Friday, April 14, 2006

Apocalypse soon?

Ask most Canadians and they wouldn't say we are in an energy crisis, unless the crisis refers to the price we pay for fuel at the pump. If there's trouble looming, you've got to wonder why the mainstream media won't discuss the issue. Note, according to the CIA World Factbook website, Canada produces 2.4 million bbl/day, as opposed to the 1.4 million cited by Frances Russell. This means that Canada is a net exporter of oil, not a net importer.

Apocalypse soon?
Canada is facing an environmental and energy crisis

Winnipeg Free Press, Wed Apr 12 2006

WHEN it comes to political scandals, this is the genuine article. It combines unethical and irresponsible behaviour with lack of transparency and accountability at the top. It's both federal and provincial in scope. It's the biggest yet.

Canada faces an environmental and energy crisis within the next decade. Not only are the politicians refusing to debate it. They are pretending it doesn't exist. Worst of all, they have no plan, no idea, how to deal with it.

Here are just some of its components:

* Canada has less than 10 years of proven conventional oil reserves left, Statistics Canada reports. In 2004, our oil production averaged 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd). We exported 1.6 million bpd to the U.S., requiring us to import some 963,000 bpd to meet our domestic demand of 1.75 million bpd.

* Canada has only 8.7 years of domestic natural gas supply remaining, also according to StatsCan. We produce 17 billion cubic feet per day (bcf) and export 9.7 bcf to the U.S., leaving us with less than half, 7.3 bcf. Even the ever-optimistic and industry-serving National Energy Board now admits Canada's natural gas situation is "unsettling."

* Canada's Prairies face an "impending water crisis with far-reaching" implications, says a new study published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Dr. David Schindler, the study's lead author and Canada's most renowned environmental scientist, states the deadly combination of global warming, population pressure and the rapacious demands of Alberta's oil industry is draining all western rivers dry. Summer flows are down by 35 to 40 per cent on the Peace, Slave and Athabasca rivers. The South Saskatchewan's flow has dropped a frightening 80 per cent since 1910. Several lakes have simply dried up. And the glacier that feeds the Bow River is melting so quickly that there may be no water left in it in 50 years.
Not only has not a single alarm bell gone off in Edmonton and Ottawa, federal and provincial politicians have ramped up the looming environmental and economic disaster.

And all with virtually no public debate.

Exploitation of Alberta's Athabasca tar sands, chiefly to serve the U.S. market, is now Canada's Job One.

But every barrel of tar sands oil requires 1,000 to 2,000 cubic feet of natural gas and from three to six barrels of water. By comparison, an average Canadian home burns 9,000 cf of natural gas per month in winter. In full production, Fort McMurray's tar sands plants will demand an additional 175 million litres of water per day above the 138 billion litres a year already allocated.

As for climate change, every barrel of tar sands oil produced releases 125 kilograms of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

What happens when -- and it is when, not if -- Canada, a cold country, reaches a domestic supply crunch sometime in the next decade? Thanks to the proportional sharing clause contained in the North American Free Trade Agreement, we can't turn off the tap on either oil or gas. We can't even turn it down. We will have to go short ourselves.

And there's more, much more, all exposed in a major new report by the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute, the Polaris Institute of Ottawa and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, entitled Fuelling Fortress America: A Report on the Athabasca Tar Sands and U.S. Demands for Canada's Energy.

Most Canadians probably know bits and pieces of this biggest-ever Canadian political outrage. But it's not until they are all pulled together that its staggering impact emerges.
The planned $7 billion Mackenzie Valley pipeline, projected to deliver 1.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas through 1,400 kilometres of some of the most fragile ecosystems on Earth, terminates at a tiny station called Bootis, adjacent to Fort McMurray. The pipeline isn't for natural gas consumers; it's for the tar sands.

Alberta has set its royalty rate on tar sands production at a ridiculous one per cent. Ralph Klein's government collected more revenue from gambling than from the tar sands in 2004-05. Reacting to Imperial Oil's threats to withdraw from the pipeline last fall, Ottawa came through with concessions totalling $2.8 billion. And this at the same time Imperial's parent, ExxonMobil Corp., reported a $10 billion quarterly profit, largest in U.S. history.

There has never been any public discussion about our loss of energy sovereignty, about Canada's energy security, about Canada's environmental and economic future. Why? Because Canada, alone among oil-producing nations, has not had any energy policy, federal or provincial, for over 20 years. Since Brian Mulroney's government threw Canada's storehouse of non-renewable, strategic resources onto the unfettered free market, federal and provincial governments have prostrated themselves before the oil companies and the deep integrationists in the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

The media mainly keep mum.

This scandal is epic. Year after year, it worsens. Year after year, there is no debate, nor even questions.

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