Friday, May 9, 2008

Tar Sands Duck Kill Gives Canadian Oil A Black Eye

A major Canadian oil company is facing a $1 million fine over the death of 500 ducks in a waste pond left over from the extraction of thick tar sand oil.

For many people, the news about the ducks that had the misfortune to land in toxic water is the first visible, and visceral account of the tar sand project.

The area in northern Alberta, Canada, where tar sand oil is being scooped from beneath forest and other virgin lands is often called North America's Saudi Arabia, given the possible recoverable oil there - - but the environmental and energy costs to remove it, and the greenhouse gases produced along the way, show just how desperately addicted we are to petroleum.

And how unwilling we are to look for alternatives, or to achieve genuine gains through conservation.

Instead, the search and craze for oil continues, regardless of the costs.

And some people have even gone so far as declaring the death of the ducks "insignificant," and the oil company's apology for causing it a"grovel."

Some people just don't see the big picture.

Canadian tar sand crude is scheduled to be piped to refineries in the US Great Lakes area, including the Murphy Oil facility set for a big expansion in Superior, WI, and the BP facility in Whiting, IN, where a permitting battle over added pollutants to Lake Michigan caused an uproar in nearby Chicago.

Murphy Oil owns 5% of the Canadian business that is leading the tar sand extraction, according to a Q&A on the business's website.

As oil prices keep rising, tar sand crude extraction becomes more economically feasible, even as the Canadians are using huge amounts of fresh water in the process and may build a nuclear reactor at the edge of the tar sand pits to keep giant shovels running.

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