Backstory: Canadian Tar Sands & the Keystone XL Pipeline

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The world’s largest energy project is underway in Alberta, Canada. Petroleum is being excavated from vast deposits of tar sands and a proposed pipeline would carry it to refineries in the United States. Journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, examines the ecological and economic impacts of the plan to develop the oil sands.


Andrew Nikiforuk

Comments [9]

thatgirl from manhattan

pope john - sadly, those laws would require enforcement. we're electing people to look the other way, it seems.

Sep. 15 2011 05:04 PM
pope jon from Ridge, NY

thatgirl from manhattan,

I agree 100%. Every time I see a commercial with an "Energy Company" touting energy Independence and job security, it really makes me want to start throwing $hit at the TV set.... Especially the recent one trying to convince me fraking for gas is somehow safe and worth any "minor" risk.... Really? Whatever happened to truth in advertisement laws for all media?

Sep. 15 2011 02:16 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

pope john - the fact that these resources we call "ours" would somehow be earmarked, such that it would provide "energy independence" is, indeed, the fiction oil/gas industry has successfully peddled on unsuspecting americans for years now. clearly, few know (or refuse to believe) that oil and gas are commodities, sold to the highest bidder.

this makes cuomo's support of hydrofracking methane gas in NYS potentially one of the riskiest propositions we're facing--and one where the "reward" will go to the few corporations drilling--not the state, landowners, or citizens. all three will shoulder the cost of the filth, disaster, and ill health effects, however.

tony from canarsie - some of us have been getting news about this from reliable sources, like propublica. NPR takes loads of money in support from the oil and gas industry. or haven't you heard their announcer-read "commercials" on the regular?

Sep. 15 2011 02:02 PM
David from Fredericksburg, VA


The man may be correct, but he sure isn't a reporter. Advocate or spokesman, yes. Reporter, no.

Sep. 15 2011 02:00 PM

Jobs? Yes, it will create jobs when the pipeline breaks and thousands of people must clean it up on the government dime as the people who put it there walk away clean.

Sep. 15 2011 01:57 PM
MFan from Staten Island

NPR needs to do serious in depth coverage of this issue, and I'm glad to hear you start some discussion. I was surprised to hear that Lopate didn't know what Chris Hedges was talking about in ref to protests over Keystone XL a few weeks back. Audubon Magazine did a great examination of the project's impact:

The environmental impact of this construction is monumental. In addition to the unsustainable costs of extraction, it will be driven straight through incredibly sensitive environments (the last resorts of countless species) and the country's largest reservoir. The construction will disrupt and displace so much, and should it break, the drinking water and irrigation supply for millions of people will be poisoned. POISONED.

This is inviting disaster on so many levels, putting millions of people and species at risk for the benefit of a few. And not surprisingly, Obama is supporting the construction. Utterly sickening. Between this and the expansion of fracking, I think we're about due for a Deep Green revival.

Sep. 15 2011 01:14 PM
Tony from Canarsie

Just curious, but why does it usually take the US press so long to cover news stories that take place above the 49th parallel? This has been big news in Canada for quite some time.

Sep. 15 2011 01:04 PM
pope jon from Ridge, NY

Oh I forgot to add the oil industry calls the tar sands and fracking to be "extreme" oil drilling. That's their own industry calling it that, not green peace... I think that says it all right there.

Sep. 15 2011 12:48 PM
pope jon from Ridge, NY

Takes 1 barrel of oil to get 3 barrels of oil from oil tar sands. Its the most energy intensive way to get oil except for fracking process. Compare that to 1 barrel of oil to get 14 in Saudi Arabia. It also takes 3 barrels of water to get 1 barrel of oil from tar sands. Source for all these well documented industry facts, Popular Science.

The idea that oil tar sands will decrease our oil dependency from foreign countries is 100% pure fiction. Oil is a commodity traded on the free market. So no matter how long this pipeline is or how much money is spent on it, in the end the oil goes to the highest bidder, no matter who it is or where they are.

Think about it, is there a USA gas only button choice at the pump when you fill up your car? Of course not and neither will the tar sands bring gas prices back down to $1.50 a gallon.

Sep. 15 2011 12:44 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.