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Posted on on September 22nd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

Hillary Clinton opposes Keystone XL pipeline.

By Eric Bradner, Dan Merica and Brianna Keilar, CNN
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

(CNN) Hillary Clinton said Tuesday she opposes the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, taking sides with progressives who are fighting the 1,179-mile project over environmental concerns.

The announcement, which comes after months of Clinton remaining mum over the hot-button 2016 issue, immediately drew praise from liberals and environmental groups but was criticized by Republican presidential candidates.

“I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone pipeline as what I believe it is — a distraction from important work we have to do on climate change,” Clinton told a community forum in Des Moines, Iowa.

“And unfortunately from my perspective, one that interferes with our ability to move forward with all the other issues,” she said. “Therefore I oppose it.”

The Democratic 2016 front-runner announced her opposition to the project — which is still the subject of a years-long State Department review — as Pope Francis landed in the United States, dominating national media attention.

Clinton had not previously disclosed her position on the campaign trail despite consistent questions about her position on the project, which is widely favored by conservatives but opposed by liberals who believe it will contribute to climate change. In explaining her answer Tuesday, Clinton said she didn’t want to interfere with a review process that started under her watch.

“I was in a unique position as secretary of state at the start of this process, and not wanting to interfere with ongoing decision-making that the President and Secretary (of State John) Kerry have to do in order to make whatever final decisions they need,” Clinton said. “So I thought this would be decided by now, and therefore I could tell you whether I agree or disagree, but it hasn’t been decided, and I feel now I’ve got a responsibility to you and voters who ask me about this.”

Speaking to the Des Moines Register’s editorial board after the event, Clinton said she had “no idea” she would be asked about the pipeline Tuesday.

But, she said, “I think I owed it to people to say where I stood,” adding, “clearly, the time had come for me to answer the question.”

Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director, said in a statement to CNN that Clinton’s role as a former secretary of state put her “in a different situation than other candidates.”

“Having the experience of being a former secretary of state distinguishes her and her candidacy, but it comes with responsibilities that at times can limit her,” Palmieri said. “But we know that the experience is well worth whatever price she may pay politically.”

A Clinton campaign aide told CNN that the former secretary of state couldn’t wait any longer to explain her position.

“She’s been taking on water for (not taking a position) … She didn’t want to jam Secretary Kerry or jam the President but it was just time. It’s September,” the aide said.

The aide said as pressure had mounted for Clinton to take a position, she wanted to give the administration space but doing so became untenable. The aide noted Clinton’s meeting with the Des Moines Register, and the campaign was expecting the question to come up. She wanted to be able to answer, the aide said.

The White House was briefed on Clinton’s position prior to her comments Tuesday, another Clinton aide said.

“Also, in the course of discussing her plans for increasing investment in energy infrastructure with labor officials in recent weeks, she privately made her opposition to the pipeline known to them as well,” the aide added.

Clio Cullison, a student at Drake University who came to the event after a friend of hers at, an active climate change advocacy group that has regularly followed Clinton on the campaign trail, asked her to attend and ask Clinton about the pipeline.

“I was really nervous to ask,” Cullison told CNN. “I haven’t asked any political candidates a question ever, so that was really exciting.”

The student added that she “was afraid of her answer, to be honest. I didn’t know where she was going to stand. I didn’t know if she was going to answer at all. I am really glad she did answer, one, and two, did oppose the Keystone pipeline.”

Clinton has repeatedly been asked about Keystone on the campaign trail but has never answered directly.

“I am not going to second guess (President Barack Obama) because I was in a position to set this in motion,” Clinton said at a July event in New Hampshire. “I want to wait and see what he and Secretary Kerry decide.”

At the same event, she later added, “If it is undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.”

And throughout much of 2013 and 2014, Clinton criss-crossed the country on the paid speaking circuit and later on her book tour. She was asked about Keystone a number of times, particularly in Canada, where the pipeline would originate. At no point did she take a position, however.

Clinton’s announcement on Tuesday was met with praise from environmental groups.

Jane Kleeb, director of the anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska, said the decision “was a long time coming,” and demonstrates that Democratic candidates need to pay closer attention to the progressive base.

“Political insiders continue to not give credit to the climate movement and not give credit to farmers and ranchers who are opposed to these risky fossil fuel projects,” Kleeb told CNN. “This is a big part of her progressive base — people who are not just against Keystone but want to see action on climate change.”

And Bill McKibben, co-founder of, said Clinton has slowly been moving in this direction since 2010, when she said she was “inclined” to approve the project. “It’s been a good evolution, always in the right direction,” he said.

“Over time, she has come to understand that a defining issue of the next election is climate change and there’s no way to address it seriously without this being answered,” McKibben said, calling it a “boondoggle” that he expects Obama to reject as well.

Clinton’s Democratic presidential opponents have opposed the deal. On Tuesday, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, lambasted her for the delay in taking a position.

“On issue after issue — marriage equality, drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, children fleeing violence in Central America, the Syrian refugee crisis, and now the Keystone Pipeline, Secretary Clinton has followed — not forged — public opinion,” O’Malley said in a statement.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he was “glad” Clinton came out against the pipeline.

“As a senator who has vigorously opposed the Keystone pipeline from the beginning, I am glad that Secretary Clinton finally has made a decision and I welcome her opposition to the pipeline,” Sanders said. “Clearly it would be absurd to encourage the extraction and transportation of some of the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet.”

But Republican presidential hopefuls quickly bashed Clinton over the announcement. Jeb Bush slammed Clinton for favoring “environmental extremists” in making her decision.

“.@HillaryClinton finally says what we already knew. She favors environmental extremists over U.S. jobs. #KeystoneXL,” he tweeted.

Bobby Jindal noted that Clinton’s announcement came at the same time Pope Francis arrived in the U.S.

“Hoping that Americans would be distracted by the Pope’s visit, Hillary finally admitted she opposes #KeystoneXL,” Jindal tweeted, linking to a petition on his campaign website to urge construction of the pipeline.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham fired off a series of tweets, saying the pipeline would help the economy and boost national security by reducing dependence on foreign oli.

“In opposing Keystone pipeline, Hillary Clinton once again shows that she intends to continue the failed polices of the Obama Administration,” he said.

CNN’s Dan Berman and Brianna Keilar contributed to this report.


Posted on on January 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times

The Keystone XL Illusion

January 16, 2015

by: Joe Nocera

Joe Nocera writes: Greg Rickford, Canada’s minister of natural resources, was in the United States most of this past week, on a trip that didn’t get much attention in the media with so much bigger news swirling about. So let me fill you in.

Rickford spent the first two days of his trip in Washington, where of course debate over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is underway in earnest in the new Republican-led Senate. The Republican-led House, meanwhile, has already passed a bill giving the go-ahead to the pipeline, which, if it’s ever built, will transport heavy crude from the tar sands of Alberta to American refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. And of course President Obama has threatened to veto any such bill, should one land on his desk.

In Washington, Rickford met with his Obama administration counterpart, Ernest Moniz, the secretary of energy. Although the Keystone pipeline was not on the agenda, the two men talked about it anyway. Rickford paid a visit to Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic senator from North Dakota, who strongly supports the Keystone pipeline. (In addition to the Alberta crude, the pipeline would transport shale oil from North Dakota.)

He met with State Department officials to get a Keystone update; because the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canada border, the department has to do a review, which it has done several times, always coming down in favor of the project. In several speeches, Rickford talked up the close energy relationship between the United States and Canada, noting that Canada sends three million barrels per day to America — more than Venezuela and Saudi Arabia combined. He mentioned Canada’s new pipeline safety law. He said he thought the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved, which is essentially what Canadian officials have been saying for the past six years.

Then on Wednesday, Rickford went to Texas for two days. This is the part of his trip that really caught my attention. His main focus in Texas was on two new Canadian-controlled pipelines that became operational in mid-December. One is called the Flanagan South pipeline, which cost $2.8 billion. It covers nearly 600 miles, from Pontiac, Ill., to Cushing, Okla. The other pipeline, called the Seaway Twin, runs an additional 500 miles, from Cushing to Freeport, Tex., where the refineries are. It cost $1.2 billion. Guess where some of the oil that is going to run through those pipelines is coming from? Yep — the tar sands of Alberta.

If you are wondering why the environmental community hasn’t been chaining itself to the White House fence to protest these two new pipelines, the way it has with Keystone, the answer is that neither of these pipelines crosses the Canadian border, so they don’t require the same complicated approval process that Keystone requires. (The Flanagan South line will connect with a pipeline that already crosses the border.) More to the point, perhaps, they were never the symbol that the high-profile Keystone XL became, so that even the approvals they did require never aroused the same attention from environmentalists.

Yet these new pipelines are going to be carrying some 200,000 barrels per day of the heavy crude mined from the tar sands. True, that is only a third of what the Keystone XL would be able to deliver, but it essentially helps double the amount of tar sands oil that can be exported to the United States. In addition, there will be expanded rail capacity for Alberta’s oil, which is a far more dangerous way to move it than a state-of-the-art pipeline.

The point is: With or without Keystone, Canada’s tar sands oil is coming to the United States. One of the stated reasons that environmental activists wanted to prevent Keystone from being built was that doing so would force Canada to stop mining the oil. Without Keystone, it was said, Canada would have no means to export it. But that has never been a particularly plausible argument. Even before the opening of these two new pipelines, tar sands oil was coming to the United States, primarily by rail. Indeed, the only thing that can slow it down now is the rapid drop in the price of oil, which is likely to make expensive tar sands crude unprofitable.

Even as the Keystone debate reaches its current crescendo, all that is left, really, is the symbolism. The Republican right claims that Keystone will create jobs. It won’t, not to any significant degree. The Democratic left says that the oil Keystone will bring to the Gulf is so dirty, so carbon laden, that it will wreak havoc on the climate. It won’t do that either. If the president ultimately decides not to approve Keystone, he will do so knowing full well that he has not stopped the tar sands oil in any meaningful way. To expect another outcome is, well, a pipe dream. It always was.

Some Comments:

Why not refine the oil in Canada or a northern US state? Is building a pipeline to Texas the best option? I realize that the pipeline to…
2 hours ago

Thank you for telling the truth that I and other commenters have been saying on other articles on this subject. If this oil doesn’t come in…
2 hours ago

Do I think we need to make a concerted effort to reduce carbon pollution? Absolutely. And methane too.Do I think scuppering the XL pipeline…




A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 17, 2015, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: The Keystone XL Illusion.


Posted on on April 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


The Opinion Pages  Op-Ed Contributor to The New York Times.


Is Canada Tarring Itself?




Credit Kristian Hammerstad


START with the term “tar sands.” In Canada only fervent opponents of oil development in northern Alberta dare to use those words; the preferred phrase is the more reassuring “oil sands.” Never mind that the “oil” in the world’s third largest petroleum reserve is in fact bitumen, a substance with the consistency of peanut butter, so viscous that another fossil fuel must be used to dilute it enough to make it flow.

Never mind, too, that the process that turns bitumen into consumable oil is very dirty, even by the oil industry’s standards. But say “tar sands” in Canada, and you’ll risk being labeled unpatriotic, radical, subversive.

Performing language makeovers is perhaps the most innocuous indication of the Canadian government’s headlong embrace of the oil industry’s wishes.

Soon after becoming prime minister in 2006, Stephen Harper declared Canada “an emerging energy superpower,” and nearly everything he’s done since has buttressed this ambition.

Forget the idea of Canada as dull, responsible and environmentally minded: That is so 20th century. Now it’s a desperado, placing all its chips on a world-be-damned, climate-altering tar sands bet.

Documents obtained by research institutions and environmental groups through freedom-of-information requests show a government bent on extracting as much tar sands oil as possible, as quickly as possible.

From 2008 to 2012, oil industry representatives registered 2,733 communications with government officials, a number dwarfing those of other industries. The oil industry used these communications to recommend changes in legislation to facilitate tar sands and pipeline development. In the vast majority of instances, the government followed through.

In the United States, the tar sands debate focuses on Keystone XL, the 1,200-mile pipeline that would link Alberta oil to the Gulf of Mexico. What is often overlooked is that Keystone XL is only one of 13 pipelines completed or proposed by the Harper government — they would extend for 10,000 miles, not just to the gulf, but to both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.

After winning an outright parliamentary majority in 2011, Mr. Harper’s Conservative Party passed an omnibus bill that revoked or weakened 70 environmental laws, including protections for rivers and fisheries. As a result, one proposed pipeline, the Northern Gateway, which crosses a thousand rivers and streams between Alberta and the Pacific, no longer risked violating the law. The changes also eliminated federal environmental review requirements for thousands of proposed development projects.

President Obama’s decision on Keystone XL, expected later this spring, is important not just because it will determine the pipeline’s fate, but because it will give momentum to one side or the other in the larger tar sands battle. Consequently, the Canadian government’s 2013-14 budget allocates nearly $22 million for pro-tar-sands promotional work outside Canada. It has used that money to buy ads and fund lobbyists in Washington and Europe, the latter as part of a continuing campaign against the European Union’s bitumen-discouraging Fuel Quality Directive.                                                                                                                             


Beginning in 2006, Mr. Harper pledged to promulgate regulations to limit carbon emissions, but eight years later the regulations still have not been issued, and he recently hinted that they might not be introduced for another “couple of years.” Meanwhile, Canada became the only country to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. Instead, in 2009 it signed the nonbinding Copenhagen Accord, which calls for Canada to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 17 percent beneath its 2005 level by 2020. According to the government’s own projections, it won’t even come close to that level.

Climate change’s impact on Canada is already substantial. Across Canada’s western prairie provinces, an area larger than Alaska, mean temperatures have risen several degrees over the last 40 years, causing releases of greenhouse gases from melting permafrost and drying wetlands. The higher temperatures have led to the spread of the mountain pine beetle, which has consumed millions of trees. The trees, in turn, have become fodder for increasingly extensive forest fires, which release still more greenhouse gases. Given that scientists now think the Northern Hemisphere’s boreal forests retain far more carbon than tropical rain forests like the Amazon, these developments are ominous. At least the Harper government has indirectly acknowledged climate change in one way: It has made a show of defending the Northwest Passage, an increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean link between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that winds through Canadian territory.

Nevertheless, the Harper government has shown its disdain for scientists and environmental groups dealing with climate change and industrial pollution. The government has either drastically cut or entirely eliminated funding for many facilities conducting research in climate change and air and water pollution. It has placed tight restrictions on when its 23,000 scientists may speak publicly and has given power to some department managers to block publication of peer-reviewed research. It has closed or “consolidated” scientific libraries, sometimes thoughtlessly destroying invaluable collections in the process. And it has slashed funding for basic research, shifting allocations to applied research with potential payoffs for private companies.

With a deft Orwellian touch, Canada’s national health agency even accused a doctor in Alberta, John O’Connor, of professional misconduct — raising “undue alarm” and promoting “a sense of mistrust” in government officials — after he reported in 2006 that an unusually high number of rare, apparently tar-sands-related cancers were showing up among residents of Fort Chipewyan, 150 miles downstream from the tar sands. A government review released in 2009 cautiously supported Dr. O’Connor’s claims, but officials have shown no interest in the residents’ health since then.


Dr. O’Connor’s experience intimidated other doctors, according to Margaret Sears, a toxicologist hired by the quasi-independent Alberta Energy Regulator to study health impacts in another region near the tar sands operation. Dr. Sears reported that some doctors cited Dr. O’Connor’s case as a reason for declining to treat patients who suggested a link between their symptoms and tar sands emissions.

The pressure on environmentalists has been even more intense. Two years ago Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver (who this month became finance minister) declared that some environmentalists “use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest” and “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.” Canada’s National Energy Board, an ostensibly independent regulatory agency, coordinated with the nation’s intelligence service, police and oil companies to spy on environmentalists. And Canada’s tax-collecting agency recently introduced rigorous audits of at least seven prominent environmental groups, diverting the groups’ already strained resources from anti-tar-sands activities.

Few Canadians advocate immediately shutting down the tar sands — indeed, any public figure espousing that idea risks political oblivion. The government could defuse much tar sands opposition simply by advocating a more measured approach to its development, using the proceeds to head the country away from fossil fuels and toward a low-carbon, renewables-based future. That, in fact, was the policy recommended by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, a nonpartisan, eminently moderate independent research group founded by another right-leaning prime minister, Brian Mulroney, in 1988. The Harper government showed what it thought of the policy when it disbanded the Round Table last year.


Jacques Leslie is the author, most recently, of “A Deluge of Consequences: A Riveting Adventure in the High Himalayas.”

A version of this op-ed appears in print on March 31, 2014, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: Is Canada Tarring Itself?.



Posted on on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Are we one step closer to Obama green lighting the keystone pipeline? (photo: AP)
Are we one step closer to Obama green lighting the keystone pipeline? (photo: AP)


Keystone XL Pipeline Closer to Reality After State Department Review.

By Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian UK

01 February 2014


• Review: no significant effect on carbon emissions likely
• Campaigners hope Obama will say no to crude-oil project


he Keystone XL, a mundane pipeline project that escalated into a bitter proxy war over climate change and North America’s energy future, moved one important step closer to reality on Friday.

The State Department, in its final environmental review of the project, concluded that the pipeline, which would carry crude from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast, would not – on its own – have a “significant” effect on carbon pollution.

The report acknowledged that crude from the tar sands was 17% more carbon intensive than conventional oil. But it said that did not mean that the project on its own would worsen climate change by expanding production from the tar sands.

“The approval or denial of any single given project is unlikely to significantly affect the extraction of the oil sands,” Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state, said during a conference call with reporters.

The finding clears the way for President Barack Obama to approve a project that has became a highly charged symbol of the fight over North America’s energy future. But he is under no deadline. The State Department said that the environmental impact statement it released on Friday was not an automatic guarantee Keystone XL would be completed.

“It’s only part of what we need to look at in order to make this important decision,” Jones said. She said that the decision-making process would also examine issues of energy security, foreign policy and economic interests, along with climate change.

Eight government agencies and the public now have 90 days to weigh in on the project. Secretary of State John Kerry, who worked on climate change for years in the Senate, will also have a say. The final decision rests with Obama, who will determine whether Keystone XL is in the US national interest.

But after five years of wrangling and delays, it now appears increasingly likely that TransCanada will be able to build the pipeline.

“If anything I would hope we would see a shorter time frame rather than a longer time frame,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s chief executive, told reporters. “My view is that the 90 days could be truncated significantly because I do believe that a lot of the inter-agency consultation has already taken place.”

Girling said it would take two full years to build the pipeline, once it had final approval.

The State Department, in Friday’s report, essentially concluded that Keystone would have little material effect on greenhouse gas emissions and that Canada would continue to develop and ship tar sands crude with or without the pipeline.

“Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude at refineries in the United States,” the review said.

The review included models suggesting that transporting oil by rail would generate even more greenhouse gas emissions than a pipeline, and also discussed measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the pipeline.

“The facts do support this project. The science continues to show that this project can and will be built safely,” Girling said. “It will have a minimal effect on the environment and it will not significantly impact carbon emissions.”

The finding came as a bitter disappointment to environmental groups and some Democratic members of Congress, who had urged Obama to reject the pipeline.

“Even though the State Department continues to downplay clear evidence that the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to tar sands expansion and significantly worsen carbon pollution, it has, for the first time, acknowledged that the proposed project could accelerate climate change,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, a campaigner for the Natural Resources Defence Council.

“Piping the dirtiest oil on the planet through the heart of America would endanger our farms, our communities, our fresh water and our climate. This is absolutely not in our national interest.”

The campaign against Keystone XL has become a national movement over the last three years, with environmental activists, Nebraska landowners and hedge fund managers all coming out against the project. In 2012, Obama, under pressure from landowners concerned about underground water sources and sensitive prairie, rejected the first proposed route for the pipeline across Nebraska.

The White House continued to come under pressure from environmental campaigners. Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer took out television ads on Tuesday, the night of Obama’s state of the union address, attacking Keystone XL, and other wealthy Democratic donors wrote open letters to the White House seeking to shut down the project.

The pipeline would eventually double the amount of crude oil being shipped from Alberta’s tar sands.

Campaign groups argued it would open up a vast store of carbon and tie North America more closely to a fossil fuel future. The climate scientist James Hansen said building Keystone XL would be “game over” for the planet.

Industry groups and supporters said the project would help protect America’s energy supplies and provide jobs.

Republicans in Congress – joined by some Democrats in conservative or oil-producing states – put forward legislation to compel Obama to move on the pipeline. They also warned that rejection of Keystone XL would damage relations with Canada, which has lobbied hard for the project.

Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, built his economic strategy around natural resource extraction – despite its toll on the climate. The Canadian government, in a report to the United Nations last September, estimated its carbon emissions will soar 38% by 2030, largely because of the development of the tar sands.

Others argued that opponents had oversold the importance of Keystone XL as a contributor to future climate change. They said Obama’s commitment to cutting carbon pollution from power plants – the single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions – would have a far greater impact on the climate.

Obama said last June that he would base his decision on the project’s carbon pollution impacts.

Some campaigners said they hoped Friday’s finding would still provide enough leeway for a refusal.

“The State Department has given Obama all the room he needs to do what he promised in both campaigns: to take serious steps against global warming,” said Bill McKibben, the co-founder of, which led the fight against the pipeline. “Now we’ll see if he’s good for his word.”

But Obama has been consistent in trying to move on climate change while expanding fossil fuel development, much to the frustration of campaigners who say the two policies are incompatible. In his state of the union address, Obama gave strong support to natural gas development, but made no mention of Keystone.

The State Department had conducted two earlier environmental reviews of the project. Last March, it found that if Obama rejected the pipeline Alberta crude would go to market by rail or other pipelines. But it revisited the issue under criticism from the Environmental Protection Agency, which said the early reviews had not been broad enough.

The State Department is awaiting a separate report from its inspector general, into allegations by environmental groups that a contractor’s review was biased because of connections to TransCanada and the oil industry.

“It seems like it’s been very influenced by industry and that’s highly problematic,” said Scott Parkin, senior campaigner at Rainforest Action Network.

Activists immediately called a series of protests against the decision.

Nearly 80,000 people have signed up to commit civil disobedience to stop approval of the pipeline, said Elijah Zarlin, senior campaign manager at Credo.

“If the State Department is recommending to the president that this is in the national interest, that would trigger action,” he said.


Posted on on August 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

A Brief Message for Canadians: Get Over It!

By Andrew Gavin Marshall,…

01 August 13

CANADIANS: Be ashamed that this newspaper column is what passes for the “public discourse” in this country: a raving, ignorant, arrogant, idiotic and racist rant telling Indigenous people to “get over it” – referring to the state-sanctioned racism, genocide, and imperialism – all of which is still taking place.

Naomi Lakritz wrote a syndicated column for the Calgary Herald on July 31, that First Nations people “need to quit blaming the past” for the circumstances in which they live, because they “have nobody to blame but themselves.” First Nations people, suggested Lakritz, need to drop “the victimization mantle” and instead, start “with the concept of individual responsibility.” In other words: get over it!

No, instead of Canadians acknowledging our history as a nation – the violent destruction, exploitation, domination, murder and discrimination exerted against the indigenous peoples of the land we invaded and occupied – this “journalist” thinks that Indigenous people should “stop blaming their history.”

They are not blaming their history: they are pointing to their history so that we may learn our own. We have a ‘shared’ history, and it has led us to the present. If we – as Canadians – actually looked at our history, and traced its evolution up to the present, we would realize that our ‘colonial’ history has now evolved into a modern state-capitalist imperial present. Our historical injustices imposed upon Indigenous peoples have modern incarnations: the system of domination, exploitation, segregation, discrimination and – yes(!) – genocide, continues today.

If we learned about all that, we might want to change it. We might develop something called ’empathy’ which can lead to something called ‘solidarity.’ These are very human characteristics, so I understand that they seem challenging to relate to in a deeply dehumanizing society; but remember, we have a shared history and we share the present. Our histories are intertwined and interdependent, and so too is our future.

We might look out at the fact that Indigenous people, not only in Canada but around the world, are rising up in rebellion against the rampant and accelerating destruction of the environment, which will lead the species to extinction. Indigenous people are on the front lines of the global struggle against human extinction and the preservation of the environment and earth we live on. If we looked at all that… we might join them.

Instead, we read articles like this gutter trash, intellectual abortion, which has been published in the Calgary Herald, The Province, Victoria Times-Colonist, and the Edmonton Journal. Interesting how in the two provinces of BC and Alberta where the Indigenous struggle against environmental destruction is currently very active, are the same provinces where this ‘article’ is published in the main newspapers for the four largest population centres… just in case you might get the ‘right’ idea.

Canada’s corporate-owned media wouldn’t want that, would it? Not when the corporation that owns all these newspapers – the largest newspaper company in Canada, Postmedia Network – has a board of directors who are reaping profits and power off of the destruction of the environment, sitting on multiple other corporate boards for banks, energy and oil companies.

Take Jane Peverett, on the board of Postmedia. Jane also sits on the boards of CIBC, the Northwest Natural Gas Company, and Encana, a major energy company. As recently as November, an Indigenous group in BC was taking action against the construction of a major pipeline project partly owned by Encana.

I’m not blaming Jane for this article; I think the author deserves the blame. But Jane – and her compatriots who sit on the boards of Canada’s highly concentrated media system – maintain and wield significant influence over a media institution which promotes articles like this as contributing to the ‘public discourse,’ when all it does is promote ignorance, propaganda, passivity, and protects the interests of the powerful who own it. It’s an institutional function. Jane is merely a cog in a much larger wheel, while Naomi Lakritz can barely be said to be cognizant.

It’s institutional propaganda. Just as the discrimination, exploitation, domination and destruction of Indigenous people is institutional to our society. For a population currently struggling against the rapacious ravaging of the environment, let alone for survival, being told to “get over it,” is another way of saying: “just die, already.” And because the struggle is against the extinction of our species if we continue along our current path, saying, “get over it,” is also like saying, “we’re all going to die, but I don’t want to do anything about it… and neither should you.”

So for those Canadians who think the article above presented a ‘reasonable’ argument (and I KNOW you exist), and for those Canadians who think Indigenous people should stop “blaming history,” take a piece of your own advice: get over it. Learn your history, know your world, find your brothers and sisters and join them in the struggle to save the species and the planet we live on.

When it comes to having people like Naomi Lakritz of the Calgary Herald lower the public discourse – or rather, maintain the public discourse at painful lows – it’s really time that we get beyond this. Naomi Lakritz also thinks pot is a “dangerous drug” and legalization a “bad idea” (because once again, “get over” history, don’t learn, just delude!), and who (shockingly) has problems with immigrants, and it’s too perfect: she wants them to “leave [their] history at home” when they come to Canada… the nation with no history, apparently.

The deranged attempts by Lakritz to support the status quo when it comes to matters of injustice cannot be left as the level of discourse in a country which boasts the title of “the most educated country in the world.” It’s time to start acting like it. So it’s time to stop listening to Lakritz and other ‘rebels against rationality’, and START listening to Indigenous people, who have a great deal that they are trying to teach us about our country, and are showing us ways that we can help change it for the better.

It’s only our fate as a people, species, and planet that is at stake … Get over it.


Posted on on May 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


A Black Mound of Canadian Oil Waste Is Rising Over Detroit

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

Petroleum coke, a waste byproduct of refining oil sands oil, is piling up along the Detroit River.

WINDSOR, Ontario — Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.

   Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

Brian Masse, a member of the Canadian Parliament, wants a bilateral agency to investigate the pile accumulating in Detroit.

Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom.

And no one knows quite what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.

The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.

The coke comes from a refinery alongside the river owned by Marathon Petroleum, which has been there since 1930. But it began refining exports from the Canadian oil sands — and producing the waste that is sold to Koch — only in November.

“What is really, really disturbing to me is how some companies treat the city of Detroit as a dumping ground,” said Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan state representative for that part of Detroit. “Nobody knew this was going to happen.” Almost 56 percent of Canada’s oil production is from the petroleum-soaked oil sands of northern Alberta, more than 2,000 miles north.

An initial refining process known as coking, which releases the oil from the tarlike bitumen in the oil sands, also leaves the petroleum coke, of which Canada has 79.8 million tons stockpiled. Some is dumped in open-pit oil sands mines and tailing ponds in Alberta. Much is just piled up there.

Detroit’s pile will not be the only one. Canada’s efforts to sell more products derived from oil sands to the United States, which include transporting it through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, have pulled more coking south to American refineries, creating more waste product here.

Marathon Petroleum’s plant in Detroit processes 28,000 barrels a day of the oil sands bitumen.

Residents on both sides of the Detroit River are concerned that the coke mountain is both an environmental threat and an eyesore.

“Here’s a little bit of Alberta,” said Brian Masse, one of Windsor’s Parliament members. “For those that thought they were immune from the oil sands and the consequences of them, we’re now seeing up front and center that we’re not.”

Mr. Masse wants the International Joint Commission, the bilateral agency that governs the Great Lakes, to investigate the pile. Michigan’s state environmental regulatory agency has submitted a formal request to Detroit Bulk Storage, the company holding the material for Koch Carbon, to change its storage methods. Michigan politicians and environmental groups have also joined cause with Windsor residents. Paul Baltzer, a spokesman for Koch’s parent company, Koch Companies Public Sector, did not respond to questions about its storage or the ultimate destination of the petroleum coke.

Coke, which is mainly carbon, is an essential ingredient in steelmaking as well as producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum.

While there is high demand from both those industries, the small grains and high sulfur content of this petroleum coke make it largely unusable for those purposes, said Kerry Satterthwaite, a petroleum coke analyst at Roskill Information Services, a commodities analysis company based in London.

“It is worse than a byproduct,” Ms. Satterthwaite said.“It’s a waste byproduct that is costly and inconvenient to store, but effectively costs nothing to produce.”

Murray Gray, the scientific director for the Center for Oil Sands Innovation at the University of Alberta, said that about two years ago, Alberta backed away from plans to use the petroleum coke as a fuel source, partly over concerns about greenhouse-gas emissions. Some of it is burned there, however, to power coking plants.

The Keystone XL pipeline will provide Gulf Coast refineries with a steady supply of diluted bitumen from the oil sands. The plants on the coast, like the coking refineries concentrated in California to deal with that state’s heavy crude oil, are positioned to ship the waste to China or Mexico, where it is burned as a fuel. California exports about 128,000 barrels of petroleum coke a day, mainly to China.

Tony McCallum, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, played down the impact of Keystone XL. “Most of the Canadian oil earmarked for the U.S. Gulf Coast is to replace declining heavy oil imports from Mexico and Venezuela that produces the same amount of petcoke, so it doesn’t create a new issue,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Much of the new coking investment has gone into refineries in the Midwest to allow them to take advantage of the oil sands. BP, the British energy company, is building what it describes as the second-largest coke refinery in Whiting, Ind. When completed, the unit will be able to process about 102,000 barrels of bitumen or other heavy oils a day.

And what about the leftover coke? The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer allow any new licenses permitting the burning of petroleum coke in the United States. But D. Mark Routt, a staff energy consultant at KBC Advanced Technologies in Houston, said that overseas companies saw it as a cheap alternative to low-grade coal. In China, it is used to generate electricity, adding to that country’s air-quality problems. There is also strong demand from India and Latin America for American petroleum coke, where it mainly fuels cement-making kilns.

“I’m not making a value statement, but it comes down to emission controls,” Mr. Routt said. “Other people don’t seem to have a problem, which is why it is going to Mexico, which is why it is going to China.”

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” he said. One of the world’s largest dealers of petroleum coke is the Oxbow Corporation, which sells about 11 million tons of fuel-grade coke a year. It is owned by William I. Koch, a brother of David and Charles.

Lorne Stockman, who recently published a study on petroleum coke for the environmental group Oil Change International, says, “It’s really the dirtiest residue from the dirtiest oil on earth,” he said.

Rhonda Anderson, an organizing representative of the Sierra Club in Detroit, said that the mountain’s rise took her group by surprise, but it had one benefit.

“Those piles kind of hit us upside to the head,” she said. “But it also triggered a kind of relationship between Canada and the United States that’s allowed us to work together.”



Posted on on May 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Norway, Canada, the United States, and the Tar Sands.

9 May 2013
by James Hansen
Today 36 Norwegian organizations sent an open letter to Prime Minister Stoltenberg expressing opposition to development of Canadian tar sands by Statoil (the Norwegian state is majority shareholder of Statoil). Signatories include not only environmental organizations, but a broad public spectrum, including, appropriately, many youth
It is encouraging that Norwegian youth press their government to stop supporting tar sands development, given
the fact that Norway saves much of its oil earnings for future generations and given the fact that Norway is not
likely among the nations that will suffer most from climate change.
I wonder if the Norway government response will be better than their response in 2010.
The gap between public preference and government policy is not unique to Norway. Similar situations were found in other nations, as described in “Storms of My Grandchildren.”
Governments talk green while doing black, supporting or even subsidizing the fossil fuel industry while
doing little to solve fossil fuel addiction.
The Canadian public is also impressive. Most messages that I receive from Canadians are ones of encouragement, apologetic that some government ministers speak out of both sides of their mouth at the same time. On one hand,
they say that tar sands will make Canada the Saudi Arabia of oil. On the other hand, they say that the amount of carbon in tar sands is negligible.
The truth is that the tar sands gook contains more than twice the carbon from all the oil burned in human history.
If infrastructure, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, is built to transport tar sands gook, ways will be developed to extract more and more. When full accounting is done of emissions from tar sands oil, its use is equivalent to burning coal to power your automobile.

This is on top of the grotesque regional tar sands destruction.
There is a basis for optimism that the Keystone pipeline can be stopped and tar sands exploitation phased down before it becomes the monstrosity that oil companies are aiming for.
Tar sands make no economic sense if fossil fuels pay their true costs to society via a gradually rising fee collected from fossil companies in proportion to the amount of carbon in the fuel. Conservatives in the United States are beginning to recognize the merits of a carbon fee, which would be a non-tax, 100% of collected funds distributed to the public on per capita basis.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article endorsing this approach by George Shultz and Gary Becker, a Nobel prize winning economist. Such a fee levels the playing field among alternative energies and energy efficiency, providing a spur for development of clean energies. After 10 years a carbon fee rising $10 per ton of CO2 per year would reduce United States carbon emissions by 10 – 11 times more than the carbon carried by the Keystone pipeline.
The funds distributed to the public, 60 percent of the people getting more than they pay in increased prices, would spur the economy. The energy revolution would create millions of jobs.
So don’t despair re the tar sands.
There are sensible alternatives.
The common presumption that President Obama is going to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is wrong, in my opinion.
The State Department must provide an assessment to President Obama. Secretary of State John Kerry is expert on the climate issue and has long been one of the most thoughtful members of our government. I cannot believe that Secretary Kerry would let his and President Obama’s legacies go down the tar sands drain.


Posted on on April 1st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



Very Appropriate cartoon of the New York Times Cellebrating April Fools’ Day 2013.


The New York Times
April 1, 2013
Rick Froberg


Posted on on April 1st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Op-Ed Contributor

The Tar Sands Disaster

Published: on New York Times on-line – March 31, 2013 –  WATERLOO, Ontario, Canada

Related: Times Topic: Keystone XL Pipeline

Rick   Froberg

IF President Obama blocks the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all, he’ll do Canada a favor.

Canada’s tar sands formations, landlocked in northern Alberta, are a giant reserve of carbon-saturated energy — a mixture of sand, clay and a viscous low-grade petroleum called bitumen. Pipelines are the best way to get this resource to market, but existing pipelines to the United States are almost full. So tar sands companies, and the Alberta and Canadian governments, are desperately searching for export routes via new pipelines.

Canadians don’t universally support construction of the pipeline. A poll by Nanos Research in February 2012 found that nearly 42 percent of Canadians were opposed. Many of us, in fact, want to see the tar sands industry wound down and eventually stopped, even though it pumps tens of billions of dollars annually into our economy.

The most obvious reason is that tar sands production is one of the world’s most environmentally damaging activities. It wrecks vast areas of boreal forest through surface mining and subsurface production. It sucks up huge quantities of water from local rivers, turns it into toxic waste and dumps the contaminated water into tailing ponds that now cover nearly 70 square miles.

Also, bitumen is junk energy. A joule, or unit of energy, invested in extracting and processing bitumen returns only four to six joules in the form of crude oil. In contrast, conventional oil production in North America returns about 15 joules. Because almost all of the input energy in tar sands production comes from fossil fuels, the process generates significantly more carbon dioxide than conventional oil production.

There is a less obvious but no less important reason many Canadians want the industry stopped: it is relentlessly twisting our society into something we don’t like. Canada is beginning to exhibit the economic and political characteristics of a petro-state.

Countries with huge reserves of valuable natural resources often suffer from economic imbalances and boom-bust cycles. They also tend to have low-innovation economies, because lucrative resource extraction makes them fat and happy, at least when resource prices are high.

Canada is true to type. When demand for tar sands energy was strong in recent years, investment in Alberta surged. But that demand also lifted the Canadian dollar, which hurt export-oriented manufacturing in Ontario, Canada’s industrial heartland. Then, as the export price of Canadian heavy crude softened in late 2012 and early 2013, the country’s economy stalled.

Canada’s record on technical innovation, except in resource extraction, is notoriously poor. Capital and talent flow to the tar sands, while investments in manufacturing productivity and high technology elsewhere languish.

But more alarming is the way the tar sands industry is undermining Canadian democracy. By suggesting that anyone who questions the industry is unpatriotic, tar sands interest groups have made the industry the third rail of Canadian politics.

The current Conservative government holds a large majority of seats in Parliament but was elected in 2011 with only 40 percent of the vote, because three other parties split the center and left vote. The Conservative base is Alberta, the province from which Prime Minister Stephen Harper and many of his allies hail. As a result, Alberta has extraordinary clout in federal politics, and tar sands influence reaches deep into the federal cabinet.

Both the cabinet and the Conservative parliamentary caucus are heavily populated by politicians who deny mainstream climate science. The Conservatives have slashed financing for climate science, closed facilities that do research on climate change, told federal government climate scientists not to speak publicly about their work without approval and tried, unsuccessfully, to portray the tar sands industry as environmentally benign.

The federal minister of natural resources, Joe Oliver, has attacked “environmental and other radical groups” working to stop tar sands exports. He has focused particular ire on groups getting money from outside Canada, implying that they’re acting as a fifth column for left-wing foreign interests. At a time of widespread federal budget cuts, the Conservatives have given Canada’s tax agency extra resources to audit registered charities. It’s widely assumed that environmental groups opposing the tar sands are a main target.

This coercive climate prevents Canadians from having an open conversation about the tar sands. Instead, our nation behaves like a gambler deep in the hole, repeatedly doubling down on our commitment to the industry.

President Obama rejected the pipeline last year but now must decide whether to approve a new proposal from TransCanada, the pipeline company. Saying no won’t stop tar sands development by itself, because producers are busy looking for other export routes — west across the Rockies to the Pacific Coast, east to Quebec, or south by rail to the United States. Each alternative faces political, technical or economic challenges as opponents fight to make the industry unviable.

Mr. Obama must do what’s best for America. But stopping Keystone XL would be a major step toward stopping large-scale environmental destruction, the distortion of Canada’s economy and the erosion of its democracy.


Thomas Homer-Dixon, who teaches global governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, is the author of “The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization.”

The Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) is a centre for advanced research and teaching on global governance and international public policy, located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. 

The school is a collaborative partnership among Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), the University of Waterloo (UW) and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). The BSIA is housed in the north and west wings of the CIGI Campus building.

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance, founded in 2005 as a not-for-profit institution on July 30, 2001. The organization was created through a $30-million endowment, including $20 million from Jim Balsillie and $10 million from Mike Lazaridis, co-CEOs of Waterloo-based telecommunications firm Research In Motion (BlackBerry).

The founding followed an early-2001 retreat, convened by Balsillie, that brought together experts, academics and other thought leaders to determine how Canada could increase its capacity to contribute to effective multilateral global governance.

CIGI – Originally named the New Economy Institute, the resulting think tank was renamed The Centre for International Governance Innovation in 2002 to clarify its focus and mission. In 2003, CIGI obtained a matching $30-million donation in federal funding, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

In 2007, CIGI partnered with the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University to launch the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA).

In 2009, CIGI announced plans for the new CIGI Campus in Waterloo. The campus houses CIGI and the BSIA. In time, the campus may also be home to other academic and research institutions, including a proposed CIGI program of research and studies in international law.  The $69-million CIGI Campus received federal and provincial funding totalling $50 million through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program and Ontario’s 2009 budget. The City of Waterloo donated the land for the campus through a 99-year lease.


Above tells us that the main goal of this institution is to do Canada good and to place Canada in a leadership position internationally.

By 2010, CIGI was producing over 100 publications annually and employing more than 30 global governance experts across its research programs. Some projects had considerable impact — most notably, CIGI’s proposals for innovation in the G8 system helped lead to the creation of the G20 leaders group.


BSIA Logo.jpg
Abbreviation BSIA
Formation 2007
Type Centre for advanced research and teaching on global governance and international public policy
Headquarters 67 Erb Street West
Location Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


Posted on on March 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Fareed Zakaria, the anchor of the CNN/GPS Global Public Square Program – a journalist and much more – whose program we credited many times as the only program we recommend watching as  a religious commitment to the tube, has a very clear view of the world.

He knows that the dependence on Middle Eastern oil is at the base of all US problems – economical, social, and political – internal and external. From the gauging at the pump – to the political antics of the Brothers Koch.

He knows that the world is changing and US attention must switch to Asia from Europe, and secure its backyard by finding more ways to cooperate with Latin America. To be able to do that,  the US must start by cutting its umbilical cord to the Middle East. Yes, he knows this raises a lot of howls – from the Arabs who think they do a great favor to the US by selling their oil, and eventually from pro-Israel friends in the US that think Israel is still the baby that must be spoon fed rather then credited that it has matured and can be counted upon as a grown up ally. All this even before global warming/climate change is mentioned.

So far so good – and this seems completely correct.  But Fareed may tend to forget the advice scientists – his friends and my friends – give him.

They say – keep away from all fossil fuels, not just the Arab oil – and develop an infrastructure that is based first on energy that was not spent – the cheapest way to enlarge the resource base – and then do everything possible to introduce renewable sources of energy that are long term sustainable.
You will find – we say – that you do not have to wait for the long range, the so called externalities by the fossil fuels industry, when taken into account as expenditures, as they should be, assure us that the alternatives to burning oil and coal make already for sound economics in the medium range.

This weekend Fareed Zakaria backed the Keystone pipeline and the Canada tar-sand oil extraction in Alberta – which will supply that pipeline – this without taking into consideration that this simply plays into the hands of the US oil industry but is a total NO-NO to the seekers for a true alternative. If the idea is simply jobs – it might be reasonable perhaps just to give money to the unemployed without causing the environmental destruction that goes with that pipeline and with the extraction of the Canadian oil.

The moment he leaves the Keystone topic – Fareed returns to his best – the analysis of the evolving China, and of the new opportunities that opened up in Latin America with thr death of Hugo Chavez. Without Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, the US can attempt now a total reconfiguration of its strategy for its own hemisphere-base. Then, with its back more secure – it can extend a friendly hand to a changing China – a continental size, 1.3 billion people large State that is building with maximum speed the largest middle-class the world has ever seen. This new Chinese want quality of life and that they can achieve only by working in tandem with a secure United States. Everybody knows now that there is only one G-2 situation – disturbed now by the US in-fighting – but evident nevertheless to the incoming new Chinese leader.

The days that China had a tremendous labor cost advantage over the US seem to be over, instead they feel water and energy shortages that they must handle in ordr not to slip from their path of growth. They do a lot to phase in renewable energy at a pace that is reasonable to them and would appreciate the breezing space that the US leaves behind when the US decreases imports of oil from Western Asia.Chavez as a devil figure but judges him in context of his country and the region and is able to see the positive aspects of Chavez having taken over leadership in a continent that US governments totally neglected and US business helped destroy. Each Latin country has its own US business excesses to tell about, as coincidentally Iran does. That does not mean that anyone North of the Border will have anything good to say about Chavez or Ahmadi-Nejad, but here we talk needed policy and not sentiments – and Fareed always was ahead of the Washington decision-makers in this non-technical areas.
March 9th, 2013
11:41 PM ET

Why U.S. should back Keystone

By Fareed Zakaria

Watch the video for the full Take.

Later this year, the Obama administration will have to make a decision on whether to green light the Keystone pipeline – the 2,000-mile pipeline that would bring oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. I’m sure you’ve heard all the dire warnings about it. But another way to look at it is to ask what would happen if the project does not go forward.

The U.S. Department of State released an extremely thorough report that tries to answer this question. It concludes, basically, that the oil derived from Canadian tar sands will be developed at about the same pace whether or not there is a pipeline. In other words, stopping Keystone might make us feel good, but it wouldn’t really do anything about climate change.

Why? Well, given the need for oil in the U.S., Canadian producers would still get Alberta’s oil to the refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. There are other pipeline possibilities, but the most likely method of transfer is by train. The report estimates that it would take daily runs of 15 trains with about 100 tanker cars each to carry the amount planned by TransCanada…And remember, moving oil by train produces much higher emissions of CO2 (from diesel locomotives) than flowing it through a pipeline.

For more on this, read the TIME column here.

Post by:

Topics: GPS Show

March 9th, 2013
12:47 PM ET

On GPS Sunday: Debating Keystone, and what comes after Chavez?

“Fareed Zakaria GPS,” Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

On GPS this week, should the Keystone pipeline be allowed to go ahead? Fareed presents his take on the proposed oil pipeline, and then invites a dissenter onto debate the issue: Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

What does the future hold for Venezuela and the region with the passing of President Hugo Chávez? And what does it mean for U.S.-Venezuela relations? Fareed convenes a panel of thinkers including Moises Naim, a former minister of trade and industry in Venezuela, Rory Carroll, author of the new book Comandante, and Nikolas Kozloff, author of Hugo Chávez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the United States.

“In the next few months and perhaps years, they would need to find international external scapegoats and scapegoats at home,” Naim says. “Someone will have to explain to the people that are now addressing President Chavez why the situation, their standard of living, has declined so dramatically. Someone will have to explain why, without Chavez, life is not as good as it used to be.”

And, China’s new president: How Xi Jinping will manage the world’s most important relationship – that with the United States? Fareed speaks with China watcher Evan Osnos.

Post by:

Topics: GPS Show

March 8th, 2013
11:12 AM ET

Meet China’s hardline new president

By François Godement, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: François Godement is a senior policy fellow and head of the China program at the European Council on Foreign Relations. The views expressed are his own.

This week’s National People’s Congress will complete China’s once-in-a decade leadership change, with Xi Jinping becoming the country’s new head of state. China’s partners, and above all Americans, want a China that is a predictable and reliable. After all, huge business interests require stable relations with China. And there is no doubt, China is becoming more powerful – it is not only present in most parts of the world, but has also become a determining factor in the international arena. We would all therefore love to see Mr Xi as a Chinese Gorbachev. But getting to know Xi’s real personality, and his likely style of governing, feels like Kremlinology. And what is emerging is worrying.

Xi is reputedly a charmer with an engaging and easygoing style. His wife is a famous singer, his daughter is quietly studying at Harvard. It is reported that he is even reluctant to embrace a luxurious lifestyle (although this does not appear to prevent some of his relatives from doing so). In public, Xi refrains from making controversial statements – an exception of course being the 2009 remark about the “full stomach” and the “constant finger pointing of Westerners” during a trip to Mexico.


Post by:

Topics: Asia • China • Foreign Policy

What comes after the ‘Great Unifier?’
March 8th, 2013
10:42 AM ET

What comes after the ‘Great Unifier?’

By Mark P. Jones, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Mark P. Jones is the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies and the Chair of the Department of Political Science at Rice University in Houston. The views expressed are his own.

Hugo Chávez was a great unifier.  Not of all Venezuelans, as even the most casual observer of Venezuela realizes, but rather of the two polar political camps into which Venezuela divided during Chávez’s 14 year reign.

Within the Bolivarian movement he created, Chávez was the unquestioned leader, bringing together the disparate factions that together made up the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).  Cliques, distinct ideological groups, varied regional-based interests, and a new wealthy business class (the Boliburguesía, whose members experienced a rise from rags to riches due to their ties to the government) were all united by their support – both principled and self-interested – for Chávez.

On the opposition side, the one common thread that tied together a heterogeneous opposition alliance (the Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD) was the goal of removing Hugo Chávez from power.  This vibrant and often passionate opposition to Chávez provided the glue that held together such diverse actors as socialists, conservatives, state-based parties, recently established parties, and parties linked to the country’s discredited pre-Chávez political system.


Topics: Elections • Venezuela
March 7th, 2013
09:34 PM ET

What we’re reading

By Fareed Zakaria

U.S. wages have fallen from 53 percent of GDP in 1970 to less than 44 percent last year, notes Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times.

“The most succinct way to measure how corporate earnings have fared vs. workers’ wages is to examine their share of the U.S. economy — that is, gross domestic product. From 1950 through the 1970s, corporate profits hovered in the range of 5 percent to 7 percent of GDP. They dipped as low as 3 percent in 1986, but since then have staged a long-term ascent that has brought them to 11 percent today, their highest level since World War II. (That’s as far back as Federal Reserve figures go.)”

“China’s large pool of surplus labor has fueled its rapid industrial growth. Now this demographic dividend may be almost exhausted,” argue Yukon Huang and Clare Lynch in Bloomberg.

“College graduates are four times as likely to be unemployed as urban residents of the same age with only basic education, even as factories go begging for semi-skilled workers. Given the underdeveloped service sector and still-large roles of manufacturing and construction, China has created a serious mismatch between skills of the labor force and available jobs.”



Posted on on July 5th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


This article is about the Canadian city. For other uses,

From top left: Scotiabank Saddledome and Downtown Calgary,    SAIT Polytechnic,   Calgary Stampede,   Canada Olympic Park,    Lougheed House,    Stephen Avenue,    Calgary Zoo


Coat of arms
Nickname(s):   C-Town,   Cowtown,  Heart of The New West,   The Stampede City
Motto: Onward
Calgary is located in Alberta

Location of Calgary in Alberta

Coordinates: 51°03?N 114°04?WCoordinates51°03?N 114°04?W
Established 1875
Incorporated [1]
– Town
November 7, 1884
– City January 1, 1894
• City 825.29 km2 (318.65 sq mi)
• Urban 704.51 km2 (272.01 sq mi)
• Metro 5,107.55 km2(1,972.04 sq mi)
Population (2011)
• City 1,096,833   (3rd)
• Density 1,329.0/km2 (3,442/sq mi)
• Urban 1,095,404
• Urban density 1,554.8/km2 (4,027/sq mi)
• Metro 1,214,839 (5th)
• Metro density 237.9/km2 (616/sq mi)
Postal code span T1Y to T3R
Area code(s) 403587

Calgary play /?kæl??ri/ is a city in the province of AlbertaCanada. It is located in the south of the province, in an area of foothills and prairie, approximately 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The city is located in the grassland and parkland natural regions of Alberta.

As of 2011, the City of Calgary had a population of 1,096,833[2] and a metropolitan population of 1,214,839, making it the largest city in Alberta, and the third-largest municipality and fifth-largest metropolitan area in Canada.[4]

Located 294 km (183 mi) south of EdmontonStatistics Canada defines area between these cities as the “Calgary–Edmonton Corridor.”[5]

Economic activity in Calgary is mostly centred on the petroleum industry and agriculture.

In 1988, Calgary became the first Canadian city to host the Olympic Winter Games.

2012 Calgary Stampede Centennial Celebration

By Terence Leung

Only in Calgary will you find the sights of sheep shearing, thundering chuckwagons racing, and roller coasters all happily co-existing just south of an equally bustling downtown skyline.

For the last 100 years every July, Calgarians and out-of-town visitors have continuously kept the turnstiles spinning at the gates. From July 6th to 15th, this year’s Calgary Stampede is shaping up to be one for the ages as the city gears up to celebrate a century of founder Guy Weadick’s vision of the greatest outdoor show on Earth.

Don’t miss out on these new events and attractions planned for the Stampede’s 100 year celebration:

Light up the City, presented by TransAlta: What’s better than a fireworks show at night? Five of them at the same time. On six nights, fireworks will be launched from each quadrant of the city plus the Stampede grounds and is being billed as the largest fireworks show ever displayed in Canada.

2012 TransAlta Grandstand Show, featuring Paul Brandt: Join Calgary’s own country crooner Paul Brandt for this year’s special Grandstand show. . Every night there will be song, dance, and spectacle in the form of a three-storey birthday cake that will launch fireworks into the sky.

ENMAX Corral Show – TAILS: As part of your Stampede admission, stop by the Corral theatre and watch the story of three horses in a spiritual journey of kinship between humans and horses.

The Midway: Don’t miss this year’s new ride offerings which include a 900 ft zipline and the first Stampede-branded Outlaw Roller Coaster. Just follow the blended screams of terror and joy emerging from grown men and women.

Bell Centennial Plaza: Located in the heart of the Stampede Grounds, this new stage will host musicians, illusionists and acrobats throughout each day.

Music: This year’s Coca Cola Stage will feature performances form acts such as Our Lady Peace, Big Sugar and Carly Rae Jepsen that are free with admission to the grounds. TheScotiabank Saddledome features The Beach Boys on July 11, Garth Brooks on July 12, Johnny Reid on July 13, New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys on July 13, and Brad Paisley on July 14.

There’s no rest for the weary during these 10 days as the party also extends into the city with celebrations planned offsite:

Stampede Breakfasts: Join the volunteer-run Stampede Caravan throughout the ten days for a breakfast to start your day.

To find free flapjacks and meaty goodness, go to Also check out the Fluor Rope Square at Olympic Plaza for breakfasts and other events.

Marching to the Stampede: It’s possible the best way to kick off a ten-day party is with the parade on July 6th. Leading the charge through downtown Calgary this year will be musician Ian Tyson. The parade begins 9 a.m. but getting there earlier will be key to finding a spot to actually watch the parade instead of people’s backsides. A small amount of advance seating is available.

Party Tents: Across the city during the Stampede you can find tents constructed to accommodate more party-goers at bars and pubs such as RanchmansCowboys and theWildhorse Saloon.

More music: Keep your ears open for more artists playing outside the Stampede Grounds. Legendary rap artist Snoop Dogg will be performing at the Cowboys Stampede Tent on July 15. Fort Calgary will be hosting The Oxford Stomp featuring the Goo Goo Dolls, Theory of a Deadman and Big Wreck on July 13. Additionally, Fort Calgary will also hold the Stampede Roundup featuring 54-40, The Tragically Hip and Matthew Good.

The Legendary Prairie Oyster Bonanza: Amongst Bottlescrew Bill’s largest Calgary selection of beers is their 19th annual Testicle Festival serving up the oval-shaped nether-regions of calves in dishes such as fritters or the more aptly-named bacon-wrapped “tendergroin.” Ballsy indeed.

The First Calgary Stampede: For history buffs and folks looking for something a little quieter, the Glenbow Museum is exhibiting the works of Charlie Russell who exhibited at the first  in 1912. Don’t miss this rare and exciting opportunity to see the works from the original exhibition that have been culled from public and private collections around the North America.

For information about the Calgary Stampede, events and attractions, or go


Posted on on May 26th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Center of gravity in oil world shifts to Americas.

By , Published The Washington Post: May 25, 2012.

LOMA LA LATA, Argentina — In a desertlike stretch of scrub grass and red buttes, oil companies are punching holes in the ground in search of what might be one of the biggest recent discoveries in the Americas: enough gas and oil to make a country known for beef and the tango an important energy player.

The environment is challenging, with resources trapped deep in shale rock. But technological breakthroughs coupled with a feverish quest for the next major find are unlocking the door to oil and natural gas riches here and in several other countries in the Americas not traditionally known as energy producers


A tectonic shift in oil supply

Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

A tectonic shift in oil supply

That is quickly changing the dynamics of energy geopolitics in a way that had been unforeseen just a few years ago.

From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005.

“There are new players and drivers in the world,” said Ruben Etcheverry, chief executive of Gas and Oil of Neuquen, a state-owned energy firm that is positioning itself to develop oil and gas fields here in Patagonia. “There is a new geopolitical shift, and those countries that never provided oil and gas can now do so. For the United States, there is a glimmer of the possibility of self-sufficiency.”

Oil produced in Persian Gulf countries — notably Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq — will remain vital to the world’s energy picture. But what was once a seemingly unalterable truth — that American oil production would steadily fall while the United States remained heavily reliant on Middle Eastern supplies — is being turned on its head.

Since 2006, exports to the United States have fallen from all but one major member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the net decline adding up to nearly 1.8 million barrels a day. Canada, Brazil and Colombia have increased exports to the United States by 700,000 barrels daily in that time and now provide nearly 3.4 million barrels a day.

Six Persian Gulf suppliers provide just 22 percent of all U.S. imports, the nonpartisan U.S. Energy Information Administration said this month. The United States’ neighbors in the Western Hemisphere, meanwhile, provide more than half — a figure that has held steady for years because, as production has fallen in the oil powers of Venezuela and Mexico, it has gone up elsewhere.

Production has risen strikingly fast in places such as the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and the “tight” rock formations of North Dakota and Texas — basins with resources so hard to refine or reach that they were not considered economically viable until recently. Oil is gushing in once-dangerous regions of Colombia and far off the coast of Brazil, under thick salt beds thousands of feet below the surface.

A host of new discoveries or rosy prospects for large deposits also has energy companies drilling in the Chukchi Sea inside the Arctic Circle, deep in the Amazon, along a potentially huge field off South America’s northeast shoulder, and in the roiling waters around the Falkland Islands.

“A range of big possibilities for oil are opening up,” said Juan Carlos Montiel, as he directed a team from the state-controlled company YPF to drill while a whipping wind brought an autumn chill to the potentially lucrative fields here outside Añelo. “With the exploration that is being carried out, I think we will really increase the production of gas and oil.”

Because oil is a widely traded commodity, analysts say the upsurge in production in the Americas does not mean the United States will be immune to price shocks. If Iran were to close off the Strait of Hormuz, stopping tanker traffic from Middle East suppliers, a price shock wave would be felt worldwide.

But the new dynamics for the United States — an increasingly intertwined energy relationship with Canada and more reliance on Brazil — mean U.S. energy supplies are more assured than before, even if oil from an important Persian Gulf supplier is temporarily halted.

The fracking ‘revolution’

Perhaps the biggest development in the worldwide realignment is how the United States went from importing 60 percent of its liquid fuels in 2005 to 45 percent last year. The economic downturn in the United States, improvements in automobile efficiency and an increasing reliance on biofuels all played a role.

But a major driver has been the use of hydraulic fracturing. By blasting water, chemicals and tiny artificial beads at high pressure into tight rock formations to make them porous, workers have increased oil production in North Dakota from a few thousand barrels a day a decade ago to nearly half a million barrels today.

Conservative estimates are that oil and natural gas produced through “fracking,” as the process is better known, could amount to 3 million barrels a day by 2020.

“We have a revolution here,” said Larry Goldstein, director of the Energy Policy Research Foundation in New York. “In 47 years in this business, I’ve never seen anything like this. This is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.”

All of this has happened as exports from Mexico and Venezuela have fallen in recent years, a trend analysts attribute to mismanagement and lack of investment at the state-owned oil industries in those countries. Even so, there is a possibility that new governments in Mexico and Venezuela — Mexico elects a new president July 1, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has cancer — could open the energy industry to the private investment and expertise needed to boost production, analysts say.

“There’s a lot of upside potential in Latin America that will boost the oil supply over the medium term,” said RoseAnne Franco, who analyzes exploration and production prospects in the region for the energy consultant Wood Mackenzie. “So it’s very positive.”

Political elements

Much of the exploration, though, will not be easy, cheap or, as in Argentina’s case, free of political pitfalls. Price controls on natural gas and import restrictions have made doing business in Argentina hard for energy companies. And last month, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s populist government stunned oil markets by expropriating YPF, the biggest energy company here, from Spain’s Repsol.

But the prize for energy companies is potentially huge. Repsol estimated this year that a cross section of the vast Dead Cow formation here in Neuquen province could hold nearly 23 billion barrels of gas and oil. That followed a U.S. Energy Information Administration report that said Argentina possibly has the third-largest shale gas resources after China and the United States.

“All the top-of-the-line companies are here,” said Guillermo Coco, energy minister of Neuquen province, including ExxonMobil, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell. Although only about 200 wells have been drilled, Coco said companies here talk of drilling 10,000 or more in the next 15 years.

Wells on the horizon

On a recent day here in a dusty spot called Loma La Lata, German Perez oversaw a team of 30 technicians from the Houston-based oil- services giant Schlumberger as they prepared to frack a well.

The operation was huge: Trucks lined up with revving generators. Giant containers brimmed with water. Hoses used for firing chemicals into wells littered the ground. Cranes hoisted huge bags of artificial sand into mixers. Then, 1,200-horsepower pumps blasted water, chemicals and sand nearly 9,000 feet into the earth. “This is a hard rock, so we create countless cracks and fissures, for the gas and oil to flow,” Perez said.

Staring at the stark landscape, broken up here and there by oil rigs, Perez said he thought many companies would one day arrive in search of oil and gas. “The projections are pretty good,” he said. “In our case, we have been here a year and a half and we have tripled the equipment we have. And we think we will double that in another year.”


Posted on on January 18th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline is Not a Jobs Plan, But an Oil Export Plan

By Climate Guest Blogger on Jan 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm

The Oil Goes to China, the Permanent Jobs Go to Canada, We Get the Spills, and the World Gets Warmer.

by Danielle Droitsch, cross posted from NRDC’s Switchboard

You’ll hear the GOP, the American Petroleum Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce make wild claims about the job creation potential of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Don’t be fooled. The pipeline company itself admits only “a few hundred permanent jobs” are created by Keystone XL.

The debate over whether Keystone XL creates jobs is a convenient diversion from something oil company backers don’t want you to know: this is an export pipeline to help them access foreign markets and bypass the United States. Oil companies will make bigger profits and oil prices for Americans will increase. That’s not a project that helps Americans. It’s a project that helps Big Oil.

CNN posted this interview with a TransCanada executive who admits that permanent jobs would only number “in the hundreds, certainly not in the thousands” from Montana down to Houston:

Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline is Not a Jobs Plan, But an Oil Export Plan

By Climate Guest Blogger on Jan 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm

The Oil Goes to China, the Permanent Jobs Go to Canada, We Get the Spills, and the World Gets Warmer

by Danielle Droitsch, cross posted from NRDC’s Switchboard

You’ll hear the GOP, the American Petroleum Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce make wild claims about the job creation potential of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Don’t be fooled. The pipeline company itself admits only “a few hundred permanent jobs” are created by Keystone XL.

The debate over whether Keystone XL creates jobs is a convenient diversion from something oil company backers don’t want you to know: this is an export pipeline to help them access foreign markets and bypass the United States. Oil companies will make bigger profits and oil prices for Americans will increase. That’s not a project that helps Americans. It’s a project that helps Big Oil.

CNN posted this interview with a TransCanada executive who admits that permanent jobs would only number “in the hundreds, certainly not in the thousands” from Montana down to Houston:

The oil industry is pulling a bait and switch scam with Keystone XL – offering it as a path to economic and national security when the pipeline is mostly meant for export. According to the State Department, only 20 permanent jobs will be created by the pipeline.  Even the pipeline company acknowledged that only “a few hundred permanent jobs’ will be created.   Claims the pipeline will created 100,000 jobs are false.   The U.S. State Department estimates no more than 6,000 temporary construction jobs will be created over the two years. We need better from Republicans when it comes to a jobs plan than a single project with jobs that won’t last.

While the debate over job creation from Keystone XL has attracted a lot of attention, long-term real job creation on which Americans depend is occurring in the clean energy industry.  In just a six week period in September and October 2011,Environmental Entreprenuers, a national community of over 850 individual business leaders, identified the creation of 32,000 clean energy jobs by 100 companies including manufacturing plants, power generation project, renewable energy, and energy-efficiency retrofits.

More than 2.7 million people are working in the U.S. clean energy economy right now – more than the entire fossil fuel industry put together. Every month new clean energy jobs are announced that are shovel-ready and lead to long-lasting permanent job growth in America.  Clean car manufacturers have created over 151,000 quality long term jobs in the United States while saving consumers billions of dollars at the pump. Between 2003 and 2010, the clean energy sector grew nearly twice as fast as the overall economy.

If we are going to truly debate national job creation, we should be working on measures that will create jobs on a national scale while achieving true energy independence for our country. And we’ve already made tremendous strides on that front.

Steven M. Anderson, retired Army brigadier general, argues the Keystone XL pipeline will not help America cut its petro-addition and will detract from building a clean energy economy:

This pipeline would move dirty oil from Canada to refineries in Texas and would set back our renewable energy efforts for at least two decades, much to our enemies’ delight.  It would ensure we maintain our oil addiction and delay making the tough decisions regarding energy production, management and conservation that we need to start making today.

The laser-focus emphasis on Keystone XL by House Republicans, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others is nothing short of politics.  They are conveniently avoiding a more important point about how the Keystone XL pipeline that provides tar sands oil companies a platform to export oil while making billions of dollars in profit.  Instead, the pipeline will take the dirtiest oil on the planet, put America’s heartland at risk, and then send that oil to the highest bidder around the world.

Building pipelines to the Gulf Coast, in addition to providing oil companies an avenue to export, also increases oil prices.  There is concrete evidence (pp. 27-28) that building Keystone XL will increase oil prices in the Gulf Coast Market and the Midwest.

In the end, real job creation won’t come from approving a foreign pipeline.  The evidence shows the future of job creation is in global clean energy markets.  And that the real purpose of this pipeline is to give tar sands producers access to international markets.

Danielle Droitsch is director of Natural Resources Defense Council Canada. This piece was originally published at the NRDC Switchboard blog.


The Obama administration rejected the bid to expand the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline but President Obama said in a written statement the denial “is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline (set by Congress) that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people.”

The pipeline may not be dead. A State Department memo said “the department’s denial of the permit application does not preclude any subsequent permit application.”

“This is not the end of the fight,” said

The Obama administration rejected a bid to expand the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

President Obama said in a written statement the denial “is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline (set by Congress) that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people.”

The pipeline may not be dead. A State Department memo said “the department’s denial of the permit application does not preclude any subsequent permit application.”

“This is not the end of the fight,” said House Speaker John Boehner, adding that the pipeline was “good for the American people, especially those who are looking for work.”

, adding that the pipeline was “good for the American people, especially those who are looking for work.”


Posted on on January 17th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

from  Bill McKibben       –

Dear Friends  —

Time to Blow the Whistle on Big Oil Corruption.

{THEY COULD NOT GET POLICE PERMITS FOR THE MONDAY THE 23rd BECAUSE THE TOWN IS TAKEN BY the annual anti-abortion march on Washington.}

Hate to do this, but the holidays are well and truly over and I fear that if we want to stop the Keystone pipeline, not to mention climate change, we’ve got to get back to work. January 23—a week from Monday, gulp—is the date we need you to circle, especially if you’re somewhere along the East Coast.

Here’s the story–things in Washington are getting weird.  We don’t have super-secret inside information, but as far as we can tell the administration is still committed to calling Big Oil’s bluff—we think they’ll deny the permit for Keystone sometime before the February 21 deadline.

But that seems only to have enraged the fossil fuel industry.The head of the American Petroleum Institute promised ‘huge electoral consequences’ if Obama denies the permits; meanwhile, the fossil fuel harem on Capitol Hill is planning to introduce legislation that would take away the president’s right to make the decision and simply grant the permit themselves.

So: we need to make a stand. A stand against the big money that’s polluted this process: remember, the 234 Congresspeople who voted to expedite Keystone had taken $42 million in dirty energy money. (This week the Maplight Foundation laid it out in even more graphic detail—you can see the details here.)

We need to be outraged—if this is what business as usual looks like, then business as usual isn’t acceptable and has to stop before the planet cooks. No one would countenance this kind of corruption at a high school gymnastics meet—it’s simply not right to take money from a company and then vote on its interests.

Here’s the plan: Instead of circling the White House, this time we’re going to show up at Congress. And we’re going to do it in…referee’s uniforms.

On January 23, the day they return to business, we’ll be there at 3 in the afternoon, ready to blow the whistle on their corruption. The demonstration will start on Capitol hill, and then we will head to the headquarters of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s #1 lobby. We’re going to call penalties—forget facemasking, this is vote-buying. Forget unsportsmanlike conduct—this is undemocratic conduct.

This time we plan to get up close and personal with some of the worst folks on Capitol Hill – it won’t work right away. These guys have been having their way for so long that it won’t dawn on them quickly that the game is us. We’ll have to fight them all spring long to prevent Keystone, and to take away the billions in subsidies that they present each year to the oil industry (with our money). But if we’re going to take back our country we’ve got to start somewhere, and January 23 is the day.


Posted on on December 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The President was elected also in order to promote the switch to American Renewable Sources of Energy and to see to it they are achieved thanks to the creation of new Job Positions in America.

Recommended arguments against tar sands Keystone XL Pipeline threat

by Jan Lundberg
16 December 2011

On Dec. 15, I provided to Bill McKibben, author and founder of, several considerations for opposing the infamous tar sands pipeline. It is right now being forced down our throats if President Obama does not veto a spending bill. At the bottom of this recommendation, we provide an activist alert to fight the Senate’s and the White House’s tendency to compromise at the expense of the public’s and nature’s health.In addition to well-known environmental objections to the Keystone XL Pipeline — offered to counter the “jobs” and “lessen foreign oil” arguments by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives — we recommend a long-term approach.

We need to shift the discussion so as to reframe the issues for sustainability. Unfortunately, most of us who care at all about ecological issues and who might get active, feel forced to try to endlessly stamp out brush fires. Well, here’s a brushfire: the latest from a New York Times editorial for the Dec. 17 edition:

Negotiators were stalled on a separate bill to extend the payroll tax cut, able to agree only to continue it for another two months. Though Democrats dropped their demand to pay for it with a millionaires’ tax, Republican leaders are still insisting on using the bill to advance the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

From the Times‘ news story on the agreement to extend the cut to two months:

…The agreement would also speed the decision process for the construction of an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast, a provision necessary to win over Republicans who opposed the tax break… However, rank-and-file members of the House said on Friday that they were opposed to a short-term extension. Approval in that chamber, even with the provision on the Keystone XL pipeline, is no sure thing… Administration officials indicated that Mr. Obama would not veto the legislation even though the Keystone XL pipeline provision remained in the bill. They said they believed that the president could still delay the pipeline until environmental stipulations were met. “This provision does not mandate it,” the administration official said, “it simply speeds up the review process for a decision.”Nonetheless, environmental advocates were unhappy. “We’re stunned that the president would say one week that he’s going to veto any provision that includes Keystone, and then cave the next week,” said Bill McKibben, founder of, an environmental group opposed to the pipeline. “Where I come from, people don’t do that, but I guess this is Washington.”

Here are the points I provided to Bill McKibben, shared with Energy Bulletin, an online publication of the Post Carbon Institute where McKibben is a Fellow. In anticipation that he would be sought out by the publication for a timely tar sands pipeline article or press release, the recommended points were given to Energy Bulletin. But in the absence of an article, the publication simply ran my memo to McKibben:

Lundberg to McKibben: Combatting the “jobs” argument for the XL pipeline
Jan Lundberg, personal correspondence with EB

I’m wondering what journalistic-activist response there will be right away to the tar sands pipeline gambit that the Republican House has sprung as part of the jobs and benefits legislation hitting Obama.

From AP, tonight: [Dec. 15]
“Boehner also left open the possibility of a compromise on another key sticking point — a House-passed provision that all but requires construction of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.”

I know Bill McKibben’s working on something, as he and I talked today about the “jobs” and “foreign oil” issues that the Republicans are trying to seize on.Below is the gist of what I gave McKibben, as I told him “in no particular order.” He liked all the points I gave. You’re welcome to use my points as a sidebar for an article.



Hi Bill,

Good to chat. Thanks for taking up the charge against oil madness in DC.

If the usual job creation schemes — really for more expansion of the oil-intensive infrastructure and generating profits off what I call “the tanking oil economy” — were instead about long term jobs, the jobs would be oriented toward getting off oil. To summarize what I mentioned today:

  • If the automobile factories massively retooled for bicycle production, that would help workers because the jobs would be sustainable. And carbon emissions would dive, as would oil dependence. If sail power were applied to cargo and passenger service on the seas, rivers and lakes, oil use would go down, as would carbon emissions, and jobs would be generated where ship building has almost died. Young people needing jobs and adventure can go sailing. The land connection for sail based trade & transport would be in part bikes and bike trailers.
  • foreign oil and domestic oil are fungible, and the entire oil industry, from a New York trader to an OPEC gov’t, are in one fraternity of trade on a daily basis.
  • to maximize oil through tar sands is to illustrate the fact that conventional, easy to produce cheap oil has peaked.
  • the fossil fuels-based economic establishment is beginning to die, so tar sands are a desperate attempt to maintain a strategic hold on the world. Boehner and others figure that if the Keystone doesn’t run into the U.S. then a pipeline will get the stuff to BC and then to China. And the National Security State needs another bogeyman for the public to fear: China.
  • we need to question the need for jobs, when good ones are rare, and instead replace the need for jobs by strengthening local economies through barter, boycotting corporate products, and caring for one another in families and neighborhoods. Energy saving brings people together, as in Victory Gardens for local food production via depaving and food-not-lawns.
  • debt-for-nature swap between China and the U.S.: China owns massive U.S. debt, and can “collect” on it harmlessly while transforming the American lifestyle of energy waste: The U.S. would implement energy conservation and renewable energy measures that involve everything from policy change to individual incentives. (A local, city-council resolution campaign is being designed.) The carbon credit is given by the U.S. to China, in exchange for debt reduction, and China gets carbon-emissions reduction credit for the next Kyoto agreement. The U.S.-China treaty thus defuses saber rattling in the Pacific. Please see How China and America can work together to solve climate crisis.
  • More about slashing carbon emissions and moving away from bunker fuel for shipping: People don’t realize that only 16 of the biggest cargo ships today (sixteen) spew out as much air pollution [sulfur, etc.] as all the world’s cars. I didn’t crunch the numbers, but they come from a British study:
    How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world
    and just as mindblowing,
    Container ships slow down to speed of old clipper sailing ships
    One hope I have is that in future when Congress or NPR hear from some “oil analyst,” such a person is not always in the pay of Big Oil or so aligned. I met some more Congressmen in November so maybe I can someday testify and open up other issues than the usual consumer-economy ones!

From Mike Town, Director, Save

URGENT: STOP SENATORS FROM CAVING ON KEYSTONE XL!Send an urgent message telling your Senators “Absolutely NOT!” before it’s too late. Go to the website to register your opposition.

Bill McKibben’s group has an activist alert webpage too: Telephone Barack Obama at 1-202-456-1111


Posted on on October 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

David Suzuki’s Moral Relativism on the ethics of oil.

October 5th, 2011  |  By: Kathryn on the paertisan of the Canadian Oil industry.…

This appeared as an op-ed on today. AND IT SAYS –

It’s encouraging to see David Suzuki, the godfather of Canada’s environmental left, is finally willing to start thinking about the ethical implications of our oil sources. It would be more encouraging if he was willing to acknowledge, as almost any reasonable Canadian will, that some oil producing countries still behave far more ethically than others.

In a column for Vancouver’s Georgia Straight magazine, Suzuki shows himself open-minded enough to concede that our ethical oil cause “raises an important point about the moral implications of products and activities in the global economy.” He even applauds “the move to raise ethics to greater prominence in discussions around trade and economics,” which, as he rightly points out, have historically led to the curtailment of child labour and sweatshops, boycotts of Apartheid-era South Africa, and led to the fair-trade coffee movement.

But when it comes to oil, Suzuki insists that there are no ethics. He doesn’t take issue with our campaign’s argument that Canada treats its workers, its women, its minorities and its environment infinitely better than almost any other major oil producer in the world. He just seems to think that’s irrelevant. The reason? Because Canada isn’t perfect, either. Canadians, he reminds us, failed to live up to the commitments made by Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government when it signed the Kyoto Protocol. “This meant that, as a nation, we were committed to achieving the targets set by the agreement,” Suzuki writes. “Is it ethical to ignore an internationally binding legal commitment?”

The answer to that might surprise Suzuki. Contracts are, after all, routinely cancelled. If they’re designed properly, they even anticipate as much. People cancel their mortgages early, but they are required to pay a penalty to do so because the contract was prepared with that very contingency in mind. Tenants may break their lease, if they have to relocate. Employees may have to quit their job early. Changing your mind isn’t something we normally consider unethical. Canada changed its mind about Kyoto. We weren’t the only country to do so.

Even if you think it is unethical for Canada to have a change of heart, it won’t do to act, as Suzuki does, as if all ethical deficits are all exactly the same. Speeding and murder are both against the law and are arguably unethical, but hardly to the same extent. Suzuki would have us believe that because Canada failed to live up to its Kyoto commitments, that we are just as unethical as the OPEC nations who produce conflict oil on the backs of oppressed workers, while discriminating against women, murdering gays, persecuting minorities, and funding terrorism and war. No serious person could believe such a thing.

“In today’s world, all fossil fuels are unethical,” Suzuki determines, because all fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide, which, he believes, will eventually set off cataclysmic climate change. Even if you think he’s right about that, the fact of the matter is that we’re going to be stuck with fossil fuels for some time yet.  Non-combustible renewables, such as wind and solar, still comprise less than one percent of the world’s energy supply mix, and for good reason: we still need power to move food to markets, heat our homes, and run our schools and hospitals even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. We have a ways to go before we’re done with oil. But until we are, we can make choices about which sources raise the biggest moral challenges. Conflict oil from the Middle East emits carbon dioxide and it fuels misery, repression and bloodshed. Ethical oil from Canada also emits carbon dioxide but fuels a country that promotes peace and social justice while upholding a standard of human rights that is second to none.

If we had ever let perfect become the enemy of the good, as Suzuki would have us do, we would suddenly lose all those historical movements that he himself praises: Why shut down sweatshops overseas when there are still American states without minimum wage laws? Why boycott Apartheid South Africa, when other countries haven’t created utopia on earth yet either?  That kind of moral equivalence is not only frivolous; it actually paralyzes good people from bringing about the positive changes we want to see in the world. The truth is that Canada does behave far more ethically than Saudi Arabia, Iran or Venezuela, our oil is more ethical than theirs, and we should be proud of it — even if David Suzuki isn’t.


The ethics of “ethical oil – 2 days ago
Branding the product of Canada’s oilsands as “ethical oil”—differentiating  This is rhetoric, not ethicsand that fact might make many of us inclined to 

13 related articles

to the above react the ARAB OIL INDUSTRY INTERESTS: in a title:Ethic v. non-ethic Oil – does it matter? and clearly concludes that oil does not stink.



Posted on on September 1st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

President Obama Challenged to Stand Up to Big Oil Lobby.
Analysis by Stephen Leahy, IPS

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”.

The green groups asked the president to be strong and take the first step by denying permission to build the 2,400-kilometre, seven- billion-dollar pipeline, which would pump 700,000 to 800,000 barrels a day of bitumen oil from Canada’s tar sands in northern Alberta.

Thousands of people have brought the same message to President Obama’s front door at the White House in the past 10 days. More than 500 have been arrested for protesting on the White House sidewalk, urging him to take the first step in breaking the country’s addiction to fossil fuels by standing up to the Big Oil lobby.

This is an unusual circumstance, where the president gets to make the “go, no go” decision all by himself. No need to deal with a dysfunctional Congress. And environmentalists argue that for a president whose popularity has plummeted, it would seem to be a public relations coup to take a stand and finally act on his promises to fight climate change.

No easy decision:

The problem for President Obama is that some of the world’s most powerful oil companies have a problem. Big Oil has made enormous investments in Canada’s tar sands, the second largest oil reserves on the planet. They need to ship their “product” – and lots of it – to the lucrative U.S. market for processing, and very likely export it to Europe or even China.

TransCanada Pipelines is eager to build the Keystone XL to transport its “product” across the border. The company will charge hundreds of millions a year for the service, but it’s worth it because Big Oil will use the pipeline to make an estimated 40 to 60 billion dollars a year, or maybe more, depending on how high they can jack up the street price of gasoline.

Big Oil has worked hard to ensure the full cooperation and assistance of the government of Canada and the province of Alberta, where the tar sands are located. For a piece of the action, the governments of Canada and Alberta have been slow or failed to enforce their own environmental laws.

Canada has completely ignored its international obligations to reduce fossil fuel use. Both governments have used public funds to furiously lobby their counterparts in the U.S. to follow suit.

It was hardly surprising then to see a letter by Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, published Monday in the New York Times using arguments promoting the Keystone project that appear to be lifted from TransCanada’s press releases.

The U.S. and Canada clearly have an oil addiction, but green groups argue that it is oil money that keeps them addicted – and keeps them from getting into rehab.

During the last election cycle, the oil industry gave members of the U.S. Congress more than 13.6 million dollars, reports Steve Kretzman of Oil Change International, an NGO that researches the links between oil, gas, coal corporations and governments.

These pay-offs are excellent investments. Top U.S. oil companies reported 73 billion dollars in profits in just the first six months of this year. Part of those profits is thanks to at least four billion dollars in annual subsidies from U.S. taxpayers, noted Kretzman in a recent report.

Despite the U.S.’s ballooning debt crisis, Big Oil will continue to receive this public money in what is by far the country’s biggest welfare fraud. Eight of the 12 members of the newly-named Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction charged with tackling the debt crisis have voted in the last two years to allow oil companies to keep pocketing billions in taxpayer subsidies, Kretzman found.

Remarkably, Canada’s corporate welfare for Big Oil is far higher at 2.84 billion dollars in 2008 according to International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) based in Winnipeg, Canada. Last month one of the world’s richest corporations, Shell Oil agreed to accept a ‘gift’ of 865 million in Canadian taxpayer’s dollars to cover most of the cost of building an experimental carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility to cut its CO2 pollution in the tar sands.

Study after study show that public subsidies for alternative energy – not including corn ethanol – which would actually wean the U.S. and Canada of their oil addiction are a small fraction of what the oil industry get. Which begs the question: If the U.S. and Canada are really trying to kick their oil addiction, why do they keep giving their dealers bonuses?

Unless the river of money flowing into Big Oil’s coffers from subsidies and the biggest corporate profits in history are diverted, scientists and activists say there is no hope of dealing with climate change, the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.


Posted on on August 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

A new paper released by the Canadian International Council asserts that while Canada may need to wait for the United States before deciding on a carbon pricing system, that should not stop it from exploring other initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate Change and Foreign Policy in Canada: Intersection and Influence, written by John Drexhage and Deborah Murphy of the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s climate change and energy program, argues that the Copenhagen Accord has the potential to develop a solid foundation and framework to help countries begin to respond effectively to climate change.

The Canadian government must determine what it wants in terms of a climate and energy regulatory regime; work with the provinces and stakeholders to identify the best way of going forward in Canada; and ensure that this plan would complement US actions and legislation.

The authors recommend the following actions to strengthen Canadian climate change policy:

• A First Ministers’ Meeting to address Canadian energy and climate change policy, and Canada’s profile in the North American energy picture.

• The federal government should develop a credible and comprehensive plan that lays out how Canada intends to meet its target of a 17-percent emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2020.

• Canada should increase support for adaptation strategies and activities at home in the Arctic and in developing countries through bilateral and multilateral assistance.

• Canada’s $400-million contribution under the Copenhagen Accord should create opportunities for bilateral project assistance, including “signature” projects that can be identified with Canada and led by Canadians.

Climate Change and Foreign Policy in Canada: Intersection and Influence can be accessed online at .


Posted on on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Open letter from Dr. James Hansen, published in Aftenposten, May 19, 2010

Dear Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

As you know, I am fond of Norway, and have great respect for your country and its citizens, as well as for your personal ambitions to protect global climate. Your recent rainforest initiative is a splendid example of leadership the world desperately needs. And your commitment at the Copenhagen climate talks to reduce Norway’s emissions 40 per cent by 2020 was exemplary.

However, and especially in light of that, I am disappointed to learn that Statoil, Norway’s state-owned oil company, has taken such backward strides through its strategic decision to invest in Canada’s destructive tar sands industry. As the most energy-intensive source of oil, this project represents the worst of what humans are doing to the planet in a quest to prolong our global addiction to fossil fuels.

It is still feasible to stabilize the climate, but only if we leave the tar sands in the ground. The massive greenhouse gas amounts from the tar sands surely would cause the climate system to pass tipping points, while also trampling on the human rights of Canada’s First Nation communities and greatly damaging the Canadian boreal forest.

Prime Minister Stoltenberg, the world has reached a critical juncture in the climate debate. We can either move into the production of the most damaging fossil fuel, or we can begin to address our destructive addiction. We desperately need leadership at this time. I am confident that you could provide that leadership. Please do not prove me wrong.

In your capacity as owner or more than two-thirds of the shares in Statoil, I urge you to end Norway’s involvement in this dangerous, dirty and destructive project. I ask that you support the resolution at Statoil’s upcoming AGM on May 19th, that Statoil show environmental leadership and pull out of the Canadian tar sands. Statoil may pride itself on being a more responsible company than others, but that will not be enough in the tar sands. If we extract and use the tar sands, there can be no sustainable future for young people.

I look forward to my visit to Norway in June. I hope that it can be a time to celebrate Norwegian leadership in responsible environmental policies

Dr. James Hansen
James E. Hansen is member of the National Academy of Sciences, an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and at Columbia’s Earth Institute, grandfather and winner of the Sophie Prize 2010.
James E. Hansen will visit Norway June 22 and 23 2010 to receive the Sophie Prize.


The answer from the Government:

Dear Mr. Hansen,

Thank you very much for your e-mail to the Prime Minister, which was forwarded to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy as the governmental body responsible for Statoil ownership issues. Let me first take this opportunity to congratulate you on being awarded the Sophie-prize for 2010. I know a lot of people are looking forward to your visit to Norway, and I hope you will enjoy your stay here.

On behalf of the Government, I am pleased to say that we hold your work on climate change in high esteem, and further, that we appreciate your engagement and your views on Norway’s efforts to find good sustainable solutions to the global climate challenges.

As you now know from the results of the Statoil Annual General Meeting, we see Statoil’s oils sands investment as a commercial decision which is within the Statoil board’s area of responsibility. We are of the opinion that such decisions should not be overturned by the AGM. It is our opinion that this is in line with good corporate governance, a view that is also shared by a vast majority in the Norwegian Parliament. I can however assure you that we will continue our offensive stance on climate change issues both at home and abroad, and we look forward to your continued engagement.

Yours faithfully
Robin Martin Kåss
Statssekretær, Olje- og Energidepartementet
Deputy Minister, Ministry of Petroleum and Energy
Postboks 8148 Dep, 0033 Oslo, Norway

Fra: Jim Hansen
Sendt: 24. mai 2010 14:08
Til: Postmottak SMK
Kopi: Jim Hansen
Emne: Climate Change and the Tar Sands Development Vedlegg: Hansen text for ad and letter in both languages.doc

Dear Prime Minister Stoltenberg,

I understand that you may have missed my open letter to you published in Aftenposten, so for your convenience I have attached it here.

My wife Anniek and I are looking forward to visiting your beautiful country in June.
With kind regards,
James E. Hansen


AND THE – Message from Sophie Prize Winner.

I am grateful to Jostein Gaarder and the Sophie Foundation for the opportunity to discuss the state of Earth’s climate, the implications for people and nature, and action that is needed.

Our planet today is close to climate tipping points. Ice is melting in the Arctic, on Greenland and Antarctica, and on mountain glaciers worldwide. Many species are stressed by environmental destruction and climate change. Continuing fossil fuel emissions, if unabated, will cause sea level rise and species extinction accelerating out of humanity’s control. Increasing atmospheric water vapor is already magnifying climate extremes, increasing overall precipitation, causing greater floods and stronger storms.

Stabilizing climate requires restoring our planet’s energy balance. The physics is straightforward. The effect of increasing carbon dioxide on Earth’s energy imbalance is confirmed by precise measurements of ocean heat gain. The principal implication is defined by the geophysics, by the size of fossil fuel reservoirs. Simply put, there is a limit on how much carbon dioxide we can pour into the atmosphere. We cannot burn all fossil fuels. Specifically, we must (1) phase out coal use rapidly, (2) leave tar sands in the ground, and (3) not go after the last drops of oil.

Actions needed so that the world can move on to the clean energies of the future are possible and practical. The actions would restore clean air and water globally, assuring intergenerational equity by preserving creation – the natural world — thus also helping achieve north-south justice. But the needed actions will happen only if the public becomes forcefully involved.
Citizens can help by blocking coal plants, tar sands, and mining the last drops of fossil fuels from public and pristine lands and the deep ocean. However, fossil fuel addiction can be solved only when we recognize an economic law as certain as the law of gravity: as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy they will be used.

Solution therefore requires a rising fee on oil, gas and coal – a carbon fee collected from fossil fuel companies at the domestic mine or port of entry. All funds collected should be distributed to the public on a per capita basis to allow lifestyle adjustments and spur clean energy innovations. As the fee rises, fossil fuels will be phased out, replaced by carbon-free energy and efficiency.
Governments today, instead, talk of “cap-and-trade-with-offsets”, a system rigged by big banks and fossil fuel interests. Cap-and-trade invites corruption. Worse, it is ineffectual, assuring continued fossil fuel addiction to the last drop and environmental catastrophe.

We need a simple honest flat rising carbon fee across the board. It should be revenue neutral – all funds distributed to the public – “100 percent or fight”. It is the only realistic path to global action. China and India will not accept caps, but they need a carbon fee to spur clean energy and avoid fossil fuel addiction.

But our governments have no intention of solving the fossil fuel and climate problem, as is easy to prove: the United States, Canadian and Norwegian governments are going right ahead developing the tar sands, which, if it is not halted, will make it impossible to stabilize climate.

Our governments knowingly abdicate responsibility for young people and future generations. I have been disappointed in interactions with more than half a dozen nations. In the end, they offer only soothing words, “goals” for emission reductions at far off dates, while their actual deeds prevent stabilization of climate.

The Sophie Prize provides a new opportunity to draw attention to the actions that are needed to stabilize climate. Norway may be the best place, with its history of environmentalism. I can imagine Norway standing tall among nations, taking real action to address climate change, drawing attention to the hypocrisy in the words and pseudo-actions of other nations.

So I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister suggesting that the government, as the majority owner of Statoil, should intervene in planned tar sands development. I appreciate the polite response, by letter, from the Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Energy. The government position is that the tar sands investment is “a commercial decision”, that the government should not interfere, and that a “vast majority in the Norwegian parliament” agree that this constitutes “good corporate governance”. The Deputy Minister concluded his letter “I can however assure you that we will continue our offensive stance on climate change issues both at home and abroad”.

A Norwegian grandfather, upon reading the Deputy Minister’s letter, quoted Saint Augustine: “Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.”

The Norwegian government’s position is a staggering reaffirmation of the global situation: even the greenest governments find it too inconvenient to address the implication of scientific facts. Perhaps our governments are in the hip pocket of the fossil fuel industry – but that is not for science to say.

What I can say from the science is this: the plans that governments, including Norway, are adopting spell disaster for young people and future generations. And we are running out of time.

Stabilizing climate is a moral issue, a matter of intergenerational justice. Young people, and older people who support the young and the other species on the planet, must unite in demanding an effective approach that preserves our planet.

Because the executive and legislative branches of our governments are turning a deaf ear to the science, the judicial branch may provide the best opportunity for redressing the situation. Our governments have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the rights of young people and future generations. I look forward to working with young people and their supporters in developing the legal case for young people and the planet.

To the young people I say: Stand up for your rights, for your future. Demand that the government be honest, admit and face the consequences for you from their policies.

To the old people I say: we are not too old to fight. Let us gird up our loins and prepare to fight on the side of young people for protection of the world they will inherit.

I look forward to standing with the youth of the world as they demand their proper due and fight for nature and their future.


Other Recent Publications by Dr. James Hansen:

2010. Obama’s Second Chance on the Predominant Moral Issue of this Century. Op-ed on Huffington Post, Apr. 5.

2010. Only a carbon tax and nuclear power can save us. Op-ed in The Australian, Mar. 11.


Posted on on July 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

TUESDAY, JULY 20, 2010
Canada Coming With Worse Than Oil.
David Cronin…

BRUSSELS, Jul 19 (IPS) – Fears of a trade dispute with Canada have made European Union officials reluctant to categorise tar sands from North America as a more polluting fuel than conventional petrol. Officials working for the EU’s executive, the European Commission, are considering the implementation of a fuel quality law nominally designed to make transport cleaner.

While the overall goal of the directive has been agreed — that oil companies bring down their emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases by 6 percent between this year and 2020 — its fine print has yet to be hammered out. One of the trickiest issues to emerge in the discussions relates to whether imports of non-conventional sources of oil should be restricted.

In a 2009 paper drafted by environment officials tar sands were deemed to be 20 percent more damaging to the climate than the petrol typically used to power Europe’s cars. But this provision was removed from the draft after Ross Hornby, Canada’s ambassador in Brussels, wrote to Karl Falkenberg, head of the Commission’s environment department, in January.

Hornby’s letter – Ross Hornby, Canada’s ambassador in Brussels – was made available to green campaigners, under the EU’s freedom of information rules. In it, he objected to a proposal that fuels derived from tar sands would be treated differently to those using conventional crude oil. The reporting requirements that this would place on energy firms would be too onerous and would constitute a “barrier” to trade, he warned.

Tar sands — a mixture of bitumen, water, sand and clay — lying under the Canadian province of Alberta constitute the world’s second largest proven reserves of oil, outside Saudi Arabia. A study titled Energy Revolution published earlier this month by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council estimated that producing oil from tar sands would release more than four times more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than standard oil drilling does today.

A senior Brussels official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the question of how tar sands should be categorised in the EU “goes further than the quality of oil, it is also a trade question.” The official added that “you can be sure” the matter will be discussed in the context of a nominally separate free trade agreement that the EU and Canada have aimed to conclude by the end of next year.

Stuart Trew from the Council of Canadians, a social justice organisation, said a moratorium on the extraction of tar sands is necessary. The eagerness of the Ottawa government to exploit the reserves under Alberta is “a blight on Canada’s reputation and on the world,” he told IPS.

Trew expressed particular concern about how a draft version of the trade agreement would — if implemented in its current form — allow corporations to take action against measures that they perceive as hostile to trade. A similar provision in the North America Free Trade Agreement has enabled companies to attack health and environmental measures in the U.S. and Mexico, he added, noting that the procedure lets corporations bypass courts and instead set up private panels.

“Any attempt to cut back on the production of tar sands, to make stronger environmental rules or to limit the amount of water used to make tar sands could result in a challenge,” he said. Three to five barrels of water are required for every barrel of oil produced from tar sands.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s commissioner for climate action, wrote to several green groups Jul. 13 promising that a proposal for regulating tar sands would be put forward after her summer break (most Brussels institutions close during August).

A spokeswoman for Hedegaard said that the Commission is “carefully analysing the different options available and will come up with a balanced proposal, including solid reporting requirements necessary for demonstrating compliance with the target.”

Shell, one of the largest investors in the Alberta tar sands industry, has been vigorously lobbying against tough EU fuel quality rules. In May, it hosted a dinner for members of the European Parliament in an attempt to convince them that tar sands extraction should not be vilified.

Ecologists are adamant that a specific “default value” should be set for tar sands, stating that their production must respect EU moves to reduce the environmental impact of transport fuel. Without such a value, tar sands would be treated the same as conventional petrol.

Nusa Urbancic from the organisation Transport and the Environment said that numerous scientific studies have indicated that tar sands must be regarded as dirtier than conventional fossil fuels. The results of the EU’s discussions will have implications that stretch beyond the Union’s borders, she added.

“The European Commission has a duty to protect the environment, not to protect Canada’s (commercial) interests,” she said. “Europe is a standard- setter when it comes to fuels, vehicles, electronic machinery and things like that. The Canadians fear that if the Europe puts in a value for tar sands, other countries will follow. This is clearly a political decision. If we want to prevent climate change, we should be leaving this stuff underground.”


Let us remember – when the US decided to make the introduction of unleaded gasoline mandatory and this decreased the market for tetra-ethyl-lead, the company that made the product started to ship out Canada made ingredients to the US forcing their way via International Trade regulations. This was a real headache of penalties for the State of California – or call it trade extortionism?