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
An industry executive accidentally dropped a talking points memo [PDF] in an Ohio woman’s driveway after coming to her home to talk about leasing her land for hydraulic fracturing. The memo reveals the extreme lengths that oil and gas companies will go to in order to ensure that people lease their land for hydraulic fracturing.
Called “Talking Points for Selling Oil and Gas Lease Rights,” it is designed for Field Agents to outline how to respond to commonly asked questions, and more importantly, how to avoid answering the hard ones.
What it amounts is essentially trickery on the part of oil and gas companies. The memo suggests that companies are well aware of the dangers of hydraulic fracking, and have found ways to spin the facts around people’s concerns in the name of profit. It also implies that these companies are perfectly willing to intentionally misinform, deliberately omit facts, and categorically deceive people on issues that effect their homes, their families and their health.
By using these tactics, oil and gas companies can sign 5 year leases on land that can legally be extended for up to 40 years if the well continues to produce. As people begin to clue in to the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas companies understand the immediacy by which they must sign leases.
Some of the key points in the memo encourage crafty techniques to pressure homeowners into signing leases. For example:
- “Tell the landowner that all their neighbors have signed. Even if the neighbors have not, this often will push an undecided landowner in favor of signing.”
- “Stress to the landowner that we are primarily looking for oil resources. Searching for oil is less environmentally damaging than the claims against fracing.”… “While it is true that we will be able to evaluate the well in the shale layer for suitability for fracing and gas development, stress the initial hope of finding oil. Any distinction may be enough to finalize the lease.”
- “Well Spacing- This rarely comes up. Landowners do not realize that multiple wells will be necessary. Wells are most effective if spaced 40 acres or further apart. This sounds like a large number, use it. Some might ask how many wells will he in a square mile. Don’t answer that question. Most landowners will not realize that 10-20 wells can be placed in a square mile. Landowners normally own less than 5 acres, unless it is a farm. 40 acres will be a large enough number that wells will seem to be far apart in their mind.”
Read more at desmogblog.com