According to the poll, conducted by Environics and commissioned by Environmental Defence, 41 per cent of Canadians believe the importance of the oilsands to the economy is six to 24 times higher than it actually is. And a full 57 per cent of Canadians overestimate the value of oilsands to the country’s economy.
We at the TSES are delighted to be participating in the Big on Bloor Festival in our own west-end Toronto neighbourhood. Please stop by and join us anytime on July 19 or 20. We will be parked on Bloor near Dufferin St and the ice-cream truck.
The Northern Gateway Pipeline as Afterschool Special
With the recent approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline the Canadian government opened the theoretical floodgates for bitumen to travel from the oil sands of Northern Alberta, through the Rocky mountains of British Columbia and then out to the coast were it will be transported by ship through a tight network of channels out to the ocean and onto Eastern markets. While some are disappointed and angry about the Canadian government’s decision, many others considered the approval to be a forgone conclusion months ago. Indigenous groups, the province of BC and a number of environmental organizations are now exploring their legal options for putting a halt to project before it even begins. These forthcoming challenges are further complexified by the 209 guidelines handed down to Enbridge (the company who are the masterminds behind the proposed line) earlier this year and which must also be met before construction can begin. While the left and the right seem to be unable to reach a consensus on the need, value and risks of the proposed project they all seem unanimous in their agreement that it will likely be years before the project can proceed, if it ever even happens at all.
Despite all the interesting debate about the project we at the TSES have found ourselves surprisingly sidelined by the linguistic landscape created by and around the Northern Gateway Pipeline. The implications of the word Northern seems clear- it is meant to illicit feelings of Canadian nationalism but is also a nod to the remoteness of the line, passively relying upon the fact that most Canadians live in the southern part of the country which will be largely unaffected by the pipeline, to garner support for the project. The word gateway however is an entirely different matter. A gateway if of course an entrance or passage. It is a point from which something is released, a point from which something could be contained. Like our van, the TSES and most of its creators were born during the 1980s during an era when children were subjected to a popular television format known as the afterschool special. Afterschool specials typically addressed a serious issue that impacted youth and was magically resolved in 60 minutes. By far the most popular afterschool special theme was drug use. In most specials about drug use, marijuana is depicted as the gateway drug that leads a seemingly normal kid from a life of recreational sport and family dinners to an existence dominated by rage, apathy and usually a revelatory stealing of money from a younger sibling. Perhaps like an afterschool special, the pipeline is the weed, the gateway drug, that we Canadians are faced with today. Like the confused youth of the afterschool special we are simultaneously terrified and intrigued. We want to be cool, to impress our older friends (America and China perhaps?) but we also have pretty traditional values (and some important Traditional Knowledge) that simply doesn’t line up with our new interest. And if the Northern Gateway Pipeline is really just a path, a door being opened to other pipelines, then that leads us to wonder what kind of things this will all lead to…
Today’s decision on whether to go ahead with the planned pipeline from Alberta through BC is the most momentous in Harper’s eight years in power. As we await the final word, take a look at this great brief article from the Star about the risks and benefits of approval. Also features lots of great video content generated about the proposed pipeline.
Trading Routes: Grease Trails, Oil Futures is a SSHRC-funded Research / Creation project focused on the intersecting geographies of aboriginal trade routes, Coast Salish “grease trails”, and proposed Alberta-British Columbia oil pipeline. Through collaboration between a multidisciplinary research team and the communities along the trading routes it aims to share and create knowledge about a specific geography and our relationships with it. Trading Routes’ multidisciplinary research team draws on expertise in artistic practice, cultural theory, and education to examine contemporary art as a platform for vital knowledge production and mobilization.
A barge carrying nearly a million gallons of oil collided with a ship in the Houston Ship Channel near Texas City Saturday afternoon.
The US Coast Guard believes some 160,000 gallons of heavy oil spilled into the channel.
“Calgary is a city built on this resource. Calgary is like a classic boom town; all of the skyscrapers in Calgary are named after the energy companies that are extracting the oil from the oil sands, or the banks that are funding them. There are construction cranes all over. And Canada … is defining itself as an energy superpower. I think it surprises a lot of people to hear they have the third-largest oil reserve in the world, behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.”— Reporter for the New Yorker Ryan Lizza speaks on Fresh Air about the Canadian oil industry and the Keystone Pipeline XL controversy (via nprfreshair)
“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.”—Angela Davis - from a lecture delivered at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. February 13th, 2014. (via ninjaruski)
March 7 is the last day the State Department will accept comments on the final Environmental Impact Statement on the Keystone XL pipeline. This is the last step before President Obama makes his decision in the next few months. If you are looking for a fast an easy way to send in your thoughts or comments why not make use of act350.org’s default message to President Obama
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Nebraska court on Wednesday invalidated the governor’s decision to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to pass through the Midwestern state, casting new uncertainty over the controversial
"For nearly a year now, more than 12,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with water have seeped through several long cracks (some as long as 100 metres) in the forest floor near four wells owned by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) in the Cold Lake region."
From the tar sands of Alberta to the oil refineries of Texas, the Keystone XL pipeline poses an array of potential environmental and public health risks along with its advertised economic benefits. Farmers, Native Americans, city dwellers and small town residents — all living along the proposed path — shared with The Huffington Post why they oppose the project.
Bitumen in the tar sands being excavated to produce oil is the likely culprit of the mercury deposits
Scientists have found a nearly 7,500-square-mile ring of land and water contaminated by mercury surrounding the tar sands in Alberta, where energy companies are producing oil and shipping it throughout Canada and the U.S.
I highly recommend that anyone interested in the Northern Gateway Pipeline take a look at the Canadian government project review website to learn the details of the tentative approval of the project. We have highlighted a few revealing tidbits below:
"The Panel’s recommendation report has been submitted to the Minister of Natural Resources and the Governor in Council will make the decision on whether or not the project should proceed. The timeline for the Government’s decision statement is 180 days (approximately six months) from submission of the Joint Review Panel’s report and its Regulatory Recommendation. If the project is approved, the National Energy Board must issue its certificates of public convenience and necessity within seven days of the Government’s decision statement."
" The Panel also recommended that the Governor in Council determine that the construction and routine operation of the project would cause no significant adverse environmental effects, with the exception of cumulative effects for certain populations of woodland caribou and grizzly bear. In these two cases, the Panel found that cumulative effects as a result of this project and other projects, activities or actions are likely to be at the low end of the range of possible significance. The Panel recommended that these effects be found to be justified in the circumstances.
The Panel concluded that the environmental burdens associated with project construction and routine operation can generally be effectively mitigated and that continued monitoring, scientific research and adaptive management could further reduce adverse effects.
The Panel stated that “the environmental, societal and economic burdens of a large oil spill, while unlikely and not permanent, would be significant.” The Panel found that Northern Gateway had taken steps to minimize the likelihood of a large spill through its precautionary design approach and its commitments to use innovative and redundant safety systems. The Panel also found that, after mitigation, the likelihood of significant adverse environmental effects resulting from project malfunctions or accidents is very low.”
Canada has a complicated relationship to empire. On one level, Canada still maintains its formal attachment to Britain and its proximity to the US means that the country is deeply entangled in the project of American imperialism, in both its internal and external manifestations. Yet Canada is not simply a victim of US imperialism or puppet of the monarchy. Indigenous peoples rightfully speak of Canada as a colonising power. And Canada’s economic and political role in the Caribbean and its decade-long role in the war in Afghanistan recast this country as an imperial aggressor. Given its unique relationship to colonialism and colonisation, its close proximity to the world imperial centre, and its ‘quiet’ imperial designs, the stories housed within Canada offer unique insights into processes of nation-building, race, gender, class and the collision between histories of colonialism and imperialism.
Yet, for many readers who live outside Canada, we suspect it is probably counterintuitive to imagine that the histories of empire, colonialism, imperialism, decolonisation, and the current ramifications of the ‘war on terror’ and the destruction of Haiti, can be found here. For that matter, many Canadians do not realise this either. Perhaps this comes from both the internal and external images that often portray Canada as neither violent nor born of violence. The self-image that the country presents to the world is of itself as a western, democratic power that does deeds of global goodness. When your neighbour is the US, it is not hard to convince yourself of such an idyll.
”—Scott Rutherford, Sean Mills and David Austin, “Canada: colonial amnesia and the legacy of empire” (via hagereseb)
Fort McMoney, a documentary game by David Dufresne. Take control of Fort McMurray, Canada, the third largest oil reserve in the world, and make your worldview triumph. A TOXA/ONF production in association with Arte and with the financial participation of the CMF.
Eating My Hat Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass
On September 27, 28 and 29 the TSES was lucky enough to be one of the invited participants at the 2013 DUMBO Arts Festival, an annual celebration of art, music and culture in the DUMBO neighbourhood of Brooklyn, New York. Our parking spot in the Pearl St Triangle afforded us a great view of the bridge, immediate access to amazing food vendors and heaps of visitors.
In popular media, the Tri-State area is depicted as rich mecca of culture, jostling with bodies, ideas and creativity. As someone who lives outside New York I always wondered about the accuracy of this representation and half-assumed that the epic tale of NYC was an accidental exaggeration that had grown over time. After encountering a mere fraction of New Yorkers* at the DUMBO Arts Festival I am delighted to report that I will be eating a side of hat with my ketchup chips. My assumption about the greatness of New York woefully under estimated the amazing people who make that place possible. Visitors to the TSES at DUMBO entered the space with inquisitive and open minds. While some had heard of tar sands, many had not, but all were uniquely willing to discuss their thoughts, explore the van and engage with difficult topics. Nearly every person we met (including the remarkable younger visitors who came by) asked smart questions and provided us with useful information, references and anecdotes. To say were were overwhelmed by the support for the project would be an understatement. We left the festival exhausted but regenerated, ready to tackle the continuing discussion about the Keystone Pipeline, oil sand and the future with renewed gusto and knowledge.
*Please forgive my naive use of the term New Yorkers to encapsulate people from Greater New York. I know not what else to call you. I realize the importance of regionally specific community identities and apologize if my lazy use of language implies otherwise.
It was pouring rain when the TSES arrived in the Byward Market to participate in Supernova, Ottawa-Gatineau’s all night art event Nuit Blanche. The show was scheduled to begin at 6:20 but the instant we opened the doors to start setting-up the visitors began to arrive. Like the deluge of rain that pounded down upon us on all night, the guests to the TSES continued in a constant flow until we closed our doors 10 hours later at 4:20 am. Due, perhaps partially, to the precipitation, our inviting interior and welcoming awning, there was a seemingly endless line queued to get into the van. At first we were a little startled by our popularity. It seemed that everyone in the city of Ottawa from teens to politicians, business owners, bus drivers, club goers, tourists and families wanted to hear about oil. The vans windows steamed with the warmth of the bodies crammed into the space, talking about oil, investigating the samples and debating the Energy East pipeline- a proposal put forward by TransCanada to modify a gas pipeline to carry tar sand bitumen from the oil sand fields of Northern Alberta, across the Prairies, through Northern Ontario, through the Ottawa Valley into Montreal, Quebec City and ending in Saint John New Brunswick. While some were pleased that there might be a chance for Eastern Canada to get some more financial benefits from tar sand mining, others were apprehensive about the impacts of pipelines passing through their neighbourhoods. Like the rain, the perspectives on the issues seemed endless. Many mulled the metaphoric importance of tar sands actually coming to, and directly impacting Ottawa, its citizens and the federal government.
This evening was particularly special for TSES creator Allison Rowe, who was excited to return to her hometown to share this work with the community that originally sparked and supported her interest in art and environmental issues. During the course of the night Allison’s family, high school classmates and summer camp friends passed by the van. Perhaps most exciting of all was an unexpected visit from her high school art teacher, Mr. Oster who is still inspiring students and teaching traditional, as well as digital technologies at Merivale High School. Thank you to everyone for making this such a great night!