Tag Archives: Tar-sands

The Problem With Traffic Lights: Ex Post Facto Precaution

John Pearson

Firstly for those of you misled by the title into thinking this post was a rant about traffic management systems, my apologies but thank you for the addition to my viewing figures. For those of you still reading at this point, the post will consider the efficacy of the widely used traffic light system of environmental risk management in major extraction projects.

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Accepting the Things We Cannot Change: Part 2 Contamination Concerns

John Pearson

This blog, the second of two, will consider the potential for contamination arising from extreme energy projects. The lack of knowledge regarding the extent, and even existence of contamination arising from such projects necessitates it is suggested a wholly different approach to regulation than that proposed for the previously considered consumption impacts.

The issues discussed here are considered at length in a report published today by ReFine in Marine and Petroleum Geology concerning the safety of onshore shale oil and gas extraction.

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Accepting the Things We Cannot Change: Part 1, Consumption Contained

John Pearson

Researching and writing on unconventional energy sources and, in particular, the ‘tar sands’ of Alberta, Canada presents facts (both questionable and accepted) which shock and appall. However, upon consideration of the phenomenon in the broader contexts in which it undeniably resides, those of energy security, geopolitics and development to name but a few, a degree of realism about such projects is necessitated.

The abandonment of two of the most high profile examples of ‘extreme energy,’ the tar sands, and fracking in the USA and UK, is unlikely. Human reliance on hydrocarbons is undeniable and as conventional reserves dwindle, the incentive to extract unconventional sources rises correspondingly. Denying or failing to recognize our inextricable connection to them for the foreseeable future is at best remiss and, at worst, arguably dangerous. Progress towards alternatives continues to be made, but expecting developments to come to fruition and disconnect us from our reliance upon hydrocarbons entirely would be to ignore reality. Recognition is required that unconventional oil and gas extraction is inescapable in the short term. Regulation should therefore be directed at impacts of the use of hydrocarbons fuels which can be addressed in the relatively near future and may contribute towards their abandonment altogether.

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Car exhaust fumes

The Fuel Quality Directive of the European Commission: A step in the right direction, but only a short one.

John Pearson

The car and van are undeniably the choice modes of transport; road traffic miles in the UK rose by 2.3% this year on last, and have risen by over 20% in the last two decades.  The environmental impact of our seemingly untameable preference to travel by car and transport goods using heavy goods and light goods vehicles remains, therefore, one of the most significant challenges in environmental protection. John Pearson (@johnrpearson) considers the efforts of the European Union (EU) to reduce the impact of this resilient tendency through the Fuel Quality Directive.

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