Enbridge Inc. yesterday announced major expansion plans to its pipeline system that will increase the volume of risky and dirty tar sands flowing to the United States, Central Canada, and even possibly New England.    Significantly, Enbridge now plans to expand and double the capacity of the very same tar sands pipeline (Line 6B) that burst in July 2010 causing the largest tar sands spill in the United States.  The expansion of this tar sands pipeline amounts to double-jeopardy for the community of Marshall Michigan who has faced over 20 months of a prolonged and expensive cleanup of their local river. 

May 17, 2012 | By Danielle Droitsch, Natural Resources Defense Council



In the national debate surrounding tar sands expansion and projects like TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the powerful voices of Americans on the front lines are often lost in the noise. My colleague Rocky Kistner went out and captured some of these voices in a series of interviews. These citizens and their stories are now being gathered and presented in NRDC’s new site, Voices Against Tar Sands, presenting the unscripted views of people on the front lines of tar sands expansion. 

May 15, 2012 | By Anthony Swift, Natural Resources Defense Council



James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, made another appeal this week to end our reliance on tar sands oil or it will be “game over” for the climate.  If we continue to approve pipelines bringing in the dirtiest of fuels like tar sands he said, “there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. — a level that would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.” The production of tar sands oil has three times the global warming emissions as conventional oil production. 

May 11, 2012 | By Danielle Droitsch, Natural Resources Defense Council



An Alberta government sponsored report criticizing the European Union’s own independent analysis of climate emissions from tar sands has created a political debate but misses the science.  A study released yesterday by the Jacobs Consultancy paid for by the Government of Alberta tries to crunch numbers to make tar sands less of a climate problem but in fact cherry-picked certain facts to make tar sands production seem “cleaner.”  In fact, NRDC has shown that multiple independent studies have confirmed that Canada’s tar sands emissions are some of the most carbon-intensive oil on earth and a new study can’t change that fact. 

May 9, 2012 | By Danielle Droitsch, Natural Resources Defense Council



TransCanada has applied to the State Department for a proposed pipeline that would run from the Canadian border to Steele City, Nebraska. This is a new application for the northern segment of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that was rejected by President Obama in January. New, but still posing the same threats to our farms, water and climate. This application means that the environmental review and national interest determination will also start anew. The State Department has indicated that the review will take at least until early 2013. But more important than the timeline, is the quality of the review. A thorough, rigorous and independent review will show that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest. 

May 4, 2012 | By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council



The State Department announced that it has received an application from TransCanada for a Presidential Permit for the northern segment of its proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that the President rejected back in January. Keystone XL would carry 830,000 barrels a day of tar sands from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. Tar sands are the world’s dirtiest form of oil, require a devastating process that lays waste to forests to extract tar sands bitumen, a thick low grade fuel that has significantly higher emissions that conventional crude. A new application means a new review process. 

May 4, 2012 | By Anthony Swift, Natural Resources Defense Council



Oil, dissent and the future of Canada

I spent the past couple of years working internationally and came home to what I thought was an important debate over Canada’s future energy landscape. With Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s open letter attempting to silence Canadians who want to participate in that debate and attacking those concerned about the rapid expansion of the oil sands, pipelines and tanker traffic, I realized that what we are facing is a much bigger issue of democracy and freedom of speech. When this was followed up with an attack on environmental charities, many opinion leaders recognized we are experiencing a witch hunt. Read more >>

May 3, 2012 | By Tzeporah Berman (This post originally appeared as an Op-Ed in The Globe and Mail)



Tar Sands Pipelines Through America -- New England Next?

No wonder New Englanders are nervous about the prospect of tar sands oil pumping through their lands in a pipeline built in 1950. In the last six months, pipeline executives have been talking about reversing the 18-inch Portland-Montreal Pipeline (PMPL) to carry tar sands oil from Canada through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, bound for export through Portland's international shipping port.  This tar sands project would jeopardize much of New England's prize wild places and waterways, and would have serious carbon pollution impacts. Read more >>

April 18, 2012 | By Richard Brown, Sierra Club



Harper adopts the ‘Might Makes Right’ approach to tar sands, pipelines

As the Harper government started rolling out their changes to how resource projects will be reviewed yesterday, the question in my mind was: What won’t this government do to get a tar sands pipeline through BC? Here's a recap of the changes announced yesterday (there are, no doubt, more to come). Read more >>

April 18, 2012 | By Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada



Last week, DeSmog Blog released a video entitled Cry Wolf: An Unethical Oil Story. In the film, scientists and other experts discuss how the government of Alberta has been shooting and poisoning wolves – blaming them for the shrinking of Alberta’s caribou herds to near extinction – rather than protecting caribou habitat. The loss of caribou habitat from the destruction and fragmentation of the Boreal forest for conventional oil and gas development, unsustainable logging practices, and tar sands extraction is the real reason for the diminishing caribou herds. 

April 17, 2012 | By Elizabeth Shope, Natural Resources Defense Council



Since President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline for dirty tar sands oil, some pundits have claimed that Canada’s tar sands oil must be “set free.” Energy companies, they insinuate, are at the mercy of America’s shifting energy policies. Even Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken to saying tar sands oil is “captive” to the U.S. market. Unwanted is more like it. America imports some tar sands oil, but expanding U.S. dependence on this polluting fuel is not in our national interest. It’s a bad product, and we don’t need more of it.

April 11, 2012 | By Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council



PHOTOS: Lakotas Launch Hunger Strike Against Tar Sands Pipelines

In the Dakotas, members of the proud Lakota Nation rose in protest this week to join a  48-hour hunger strike in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline -- and all tar sands pipelines -- they say will destroy precious water resources and ancestral lands in the U.S and in Canada. On Sunday, dozens of hunger strikers and supporters marched at a rally against tar sands oil mining operations and pipelines in Eagle Butte, SD, a impoverished community on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, close to TransCanada’s 1,700 mile proposed Keystone XL pipeline route to refineries in the Gulf. Read more >>

April 3, 2012 | By Rocky Kistner, Natural Resources Defense Council



The Budget's Love Affair With Big Oil

Everyone knows that there are always winners and losers come federal budget time. Yesterday's budget, however, built on the emerging dynamic in federal politics where Big Oil wins big time at the expense of all Canadians -- our health, our right to open and democratic debate, and our pocketbooks. One columnist called the oil-soaked federal budget a "declaration of war on environmentalists" and questions like "so how does it feel to be targeted?" have become commonplace for those of us working on tar sands issues. The reality is that it's Canadians' right to a healthy environment, clean air and water, and a say in big industrial projects that is under attack. Read more >>

March 30, 2012 | By Gillian McEachern, Environmental Defence



Enbridge lobbied hard to "streamline" eco-laws as pipeline debate heated up

When federal Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver first launched his assault on the core elements of Canada’s environmental legislative regime in a January 2012 open letter, everyone knew he was talking about clearing a path for Enbridge proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. What wasn’t as obvious, however, is how hard Enbridge has been lobbying behind the scenes to help change environmental laws so it is easier to get tar sands projects and pipelines approved. Read more >>

March 27, 2012 | By Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada



Pipeline Or Pipe Dream? A China-Bound Alternative To Keystone XL Is No Easy Feat

On inspection the China-bound alternative to the Keystone XL—the Enbridge “Northern Gateway” pipeline—faces hurdles as big if not bigger than Keystone XL. Some groups in Canada call the fight over its approval the “defining environmental battle” of modern times, potentially determining which limits will be placed on the Canadian federal government’s energy and environment policies. The pipeline is now in the midst of a Canadian federal environmental assessment that will go at least to late 2013. Here’s a look at the rough road ahead for the project. Read more >>

March 23, 2012 | By Rick Smith, Environmental Defence Canada, and Andrew Light, Center for American Progress



Texans Say No to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

With news that President Obama will fast track the building of the southern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, Texans in its path say their health and property rights are endangered by a torrent of corrosive tar sands oil that will flow from Canada. From landowners in the northern parts of the state to residents in the polluted refinery towns along the Gulf, the message is clear: the TransCanada pipeline will bring widespread risk of potential economic and environmental disaster to a state that already is burdened by toxic assaults from the massive petrochemical industry. Read more >>

March 21, 2012 | By Rocky Kistner, Natural Resources Defense Council




Gloria Trevino doesn’t need a Washington politician to tell her that a daily gusher of Canadian tar sands crude won’t do her air in south Houston any favors. Surrounded by massive petrochemical plants, she and her neighbors in this industrial community already breathe some of the dirtiest air in the country. Her small one-story pink stucco house is sandwiched between giant multi-colored steel storage containers like a tiny doll house stuck in the middle of a field of gigantic cooking pots. 

March 16, 2012 | By Rocky Kistner, Natural Resources Defense Council



According to the EPA, the emissions from extraction of tar sands to fill a pipeline the size of the Keystone XL would be the equivalent to building 7 new coal fired power plants.  Or, according to our calculations, adding 6.2 million more cars to the road for 50 years.  But its impacts are really far greater, diverting the U.S. from the need to reduce our oil use now to protect against worsening climate change. 

March 9, 2012 | By Liz Barratt-Brown, Natural Resources Defense Council



In a victory for people across the United States, the Senate defeated an attempt to approve the already rejected Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Backers of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline just do not seem to learn: the country does not want a rush to judgment when it comes to building a massive dirty energy project through our heartlands that would be so damaging to our climate, water, land and health. 

March 8, 2012 | By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council



Canada on Tar Sands: "Dig Baby Dig"

Over recent years our best policy analysts, experienced strategists, technical experts, and campaigners have found themselves toiling with the never-ending barrage of attacks by the federal government to counter policies and actions that challenge the reckless expansion and exploitation of the Alberta tar sands. In a new report released today, the Government of Canada's international tar sands advocacy strategy is revealed, based on hundreds of pages of documents obtained through freedom of information laws. Read more >>

March 8, 2012 | By Hannah McKinnon, Climate Action Network Canada



A new report, Dirty Diplomacy: The Canadian Government’s Global Push to Sell the Tar Sands, details how the Harper government is teaming up with the big oil companies to attack climate legislation in the US and Europe, while vilifying environmental and First Nations groups here at home. Simply put, when the government was told that the tar sands are creating problems for water quality, climate change and human rights, they chose to go with a public relations campaign backed by some brass-knuckle politics rather than force the oil companies to clean up their act. 

March 8, 2012 | By Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada



Down in Texas there’s an old saying; “You can put your boots in the oven but it don’t make them biscuits.” That’s an expression Washington politicians and their Keystone XL tar sands pipeline allies should take to heart. Texas landowners say they are fed up with the exaggerated claims and false arguments that Big Oil boosters are making about pipeline plans to ship a river of toxic Canadian tar sands crude through America’s midsection to Gulf refineries. Instead, they say the $7 billion project will threaten the country’s largest drinking water aquifers and its most fertile farmlands, while producing oil products for export. 

March 8, 2012 | By Rocky Kistner, Natural Resources Defense Council




This week the Senate is likely to vote on an amendment that would force approval for the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama already rejected the dirty tar sands pipeline because it needed a more thorough safety and environmental review. Yet instead of allowing engineers, public safety, and other experts to assess the pipeline’s sweeping impacts—on American communities, drinking water supplies, and the stability of our climate—this amendment would let the politicians in Congress decide what is safe. 

March 7, 2012 | By Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council



When the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline permit was rejected in January, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Calgary expressed “deep disappointment” in the decision and commented on the need for Canada to “diversify its energy exports ”.  This is a phrase that has been repeatedly used as code for sending Alberta’s tar sands oil to Asia instead.  But this is an unlikely outcome, as explored below.  Canada is facing a growing chorus of objection to the rapid – and reckless – growth of its tar sands reserves in Alberta.  All the major proposals for moving tar sands oil to Canadian coasts are either currently on hold pending closer review or are stymied due to cost or lack of commercial interest.   This is not expected to change soon, and the serious barriers make it possible that many of these projects will never move forward. 

March 6, 2012 | By Liz Barratt-Brown, Natural Resources Defense Council



Far From D.C., Michigan Residents Fight Their Own Tar Sands Pipeline Battles

As TransCanada announced it would begin building the southern leg of its Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas -- setting the stage for a new Congressional battle over the transnational pipeline -- Michigan residents are worried about a massive tar sands oil spill that persists in their backyards. Thousands of people along the Kalamazoo River are still dealing with a record tar sands oil pipeline accident  that closed 40 miles of their river, with no end in sight. Read more >>

February 29, 2012 | By Rocky Kistner, Natural Resources Defense Council



The Tar Sands’ 200,000 Job Debt?

Apparently, Premier McGuinty hit a nerve with his recent comments about the impact of rising oil exports from Western Canada on manufacturing jobs in Ontario. Alberta Premier Redford shot back calling McGuinty’s concerns “simplistic” and a “false paradigm”. I’d imagine this issue feels mighty real and complicated for the estimated 200,000 families that have faced a lost job due to the resource boom. Read more >>

February 29, 2012 | By Gillian McEachern, Environmental Defence



Bullying American landowners and stockpiling pipe for a rejected project show the arrogance of the Canadian pipeline company TransCanada as it tries to reanimate the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  The latest is that TransCanada is proposing to split the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in two in order to get around the U.S. process to review international pipelines for their national interest.

February 27, 2012 | By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council



The European Union failed to achieve a decisive vote today on its Fuels Quality Directive and will need to revisit the issue in June of this year, after an intense lobbying campaign by Canadian government officials and Big Oil. The lobbying efforts may have delayed the decision to regulate high-polluting sources of fuels, but ultimately the Canadian government and oil companies will find themselves on the wrong side of history.

February 23, 2012 | By Simon Mui, Natural Resources Defense Council



As Congressional Republicans and Big Oil allies in Washington try to resuscitate the massive Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, people on the frontlines have opened a new campaign to stop the massive $7 billion project. In Texas, landowners are locking arms to fight would-be pipeline builder TransCanada over eminent domain cases that may determine where the 1700-mile project will be built.

February 19, 2012 | By Rocky Kistner, Natural Resources Defense Council



Our goal was to send a half million messages opposing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to the Senate in just 24 hours. The final count was just over 800,000 messages sent.  It's time for lawmakers to start heeding people across the country who are saying no to this Big Oil project and other dirty energy projects. We don’t love it and we don’t need it.

February 14, 2012 | By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council



Today, a group of fifteen scientists wrote to Congressional leadership to once again express their concerns about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. Canada’s tar sands underlie an area of the Boreal forest the size of Florida. Big Oil is already extracting around 1.5 million barrels per day of this dirty fuel, which causes 20% more global warming pollution than conventional oil on a life-cycle basis.

February 13, 2012 | By Elizabeth Shope, Natural Resources Defense Council



“[We’re] probably looking at…from Montana to Houston, I don’t know, [job creation] in the hundreds...” (Robert Jones, TransCanada’s Vice President for Keystone Pipelines, CNN, November 11, 2011). Interesting quote. TransCanada and its allies can’t seem to keep their numbers straight for the proposed tar sands Keystone XL pipeline. Just the day before, the company released a press statement predicting 20,000 pipeline and 118,000 “spin-off” jobs. In September of 2010, they claimed 13,000 jobs.

February 1, 2012 | By Laurie Johnson, Natural Resources Defense Council



Rather than preparing to listen respectfully to community members in British Columbia, the Canadian federal government is acting as a spokesperson for Big Oil accusing opponents of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline of being “radicals” and “foreigners.” When it comes to tar sands pipelines, multinational oil companies are hijacking a Canadian process with a recent series of accusations from tar sands interests trying to minimize the very valid Canadian public concerns.

January 9, 2012 | By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council



I’m a banana-a-day kind of person and this morning my Chiquita tasted extra sweet knowing that the company has joined thousands of others who are speaking out against tar sands oil. Chiquita is joining a growing, civic-minded movement that is saying no to dirty fuels.

December 16, 2011 | By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council



Canadian federal government threats that they will send tar sands oil to Asia instead of the United States received a blow yesterday with an announcement of a year delay in a proposed pipeline that would give tar sands oil access to Canada’s west coast and destinations abroad. This is largely in response to an incredible outcry of concern from residents and First Nations in British Columbia as over the past few months thousands of people have signed up to participate in the review hearings across the province.

December 7, 2011 | By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council



A report released today by NRDC, the Pembina Institute and the Living Oceans Society shows the enormous social, economic, and environmental costs to British Columbia of a proposed tar sands pipeline and the associated oil supertanker traffic that it would bring to the glorious Pacific coast. But while the benefits of such a pipeline would be enjoyed by the major oil companies, the costs in the case of oil spills would be borne British Columbia for decades to come.

November 29, 2011 | By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council