the inevitable ruination that results when you try to put corrosive tar sands crude in a pipeline.

TransCanada adds another pipeline to growing tar sands network

tarsandspipelineboomapril2012InsideClimateNews_0Meanwhile, yet another pipeline company has put on the table yet another pipeline proposal to get Alberta’s dirty and dangerous – just ask the people in Marshall, Michigan and Mayflower, Arkansas – crude to the ocean so it can be shipped overseas in supertankers.

As TransCanada quakes in its boots over the less-than-certain fate of the Keystone XL pipeline, it has hatched a new plan to turn an aging natural gas pipeline in Canada into a tar sands pipeline headed east. TransCanada’s proposed Energy East Pipeline would transport tar sands crude from Alberta, through Ontario and Quebec, and as far as New Brunswick’s Irving Oil Ltd. refinery and port of Saint John.

According to the Council of Canadians’ primer on the subject, TransCanada wants to convert its Eastern Mainline pipeline, which currently transports natural gas and is operating at half capacity, into an tar sands oil pipeline that could carry eastward up to 850,000 barrels per day. Eighty per cent of the pipeline (between Saskatchewan and Quebec) already exists; it would need to be extended in the west, to connect the pipe to Hardisty, Alberta, and in the east, where it would be extended to either Montreal, Quebec City, or Saint John, NB, all port cities that can help industry get its dirty cargo to international markets.

Like the Pegasus Pipeline that doused Mayflower in crude, the Eastern Mainline Pipeline was built in the 1950s, and would carry a substance (tar sands crude) thicker than the material for which it was originally designed. According to a study by the National Petroleum Council for the U.S. Department of Energy, “pipelines operating outside of their design parameters such as those carrying commodities for which they were not initially designed, or high flow pipelines, are at the greatest risk of integrity issues in the future due to the nature of their operation.”

Like other pipeline projects, this one would create significant risk of oil spills, create few jobs, and provide little oil to Eastern Canada and do little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, because most of it will be sold to the highest bidder and sent overseas.

But it will make oil companies even richer and more powerful than they already are.

MORE DIRT IN THE NEWS

Tar Sands Blockade joins the PGA Tour

A member of the “highly organized” and extremely effective opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline pulls off an ingenious bit of subterfuge and crashes the Valero Open in San Antonio, where he reveals himself to be something other than an ordinary sign carrier.

Art for an Oil-Free Coast comes to Tar Sands capital

Raincoast’s traveling Art for an Oil-Free Coast exhibition has completed its B.C. leg and soon will head to the heart and soul of Tar Sands Country. Head to Calgary City Hall starting April 15th  to view some remarkable art about the remarkable Great Bear Rainforest, and see for yourself why this priceless coast is no place for tankers and tar sands oil.

Native Americans protest first tar sands mine on U.S. soil

Students and community members attended an Idle No More rally to protest the first tar sand project in the United States, in the desert country of southern Utah.

Grand Elder Raymond Robinson continues hunger strike

Grand Elder Raymond Robinson continues his hunger strike to protest new federal legislation in Canada that will bring about horrific damage to the environment. “First Nations are being blackmailed into signing their rights away. These changes have been implemented without any consultation… They are asking us to give up our waters our lands our resources and even our Inherent Aboriginal Treaty Rights.”

Tar sands protestors chain themselves to Canadian Consulate in Seattle

In another Tar Sands Blockade action, a group of Seattle area residents locked themselves to the doors of the Canadian Consulate and poured fake oil on the Canadian and American flags. “We used to look up to Canada as an environmental leader, but promoting extreme energy like tar sands has soiled that reputation forever.”

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Store regularly at retailers that dual coupons. This is really helpful for expensive products which only offer any substantial worth discount coupons.

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Search the web for coupons online before ordering online. Use a search engine to search for “coupon retailer name”. Any special deals will be displayed in the form of coupon codes.

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You shouldn’t buy something just because you’ve got a coupon available for it. A lot of people spend too much money when they’re using their coupons because they buy everything they have coupons for. It might be a bargain, but when you don’t use something it’s a waste of any kind of money.

Never feel embarrassed or self-conscious about using tons of coupons at the checkout line. If you are well-prepared it shouldn’t take too long before you are done checking out.

As stated above, there are many reasons to use coupons. Hopefully, you now see how great they can be. Use the information given in the article above the next time you want to help save some money. Not only can you save a lot of money, but you can also have some fun in the process.

Federal government implements Orwellian rules to limit pipeline oversight

By D. T. Sands

Thursday, April 11, 2013

If there’s one thing the Harper government knows it’s this: If you don’t like the rules, just change ‘em. After gutting most of Canada’s federal environmental legislation to expedite tar sands development and pipeline proposals at the behest of the oil industry, now the federal government is making it more difficult, and in some cases impossible, for members of the public to participate in the National Energy Board’s (NEB) review of Enbridge’s proposal to reverse its Line 9 pipeline through southern Ontario and Quebec. The flow of the aging pipeline is being reversed so it can carry dangerous tar sands crude to the East Coast for export to Asia.

Under the new rules, which the NEB put in place at the direction of the federal government in response to overwhelming opposition from the public during the NEB’s review of the Northern Gateway pipeline, Ontario residents who live along the 639-kilometre pipeline route and want to submit public comments about their concerns – are you ready for it – fill out a long and complex application to ask permissionfrom the NEB, Canada’s pipeline regulator, before they can even submit a letter to the NEB on the Line 9 pipeline proposal.

That’s right. First, set aside your income tax return and spend a couple of days filling out a 10-page application, which includes enough of what the Toronto Star calls “cryptic hurdles” to stymie even the most experienced tax lawyer. Be ready, because you will be asked to describe, in detail, “your specific and detailed interest” in the Line 9 pipeline reversal project, including how you, and you alone, are “directly affected” and/or have “relevant information” to offer up. “Note,” it kindly reminds you, “that mere opposition to or support for the proposed Project will not be enough.” Oh, and don’t forget to include your resumé and some references (presumably high-ranking members of the Conservative Party would be your best bet), because not every average, run-of-the-mill citizen has the skills and experience to stick their noses in the oil industry’s business.

Then sit back, finish your taxes, and wait patiently for the paternalistic NEB, which makes it very clear that not all letters of comment will be accepted, to let you know if you’re worthy enough to participate. There’s no details on how the NEB will decide who’s in and who’s out, but that’s OK. The federal government has demonstrated quite clearly over the last year or two that it is an objective and unbiased arbiter of anything to do with the oil industry. Not.

“Since when does someone’s resume determine if they have the right to be concerned about what’s happening in their home community?” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. “Anyone who lives and works in southern Ontario could be affected by a spill and everyone is affected by climate change. The right to send a letter of comment and have it considered by public agencies is part of the basic rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy.”

The Ontario government agrees. As a result of the Orwellian attempt to limit public input, the province of Ontario has decided to step in and, on behalf of the Ontario public, seek intervener status over concerns about the pipeline, which  runs through the Greater Toronto Area. “It’s certainly a significant issue for the people who might be impacted, for the environmental concerns around the pipeline and therefore it’s a serious issue for the province,” Ontario Infrastructure and Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said at a press conference. “We want to make sure that the interests of the people who might be affected are protected, that the environment will be protected, that the interests of First Nations will be protected in the process.”

Chiarelli, a former mayor of Ottawa, urged other levels of government, particularly those municipalities through which the pipeline runs, to get involved and register as interveners if they’re worried about the potential impacts of the pipeline proposal.

This problematic new process stems from federal Bill C-38 – the omnibus budget bill last spring that gutted federal environmental laws. Enbridge’s proposal for its Line 9 pipeline could allow dangerous tar sands oil to be shipped east through an aging pipeline that crosses some of the most heavily populated parts of Ontario and Quebec. This is the first new pipeline proposal to be up for approval since Bill C-38 passed last year.

Unhappy? Visit Environmental Defence’s website and ask the Ontario and Quebec governments to hold their own environmental assessments on the project. For those who want to voice your displeasure directly to the NEB, the board has kindly “appointed an official to help navigate the process.” His name is Michael Benson, and he can be reached at michael.benson@neb-one.gc.ca.

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More lessons from Arkansas tar sands spill

By DirtyOilSands.org

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

ark_spill

All eyes are now on Mayflower, a quaint little suburban town in rural Arkansas surrounded by streams, lakes and wetlands. And now, tar sands crude.

On March 29, Exxon’s underground Pegasus Pipeline ruptured, spilling as much as 294,000 gallons of dirty tar sands crude in and around Mayflower. And by “in”, I mean down streets, across lawns, and into gardens, canals, storm sewers, creeks, wetlands and even into nearby Lake Conway, a popular among locals for its fishing and other recreational activities.

If Mayflower has taught us anything, it’s that pipeline spills can happen anytime, anywhere, with disastrous consequences (especially when it’s in the path of tornado). “All of us are in shock,” David Fox, the pastor of the local First Baptist Church, told Inside Climate News. “Manmade disasters are so rare in our state … you don’t think this kind of thing can happen to you.”

But there are a few more specific lessons to be mulled over by those, like President Obama, who must decide whether to allow new tar sands pipelines to be built, and like the NEB, who are deciding whether to allow old oil and gas pipelines to carry more corrosive tar sands crude, through communities across the United States and Canada.

Tar sands crude is nasty stuff

Seven years ago, Exxon reversed the flow of the pipeline and turned it into a higher-volume line carrying diluted bitumen, or dilbit, flowing under greater pressure from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Dilbit, you may be interested to know, is much more dangerous to transport by pipeline than conventional oil. Dilbit is created by diluting bitumen, a heavy tar-like substance containing numerous toxic substances, with either conventional light crude or diluent, a cocktail of natural gas liquids. In this form, it has the consistency of conventional crude and can be pumped through pipelines, but it carries additional risks. The exact composition of diluents are secret, but the mixture often includes benzene, a known human carcinogen.

The secret and not-so-secret ingredients in dilbit may mean it’s even more toxic than regular old light crude. “Without more information on the chemical characteristics of the diluent or the synthetic crude, it is difficult to determine the fate and transport of any spilled oil in the aquatic environment,” wrote the EPA in response to the U.S. State Department’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Pipeline. “For example, the chemical nature of dilutent may have significant implications for response as it may negatively impact the efficacy of traditional floating oil spill response equipment or response strategies. In addition, the Draft EIS addresses oil in general and as explained earlier, it may not be appropriate to assume this bitumen crude/synthetic crude shares the same characteristics as other oils.”

Dilbit, unlike synthetic crude, also is more acidic and corrosive than conventional oil. This increases the risk of pipeline leaks, something Congress recently ordered the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to study. Studies also indicate that pipelines operating at temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit spill up to 23 times more often due to external corrosion than conventional oil pipelines. The State Department estimates the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would operate at between 130 to 150 degrees. It was corrosion that caused an Enbridge pipeline to rupture and spills not once, but twice near Marshall, Michigan.

It is also harder to clean up when, inevitably, it spills. When Enbridge’s Pipeline 6B split open in 2009 and spilled one million gallons of dilbit into the Kalamazoo River, near Marshall, Michigan, the dilbit initially floated on the water like conventional crude. But once the volatile diluents evaporated into the atmosphere, the heavy bitumen sank into the water. Because you can’t see it, it’s more difficult to remove.

“[It's] not something a lot of people have dealt with,” said an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official at the Kalamazoo River clean-up site. “When you can’t see [the oil], you don’t know where it is, so it’s very hard to clean it up.”

Old pipelines leak more than new ones

The Pegasus Pipeline was 65 years old when it ruptured. Older pipelines, which have undergone decades of wear and corrosion, can be more prone to leaks, and thus less safe, than new pipelines—especially pipelines carrying corrosive dilbit at higher temperatures.

According to the corrective action order issued by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the “age of the pipeline”, as well as the reversal of its flow and its location near water resources and populated areas, makes the Pegasus Pipeline “hazardous to life, property, and the environment” until “corrective measures” are taken. Even Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver blamed the spill on the pipeline’s age.

Reversing pipelines can be dangerous

When Exxon reversed the Pegasus Pipeline in 2006, it was the first time it had ever been done, a feat of engineering Exxon (ironically, in hindsight) called “historic”. According to federal rules, no permit application or safety review was required to reverse the flow of the Pegasus Pipeline.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) sees things differently now. After the spill, PHMSA issued a corrective action order that admits “a change in the direction of flow can affect the hydraulic and stress demands on the pipeline.”  (Woops. Should have thought of that before I guess.)

The Mayflower-Pegasus spill now brings into focus, perhaps for the first time, the increasingly popular industry practice of reversing and repurposing existing pipelines in order to transport booming supplies of heavy crude out of the tar sands region north of the border.

Think tar sands pipelines are safe? Think again.

All of these characteristics make transporting tar sands crude by pipeline much more dangerous than conventional crude. Just ask the people in Mayflower, Arkansas. This is something decisionmakers must carefully consider when they review permits for the growing network of new and repurposed tar sands pipelines that will run through, over or near hundreds of communities and thousands of streams, rivers, wetlands, lakes and aquifers in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

‘Cause really, no one should have to live with the risks and consequences of tar sands oil spilling into their own backyard, local water supply or favourite fishing hole. I mean, really.

(Read more about dilbit in Inside Climate News’s Dilbit Primer, and about the enhanced risks dilbit poses to pipelines at NRDC’s website.)

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“Like” an organization on Fb for further beneficial coupons or delivers. “Liking” a product on Facebook or twitter provides you entitled to specific bargains and vouchers produced specially for “friends”. Firms sometimes prize dedicated followers, so be one of these.

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Do not chuck aged discount coupons that happen to be expired. You could possibly happily discover the store will happily take expired vouchers.

 

Don’t clip discount coupons to get stuff you don’t need to have. Don’t purchase something merely because it is cheaper should you be less likely to truly apply it. A lot of people physique they reduce costs just due to the fact that utilizing coupons. Nonetheless, if you’re buying a product or service you won’t be using, you happen to be just throwing away funds.

You ought to be careful if you’d want to take advantage price savings. Try clipping your entire day just before bed for quite a while or you may practice it while in lunch or dinner. Job about your routine.

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Talk with your friends and relations as an alternative to spending money on papers. Check with anybody who does not use their Saturday voucher inserts to save them for you to use. This will help you to get cost-free coupons. You can also say thanks to these with cost-free items like cupcakes and a lot more from time to time also.

Try and get as numerous duplicates of every readily available coupon. When a specific thing proceeds purchase, use the quantity of coupon codes you will need to go on and purchase in big amounts. As an example, if you’ve got a number of vouchers for peanut butter that’s on sale, purchase a number of jars. This may ensure you from paying out complete selling price in the foreseeable future when you need peanut butter.

There is not any doubt the usefulness of discount coupons in keeping home investing fees down. You can save lots of money on the meals and home bills if you make investments time as well as in coupon cutting. By reviewing the policies designed in this part, you’ll get the required skills to become a professional in terms of promotion purchasing.

Alison Redford’s Half-Truth Tour

By Mike Hudema | Greenpeace Canada

Monday, April 08, 2013

Read this blog post on the originating site

Dear Premier Redford:

I think Americans and Albertan’s deserve honesty. It’s part of the reason that I wrote you this letter after your very misleading USA Today ad.

But rather than be honest about Alberta’s poor environmental record and booming emissions, judging by your press release, the Alberta Government’s strategy is to continue the deception.

You know as well as I do that Alberta’s carbon tax has enough holes that you can build a tar sands industry through it. Carbon taxes are also supposed to reduce emissions and in Alberta emissions are set only to grow. You know the facts but here’s a quick refresher on just how pathetic the Alberta carbon tax you tout really is.

Your press release also touts Alberta’s investment in Carbon Capture and Storage. Really Premier Redford? You know that the carbon capture programs are dropping like flies. So why are you touting a program you know has been a failure to US democratic representatives?

Be honest Premier Redford. Be honest about the fact that Alberta has the highest emissions in the country. Be honest that despite a commitment to have a world class independent monitoring system years later it’s still not in-place and not independent. Be honest that despite commitments to end toxic tailing lakes they continue to grow. Be honest about the thousands of treaty rights violations the government is being sued for because of the impacts of tar sands development.

Be honest Premier Redford, it’s really the least you could do.

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Always check your coupons.

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Barrier to public participation in upcoming pipeline hearings

By Environmental Defence & Greenpeace Canada

Friday, April 05, 2013

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Toronto, ON – New undemocratic rules are creating a barrier to public participation in upcoming National Energy Board (NEB) hearings into the proposal for Enbridge’s Line 9 oil pipeline. For the first time, members of the public who want to send a letter with comments to the NEB about a pipeline project must first apply for permission to participate – by filling out a 10-page form that includes a request for a resume and references.

This problematic new process stems from federal Bill C-38 – the omnibus budget bill last spring that gutted federal environmental laws. Enbridge’s proposal for its Line 9 pipeline could allow dangerous tar sands oil to be shipped east through an aging pipeline that crosses some of the most heavily populated parts of Ontario and Quebec. This is the first new pipeline proposal to be up for approval since Bill C-38 passed last year.

“The new rules are undemocratic. They attempt to restrict the public’s participation in these hearings and prevent a real dialogue about the environmental impacts of the Line 9 pipeline project,” said Adam Scott of Environmental Defence. “Canadians should not have to apply for permission to have their voices heard on projects that carry serious risks to their communities.”

Under the new rules, any Ontario resident who lives along the 639-km pipeline route who wants to send in a letter about their concerns must first apply to the NEB for permission to send in a letter. As of today, the public will have just two weeks to fill out a 10-page form which asks for a resume and references.

“Since when does someone’s resume determine if they have the right to be concerned about what’s happening in their home community?” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. “Anyone who lives and works in southern Ontario could be affected by a spill and everyone is affected by climate change. The right to send a letter of comment and have it considered by public agencies is part of the basic rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy.”

Line 9 runs directly through the most populated part of the country, through backyards, under farms and next to schools. The pipeline crosses every Canadian river flowing into Lake Ontario, threatening the drinking water of millions.

The new rules for public participation include:

Members of the public must ‘apply for permission’ just to send in a letter.

Participants are limited to those who are ‘directly affected’, or have ‘relevant information’ neither of which are clearly defined.

There is only a two-week window for the public to apply to participate, after which members of the public will be excluded from the hearing process. This means that if a resident along the route finds out about the project after that window, they have no voice.

Applicants are asked to provide qualifications, such as a resume or reference letter.

The application form is 10 pages long.

The application is very difficult to find online.

The basis on which participants will be rejected or accepted is unclear.

In addition to the new barriers for public participation, Enbridge’s proposal won’t undergo an environmental assessment, also thanks to Bill C-38 which gutted environmental laws.

Last week Environmental Defence, Greenpeace Canada and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment sent a letter to Ontario Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley requesting that the Province order its own environmental assessment because the federal government is failing to do one. Only through a provincial review will the public have a chance to be consulted, and the full risks to drinking water fully understood.

Until last year, the federal government reviewed roughly 6,000 projects per year through environmental assessment. Under the new rules, this number is predicted to be less than 40.

“It’s clear that the province needs to step in to ensure a fair and open process that will protect the best interest of Ontario residents and our shared environment,” said Adam Scott of Environmental Defence.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca):  Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Naomi Carniol, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 258; (416) 570-2878 (cell) ncarniol@environmentaldefence.ca

Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada, (416) 659-0294 (cell)

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