A diary piece at daily Kos investigates the environmental impacts of the so-called Palin Pipeline. It points out that the pipeline is not a conduit of natural gas to US consumers, but (as the map shows) to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada where it will be used to power the extraction of oil. Canada has the world’s second largest reserves of oil – 180 billion barrels – but 95 percent of these are embedded in its tar sands. According to desmogblog, the production of a barrel of oil from oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil – so Palin’s pipeline will fuel a massive new source of emissions even before the extracted oil itself is used.
Its impact on water systems will be just as damaging: The water requirements for oil sands projects range from 2.5 to 4.0 barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced, and at least 90% of the fresh water used in oil sands works ends up in vast toxic lakes. The ones in Northern Alberta span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space as shown here:
These tailing lakes are so toxic that ‘propane cannons’ and floating scarecrows are used to keep ducks from landing in them. If the ducks land in them, they die.
The real story here is the imminent construction of the biggest eco-poisoning pump in history. But that’s an abstract idea, so we’ll probably have to use emotive images of dead birds.