Posts Tagged Canada

Oil Spills Under the Sea

Posted by on Monday, 17 May, 2010

The leak in the Gulf is different from many other famous oil spills. Tanker catastrophes like the Exxon Valdez crash dump oil mostly at the top of the ocean. This time, a large quantity of oil is being spilled deep under the waves.

The IXTOC disaster in 1979, which was also in the Gulf of Mexico, also involved a large underwater oil spill. According to Jerome Milligram, a containment dome was used to control the IXTOC spill, as it was in the 2010 leak. In that spill the containment dome, or cap, was successful, although there were issues because of nowhere to place the oil and water which was captured, such as a ship.

Dispersants are used above and beneath the surface of the ocean, to break up the oil. The dispersants do include their own toxicity and environmental dangers, so the decision to use them involves a tradeoff. The Deepwater Horizon response team does not have complete information about the consistency of layers of oil underneath the
ocean, as this spill is deep underwater. This makes any cleanup effort and effort to shut down the spill very difficult.

It is difficult to monitor a sudden disaster, so Canada has come up with a unique solution. Canadian researchers are planning to spill oil in the Arctic to test monitoring and cleanup methods, according to Canada East. This should provide useful data, although the Nunavut Inuit are not happy with the oil spill plans. This project will also test a different type of dispersal method that scatters clay instead of the chemical dispersants which are causing concern in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Canadian Climate Change Accountability Act

Posted by on Sunday, 9 May, 2010

Climate change accountability has come to Canada. The act establishes strong goals, including a very sharp decrease in carbon emissions. The New Democrat Party states that this plan sets a reduction of twenty five percent emissions by 2020, and eighty percent emissions by 2050, below the 1990 levels of carbon emission. This is a very significant move, since those are some aggressive targets.

The New Democratic Party gets to claim responsibility for this act, since others in the Canadian government were trying to reduce the climate change targets. The Green Party of Canada notes that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s conservative legislators are attempting to weaken previous legislation. Negotiators at the climate change conference in Copenhagen noticed these attempts, adding blame to Canada during the international talks. According to the Green Party, the United States planned to invest more money in green energy funding than Canada’s government, although this accountability act will definitely change the likelihood of getting green energy subsidies for renewable energy plant construction in Canada.

The act itself is available at the Parliament of Canada site. The summary explains additional features of the act, such as how it will be enforced including subsidies and penalties. The act is broken up into five year plans that set targets for periods between 2015 and 2045. The gas regulates several greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide, including methane, sulfur and nitrogen dioxides, and chlorofluorocarbons and related chemicals. It does specify that the regulation applies to the shorter chain CFCs, since larger chains do not rise into the atmosphere. Shorter carbon compounds such as propane are gas at room temperature, longer chains such as waxes are solid at room temperature.

This bill includes room for flexibility. There is a lot of room for the Canadian government to set up monitoring methods later, although the legislation does include a mandate to create these monitoring methods. This includes possible permits and inspection for any machine that releases any of these greenhouse gases as well as a possible carbon credit trading exchange. In addition, these regulations are intended to set specific targets for each province of Canada, which brings up the possibility that provinces may trade carbon credits among each other as well. United States manufacturers and resource extractors should pay attention to this legislation, since they are likely purchasing supplies from Canada and this act will add compliance and inspection costs as a component of sales. Truckers should also be concerned, since this act could include additional inspection and installment of devices on trucks allowed into Canadian provinces.