Making More Noise About the Tarsands!

The HarperCons are certainly giving the regina mom a lot of opportunity to diss them.  And that would be fun! Perhaps, if we give them enough rope… I know.  It’s wishful thinking, mirroring theirs, apparently. As a poster at one of the web boards I frequent said, “It’s like the entire country is having a Stress Test.”  It does feel that way these days, for sure.  Alberta Diary blogger David Climenhaga says we shouldn’t really be surprised.

Does it really surprise anyone that’s he’s doing it now, just when he’d persuaded us he was a really fine, avuncular, sweater-wearing fellow, possibly holding a pussy cat, who said absolutely nothing about this topic during his recent election campaign?

Seriously, people, this is the neo-Con modus operandi — when the opportunity presents itself, manufacture a “crisis” and move swiftly to “resolve” it while the opposition is still silently bug-eyed with astonishment and trying to remember where the facts were filed.

trm is not surprised and so, for now, she’s going follow her western neighbour’s subtle advice and make more noise about the tarsands.

But where to start today?

Maybe this is as good a place as any. When trm first clicked onto this 30-minute video, she considered it a hoax.  Further research revealed it to be an expose of the cover-up on a spill that leaked into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  SET Environmental Inc. was subcontracted by Enbridge to clean up the mess. In the video John Bolenbaugh, a former employee of SET, documents some of the devastation he witnessed as a worker, the cover-up itself and the challenges of taking the case to the Environmental Protection Agency.  His actions as a whistleblower have resulted in him not only losing his job, but also attacks on his property, harassment by Enbridge and the police, as well as death threats.  This week he is in court suing his former employer, “seeking compensation for both past and future economic damage, emotional distress and attorney fees.” trm wishes him well.

Meanwhile, here in Canada, the Minister of Natural Resources, spews false data about the GHG emissions levels in the tarsands.  Deep Climate dissects the dirty data, noting that the numbers Minister Oliver spouts are those put forward by the climate change deniers at Ethical Oil.  trm readers will remember that a propagandist communications guru in the Prime Minister’s office is a founder of that organization. And, even though the Minister has claimed he is not a denier, he still spills denier science and misinformation when he speaks in Parliament and in public. Don’t trust his words.

trm does trust the words of Andrew Nikiforuk, however.  She attended his session at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words several years ago and was moved to tears by his presentation on the tarsands.  Nikiforuk has been steadfast in his commitment to this crisis, writing prolifically and touring extensively, to share his work.  Today, at The Tyee, he lists 11 “economic and political questions [that] have gone unasked or unanswered in the media and Parliament,” questions we should be asking our MPs. And so, trm suggests we do just that.  Go there now, copy of those questions,  and send them to your MP, the Opposition critics, Minister Oliver and the Prime Minister’s Office. And while you’re at The Tyee, take a moment to thank Andrew for his good work.

Also at The Tyee is a piece by Christopher Pollon in which he raises the question of the commercial viability of the Northern Gateway pipeline.  Though Enbridge claims otherwise, it does not appear to have provided sufficient documentation in the form of signed contracts for various things, such as long-term shipping contracts, to prove it.  This has led one of Enbridge’s competitors, Kinder Morgan, to complain

Gateway’s application creates a dangerous precedent, shifting the entire process from a race to obtain contractual support for new services, to a race to get regulatory approval for unproven “concepts” without the need to demonstrate market support.Pembina [Institute]‘s [Nathan] Lemphers concurs, stating in his report that such an approach could spur a “rush of pipeline speculators who seek regulatory approval for conceptual pipelines, effectively putting the cart before the horse and placing greater strain on both regulators and the affected public alike.”

Emma Gilchrist, at Troy Media, lays down five reasons as to why this project is not in Canada’s interest.

  1. protecting B.C. jobs
  2. Dutch Disease
  3. exports Canadian jobs
  4. Half of Canada is reliant on foreign oil
  5. What’s the hurry?

Good points, all, points it’s obvious the HarperCon government could care less about.

But, maybe not quite.  In a House of Commons committe examining the oil and gas sector, Mark Corey, Assistant Deputy Minister for the energy sector with Natural Resources Canada said more oil may flow east in the future.  Who knows?  It may turn out that this hullaballoo was created to set Canadians up for something else.  It is, as previously noted, the way the HarperCons work.

Regardless, First Nations communities are working to stop the tarsands.  The most recent call for action comes from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation(ACFN). They have concerns, explained in part by trm in previous posts.  The current concern has to do with Shell’s plans to expand projects in the tarsands.

ACFN is concerned about the proposed Shell Projects’ impacts on ACFN’s ability to exercise treaty rights in a meaningful way into the future.  The regulatory process DOES NOT meet ACFN’s need in terms of a proper assessment of impacts to rights. ACFN has no assurance that the environment and treaty rights can be protected because Alberta has done a poor job of enforcing environmental protection with the companies and  Shell has not met past commitments to ACFN. In September of 2011, ACFN  filed suit suing Shell Canada for these unmet agreement (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation serves Shell Canada with intent to Sue over tar sands projects). 

Chief Adam of ACFN stated, “We’re drawing the line, and taking a strong stand against Shell. ACFN wants no further developments until Shell is brought to justice and our broader concerns about the cumulative impacts in the region are addressed, our treaty rights respected and our rights are fully recognized within the approval process once and for all.”


ACFN calls on us to submit written comments on Shell’s revised Jackpine and Pierre River mine agreements to the Public Consultation on Revised Joint Review Panel Agreements. Instructions for doing so are on the ACFN website. Do what you can, please, to stop this racist development and potentially save some lives.

In other words, make some noise; it’s the least you can do.


Leave a comment


  1. Wow, more great material. I really like Andrew Nikiforuk, too
    I’m going to send those questions off right away.
    Something else you might be interested in are the documents at these two links

    One is the transcript and the other is the power point of a presentation given at the Prince George Joint Panel Review on January 18. It was given by an engineer who has calculated the cost of the extraction, piping and shipping of the bitumen and the shipping and piping back of the condensate. Briefly, he calculates that it will take 1 barrel of product to produce 2.41 barrels of product. To put that into perspective, he reports that when oil began to be refined in Texas in the 30’s, close to the product, for every barrel used, 100 were produced, today the average is about 15 barrels produced for every one used. Honestly, there is just no way that this project can be made to make sense, as near as I can tell.

  2. Thanks for those links, Karen. I’ll have a look at them tomorrow. My eyes are bugged out tonight!

    And my brain might be, too! So, it used to be that you’d get 100 barrels from every one extracted and it’s now about 15 for every one? And with the tarsands, it’s down to less than 2.5 for every one extracted? Do I have that correct?

    If yes, then holy frick, why?

  3. I am not surprised that your eyes and brain are bugged out. I think you have been working really hard on this.

    As for the numbers, not exactly. For every 100/15/2.41 barrels produced, that is, final product, 1 barrel of something was used: to run the extraction machines, to run the refinery that upgrades the extracted product, to run the pumps for the pipeline, to power the tankers, and the refinery that produces the end product in China.

    Holy frick, why? is still the question, though.

    Also, the transcript link I sent is the transcript for the entire evening. The first 17 pages are the beginning formalities and a presentation by a member of the Metis Nation on the history and geography of the area. I believe his presentation is ongoing, that he has spread his information over many (or possibly all) the review sessions. The part of the transcript that goes with the power point is from pages 18 to 32, and pages 32-37 are the remarks of a second engineer as to the philosophy and wisdom of the project.

  4. Mike K

     /  February 2, 2012

    A conservative government has no rhythm or rhyme
    All they can do is put fear into the elderly say they are tough on crime
    Spewing more and more lies time after time

    They have no diplomacy or empathy for others
    They lock up the voices of our sisters and brothers
    They make terrorists out of nature lovers

    From one hand they steal our hard earned money from us
    Giving with the other to their puppet masters we mistrust
    Leaving us with nothing but toxic air water and dust

    They do not care about the health of this great mother earth
    They would rather have you as slave of fear of jobs from birth
    And keep you unaware of your true worth

    Though many are aware of the evil they do
    They just seem to leave the battle up to me and you
    Waking up the ones that have no clue

  5. S Little

     /  February 3, 2012

    I posed Nikiforuk’s questions to my MP, Jim Hillyer, Lethbridge AB. Here are his responses.

    1. Why aren’t some oil sands revenues being set aside for future Canadians? Some Are

    2. Are we harming our democracy? No

    3. Are you aware of ‘Dutch Disease,’ and if so, how do we prevent it from eroding vital parts of Canada’s economy? Yes. I do not accept that our economy is too dependent on the export of natural resources, our economy is still highly service based.

    4. Have you examined the geopolitical risks of tying our fate to China as superpower? Yes. Interacting and trading with China is not the same as tying our fate to China.

    5. Are we boarding an economic roller-coaster that could crash? We cannot avoid being on an economic roller coaster. We know it has the danger of crashing – it has in the past and several countries’ economies are crashing now. We are constantly making decisions to help protect our economy from crashing.

    6. Why aren’t we taking a strategy that would directly shore up our own energy security? We are always seeking ways to do this, but we do not want to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world in so doing.

    7. Why raise fears about charities whose foreign funding is a tiny percentage of what China invests in Canada’s economy and politics? We are not raising fears, we are pointing out the fact that many so called charities are funded by foreign, radical organizations who do care about the economic well being of Canada. I am aware that China only cares about the economic well being of Canada to the extent that our economic well being can contribute to theirs.

    8. Does becoming more oil rich mean we also will become more militarized? No

    9. Have we abandoned commitments to lower carbon emissions to help prevent catastrophic climate change? No

    10. Why not refine it here, creating jobs and lowering risks? There are plans to do so, but it takes years to create the infrastructure so we also will continue to find ways to export it.

    11. Were you elected to hasten pollution and increase cancer risks for Canadians? No

  6. Obviously, the questions need to be rejigged so MP’s can’t get away with yes/no answers…. HIllyer didn’t put a lot of thought into those, did he? (Mind you, my MP would send me a PMO-approved form letter in answer after 6 months had lapsed, if past communications are any indication.)

  1. Oh, Those ‘Radicals’! « the regina mom

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