As news leaks out that the Alberta’s government has launched a C$25 million PR campaign to greenwash oil sands, here is Kenny’s final post from Alberta. Kenny goes behind the spin:

“The rest of the world must share that hope. Through no choice of his own, Coutoreille and the First Nations of Fort Chip are at Ground Zero of a globally significant fight about the future of energy and climate change.

As one gets closer to the tar sands operations and Fort McMurray, the size of the challenge for Steve Coutoreille and Fort Chip becomes reveals itself. Everything about the tar sands is monumentally huge, from the $50,000 tires on the loading trucks to the investment money pouring in.

Local pride is also inflated, as represented by the propaganda of the Oil Sands Discovery Center, which also hosts toddler parties. Fort Mac is in such a bubble that a used double wide trailer costs $200,000.

The sight that really made my jaw drop in wonder was the bizarre Buffalo Preserve, a little park with helpful informational plaques and a spectacular view…of the Syncrude tailings ponds and the gas flares of the upgrader (see photo).

Greenwash abounds, as these world class pollution factories are called “upgraders,” the tailings ponds are re-branded as sand storage conversion,”  and oil sands are marketed as the key to U.S. energy independence.

Certainly it is true that the impact of the Athabasca tar sands goes far beyond this beautiful Province. Accounting for the huge amounts of energy it takes to extract synthetic crude from the Albertan earth, oil from tar sands is three times more carbon-intensive to produce than conventional oil. With reserves second only to Saudi Arabia, Canada simply cannot both fully develop the tar sands and also effectively combat climate change.

Lest Americans feel patriotically outraged by this Canadian cognitive dissonance, they should remember that the US is the major consumer of tar sands crude. It’s a late phase of oil addiction, the phase of searching for veins between the toes when the other veins are used up, as Al Gore put it. And it’s exactly the wrong way to go about lowering energy prices.

Recent events have revealed that perhaps the oil companies don’t exactly have the best interests of the general public at heart when they insist on drilling here, drilling now, drilling to the ends of the earth. The reality is that it is harder and harder to find new oil, and the tar sands, dirty as they are, represent a bonanza for the companies that get in on it.

On the other side, a confluence of interested groups are working for a moratorium, sometimes expressed as “no new approvals,” on tar sands projects. First Nations want to reclaim their land and their health. Canadian environmentalists want to protect a vast, rich boreal ecosystem.  Everyone else wants this moratorium because without it, combating climate change and transitioning to a clean energy future, already perhaps the greatest challenges facing the human race, will be that much harder.

The tar sands have wrecked enough land and enough lives. The view from Alberta is simple: Enough is enough.”