Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Scientists and Activists Hold US Press Conference on Conservatives' Tar Sands Agenda

Canadian scientists and activists want Americans to know about the Conservatives' hell-bent agenda to exploit Canada's tar sands reserves. On October 8, 2013 a delegation of Canadian scientists and activists participated in a briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, DC in which they shared a litany of environmental abuse being perpetrated by the ruling Canadian government.

Canada is doing everything in its power to increase exploitation of fossil fuel reserves. According to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club press release, the ruling Conservatives want to triple tar sands production.

The Canadian government is spending $24 million on advertising to promote the tar sands. Canadian fossil fuel interests are also trying to influence the public and US legislators. According to a new white paper by DeSmog Canada, TransCanada Corporation, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, has spent more than $4 million lobbying US federal lawmakers and government department staff since 2010.

In an effort largely intended to win support for the Keystone XL, TransCanada has spent $2.78 million on in-company lobbyists and a further $1.26 million on US based lobby firms since 2010.

For the six years that the federal government has been in power they have amassed a track record of profound environmental neglect. The country has systematically dismantled two decades of environmental legislation and they are very unlikely to meet the country's GHG emissions targets.

“The Canadian government has failed to implement a plan to reduce carbon pollution,” said Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence Canada. “It is on track to miss both its own and international targets for carbon emissions reduction, yet is recklessly pursuing plans to triple tar sands production. To date, the government has shown no ability to act as a credible partner to the U.S. on climate actions.”

The tar sands not only have national implications it also imperils the entire planet. If the Canadian government is allowed to go forward with the expansion of tar sands oil exploitation it will severely undermine efforts to keep global temperatures below two degree Celsius.

“The Harper government will stop at nothing to ruthlessly promote tar sands expansion,” said Tzeporah Berman, Canadian author and resource development activist, and panel member at the briefing. ”We have witnessed a steady erosion of rights and a concerted attack on critical environmental legislation, all as part of a plan to turn our economy towards tar sands. Democratic opposition is no longer tolerated in Stephen Harper’s Canada.”

The country is trying to clear the way for oil pipelines and other projects by withdrawing federal protection of more than 2 million rivers and lakes. They have stymied input on legislation and environmental hearings and they have also prevented federal scientists from sharing the facts about climate change and other environmental concerns.

“Canadians’ right to free expression is being quietly eroded by a pro-oil government insistent on promoting tar sands and silencing anyone who might interfere with those plans,” said panel member Franke James, a Canadian artist. ”Rather than the friendly neighbor to the north, Canada has become the dirty old man.”

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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