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Canada’s real international shame — and it’s not Ford November 23, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Canada petroleum, Canadian Mining, Environment.
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Roger’s note: the author ends this article by lamenting the damage done by the Harper government to “Canada’s global reputation.”  What needs to be added to this are the damages themselves done not only to our environment but to the thousands of human beings who suffer at the policies of this mean-spirited and imperious government.


Canada has become the target of unprecedented international condemnation as one of the world’s worst polluters.



The international community is unimpressed with Canada’s environmental record, which for some includes the oilsands industry in Alberta.





When will this horrid scandal end? Can someone please turn the channel? Shamed on the world stage and ridiculed by many, Canada has been exposed in recent days as a country with political leadership that is greedy, self-indulgent, incompetent and dismissive of our children, as well as woefully captive of special interests.

And I’m not referring to Rob Ford. His 15 seconds of fame — as “The Crack-smoking Mayor Who Knocked Down Granny,” as London’s tabloids described him — will end one day. Just keep breathing deeply.


I mean, in tabloid terms, another story: “The Short-Sighted Canadian Government That Robbed Our Children.” And, sadly, its legacy may never end.


What makes it worse is that this comes at a time when the government of Stephen Harper faces criticism for blackening Canada’s reputation in foreign policy in other areas as well.


Although it hasn’t received the media attention of the Ford soap opera, Canada in the past week has been the target of unprecedented international condemnation as one of the world’s worst polluters. These reports have coincided with a major UN climate change conference in Warsaw, Poland.


One after another, accusations have been directed at the Harper government for being an international deadbeat when it comes to climate change and the environment.


The Washington-based Center for Global Development ranked Canada dead last among the 27 wealthy nations it assessed in terms of environmental protection. Every other country has made progress except Canada, according to the group.


A report issued this week by the Europe-based Germanwatch and Climate Action Network placed Canada at the bottom of an international list of countries in tackling greenhouse-gas emissions, ahead of only Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.


By any measurement, this is not how most Canadians want their country to be seen internationally in an area so crucial to Canada as the environment. This challenges the conventional wisdom — often reflected in current political debate and media coverage — that Canadians have tired of the environment and climate change as public policy issues.


According to a new survey released last Monday, Canadians increasingly believe — six in 10 — that climate change is real and caused by human activity, which is the highest level since 2007. But they are losing faith in government to address the issue. The survey was conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research and the David Suzuki Foundation.


These results were broadly consistent with another national survey released in early November that showed that three out of four Canadians were concerned about climate change but many were critical of how the federal government handled the issue. The poll was sponsored by the Canada 2020 think tank and the University of Montreal, and was conducted by Leger Marketing.


The Canadian government’s handling of climate change is part of a pattern. Domestic political calculations here in Canada — rather than any high-minded sense of Canada’s international obligations — seem to drive the Harper government’s foreign policy decisions.


How else to explain Canada’s unquestioning support of the Israeli government? The price of that has been to relegate Canada to irrelevance in the Middle East.


How else to explain Canada’s abrupt decision a year ago to pull its embassy out of Iran? The price of that has been to eliminate any possibility Canada can be a factor in the current nuclear negotiations. Even Britain is now taking steps to reconcile with Iran.


How else to explain Harper’s decision to boycott the recent Commonwealth conference in Sri Lanka in response to pressure from Canada’s Tamil community? The price of that was to sideline Canada from the human rights debate at the conference. In contrast, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who attended the conference, was able to challenge directly the Sri Lankan government for its handling of the Tamil minority.


The Rob Ford scandal has been a genuine black eye for Canada. His continuing presence on the political scene is as mystifying to foreigners as it is embarrassing to Canadians. But one day, thankfully, Ford will be gone.


In a variety of areas including climate change, the damage being done by the Harper government to Canada’s global reputation is a stain that will stay with us for much longer.


Tony Burman, former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News, teaches journalism at Ryerson University. (tony.burman@gmail.com )

‘Nobody Understands’ Spills at Alberta Oil Sands Operation July 22, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Energy, Environment, First Nations.
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Published on Sunday, July 21, 2013 by the Toronto Star

Oil spills at an oil sands operation in Cold Lake, Alberta have been going on for weeks with no end in sight, according to a government scientist.

  by  Emma Pullman and Martin Lukacs

Photos provided by a government scientist show the site of an oil spill in Cold Lake, Alta. The company that runs the operation says it is effectively managing the cleanup.

Oil spills at a major oil sands operation in Alberta have been ongoing for at least six weeks and have cast doubts on the safety of underground extraction methods, according to documents obtained by the Star and a government scientist who has been on site.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has been unable to stop an underground oil blowout that has killed numerous animals and contaminated a lake, forest, and muskeg at its operations in Cold Lake, Alta.

The documents indicate that, since cleanup started in May, some 26,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with surface water have been removed, including more than 4,500 barrels of bitumen.

The scientist said Canadian Natural Resources is not disclosing the scope of spills in four separate sites, which have been off bounds to media and the public because the operations are on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, where there is active weapons testing by the Canadian military.

The company says it is effectively managing and cleaning up the spills.

“The areas have been secured and the emulsion is being managed with clean up, recovery and reclamation activities well underway. The presence of emulsion on the surface does not pose a health or human safety risk. The sites are located in a remote area which has restricted access to the public. The emulsion is being effectively cleaned up with manageable environmental impact,” the company said in a statement.

The documents and photos show dozens of animals, including beavers and loons, have died, and that 30,600 kg of oily vegetation has been cleared from the latest of the four spill zones.

The company’s operations use an “in situ” or underground extraction technology called “cyclic steam stimulation,” which involves injecting thousands of gallons of superhot, high-pressure steam into deep underground reservoirs. This heats and liquefies the hard bitumen and creates cracks through which the bitumen flows and is then pumped to the surface.

The scientist, who asked not to be named for fear of losing their job, said the operation was in chaos.

“Everybody (at the company and in government) is freaking out about this,” said the scientist. “We don’t understand what happened. Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking, or if they do they haven’t put the measures into place.”

In response to emailed questions from the Star, Canadian Natural Resources said it was co-operating with the regulator.

“We are investigating the likely cause of the occurrence, which we believe to be mechanical,” the company said.

“Canadian Natural has existing groundwater monitoring in place and we are undertaking aquatic and sediment sampling to monitor and mitigate any potential impacts. As part of our wildlife mitigation program, wildlife deterrents have been deployed in the area to protect wildlife.

“We are saddened that unfortunately some animal fatalities occurred between the time of the incident and the deployment of our animal deterrent systems. All of the fatalities have been reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator.”

The company added that it has “taken appropriate steps to ensure no additional impact to wildlife or the environment and that the incident site is reclaimed.”

Canadian Natural Resources did not respond to the charge that they aren’t disclosing the scope of the spills.

Oil companies have said in situ methods are more environmentally friendly than the open-pit mining often associated with the Alberta oil sands, but in situ is more carbon and water-intensive.

“In the course of injecting steam they’ve created fractures from the reservoir to the surface that they didn’t expect,” said the scientist, who is speaking out over concern that neither the company nor Alberta’s regulatory bodies would properly address the situation.

On Thursday, the Alberta Energy Regulator confirmed there were four spills in the last few months, and ordered Canadian Natural Resources to restrict its steam injections and enhance monitoring at the operations in Cold Lake.

Regulator official Bob Curran said the latest spill is spread across 40 hectares.

Canadian Natural Resources disputed that figure Friday. “We have the mapped area impacted to be significantly less than 40 hectares with the area being reduced daily through effective cleanup efforts,” the company said.

Critics say such spills raise questions about the safety and viability of in situ extraction, which by 2020 is expected to account for as much as 40 per cent of Canada’s oil sands production, because many of Alberta’s deposits cannot be mined.

“This is a new kind of oil spill and there is no ‘off button,’ ” said Keith Stewart, an energy analyst with Greenpeace who teaches a course on energy policy and environment at the University of Toronto. “You can’t cap it like a conventional oil well or turn off a valve on a pipeline.

“You are pressurizing the oil bed so hard that it’s no wonder that it blows out. This means that the oil will continue to leak until the well is no longer pressurized,” which means the bitumen could be seeping from the ground for months.

The company said the process is sound and has a good track record over 30 years in Alberta. It said that nevertheless it is reviewing its wellbores “to enhance wellbore integrity and modify steaming strategies to prevent the remote possibility of these events in the future.”

The Cold Lake operations are on the traditional territory of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation, which is pursuing a constitutional challenge that argues the cumulative impacts of oil sands industrial development are infringing their treaty rights to hunt, fish and trap.

As well, the First Nation says there are graves alongside the lake in the area affected by the spills, and that band members have been unable to access that area.

© 2013 Toronto Star



Emma Pullman

Emma Pullman is a Vancouver-based researcher, writer and campaigner. She is a campaigner with Leadnow.ca and campaigns consultant with SumOfUs.org.

Martin Lukacs

Martin Lukacs is a writer and activist, and an editor with the Canadian grassroots newspaper the Dominion

Ottawa Sit-In to Protest Federal Support of Oilsands September 26, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Energy, Environment.
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Published on Monday, September 26, 2011 by Postmedia News

by Trish Audette

Environmental groups are hoping to trigger what they call the “largest civil disobedience action in the history of Canada’s climate movement” Monday in Ottawa — a sit-in on Parliament Hill to protest federal government support of Alberta’s oilsands.

“This isn’t about condemning anybody that works in the tarsands or oilsands industry. This is about presenting choices,” said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema. Monday’s action takes aim at Alberta’s oilsands as a whole, but the effort piggybacks on growing American and Canadian attention to the proposed $12-billion Keystone XL pipeline extension. (photo: Peter Blanchard)

The Edmonton-based activist said he hopes people do not see the protest as an attack on Alberta, but as a bid for a “clean-energy economy.”

Monday’s action takes aim at Alberta’s oilsands as a whole, but the effort piggybacks on growing American and Canadian attention to the proposed $12-billion Keystone XL pipeline extension.

As U.S. lawmakers draw closer to deciding whether to approve the massive project, expected to eventually pump 900,000 barrels of raw bitumen daily from Hardisty, Alta., across nine states to refineries in Texas, the pipeline proposal has become a magnet for wider environmental and economic debate on Alberta’s oilsands production. Where environmental activists weigh in against bolstering fossil fuel development, Canadian unions and even former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed have raised questions about exporting jobs. Across the U.S., meanwhile, local organizations worry about backyard environmental issues — including worst-case scenarios for the pipeline’s impact on the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska.

“It’s been an interesting year, and yeah, it’s been challenging,” said Shawn Howard, a spokesman for TransCanada, the Calgary-based company building the pipeline.

In the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the 2010 Enbridge pipeline rupture that affected the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, however, Howard said it was no surprise to find the Keystone XL project in the cross-hairs.

“That changes how people look at an entire industry, not just a single project,” Howard said. “All we can do is point to our industry-leading safety and operating record as something we’re proud of.”

Despite industry assurances — and efforts by members of the Alberta government to intercede by meeting with their American counterparts — opposition to the project drew a range of activists to Washington, D.C. last month for a two-week protest during which about 1,250 people were arrested, including actresses Daryl Hannah, Margot Kidder and Tantoo Cardinal.

Hudema called the Washington action an inspiration for his and other organizations — including the Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians, the Polaris Institute and the Indigenous Environmental Network — which hope more than 100 people will meet in front of the House of Commons on Monday and then move in groups into the building, where they anticipate arrest. Hudema said he expects protesters will arrive from across Canada, including from Alberta.

“It’s more about the tarsands in general, but of course the pipelines are a big part” of the fight, Hudema said. “The pipelines are what are going to allow or prevent the tarsands from expanding (or) the damage from getting significantly bigger.”

Business observers aren’t so sure the protests will capture public imagination to the point where approval for the Keystone XL project stumbles, however — even in light of mass arrests.

“When they put their mind to it they can really put on a good show of force and make a strong statement,” said David MacLean, vice-president of the Alberta Enterprise Group. Since 2008, MacLean’s Edmonton-based umbrella group has taken a cross-section of business leaders and politicians to Washington to talk about and defend the oilsands.

“The debate is so many levels,” MacLean said, including the need for oilsands companies to improve their environmental records.

But also, he said, there is a public-relations battleground.

“Sometimes it means getting your hands dirty because this is a fight.”

And the province’s role in the fight has not gone unnoticed by members of industry or the protesters taking on bitumen extraction, its carbon footprint, tailings ponds and pipelines. Where business people applaud the efforts of ministers and provincial politicians to tell Alberta’s oil story in the United States and abroad, activists like Hudema accuse the government of having become a “mouthpiece” for the oilsands.

“I think industry has asked the government to make sure that we represent what’s true in Alberta and what we represent when we go to America is the Alberta story, which isn’t so much in defence of industry,” International and Intergovernmental Relations Minister Iris Evans said.

Since January, her department and the premier’s office have spent about $92,500 on missions to the U.S. to discuss Alberta-produced energy and build relationships.

Evans is hoping the next premier — to be selected by Progressive Conservatives on Oct. 1 — will visit Washington later this fall as Keystone XL hearings continue, to gauge impacts on residents along the proposed pipeline route.

“I guess you could characterize (protests) as certainly distractions on that front, but I don’t want to belittle their intent,” Evans said.

“I think we have to do our due diligence so that we understand what elements of truth exist in any kind of protest, and make sure that we’re well prepared to defend what we do in the most positive way.”

© 2011 Postmedia News


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Posted by Stonepig

Sep 26 2011 – 9:58am.

“It’s been an interesting year, and yeah, it’s been challenging,” said Shawn Howard, a spokesman for TransCanada, the Calgary-based company building the pipeline.” And the stinking money that will kill so.much. must be pretty challenging to not get if the deal blows up. They are all probably buying up stock in pesticide companies for when the migrating birds no longer migrate in the tarsands area, and we are all left with an insect infestation of a Biblical nature. Hurray for the people of Canada with more people than US, protesting. We are so pathetic. We let a mere thousand do our protesting for us. Shameful. .

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Posted by PuffinThrush

Sep 26 2011 – 12:46pm.

Canadian Naomi Klein protested in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. along with a number of indigenous Canadians.

As Naomi Klein told it, she didn’t intend to get arrested, since she was concerned the United States might refuse to allow her to enter the country again, if she were arrested. But when Naomi Klein saw that the indigenous Canadans had no intention of moving when told to do so by the police, she decided to get arrested with them.

I wonder if there are any citizens of the United States who are risking arrest in Ottawa, Canada, today.

– –

See “Author Naomi Klein arrested in oil sands protest September 3, 2011”. .

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Posted by RV

Sep 26 2011 – 1:11pm.

Given the highly remote likelihood of such protests having any real impact on those who actually make the decisions and policies (hint: not “the people’s representatives”) Americans are conserving their energies for the forthcoming Second American Revolution.

Fat chance! Unfortunately, although any such “peasants revolt” like its precedants might possibly re-position a few of the current imperial powers somewhat, it’s equally unlikely to end imperial tyranny. .

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Posted by 4thefuture

Sep 26 2011 – 12:06pm.

Good for the Canadians to be protesting in mass numbers. If this tar sands stuff is as bad as it seems, shutting it down is the only way to go. If it were as good as the promoters say, then why aren’t they building a refinery in Canada? What kind of sense does it make to send it to Texas? The environment is a loser no matter what if it isn’t stopped. .

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Posted by Alcyon

Sep 26 2011 – 12:48pm.

This protest action is very significant. One can only hope that the public at large pays attention and the Canadian media cover the protest appropriately and not try to ignore it or misrepresent it, cleverly portraying the protesters as some kind of tree-hugging nuts.
>>”“This isn’t about condemning anybody that works in the tarsands or oilsands industry. This is about presenting choices,” said Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema. The Edmonton-based activist said he hopes people do not see the protest as an attack on Alberta, but as a bid for a “clean-energy economy.”<<

That is a real challenge – to get this point across. I can imagine a lot of people in Alberta (Canada's Texas) getting furious about this protest, as it not only impacts on their present livelihood, way of life and recent prosperity, it could even provoke strong feelings of entitlement and the urge to tell "outsiders" to just f*ck off.
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Posted by Lily_otv

Sep 26 2011 – 1:14pm.

Raw bitumen is thicker than molasses in January. Fuel from this type of production is extremely expensive and dirty. Fuel must be used to create the amount of pressure needed to pump raw bitumen. Fuel is consumed to refine the raw bitumen to oil. When the resulting oil is finally burned, it adds yet MORE carbon to the atmosphere. "bitumen extraction, its carbon footprint, tailings ponds and pipelines" degrade the planet. All this without even considering possible environmental damage caused by a leak or spill. Other reasons that Canadians are ticked off: – the Prime Minister is from Alberta with longstanding support for the Alberta oil industry. – the Prime Minister & his government cut financial incentives for the development and production of renewable fuel sources in order to support tarsands production. – the Prime Minister is afraid of the Green Party of Canada. Along with the support of media, the government dinosaurs and backward thinkers prevented participation by the Green Party in election debates. Thanks to the very hard work of Canadians who support Green Party Policies, there is now an MP from the Green Party. Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, former president of the Sierra Club, is now being heard in the Houses of Parliament in Ottawa. Elizabeth May knows more about tarsands, from her first-hand experience, than any other Member of Parliament. Look for her on Monday. .

Posted by Galenwainwright…

Sep 26 2011 – 2:10pm.

The arrests have already started.

Protestors are calmly, peacefully climbing over a Police erected barricade (which is blocking access to public property), and sitting quietly on the grass. While the cameras are on them, the Police are interviewing the protestors, then arresting them and leading them away.

But the Ottawa Police are quite well known for acts of shocking criminal brutality when the cameras are off or not present.

Look for this to get ugly.

Free speech is dead, dead, dead. In Canada, the US, and all over the world.
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Obama’s Pipeline Quagmire September 13, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Energy, Environment.
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Roger’s note: When will they ever learn?  The strategy of not offending Obama is a dead-end.  Obama has long shown his true colors as a hypocrite and dissembler; basically a fraud played on well-meaning youth and liberals.  It is one thing to be loyal, another to be hopelessly naive.  Obama is the enemy.  Just because he is nowhere as loony as a Perry or a Bachman doesn’t mean that he needs to be coddled.
Published on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 by CommonDreams.org


It was the most extraordinary citizen organizing feat in recent White House history. Over 1200 Americans from 50 states came to Washington and were arrested in front of the White House to demonstrate their opposition to a forthcoming Obama approval of the Keystone XL dirty oil pipeline from Alberta, Canada down to the Gulf Coast.

Anyone who has tried to mobilize people in open non-violent civil disobedience knows how hard it is to have that many people pay their way to Washington to join a select group of civic champions. The first round of arrestees – about 100 of them – were brought to a jail and kept on cement floors for 52 hours – presumably, said one guard, on orders from above to discourage those who were slated to follow this first wave in the two weeks ending September 3, 2011.
The Keystone XL pipeline project – owned by a consortium of oil companies – is a many faceted abomination. It will, if constructed, take its raw, tar sands carbon down through the agricultural heartland of the United States – through the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers, the great Ogallala aquifer, fragile natural habitats and Native American lands. Major breaks and accidents on pipelines – four of them with loss of human life- have occurred just in the past year from California to Pennsylvania, including a recent, major Exxon/Mobile pipeline rupture which resulted in many gallons of oil spilling into the Yellowstone River.

The Office of Pipeline Safety in the Department of Transportation has been a pitiful rubberstamp patsy for the pipeline industry for 40 years. There are larger objections – a huge contribution to greenhouse gases and further expansion of the destruction of northern Albertan terrain, forests and water – expected to cover an area the size of Florida.

Furthermore, as the Energy Department report on Keystone XL pointed out, decreasing demand for petroleum through advances in fuel efficiency is the major way to reduce reliance on imported oil with or without the pipeline. There is no assurance whatsoever that the refined tar sands oil in Gulf Coast refineries will even get to the motorists here. They can be exported more profitably to Europe and South America.

In ads on Washington, D.C.’s WTOP news station, the industry is claiming that the project will create more than 100,000 jobs. They cannot substantiate this figure. It is vastly exaggerated. TransCanada’s permit application for Keystone XL to the U.S. State Department estimated a “peak workforce of approximately 3,500 to 4,200 construction personnel” to build the pipeline.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) oppose the pipeline. In their August 2011 statement they said: “We need jobs, but not ones based on increasing our reliance on Tar Sands oil […] Many jobs could be created in energy conservation, upgrading the grid, maintaining and expanding public transportation – jobs that can help us reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy efficiency.”

The demonstrators before the White House, led by prominent environmentalist Bill McKibben and other stalwarts, focused on President Obama because he and he alone will make the decision either for or against building what they call “North America’s biggest carbon bomb.” He does not have to ask Congress.

Already the State Department, in their latest report, is moving to recommend approval. The demonstrators and their supporters, including leaders of the Native American Dene tribe in Canada and the Lakota nation in the U.S., filled much of the area in front of the White House and Lafayette Square. On September 2, I went down to express my support for their cause. Assistants to Mr. McKibben asked me to speak at the final rally at the square on Saturday. I agreed. At 6:25 p.m. we received an e-mail from Daniel Kessler withdrawing their invitation because of “how packed our schedule already is. We’d love to have Ralph there in any other capacity, including participating in the protest.”

The next day, many of the speakers went way over their allotted five to six minute time slots. Observers told me that there were to be no criticisms of Barack Obama. McKibben wore an Obama pin on the stage. Obama t-shirts were seen out in the crowd. McKibben did not want their efforts to be “marginalized” by criticizing the President, which they expected I would do. He said that “he would not do Obama the favor” of criticizing him.

To each one’s own strategy. I do not believe McKibben’s strategy is up to the brilliance of his tactics involving the mass arrests. (Which by the way received deplorably little mass media coverage).

Obama believes that those demonstrators and their followers around the country are his voters (they were in 2008) and that they have nowhere to go in 2012. So long as environmentalists do not find a way to disabuse him of this impression long before Election Day, they should get ready for an Obama approval of the Keystone XL monstrosity.




Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book – and first novel – is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most recent work

Author Naomi Klein arrested in oilsands protest September 3, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Energy, Environment.
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Demonstrators, including Canadian activist Naomi Klein (fouth from left), hold up signs in front of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 2, 2011, to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline project in the US, and the Tar Sands Development in Alberta Canada.
Mitch Potter, Toronto Star, September 3, 2011

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WASHINGTON—More than 1,000 people have been busted at the gates of the White House the past two weeks, as the most ambitious of climate protests against Canadian oil comes to a head.

Toronto author and activist Naomi Klein was not planning to be among them. Support the cause? Sure. Speak to the anti-tarsands faithful? Absolutely. But to actually get arrested?

No, Klein and the other Canadian protesters in Washington agreed — that is a stand best left to their U.S. counterparts, who need not worry whether such close encounters with law enforcement will hamper their ability to cross borders in the future.

Yet there was Klein on Friday, being led away by police in the latest harvest of detainees after a last-second decision to put her liberty on the line in opposition to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Two weeks ago, when the rolling protests began, the detentions lasted two full days. But the sheer volume of arrests — Klein was among 166 taken away Friday — has forced DC authorities to accelerate processing. Barely two hours after she was taken away, Klein was let go. Like everyone else, she was cited for “failure to obey.”

“I wasn’t planning to get arrested,” Klein told the Star minutes after she was sprung.

“It was a last-minute decision. I was sitting there with several indigenous leaders from Canada. And when it became clear they intended to stay where they were and expose themselves to arrest, well . . .” She did the same.

For Klein, it was a first-ever arrest. “I write. And I’m an activist. But I’m not a chanter, not a marcher. I’ve never been arrested before.

“But that’s what’s been happened for two weeks. Climate scientists, landowners, a wide range of people who all feel this same sense of urgency. The feeling is that we can’t just talk about the stakes on Twitter and leave it at that. If we mean what we say then we have to act like it.”

Klein is unsure yet whether the bust will come back haunt her in future cross-border travels. For now, her speedy release means she will be free to fulfill plans to address Saturday’s campaign-ending protest in Lafayette Park opposite the White House.

The overarching question in D.C., however, is whether the cause is already lost.

Though no final decision on the $7 billion TransCanada pipeline is expected for 90 days, all the body language emanating from the Obama administration suggests minds are made up and the project to nearly double the American intact of carbon-intensive Alberta bitumen is a go.

Last week the U.S. State Department gave the strongest endorsement yet of the plan to build the metre-wide steel straw from Alberta to Texas in its final environmental assessment.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu, in a subsequent interview, framed the issue as “not perfect, but it’s a trade-off.

“It’s certainly true that having Canada as a supplier for our oil is much more comforting than to have other countries supply our oil,” Chu said.

And Friday, Team Obama was hastily retreating on another key environmental policy, instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to delay plans to tighten ozone standards. The Sierra Club, among others, denounced the decision as a gift to “coal and oil polluters.”

Many longtime interpreters of Washington’s political tea leaves suggest the final political considerations for Keystone XL come down to jobs. A $7 billion, shovel-ready project here and now, for a President whose future likely depends on how Americans are working in November, 2012, when Obama comes up for re-election.

The political risks for Obama are vast, insofar as many of those arrested these past two weeks are among his truest believers — the young, grassroots activists who help lift him to power in 2008, fully expecting an administration that would follow through on its promise to wean the country off fossil fuels.

One of them, Courtney Hight, acknowledged her discomfort in an interview with the Star. The Floridian activist was “one of the first boots on the ground for Obama,” dedicated three years of her life as his campaign’s Youth Vote Director. She went on to join the White House Council on Environmental Quality before shifting back to activism as co-director of the Energy Action Coalition.

She was arrested Thursday, outside the front door of the President she thought agreed with her.

“It feels inherently weird and uncomfortable for me to do something remotely critical of this president,” Hight told the Star after her release.

“But I feel ownership over his current position. I am disappointed he is not being stronger, although it is understandable given the continuing attacks he is facing,” said Hight.

“We need old Barack Obama to rise above the politics and just barrel through. And so getting arrested, if that is what it takes, is meant to remind him of the things he once believed — things I think he still believes — that inspired millions of young people to support him.”

None are ready to concede defeat on Keystone XL. As Klein says, if the pro-tarsands lobby was “100 per cent convinced the deal is done they would not be blanketing the U.S. TV networks with ads trying to sell this thing to the public.”

But Klein observed that if Obama ultimately approves Keystone XL, part of the fallout will be to free the broader climate movement from the illusion that “there is a saviour in the White House who just needs to be awakened to come to the rescue.”

The protests against Keystone XL, says Klein, are simply one facet of a broader, multi-pronged campaign targeting the industry through multiple pressure points, from consumer campaigns to boycotts to agitating individual corporations to commit to avoiding tarsands oil.

“Powerful movements are built on strategy, not saviours. So if it turns out that Obama approves this pipeline, the movement is not going to crawl away, it’s going to change strategy,” she said.

“It will be healthy for people to know there isn’t a saviour in the White House. We have to build the movement we want. And the strategy can’t be trying wake up one person.”