Oil sands & naked ladies in DC - Macleans.ca

Oil sands & naked ladies in DC


Yesterday was a day of action and protest in the US for opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Canadian Embassy here was a target. (The place has been busy. Last week, naked PETA protesters showed up. More on this later.)

Alberta recently Premier Ed Stelmach wrote to Hillary Clinton urging the State Dept. to approve the pipeline —  after a group of US lawmakers wrote to Clinton expressing their opposition.

The oil sands debate here, which is still in its early stages, has been very polarized: there are those who are pushing the resource and marketing it as “conflict-free oil” and those oppose it and those who portray it as an environmental menace up there with the BP spill.

But that could change. In the last few months, Alberta’s Pembina Institute has quietly set up shop here in Washington. Pembina is not here to stage protests. They criticize industry practices and government policy but they also work with industry and emphasizes best-practices. It will be useful to have their analyses of Canadian and American energy policies to add to the ongoing energy discussion — such as this paper on the American Power Act. I hope their arrival will lead to a more sophisticated discussion about the oil sands and US energy policy than we’ve heard here to date.

And now, since you read all the way to the end of this post, here are the ladies(?) of PETA:

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Oil sands & naked ladies in DC

  1. Ok, with the peta thingy. I get that they're riffing on the flag with the get-ups, but seal is out of season now and while a little flesh can add a little spice to the dish how does it relate to this cause? Are they trying to show what the sea-rats look like after they've been skinned?

    • I guess it's a bit more pleasant protesting naked in July, rather than in March.

  2. Pamela Anderson has really let herself go.

    • Is the one in the middle Brigitte Bardot?

      • I think Brigitte looks more like a ''Bob'' ..look really close…..

  3. PETA: "We've had it with this seal hunting thing – we're going to pose nude until you stop."

    I dunno. Does anyone else see a flaw in this tactic? Or is it just me?

    • I see a lot of flaws in this tactic. Especially on the lady in the middle.

      • I was thinking the lady in the middle is the one for whom this tactic might actually make sense.

  4. To get serioius, the cafuffle over the oils sands is partly nonsense.. (and the zillions of seals) Let's try a little test: 1. Hands up, how many have actually seen the oils sands projects, Takes up a not very big chunk of the area – If you haven't, your entitled to take to the air and buy a ticket. If you can't do that you are then entitled to look at the trashy article in National Geographic a few weeks ago – a few hundred hectares, I would estimate.
    Test two: How many unsullied millions and millions of hectares of northern boreal forest and barrens are there in the Canadian North?

    Answer. You probably haven't a clue but it is like comparing my back yard (also unsullied) to the whole continent of North America. I don't really know the numbers but the complainers are sucking wind and blowing nonsense. Any real concern must be addressed to the question, What measures are being taken to keep the river clean. Quite a lot now.

    And yes, I have been there and most everywhere in the Canadian North, done it but don't have the T shirt. Too busy flying out sick, wounded, dying, turbercular – but damn few soppy envioronmentalists who just DON'T Know.

    • FYI…all by itself the original tailings pond at the Syncrude project measures about 2 km across and about 4 km high….that's 800 h right there, in reality just that one pond is probably closer to 1000 h.

      That still leaves the mine, the other tailings areas, the plant site itself, etc, as well as the older Suncor project and the newer projects.

      • Still a piddly amount comared to the millions of hectares unsulluied north. A tempest in a sand box.

        • Yes, in relative terms the oil sands projects don't directly impact a huge percentage of the overall land mass of Alberta. Mostly I'm just encouraging you to use more accurate facts when you make your case, whatever that may be.

          What are your thoughts on the SO2 emissions from Syncrude and Suncor, which do affect a much larger area than the actual oil sands developments themselves?

          • I thought the reality of the comparison was obvious even to scientists who ususally are satisfied between the expression "trivial" as opposed to off-scale enormity. I should have used it.

            As to Suncor, I only have figures at this moment for all of Suncor where their efforts show a reduction from 24.1 in 2004 to 14.2 in 2008, which is about 69%. The technology for SOP2 reductions has proved very effective since its use in the reduction of acid rain (sulphuric acid ) .

          • Units? 24.1 & 14.2 t/h, or kg/bbl, or other?

          • The units don't matter when it is the percentage decrease that I am highlighting. Of course, these emissions are kilotonnes in the air,
            And of course this stuff has to continuially reduced but in the order of things how are you going to power machines until your non-carbon millennia is possible? You must have an opinion, I see that you have been here 1622 times. What else do you do?

            My point is that this stuff about the tar sands is much ado about very little.

            I have a suggestion: if you can't go there yourself, quarter Northern Canada on Google Earth and get an idea of the relative size. Then consider how much SO2 is released by the tar sands as opposed to the active volcanoes at the momen. I haven't a clue but the volcanoes produc a lot. For example 11.2 % of Kilauea emissions are unattenuated Sulpfer dioxide. And Kilauea goes 24/7, I recall.

          • I asked about units because sometimes pollution figures for the oil sands are quoted on a per unit of production (intensity) basis. So what sometimes happens is that:
            – a facility expands so as to increase its production
            – as a part of that expansion they use better technology, which reduces the rate of pollution associated with the new production
            – no changes are made to the pollution controls associated with the existing production
            – so there is a net increase in pollution, but the overall rate per unit of production does indeed drop.
            And you knew all of that already, I'm sure. I'm just trying to figure out if the numbers you provided are total emissions numbers or intensity number; both matter.

            And to clarify, I'm in favour of reducing pollution intensity. It's just that intensity values don't tell the whole story. If the numbers you quoted are actually annual (or daily or whatever) totals, then kudos to Suncor.

            I've actually only commented 1522 (well now 1523) times, not 1622. If you peruse those comments you'll find that in the not too distant past I suggested that the oil sands producers should get together and contract with Bruce Power (or equivalent) to build a nuke (or nukes) that would provide all of the electricity, steam and hydrogen that is consumed in the production process. I suggested that in order to greatly reduce the CO2 emissions, but it should also greatly reduce SO2 emissions.

            I have Googled Ft McMurray, and I have also flown over the sites several times.

            Yes, natural emissions for many pollutants can often be large values. But that doesn't mean that smaller man-made emissions don't or can't have effects, especially if you take all of the individual (small) man-made sources and look at their cumulative effects. To close, I'm only concerned that we might do ourselves a serious harm by simply looking at what we do to our environment and then quickly rationalize it away as nothing to worry about because the percentages of A versus B is so small.

          • Thank you for the elucidation. I agree that site should be energized by nuclear power.

            I was going to add (tongue-in-cheek) that nobody seems to have an emissions reduction plan for Kileau and like polluters!
            My figures were annual gross emmissions of SO2. I have no idea what the gross emissions of volcanoers are but the totals must be immense.

            The short term reality is that there is no economic replacement yet for mobile power – trucking, aircraft, railways. The money should be spent there on more motive research, not on clipping the wings of current economic short-term oil sources. Of course, also on carbon-sequesteration. Time to put this subject to bed, don't you think?

  5. Luiza, you're from Alberta, no?

    If you respond affirmatively, I'll describe how I know, and why your comment that "But that could change. In the last few months, Alberta's Pembina Institute has quietly set up shop here in Washington. Pembina is not here to stage protests. They criticize industry practices and government policy but they also work with industry and emphasizes best-practices." is naive.

  6. P.E.T.A = People Eating Tasty Animals

    • How did one get voted up, and the other down?

  7. I agree with Blacktop. When our population get s whole lot bigger, we will have to use some of the land being "saved".