I just don’t know where to begin.
I can’t find my words because I respect you so much. You’re a woman pioneer who has done much to advance the status of women globally. You’ve donated millions of dollars to various organizations, and have used your talk show to raise the profile of women’s issues. Your philanthropy has funded projects like The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, and Women for Women International. You’ve also used your celebrity to raise awareness of environmental causes, notably the efforts to rebuild the Gulf.
That’s why I’m so stumped right now by your choice to feature ads from EthicalOil.org on your television network.
I’m all about the work that you do, but the logic of promoting tar sands oil by appealing to our desire for women’s liberation, our desire to help protect women in despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia, is deeply flawed and misguided.
The ad [below], which is airing exclusively on your network in Canada, claims that strict rules in Saudi Arabia prevent women from driving, from leaving their homes or working without their male guardian’s permission. With those sad facts firmly established, the ads powerfully appeal to our deep emotions about women’s rights, human rights and fundamental political freedoms by implying that by buying “conflict oil”, we are supporting oppression.
The ad presents Canada’s tar sands as an “ethical oil” alternative to “conflict oil”. At the end of the ad the viewer is told “It’s a choice we have to make”.
So, to be clear, the argument being put forward on your network is that expanding tar sands production will help liberate women from oppressive petrocracies like Saudi Arabia. It also appears to imply that we must support the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would massively expand tar sands production, because it will decrease our reliance on conflict oil.
Let’s unpack this argument a little further.
Read more at desmogblog.com
Right now, the oil and gas industry is holding its breath as the approval of two major tar sands pipelines hang in the balance. The $13 billion Keystone XL pipeline would significantly increase the Canadian export of of dirty tar sands bitumen to the U.S. by as much as 510,000 barrels a day. And, on this side of the border, the ferociously debated $5.5 billion, 1,170 kilometre Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline would carry dirty tar sands bitumen to Kitimat, B.C., where it would be loaded onto supertankers bound for growing energy markets in Asia.
As the decisions near, a series of major oil spills in the last year have highlighted the dangers these two pipelines pose, particularly given the major expansion of tar sands production they would enable.
This week, a pump-station equipment failure at a TransCanada pipeline caused 80,000 litres of oil to spill in North Dakota. The Keystone system has suffered 12 leaks since it opened last June, all of them related to equipment failures at pump stations. Despite the frequent spill record, the pipeline is due to resume operations on Saturday.
The pipeline currently carries up to 591,000 barrels a day of crude from northern Alberta to the oil-storage crossroads in Oklahoma and refineries in Illinois. TransCanada is seeking approval from the U.S. State Department to expand the Keystone system to 1.1 million barrels a day and to extend it from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries on the U.S. Gulf coast. A decision is expected this year.
In addition to the North Dakota leak, Enbridge announced yesterday that it discovered a small leak on its Norman Wells line in the Northwest Territories. The spill’s effects were likely mitigated because the line had already been shut down due to a major spill in Alberta on April 29th, when 28,000 barrels of oil spilled from the rupture of a Plains All American Pipeline. The spill is Alberta’s worst in 35 years, and was more than a third larger than the spill that rocked Michigan in 2010.
On April 30th, Plains Midstream Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of Plains All American, quietly issued a press release informing the public of the crude spill from the Rainbow Pipeline in northern Alberta near Little Buffalo, AB. The spill was thought to be small, and it took a full four days for Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) to issue an announcement that a major spill had occurred.
Read more at desmogblog.com
Earlier this week, Canadians flocked to the polls for the fourth time in 7 years. This time around, the election was triggered when the minority government led by Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper was found in contempt of parliament in March for failing to release information related to the costs of proposed crime legislation and the purchase of stealth fighter jets.
From the moment the election was announced, Harper derided it as ‘unnecessary’, and ‘unwanted’ even though public polling clearly indicated widespread displeasure with his handling of the economy, public programming including programs for women, the environment, and for proroguing parliament twice. After the 2008 election, when voter turnout was the lowest in Canadian history (59% overall, and a dismal youth turnout of 37%), people wondered if this so-called ‘unwanted’ election would fail to motivate voters to the polls.
While pundits and pollsters made their best guesses leading up to election day, no one correctly anticipated the outcome. With just under 40% of the vote, the Conservatives finally won the majority they have coveted since ascending in 2006. The New Democratic Party (NDP) won 102 seats and formed the official opposition for the first time in history. The Liberal Party was reduced to a mere 34 seats, and the Bloc Quebecois lost 90% of its seats to end up with 4. On the positive side, Green Party candidate Elizabeth May won her party’s first seat in North American history.
Of the 14 closest ridings that Conservatives won seats, the combined margin of victory in all those ridings was 6,201 votes. That means the real difference between a Harper minority and majority was just over 6,000 votes. While 5.8 million people voted for Stephen Harper, another 9 million – the ‘real majority’ – voted for change. But, with his new majority, Harper no longer has to worry about impediments to his extreme ideology; he can ram his anti-science, pro-polluter agenda down the throats of the Canadian public. That spells trouble for Canada’s environment, and it’s especially bad news for the global climate.
Despite the news headlines of Harper’s ‘victory,’ sixty percent of Canadians still don’t support his economic policy. Harper will likely table the same budget that he presented before the election. It focused on the economy and jobs – and no, I don’t mean green jobs. Instead, Harper continues to promote and prioritize policies that hold Canada back from a prosperous clean energy future.
The Harper budget proposes to slash funding for clean energy programs and efficiency incentives – all significant job-creation vehicles that happen to protect rather than harm the global climate system.
The Conservatives have yet to introduce climate legislation to meet science-based international commitments to rapidly curtail global warming pollution. Harper’s position isn’t expected to improve over his last 5 years of inaction and obstruction, during which he failed to put in place any meaningful policy to meet his own weak pollution reduction targets (that aren’t even science-based). These policies made Canada a laughing stock in Copenhagen and Cancun. Now, with four years of unchecked Harper power, we’ll likely see more of Harper’s embarrassing stonewalling at international climate change summits including this fall in Durban.
Read more at desmogblog.com