Flail away the skin of the living earth, strip it of forests, topsoil, what is called overburden, create a desolate landscape, toxic lagoons, spoil heaps, all to get at the tar sands beneath.
Even before I saw the great mines, when the landscape out of the window was still bright green boggy marshes and lush boreal forest, I could feel them – a catch in the back of my throat. Then, up and over a small elevation, there they were: the notorious Alberta tar sands, a parched, gray desert stretching to the horizon. Mountains of waste so large workers joke that they have their own weather systems. Tailing ponds so vast they are visible from space. The second largest dam in the world, built to contain that toxic water. The earth skinned alive.
No amount of money can compensate for poisoned water, a poisoned and devastated land.
Freshly killed moose, the flesh turned green, tumours, that is when you find any moose. Consequence of drinking toxic water.
Canada is not the oil superpower it likes to think it is. It has been turned into little more than a Third World country raped and pillaged for its resources by corporate and state owned oil companies.
Tar sands is not the economic boom it was made out to be, not that any amount of money cam compensate for a poisoned land.
Residents in Alberta are facing massive hikes in their electricity bills.
Jim Wachowich of the Alberta Consumers Coalition:
Worst case scenario it goes up $20 a month. That’s an extra $240 a year on your electric bill that you can’t avoid because you can’t go off the grid.
The provincial government initially said the hike in monthly bills to cover the cost of new power lines would be less than the price of a cup of coffee.
“That’s a pretty expensive cup of coffee,” according NDP electricity critic Brian Mason.
Suncor Energy has slashed $1-billion from its 2015 budget and will cut roughly 1,000 jobs as it delays a major oil sands project, accelerating the industry’s slowdown amid plunging oil prices.
Alberta is in financial meltdown, the price massive public sector cuts.
Plummeting oil prices, which fell below $50 a barrel this week, have caused the province to reassess its financial future. Last week, Prentice revealed that the province is forecast to end the year with a $500-million deficit, instead of the surplus originally expected.
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice:
I could terminate the employment of every single employee of the Government of Alberta, leaving aside health care, and it would not fill a six- to seven-billion-dollar hole.
The Conference Board of Canada has released a report saying that the drop in oil prices may push Alberta into a recession.
Alberta has moved from boom to bust within the space of a few months, and will take Canada with it. And what will it have left?
We need to keep in the ground 80% of known carbon reserves if we are to keep within a 2C global temperature rise.
James Hansen has said if we dig up and burn the Alberta tar sands it is ‘game over for the climate’.
We are moving to dirtier, more hazardous, more extreme methods of fossil fuel extraction: tar sands, fracking, deepwater, Arctic. It does not get dirtier than Alberta tar sands.
Tar sands requires three times the amount of energy to extract as conventional oil reserves.
The frontiers of extraction often resemble war zones, with the people fighting back.
Indigenous people, on whose land tar sand extraction is taking place, are leading the fight, pointing to Treaties, which State and Federal government are in breach of.
Keystone XL pipeline, if ever built, would pass through native Indian lands, who are opposed, as is everyone along the route.
For Alberta, tar sands has been an economic and environmental disaster.
Fossil fuel can no longer compete with renewables and local, community owned and controlled energy grids. There are now trillions of dollars of stranded assets in the fossil fuel sector.
Fracking in England is looking for generous tax concessions, a compliant government driving a coach and horses through the planning system, the taxpayer expected to pay for explorative drilling.
BP, following the collapse in the price of Brent crude is out with its corporate begging bowl calling for tax concessions to get it through hard times. SNP, that only a few months ago claimed an independent Scotland would have oil revenue, is now pleading for bail out of the oil industry.