InClimate 791; Tar Sand Cannons Boom

The tar sands oil boom comes with an almost constant earsplitting boom, boom, boom in the formerly pristine Alberta Canada where it is extracted. A propane cannon blasts every 10 seconds, 24 hours of every single day - and night - of the year in the new dystopian landscape. The blasts are now a regular 24/7 occurrence along with makeshift scarecrows in an attempt to keep the nearly 200,000 birds from landing on the toxic tailings ponds made up of water, sand, clay, leftover oil and other contaminants.


Tar Sand oil extraction and transport is an environmental nightmare. It is a thick bituminous crude that has to be thinned with other hazardous products like benzene before it can be forced through pipes under pressure. It has a whopping carbon footprint as it’s refined and eventually transported again and finally used.

Tar sand oil is tied to the Keystone XL pipeline, but not only those pipes. There are the dangerous tanker cars and backdoor pipelines like Enbridge Energy’s Line 61. That old grandfathered in line is being quietly beefed up. It already has a border crossing immune to presidential action. Its initial 400,000 barrels per day went up to 560,000 barrels per day last August and there is a planned expansion to 1.2 million barrels per day by 2016. That’s a disastrous jump over Keystone’s planned 800,000 barrels per day. Line 61 is the largest tar sands oil pipeline being developed by the most accident prone distributor with the distinction of the Western Hemisphere’s worst record on oil spills.

The shame of it all is we no longer need a fossil fuel economy. The technology is there to transition away from dirty energy to a clean, renewable energy future.

Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club, visited the tar sands mining site in Alberta and writes about the extraction and aftermath in the latest "Sierra" magazine.

More on Line 61:

Some Disasters:

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