The new oil extraction techniques involve injecting super-heated steam under high pressure deep into the ground, liquefying the hardened, tarry stuff so it can be extracted. Only…sometimes there is a blowout, and the toxic gunk starts oozing out in all kinds of unexpected places. Exactly as is happening in Cold Lake, Alberta, on the lands of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation.
“This is a new kind of oil spill and there is no ‘off button,’” said Keith Stewart, an energy analyst with Greenpeace who teaches a course on energy policy and environment at the University of Toronto. “You can’t cap it like a conventional oil well or turn off a valve on a pipeline.
“You are pressurizing the oil bed so hard that it’s no wonder that it blows out. This means that the oil will continue to leak until the well is no longer pressurized,” which means the bitumen could be seeping from the ground for months.
Would you believe the oil companies are keeping the media and photographers away from multiple blowout sites? Of course you would.
But wait! We Americans don’t have to worry — these tar sand extraction blowouts happen around the site of origin. The US gets the benefit of the oil (less the aforementioned pipeline leaks), while Canada poisons itself.
Thanks, guys! This is the season when I see those obscene mega-recreation vehicles tooling around on the highways, and it’s nice to know you’re willing to murder your beaver in particularly nasty ways, and to kill your majestic trees with toxic chemicals leaching into the ground, all so some smug retired Republican can drive a house down the road.