Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Canadian Scientists Expose Their Government's Tar Sands Obsession at DC Briefing

Energy
Canadian Scientists Expose Their Government's Tar Sands Obsession at DC Briefing

A delegation of Canadian scientists and activists participated in a briefing today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to set the record straight on the government’s strategy to undermine anything that might stand in the way of its goals to triple tar sands production, according to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club press release.

From left to right: Bill Burton, David Suzuki, Franke James, Tzeporah Berman, Tim Gray, Danny Harvey at the National Press Club's breakfast briefing, Oct. 11. Photo credit: Rocky Kistner/ NRDC

As the Canadian government launches a $24 million pro-tar sands advertising campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper digs his heels in by saying he “won’t take no” for an answer on the Keystone XL pipeline.

“The Harper government will stop at nothing to ruthlessly promote tar sands expansion," said Tzeporah Berman, Canadian author and resource development activist, and panel member at today's briefing. "We have witnessed a steady erosion of rights and a concerted attack on critical environmental legislation, all as part of a plan to turn our economy towards tar sands. Democratic opposition is no longer tolerated in Stephen Harper’s Canada.”

At a breakfast briefing this morning, a delegation—featuring respected scientists, artists and activists—presented a compelling case to President Obama that Canada was unfit to make any sort of climate deal in exchange for the Keystone XL. The delegation described how the government’s tar sands obsession has cost Canada its international credibility, according to the NRDC.

“The Canadian government has failed to implement a plan to reduce carbon pollution," said Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence Canada. "It is on track to miss both its own and international targets for carbon emissions reduction, yet is recklessly pursuing plans to triple tar sands production. To date, the government has shown no ability to act as a credible partner to the U.S. on climate actions.”

During the press event today, the delegation presented the following examples on how the Canadian government's concerted efforts cleared the path for reckless tar sands expansion:

  • An aggressive $24 million public relations blitz to paint the tar sands as an environmentally responsible project.
  • More than 6 years’ worth of failed climate plans and broken promises when it comes to controlling pollution from the tar sands.
  • Failure to take meaningful action on the current Canadian emissions trajectory, which will significantly miss Canada’s climate goal—one that is shared with the U.S.
  • Dismantling of decades worth of environmental legislation, leading to a withdrawal of federal protection of more than 2 million rivers and lakes, including waterways that would have triggered environmental assessment in pipeline projects.
  • Changes to public participation legislation in environmental hearings, including lengthy and arbitrary application processes to participate or submit comments in hearings.
  • Implementing communications policies that require federal scientists to have all media lines pre-approved, leading to an 80 percent decline in coverage of climate change in the first year the policy was implemented.
  • Public and internal attacks by government on citizens, artists and First Nations who express concern about the impacts of tar sands and related infrastructure.

“There is a systematic attack on science and democracy taking place in Canada, and the Harper government isn’t even trying to hide it," said scientist Dr. David Suzuki. "But scientists cannot and will not be silenced, not when we are facing an irreversible climate catastrophe like the tar sands.”

Bill Burton, David Suzuki, Franke James, Tzeporah Berman at the National Press Club's breakfast briefing, Oct. 11. Photo credit: Rocky Kistner/ NRDC

“Canadians’ right to free expression is being quietly eroded by a pro-oil government insistent on promoting tar sands and silencing anyone who might interfere with those plans," said panel member Franke James, a Canadian artist. "Rather than the friendly neighbor to the north, Canada has become the dirty old man.”

Plans to triple tar sands production by 2030 are incompatible with Canada and the U.S.’ shared commitment to keep global temperature changes below two degree Celsius.

“Under President Obama’s leadership, the U.S. is on track to meet our 2020 climate targets," said Bill Burton, of the League of Conservation Voters. "It would be counter-productive and counter-intuitive to implement strong climate policies at home, while giving Canada the go-ahead to develop its tar sands industry by approving Keystone XL.” 

Visit EcoWatch’s TAR SANDS and KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.

——–

 

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A resident works in the vegetable garden of the Favela Nova Esperanca – a "green favela" which reuses everything and is subject to the ethics of permaculture – in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 14, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP via Getty Images

Farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.

Read More Show Less
Once the virus escapes into the air inside a building, you have two options: bring in fresh air from outside or remove the virus from the air inside the building. Halfpoint Images / Getty Images

By Shelly Miller

The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.

Read More Show Less
California Senator Kamala Harris endorses Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan on March 9, 2020. JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made a historic announcement Tuesday when he named California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the 2020 presidential election.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil from the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius. STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images

The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.

On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.

France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.

The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.

"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."

Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.

By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.

The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.

"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.

While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.

"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.

Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.

Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.

A northern mockingbird on June 24, 2016. Renee Grayson / CC BY 2.0

Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).

Read More Show Less
A spiny dogfish shark swims in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Washington. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A "vessel of opportunity" skims oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. NOAA / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun

After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.

Read More Show Less