tar sands

As Oil by Rail Gains Momentum, Is California On Track to Protect Human Health and the Environment?

A closer look at the data and key legal issues

California will soon see a surge in the number of trains carrying crude oil into the state, as oil production in North Dakota’s Bakken region and Canada continues to increase, sending more crude to California refineries. Last week, the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the safety of …


Alberta, Open Sewers and the Keystone Pipeline

Al Gore raised the hackles of the Canadian government this week when he criticized the country’s large scale extraction of oil from the Alberta tar sands.  The tar sand oil reserves are among the world’s largest but are particularly energy intensive to extract.  That means that extracting oil that will then be burned will emit significantly …


Still More About the Keystone XL Pipeline

I am opposed to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Nonetheless, I find myself somewhat in disagreement with my blogging neighbor Jonathan Zasloff on this one, and somewhat in agreement with Joe Nocera. Yes, as Nocera argues, as long as there is demand for oil, energy producers will keep looking for new supplies to …


The True North Strong and Dumb

A few months ago, Rhead set a Legal Planet record for attracting comments: 33 (mostly hostile) reactions on a relatively straightforward post about how Canada had achieved the gold medal for “fossilhood”, i.e. most antagonistic to a climate treaty. Well, it appears as if Rhead has understated the matter: Federal Conservatives are downplaying concerns over …


Administration reportedly will put off Keystone XL decision

The Washington Post is reporting that the Obama Administration will study alternative routes for the Keystone XL pipeline, delaying a final decision on the pipeline until after the 2012 elections. There had been a perception that the Administration felt caught between environmentalists and unions on the pipeline issue. Nebraska’s opposition to the current proposed route, …


Two weeks of protest against Keystone XL ends Saturday

Two weeks of civil disobedience and protest against the Keystone XL pipeline ends this Saturday (Sept. 3), with a rally and final sit-in. Over 1,000 people have been arrested, including my former professor , Gus Speth. The protestors want President Obama to deny a permit to construct a pipeline to bring oil from Canadian tar …


As the Gulf Bleeds Crude Oil, Alberta’s Tar Sands Provide a Test

If you were President Obama, what would you do about the tar sands fields in Alberta?  He is being asked to approve or reject a pipeline extension that would carry 900,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude deep into the United States.  It has to be exceedingly tempting to just say “yes”.  After all, Canada …


Oil Speculators, Land Use Planners, and Those Sticky Tar Sands

Three separate items in the news, this past week, underscore the fact that we still have much work to do before we can claim to have a viable plan for reducing fossil fuel use, and the related environmental damage. Energy Daily reports on a new paper from Rice University’s Baker Center for Public Policy showing …


Tar Sands, Obama, California, and the Economy in Calgary

Spending just a few days in Calgary, Alberta, one thing becomes perfectly clear: oil is Calgary, and Calgary is all about oil.   And increasingly, the story of oil all across Alberta has become the story of tar sands.  Many around the world have viewed with horror, or at least dismay, Canada’s increased reliance on producing …