Tar Sands for the week (Jan 28, 2014).


Is the (current) Fuel Quality Directive (proposed legislation from the EU) a threat to Pacific Coast forests? The short answer is maybe. The same answer would follow the question with Brazil or Indonesia as the location of said forest. With a sub-section of the over-all Kyoto goals of the EU involving cuts in emissions from transport and the fuels used for transportation– and Canada, Estonia and others trying to desperately eliminate such a standard– industries such as biofuels have ‘demanded’ specifics, in order to “force” EU countries into embracing giant agro-fuels and other falsely labelled “renewable” sources for energy.

Sounds good, right? No. It sucks.

All of these “green” answers are actually feeding some of the fastest rates of deforestation around the world. Agro-fuels from Brazil are devastating the Amazon and driving indigenous peoples off their lands. This would be promoted if biofuels were given “green” treatment by the EU. So too would using the pine beetle disaster as an excuse to clear-cut everything in British Columbia’s affected forests (where the majority of the standing trees are not pine– and not dead). How is that happening? Often for internal use but also for export to the EU– trees are now being mashed into pellets as “renewable” fuels.


Obviously this is not what the goal is for the advocates of the FQD. By far one of the largest targets for anti-tar sands solidarity in Europe, alongside campaigns against fracking and more has been the need to legally restrain European member states from being able to import bitumen-sourced fuels (this is especially important given the high quality and quantity of jet fuel that bitumen can produce).


If there is still to be hope of preventing the worst excesses of run-away climate change it will not be because the world’s best and largest intact forests can be sacrificed at the altar of green energy.


There will be a lot more to say on this in the future, but for now a sentence: The need of constant growth in a market economy cannot be maintained alongside a healthy climate and ecosystems. While writing out oil, gas and coal we are trying to write in various forms of ‘green’ energy. Concerned campaigners are trying to win a legislative debate by promising the cake along with the meal. Energy will always need to be harnessed– the need for growth is a separate matter.


So it appears that the EU may be flooded by tar sands after 2020. This, of course, means that the delaying and foot dragging tactics of the Canadian and Estonian lobbying efforts will succeed.


Let’s get this straight: The FQD was passed years ago, but due to the deliberate erasure of commas and the over-crossing of every single t has seen it fail to be implemented. Now, so say the commissioners, it will not be re-upped in 2020, nor will a requirement on renewable energy of 10 percent in transport. Since the FQD has been stalled by the feigned need for perfection and proper ways to implement, should not the same happen in 2020– where every single EU destination needs to show a replacement for the FQD and the renewables “voluntarily” before such laws can be scrapped? That the phase out take at least as long as the “phase in” has thus far? Don’t hold your carbon emitting breath.


It is 2014 now; 2020 is a blink away geologically speaking– and since we are talking in terms of climate stabilization, geological time seems highly appropriate. Let us imagine that tomorrow the FQD were to be implemented and actually honored for the remaining time frame of the current EU climate deal. “So what” is a phrase that comes to mind, seeing as how little time the reprieve would last. The climate will not care, and the EU will be joining in with the North Americans to exterminate life on the planet.

Meanwhile, here in North America Keystone XL (southern leg), the Gulf Coast Pipeline and Keystone (the original) are now flowing with tar sands bitumen to the refineries on the Coast. It already happened.


Bill McKibben made this news the news we were supposed to understand would eliminate any chance of survival. James Hansen said much the same. Will an entirely new strategy, one that takes the best aspects of pipeline resistance (which has mostly failed) and expands into a multi-front resistance be contemplated? Or will the same message– fight the northern half of Keystone XL and treat the Obama administration as an ally, and this issue as the flagship climate fight– continue, even in the face of defeat? We can’t resist science. We can only resist those who deny the science. We have XL by another name. An oil-soaked bird that wheezes like a duck and dies to tar sands oil like a duck– is still a dead duck.


The big-money, foundation-led campaign against Keystone XL is over. The struggles against this or that aspect of it? They certainly continue, notably at the community level. But the Hopey Changey, Move Forward on Climate, trade marked brand Obama campaign has been defeated– by Obama, Harper and the energy companies. The economic system needs oil, and the system was never mentioned during that XL campaign. So when the system is unassailed? Tar sands in a pipeline to Hell.