A decision on whether to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to be built in the U.S. could come at any time, but there are myriad other projects on the table designed to do exactly what Keystone XL was designed to do: transport Canadian tar-sands oil to refineries.
Those pipelines, both in the U.S. and Canada, are being designed to move the oilybitumen produced from the tar sands to refineries in Texas and eastern Canada, and to ports on the Pacific Coast where the oil could be shipped to Asia.
Combined, the pipelines would be able to carry more than 3 million barrels of oil per day, far in excess of the 800,000 barrels per day that TransCanada’s Keystone XL is designed to carry.
Canada is sitting on about 168 billion barrels of crude oil locked up in the Alberta tar sands northeast of Edmonton — a trove of carbon-heavy fossil fuels bested in size only by oil reserves in Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Today, the roughly 2 million barrels of tar-sands oil produced each day in Alberta is sent to refineries in the U.S. and Canada via rail or small pipelines, none of which are adequate to carry the 3.8 million barrels of oil per day expected to be produced in the oil sands by 2022.
With Keystone XL’s future in question, Canada has a huge economic incentive to find alternative routes to markets. The tar sands represent a windfall of revenue for Alberta, which could see $350 billion in royalties and $122 billion in total tax revenue if they are fully developed over the next 25 years, according to Alberta government statistics.
But Keystone XL famously galvanized climate activists, and the Obama administration must approve the pipeline crossing in the U.S. The tar sands are one of the most carbon-heavy kinds of oil found on Earth, and processing and burning it will help accelerate an already rapidly changing climate, scientists say. Of course, the U.S. already refines and burns tar-sands oil, but Keystone XL has become a symbol for accelerated tar-sands development to the detriment of the climate.
The U.S. Department of State, charged with the environmental review of the proposed pipeline, could decide at any time whether to green- or red-light the Keystone project. (President Obama’s recent veto of a bill requiring Keystone XL to be built did not halt the pipeline, only the effort by Congress to force the pipeline’s approval.) The pipeline has other controversies associated with it, including the possible contamination of the Ogallala Aquifer, the primary source of water across much of the Great Plains, if there is a spill. But if the Obama administration rejects Keystone, it will likely be on climate grounds.
As a way around those challenges, other pipelines are in the works. One pipeline is already operating and sending hundreds of thousands of barrels of tar-sands bitumen to Texas every day.
Experts, such as Stephen Kelly, a former U.S. diplomat and a visiting professor of public policy and Canadian studies at Duke University, say that the long-term outlook for Canadian oil-sands production is not closely linked to the fate of Keystone XL.
“Canada has ample financial incentive to find ways to get its oil to world markets, and it’s likely to find ways to build pipelines to its coast, despite opposition,” he said last year.
Keystone XL alternatives face their own set of challenges in Canada. They basically fall into three camps, said Monica Gattinger, a University of Ottawa political studies professor focusing on cross-border energy policy. Those include aboriginal opposition based on rights of First Nations peoples, principled opposition from those opposed to the climate impacts of developing the oil sands, and opposition from communities concerned about the local environmental impact of a pipeline.
Despite low oil prices today, the long-term economic outlook for the tar-sands oil and the pipelines and railways that will carry it to refineries is likely solid, Gattinger said. “To kill an individual project (like Keystone XL) and think that that’s the end of it is somewhat naive in my point of view,” she said.
These are the pipelines currently on the drawing board that will do much of what Keystone XL was designed to do:
Endbridge’s pipeline system
Tantamount to a smaller version of the Keystone XL, Canadian energy company Enbridge’s system of pipelines connecting Alberta with Texas refineries began carrying crude oil in January, sending about 400,000 barrels of Canadian oil-sands crude to the Texas Gulf Coast.
As interest in the oil sands began heating up, Enbridge began increasing the capacity of the Alberta Clipper Pipeline, one of its main oil pipelines running southeast out of Alberta. The pipeline carries tar-sands oil from the Edmonton, Alberta, area to a terminal in Superior, Wis. Enbridge also plans to replace and upgrade another pipeline called Line 3, which runs parallel to the Alberta Clipper.
Where the Alberta Clipper and Line 3 end in Wisconsin, Enbridge’s newly expanded Line 61 Pipeline picks up, carrying tar-sands oil to the company’s Flanagan Terminal south of Chicago. Line 61, which originally carried 400,000 barrels of oil per day, was upgraded to 560,000 barrels per day in 2014, and the company is currently in the process of doubling its capacity to 1.2 million barrels of oil per day.
From the Chicago area, Line 61’s oil continues another 600 miles south to a major terminal in Cushing, Okla., via the new Flanagan South Pipeline. That then connects to the new Seaway Twin pipeline, which started carrying Canadian crude oil to Freeport, Texas, in December. At full capacity, the Seaway Twin will carry 850,000 barrels of oil per day, about the same as the Keystone XL.
Another Enbridge project, the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline would take 500,000 barrels per day of tar-sands oil 731 miles in a different direction — to Kitimat, B.C., on Canada’s west coast, from Edmonton. The pipeline, at a cost of $6.5 billion, is expected to open up Asian markets for Alberta crude and is controversial for its possible environmental impact as it crosses the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Northern Gateway received government approval last year with209 environmental conditions to meet.
First Nations tribes are mounting legal fights to stop the Northern Gateway from being built, saying it violates aboriginal land rights as fears about the impacts of possible oil spills from the pipeline galvanize more opposition. The project has lost momentum in recent months because of rising opposition and costs related to meeting the environmental conditions the Canadian government imposed on the project.
Trans Mountain Pipeline
The Pacific Coast is also the destination for U.S.-based Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, which would nearly triple the 300,000-barrel-per-day capacity of the existing 710-mile pipeline stretching from near Edmonton to Vancouver. Expected to carry 890,000 barrels per day of tar-sands oil to port en route to Chinese refineries, the $5.4 billion Trans Mountain Pipeline is currently being reviewed by Canadian regulators, who are likely to decide whether to approve the project sometime next year. Kinder Morgan wants to finish construction on the project in 2017.
Like most of the other routes for tar-sands oil to get to refineries, the project could be held up by locals along the pipeline’s route who oppose the project. Most recently, residents in the Vancouver area have begun protesting Kinder Morgan’s plans to blast the pipeline through a mountain near Burnaby, B.C.
TransCanada is envisioning a $9 billion alternative to Keystone XL called Energy East that, if completed, will carry more than 1 million barrels of oil per day to Canada’s east coast. Much of the proposed 2,858-mile Energy East is already built, stretching from Saskatchewan to Quebec. TransCanada plans to extend the pipeline from near Montreal to refineries in St. John, New Brunswick, where the oil could be refined locally or loaded on tankers en route to other refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast or ports beyond.
Energy East, opposed by many environmental groups and First Nations people along its route, is slated for completion in 2018 and is under environmental and regulatory review by the Canadian government.
There are other pipelines in the works that could carry tar-sands oil to refineries. Enbridge plans to complete an expansion of a pipeline known as Line 9, that runs between Sarnia, Ontario, on Lake Huron to Montreal, giving Canada’s eastern cities greater access to Alberta’s oil.
Lastly, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice wants to build an oil pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to a port in Alaska, possibly following the McKenzie River Valley. It’s little more than talk at this point as no specific project has been proposed.
Contrary to what some may believe about me: I Am NOT "Religious".... I believe organized religion to be the scourge and the undoing of many a person.... I Am, however, Spiritual and have a very strong relationship & belief in "Creator" and our Spirit Ancestors. I believe "Mita Kuya Oyasin", that we are indeed ALL Related.... All Living Beings (Animals, Insects, Trees, Rocks....) are interconnected. What befalls us, will befall the entirety of the living Planet. I believe in the "power of thought/belief" (thank-you Louise Hay).... I believe that by living an Attitude of Gratitude, I am able to create almost any reality I choose for myself (except for those pre-ordained karmic lessons & the occasional answer of "No!"). Miracles happen every-single-day and the more you acknowledge them and say "thank-you" the more they occur.... They are a normal part of one's life. I Am Living Proof of that; The more I believe and make miracles in the lives of other living beings, the more miracles are abundant in my own life. What is happening now, is more people accept and believe the same. That means a major awakening to the true Power of Creator/Creation. I'm not saying we did not come here to suffer, or to learn lessons; because sometimes that is just a part of cleaning up our soul's past Karma..... But I Am Saying that as we change our thoughts/our core beliefs about our self, our life changes. We will not change/heal until, the Pain of Remaining the Same is GREATER than the Pain of Changing/Healing. ♥ Wicosi ni wioki ♥
CALL FOR PRAYER: We are starting a series of atmospheric tests this week/weekend that are expected to bring the chemtrail/geoengineering issue to a whole new level. Please pray for our safety, our success and that no power (from outside or inside our movement) interfere with our goals in obtaining the much needed results. While it might take a few weeks to a few months for our results to become public, I will keep you updated on our successes. www.unconventionalgrey.com www.whyintheworldaretheyspraying.com www.geoengineeringactionnetwork.org
Fracking has already caused serious damage to our public lands and precious climate. By the end of 2014, oil and gas companies had leases on over 34 million acres of public land, and over 200 million more acres are currently being targeted for drilling – even areas that surround America’s most precious National Parks and monuments.
No amount of regulation will protect us from the impacts of fracking. The only way to protect the health of our communities, the integrity of our land and the future of our planet from the risks of fracking is to ban it altogether.
We must ban fracking on our vast and cherished public lands to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the health of our communities and the planet on which we all depend.
There is no amount of regulation that can make fracking safe. Regulated fracking still results in harm to people's health, accidental spills of toxic waste, air pollution, earthquakes, drinking water contamination, habitat destruction and worsening climate change. In addition, the Government Accountability Office reports that the majority of high-risk oil and gas wells drilled between 2009 and 2012 have never been inspected. Public lands, nearby communities and our planet are paying the price.
I ask that you take strong action now to safeguard our communities, our environment and our climate for current and future generations by supporting Rep. Mark Pocan's Protect Our Public Lands Act of 2015 (HR 1902). POPLA would ban all fracking in future and modified leases on federal lands. We urge you to sponsor this measure and work to help make this landmark legislation law.
Courage Campaign CREDO Daily Kos Deluge Environmental Action Food & Water Watch Friends of the Earth Greenpeace The Other 98% People Demanding Action People For the American Way Presente.org Progressive Democrats of America
On Tuesday Sept 22 The Committee of the Whole voted 7 to 2 in favor of Township recommending that the District of Muskoka reject an offer from SREL to utilize and lands owned by the District as a requirement of private and provincially proposed Hydro Generation Station on the North Bala Falls.
This is an important step, a legitimate direction is being offered to the District from the Township Council. looking forward to the next full meeting of ML Council and we watch and see what happens at the District in response to this to this direction .
Yes a happy dance is in order...
This photo was taken on Friday meeting with everyone on the Muskoka Lakes Council. For the record Allan Edwards Gault Mctaggart Donelda Kruckel Linda Barrick-Spearn Ruth Niskikawa Sandy Currie and Phil Harding Councillor all voted in favor of the District of Muskoka being asked to protect their land and associated assets. Only Deputy Mayor Jean Ann Baranak and his Worship Don Furniss voted against protecting these lands. Well done everyone, please let them know how much we all appreciate their efforts .
Harper government organized private meetings between oil firms and Indigenous chiefs to try and gain support for oil and gas pipelines and other investments located on their lands, documents reveal
The Harper government is trying to win support for its pipelines and resource agenda by pushing First Nations to sideline their aboriginal rights in exchange for business opportunities, documents reveal.
The news that Canada’s Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs is working to this end by collaborating with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is sparking strong criticism from grassroots Indigenous people.
Funded by the federal government, the Working Group on Natural Resource Development held private meetings in Toronto and Edmonton in the fall of 2014 that were attended by several invited Chiefs and representatives from Enbridge, Syncrude and other oil corporations, as well as mining companies and business lobby groups.
In one email, a government official writes that it was “widely agreed” at the meetings that “unlocking resource development projects is squarely in the national interest,” a suggestion that will be contested by many First Nations involved in mounting protests against pipelines and other industrial projects around the country.
It was “noted repeatedly” that “we can no longer afford the investment uncertainty created by issues around Aboriginal participation,” the official writes. The transcripts of the meetings were redacted in the documents, which were obtained through access-to-information.
The documents cite $600 billion of investment that the Harper government hopes will flow in the next decade into mining, forestry, gas and oil projects. As of March 2013, 94 of 105 projects under federal review were “located on reserve, within an historic treaty area, or in a settled or unsettled claims area”.
In response to these pressures, considerations for the groups’ mandate include “reducing uncertainty and investment risk” and “advancing business-to-business partnerships rather than through a rights-based agenda.”
The federal government has been criticized for trying to minimize or ignore the land rights of First Nations, including refusing to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It has been doing extensive risk evaluations, increasingly worried that the growing power of indigenous rights could hamper its aggressive resource extraction plans.
One document suggests that “case studies have shown that separating rights-based agenda (politics) from economic development (business) is key to wealth generation in First Nations communities.”
The case studies cited from “expert bodies” include a Fraser Institute report entitled “Opportunities for First Nations Prosperity Through Oil and Gas Development.” The right-wing think tank has been heavily funded by the American Koch brothers, who are one of the largest owners, purchasers and refiners of the Alberta tar sands.
Also referenced is a report by envoy Douglas Eyford, whose appointment by Harper in late 2013 was seen as strategic shift to increasingly woo First Nations in the path of planned pipelines in British Columbia with an economic stake in resource plans. Eyford warned that the federal government’s failure to build good relationships with First Nations had set back the chances for their energy projects.
“Opposition to these projects by aboriginal groups may doom the development of oil, and natural gas pipelines and related infrastructure because neither industry nor our trading partners are prepared to idly stand by to wait out the results of judicial proceedings that can take a generation to complete,” Eyford said in a speech last year.
“The Harper government and resource corporations are keenly aware that Indigenous rights movements are standing in the way of their polluting, destructive projects,” said Clayton Thomas Mueller, Indigenous Extreme EnergyCampaigner with 350.org. “Harper is desperately trying to manipulate the Assembly of First Nations and some of our Chiefs into sacrificing our rights and our lands at the altar of profit. But respect for our rights must be a basis for economic decision-making – indeed our rights offer a pathway to a more sustainable economic order for everyone in this country.”
The group was launched in December 2013, its creation among the pledges made by Prime Minister Harper at a January 2013 meeting with former National Chief Shawn Atleo, a meeting triggered by Theresa Spence’s hunger strike and the Idle No More movement.
It has two representatives from the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and two from the Assembly of First Nations, an organization which has been accused of being out of touch with grassroots Indigenous concerns. According to the documents, the representatives discussed renaming the group to “downplay” the connection between the Assembly of First Nations and the government and to make clear that it operates at “arms-length.”
The documents acknowledge that Indigenous community members are increasingly resisting those Chiefs who “try to establish and advance a “business to business” relationship with industry proponents.”
Included are detailed charts of economic opportunities that some First Nations located near oil and mining operations have been able to access.
The documents say that the group may propose that Canada’s largest corporate lobby, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, be “engaged to champion a new approach including through formal statements at First Minister’s Meetings or major political events.”
Other suggestions include a “centre of expertise on resource development” and a national roundtable, emphasizing the need to get more aboriginal organizations involved.
The group is releasing a final report on Tuesday with recommendations to the federal government and the AFN.
The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs was unable to respond to a request for comment.
For generations, we Canadians were seen as peacekeepers, as mediators and as the inspired environmental stewards of a vast country — for much of the 20th century we were a force for good in this world. We wore the Maple Leaf with immense pride, and were welcomed everywhere with open arms. You may remember American travelers wearing our flag patch on their backpacks to protect themselves from scorn.
Today Canada has lost its purpose, lost its soul. Wearing the Maple Leaf is no longer a badge of honour. After nine years in office, Stephen Harper has decimated Canada's reputation on the world stage. We are no longer the proud nation we used to be.
With the upcoming federal election, we have a chance to change all that.
Adbusters has crafted a powerful and controversial 30-second TV spot, based on an actual incident, to spark a deeper nationwide conversation about what it means to be Canadian. Our strategy over the next few weeks is to give millions of Canadians an honest, unflinching wake up call.
We need your help to make this attack ad, dubbed Spitbomb, go viral and raise money to buy as much airtime as we can on national television. If we air it repeatedly day and night — and make it go viral on the internet — we may be able to spark the Canadian imagination and swing the election.
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