U.S. Awash in Oil and Lies, Report Charges | More Oil Development Risks Catastrophe

Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands Mining Pits

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 2, 2011 (IPS)

With four times as many oil rigs pumping domestic oil today than eight years ago and declining domestic demand, the United States is awash in oil.

The country’s oil industry is primarily interested in who will pay the most on the global marketplace. They call that “energy security” when it suits, but in reality it is “oil company security” through maximising profits, say energy experts like Steve Kretzman of Oil Change International, an NGO that researches the links between oil, gas and coal companies and governments.

The only reason U.S. citizens may be forced to endure a risky, Canadian-owned oil pipeline called Keystone XL is so oil companies with billion-dollar profits can get the dirty oil from Canada’s tar sands down to the Gulf of Mexico to export to Europe, Latin America or Asia, according to a new report by Oil Change International released Wednesday.

“Keystone XL will not lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but rather transport Canadian oil to American refineries for export to overseas markets,” concludes the report, titled “Exporting Energy Security“.

Little of the 700,000 to 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil pumped through the 2,400-kilometre, seven-billion-dollar Keystone XL will end up in U.S. gas tanks because the refineries on the Gulf Coast are all about expanding export markets. One huge refinery operator called Valero has been touting the potential export revenues of tar sands oil to investors, the report found.

Because Keystone XL crosses national borders, President Barack Obama has to issue a permit declaring the pipeline serves the “national interest” in order to be approved.

“The only way Keystone XL could be considered in the national interest is if you equate that with profits for the oil industry,” said Kretzman, who wrote the report. Continue reading

Can Obama Take First Step to Break Addiction to Oil? (And Win First Battle Against Big Oil?)

Sept 3 protest at white house

‘…unless river of money from Big Oil is diverted there is no way to deal with climate change’

Analysis by Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Aug 31, 2011 (IPS)

The United States’ biggest environmental groups put aside their differences last week to make an urgent intervention on the country’s addiction to oil. The first step on the long road to recovery, they say, is to stop the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that will “mainline” the world’s dirtiest oil from northern Canada into the U.S. heartland.

“This (Keystone) is a terrible project,” they wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama, citing dangers to the climate, the risks of disastrous spills and leaks, and the economic damage that will come from continued dependence on fossil fuel.

Oil from the Keystone XL will dump an estimated 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually into the atmosphere – more than most countries. Scientists warn that approval of the project will further fuel the extreme weather that has already resulted in over one billion dollars in damages recorded this year in nine separate extreme weather events in the U.S.

And that doesn’t include the estimated 20 to 45 billion dollars in costs from Hurricane Irene last weekend, mainly due to extensive flooding.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels do not cause hurricanes, tornados or droughts, but they do trap additional heat and water vapour that fuels those events, climate scientists have proven time and time again.

Asked about the impacts of adding another 150 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, German climate scientist Malte Meinshausen, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told IPS that it will warm the planet for hundreds of years and lead to higher sea levels and “more pronounced droughts and floods”.

Continue reading

Welcome to Bizarro World: Canada and US Spending $billions to Create Climate Chaos

President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (left) say they’re worried about climate change, but neither the U.S. nor Canada has cut emissions.

Analysis by Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Aug 10, 2011 (IPS)

Canada and the United States are now the centre of Bizarro World. This is where leaders promise to reduce carbon emissions but ensure a new, supersized oil pipeline called Keystone XL is built, guaranteeing further expansion of the Alberta tar sands that produce the world’s most carbon-laden oil.

“It’s imperative that we move quickly to alternate forms of energy – and that we leave the tar sands in the ground,” the U.S.’s leading climate scientists urged President Barack Obama in an open letter Aug. 3.

“As scientists… we can say categorically that it’s [the Keystone XL pipeline] not only not in the national interest, it’s also not in the planet’s best interest.”

The letter was signed by 20 world-renowned scientists, including NASA’s James Hansen, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and George Woodwell, founder of the Woods Hole Research Center.  Continue reading

“We’re Here to Insert Some Reality into an Unreal Situation” — 350.org Founder Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is a U.S. journalist, writer and environmentalist and the founder of 350.org. Credit: Stephen Leahy

Stephen Leahy

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) Dec 2009

Bill McKibben is a U.S. writer, environmentalist and the founder of 350.org, an international climate campaign. His first book, “The End of Nature”, was published in 1989 and is regarded as the first book written for a general audience about climate change.

350.org is credited with organising the most widespread political action in history when more than 5,200 public demonstrations were held on Oct. 24 in 181 countries. The organisation’s goal is to raise public awareness about the dangers of climate change and the need to return carbon concentrations in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm). Currently, concentrations are 387 ppm and increasing at 2.0 to 3.0 ppm per year.

Recent science suggests that a maximum of 350 ppm may be what is needed to keep overall global temperatures below 2.0 degrees C.

TERRAVIVA: Why are you here?

BILL MCKIBBEN: I wrote a book on climate change 20 years ago and you could say I’m just following the trail to its end. We’ve also brought 350 young people from all over the world to make sure negotiators hear their voice and insert a little reality into an unreal situation. Continue reading