To the Last Drop
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To the Last Drop

2011, Environment  -   54 Comments
Ratings: 8.26/10 from 80 users.

Canadian wilderness sits atop what many think is the biggest deposit of oil on the planet. A sea of sand soaked with bitumen - the Tar Sands. The Tar Sands now supply more oil to the United States than any other foreign source. A century of secure energy. Since 9/11, Canada has become the most important supplier of foreign oil to America. It's a market Canada can't afford to lose. Even in the heart of the recession, the oil sands were sending in the order of $20 billion a year into the Canadian economy.

At that level, you will have employment in Canada dependent on oil sands of about 450,000 people. The oil sands are a key to the Canadian economy. Canadian authorities think that there is no greater partnership than the one they have between Alberta and the United States. The base of oil sands expansion is positioning Alberta to become one of the world's top oil producers. They've barely scratched the surface of the oil sands development. With dirty oil under fire, Premier Ed Stelmach shifted into gear and flied to Washington, launching a $25 million PR campaign with a speech in the U.S. Congress. Washington insider, Paul Michael Wihbey, cleared the path to the American decision makers.

The largest proven reserves in the world are in Alberta; eight times the reserve number that exists in Saudi Arabia. As OPEC declines, Alberta, Western Canada rises. There's an ascendency in western Canada that's extraordinary and American politicians are beginning to recognize that. Americans are either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf or dependent on dirty oil from Canada. Of course the U.S. is equally complicit in the whole thing. They're the junkies that are buying the drugs that Canada is peddling.

The Tar Sands are impossible to ignore. Pressure is mounting to build a huge new pipeline from Alberta to refineries in Texas. It will cement the hold of Canada's dirty oil on the U.S. market for a generation. The Alberta Tar Sands lie under Boreal Forests drained by the Athabasca River as it flows northward. Where the river empties into the lake, it forms one of the world's great freshwater delta ecosystems.

Under Canadian law and British Imperial law, the Cree people own that part of Alberta. The most important promise in the treaty is that the Cree Indians would have the right to hunt and fish. Except now, if you look at northern Alberta, particularly northeastern Alberta where the Tar Sands developments are, the developments are so vast, the destruction of the landscape is so extensive, that it's now fair to say that treaty rights themselves can no longer be meaningfully exercised because the habitat of the animals is being destroyed right before our eyes.

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54 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Jessie Bradley

    This is a very unsustainable way of energy production People are dying and nature is getting destroyed because of the tar sands. Furthermore, the loss of so much biodiversity will probably end up costing the world more in the future than the economic benefits of tar sands at present.

  2. Jim Davenion

    Love how all these environmentalists fly around in planes and helicopters - try horse and buggy - hypocrates

  3. Threequalseven

    Roughly half of the oil used in the U.S. is for cars, and there is an amazing effort to keep it this way. Blaming people for their personal choices is hardly enough. You must address the systemic problems.

    Become an advocate for mass transit. Form groups and pressure your elected officials. Demand investments in rail and bus service. Condemn the propagandists who call such investments "wasteful". Impose taxes on gas and penalize wasteful behavior. As this film points out, big-businesses and the politicians who represent them clearly don't respond to concerns about public health, environmental destruction, and finite resources. If there is to be any hope, you must focus on the one thing they understand and squelch systemic demand.

  4. Francis

    I dare say, this is a new form of dictatorship. Far away from USA I'll stay.

  5. Bad Conduct

    It's so obviously bad for the environment... People in the city don't see or understand the consequences, they don't really know or care where the tap water or food comes from.
    This is really going to bite us in the a*s, either environmentally, or more concerning, socially.

  6. KzoVanBC

    No amount of $$$ is worth the destruction of our planet. People need to understand the economy was created by us and we need to change it because it obviously isnt working. The underground reserves are billions of years of history and we've exhausted it in a century. No matter who you are or where your from, if you love life fight to stop the tar sands. The future can be brighter than ever before

    1. avd420

      You can start by turning off your power. Go ahead... we're waiting!

  7. systems1000

    would you sell your soul for 100k/per year?

    1. Mike Kennedy


    2. gert2222

      yeah sure you could save most of it for the cancer treatment you'll need down the road. only dumb people do this sort of work, don't care what their story is.

    3. Jeff Crespo

      i would do this sorta thing knowing 100k/yr would provide my daughter and wife the oppurtunity to live a happy stable life with the finacial means to do whatever they would like with they're respective careers .... it's called sacrifice... few descions in life offer a win win scenario

  8. systems1000

    So far the only thing the Cree nation has gotten is a Quid Pro Quo.

  9. avd420

    I work in the Oil Sands and almost the whole of the Cree nation is employed there. First hand info tells me they're happy with the deal they got.

    1. RedMagnolia

      You spoke with them personally, took poll, just what is you first hand info?

    2. avd420

      Spoke with them personally. As I said, I work there, so do they, we're coworkers.

    3. systems1000

      And so now you like them have become the new capo,s.Am I right?

    4. avd420

      I don't know if you're right. You'd have to clarify what you're talking about before I make that claim.

    5. systems1000

      My comment was ment as allegorical.Its not rocket science that a physically superior force will all ways have its way,by hook or by crook.

    6. avd420

      I agree with you there, systems.

    7. Robert

      They have jobs and income. What will they have when you're gone?

    8. avd420

      If they manage their resources correctly, they'll still have jobs and incomes.

    9. matt van den ham

      most guys on the rigs get about 5k every two weeks, that's roughly 100k/year.

    10. Mike Kennedy

      What do they do on the rigs!? Sign me up!

    11. Gordon Giroux

      a rig is wicked gay through and through bud, you will have lots of money and wear your coveralls to the mall like a door knob :-)

    12. KzoVanBC

      the 100k your all getting is nothing compared to what the greedy politicians and oil barrons profits are. I understand the necessity to provide and live but Unfortunately you're all still modern day slaves whats worse is your effecting every other form of life on this planet. Luckily, united, You all have the power to end this! Please look at the bigger picture its already almost too late

    13. avd420

      I have a skilled trade. I contract out my special skill set and they are the highest bidder. I see no reason for me to compare my negotiated rate with those that employ me.

  10. Imightberiding

    Hard to face that in this day & age (especially in a country such as Canada) that colonialism is still just as active & destructive as it has ever been. To colonize a nation is to say: "You must be like us". If the indigenous people desire to continue living as they have for generations prior to the colonial "conquest" then they just don't matter.

    It is very sad, frustrating & angering to accept that Canada (a nation internationally known for it's tolerance,acceptance & progressive views) is still up to it's ass in the muck of colonial ideas. These native inhabitants never once considered mineral or oil rights to the land they possessed but did anticipate the right to live freely & continue to hunt, fish & forage on these lands they have lived for millennia. Even these basic rights & signed agreements have been ignored.

    A financial boon for modern civilization is always at the cost of those who have lived & managed the land on which these discoveries take place. What cost is too much? As long as it doesn't directly effect or at best, benefits those of us who are not brown?

    As a Canadian, this entire enterprise is beyond shameful to me.

  11. john Palermo

    Ignorance labels advance of demise as "progress" and "necessity". Study the false ego and existing history. Not a single positive human advance will be made after every drop of energy has been squeezed from every source possible leaving only death and dessert in it's wake. Further ignorance is displayed by those who make the Straw Man argument, this point being the most common among the backwards masses.
    After every drop is squeezed and every living system destroyed what will be the excuse then for not siding with a change in direction when there was still a chance for humanity. It's a cliff and every action that stays on the forward path leads higher up the same hill.

    1. Alv V

      "what will be the excuse then" Probably like my father (working in the oil industry) says: 'Oh, I'll be dead then'.

    2. john Palermo

      LOL, my parents are the same way but then again the false ego is what's been instilled into these people. Love my parents very much but they are of the Baby "spoiled" Boomer generation and unfortunately the false ego is so strong in them anything that threatens their legacy of "success" will be protected despite truth.

  12. Alv V

    This makes me so angry, it's burning inside of me. Those greedy old politicians grabbing the money from the oil companies to tell lies should have their tongues torn out before boiling them alive in their filthy oil, together with all those that make this happen willingly, knowing what they do, but still rather enjoy the life and fortune they gain by the death and suffering of those that actually own the land, and the land itself that all future generations there have to rely on after the oil is gone. It's about time people stop talking and saying this is not right, this is not good - everyone already know that for sure - and instead fight against it.

  13. matt van den ham

    I hate to be the guy to point this out, but the natives in that area were all using oil based products. I lived in Alberta for a little while and it really is a horrible thing the oil companies are doing to the land, but at the same time it's bringing huge prosperity to the country so I'm not sure how to deal with this one. I'm just hoping that all the prosperity brings about new fuel technologies. We need better vehicles that allow us to drive long distances that do not require any fuel sources at all.

    1. Lenny

      Well said!

    2. Alv V

      Do you really think it is prosperity with money made from environmental mayhem? And of course there won't be any new fuel technologies and better vehicles with companies that make money to keep things like it currently is. And your comment about "not require any fuel source" is a good image of what people are imagining, actually just a fantasy, waiting for some magic elixir that won't ever be made, because it's impossible to gain energy from nothing. There's currently nothing to replace oil as a fuel, even renewable energy depend on plastics.

    3. tomregit

      @Alv V
      Yes, it does bring prosperity to a multi tiered group of producers and consumers. You are probably correct that new technologies must come from those uninvolved with current energy production.

      "it's impossible to gain energy from nothing".
      Well duh, thanks for pointing that out. Solar, wind, and nuclear are not magic elixers and do not produce energy from nothing. Athough in their infancy, they are available now. However we have a limited window of opportunity to explore and develop new technologies and ideas.

      The amount of petroleum used in producing plastics is miniscule compared to that used in running internal combustion engines and, on its own, would last for hundreds of years.

      In reply to matt van den ham you have pointed out only problems that would result in a dark, scarey, and bleak future. I am now retired and of a generation that you likely view as having put you in this position. However, now is the time for your generation to work on the problems we have not been able to solve. In short, quityourbitchinganddosomething.

    4. matt van den ham

      I've actually been working on designs for alternative fuel driven vehicles for many years now. My goal is to create a vehicle that doesn't require a non renewable resource and it also comes off the ground a few feet. I've always thought that tires and traction are an outdated technology. When you take away the tires you no longer need roads. Think of the billions we spend on road development, repairs, plowing/sanding/salting, and the damage it does on ecosystems. When a highway is built you basically divide an ecosystem in half. Cars require these massive 200+hp engines with huge torque values as well to push itself forward. It is constantly fighting its own resistance and doesn't use momentum or wind to its advantage at all for coasting.
      So I have been working on developing a solution--what can you say? I'm not even retired, you on the other hand have the luxury of time. Why don't you try and help out instead of relying on others to fix the problems your generation left behind for mine.

    5. RedMagnolia

      And what form of power do you plan on using to get your air car off the ground? There is currently no form of energy that is 100% clean from start to finish.

      I drive my car less than 40 miles a week. When I have to drive at highway speeds I keep my speed at 55 as it has been proven to give better mileage. I live in a very small space (about 300 square feet) and use as little electric power as possible. I conserve water. I buy locally grow food. I don't buy bottle water, I use a water filer and a stainless steel water bottle. That' the short list of things I do,

      How small a space are you willing to live in to save the planet, not save mankind but the planet?

      What are you willing to give up to save the planet?

      So unless you are willing to live small and give up things don't jump on someone that is retired and tell him to do something. He may be leading a much smaller life and leaving a smaller footprint than you.

    6. matt van den ham

      You're way off topic.

    7. RedMagnolia

      You answered my question.....

      Your air car will be a personal vehicle powered by Hot Air :-)

    8. matt van den ham

      I'm not sure if that's sarcasm actually. But the concept of a hot air balloon would help it come off the ground actually.

    9. RedMagnolia

      Well if it's not your own hot air then you would realize that it takes a petroleum product to heat the air!

    10. matt van den ham

      not necessarily. there are many ways of achieving this effect. hydrogen, ethanol, propane, all kinds of fuel sources.

    11. RedMagnolia

      Most propane comes from the refinement of crude oil, specifically gasoline. It is not a natural occurring product.

      Hydrogen is very expensive to produce and most experts have acknowledged that using it for a fuel source is a pipe dream.

      Ethanol eats up farm land that we need far more for food production.

      All three require some for of energy for production.

      So we are back to your own hot air.

    12. tomregit

      Matt, my reply to Alv V included you, but was not about you. Read it more carefully and take your misplaced anger elsewhere. I'm fully stocked with crazy and not going to argue with the semi-literate mouth breathers.

    13. systems1000

      i think you,ve been watching to many star trek movies.Now thats really doing something. Good luck.

    14. tomregit

      Ok. You can now save the planet without interference from me. Go for it young man, peace, out.

    15. matt van den ham

      Who said anything about it 'running on nothing'. I said fuel as in a non renewable resource, obviously it still has to be powered something, be it human powered, wind etc. If you look around on the internet you'll find that people aren't 'waiting around' for the companies to change their ways, there are vehicles already in use that are powered by the aforementioned sources and solar. I'm not a big fan of solar though as the panels that are required to generate electricity are probably even more of a precious resource than oil. So it's a neat idea but not practical.

  14. John Krisfalusci

    And guess what? We Americans over time will corrupt and try to invade that spot like we did with the Middle East. And again, over time, non-Americans will wonder why We are putting ourselves in places where we just have no business in, and again, We will leech and greed upon the innocent and pristine until the ground is sucked dry and/or too destroyed and polluted to work on and they will loathe us even more for ruining their lands.. Keep up the bad work America!

    We just love hoarding and controlling oil no matter where it's located and at any cost! Beautiful, isn't it? ^_^

    1. matt van den ham

      I don't think the US will need to cease control of the oil in Canada because they're getting more than a fair deal on it. So it wouldn't really make sense to take control of it, then send americans over to work it. Canada's already doing all the hard work for them and cutting them a great deal. What both countries need to do is develop new technologies to meet energy demands and stop raping the earth. Even if all we did was supply the general public with an alternative source we'd be so much better off. It's the general public's consumption that is the greatest burden. We need to develop vehicles that are powered by either, man, the elements or a combination of the two. Improve up the bicycle I say--they could use the exercise.

    2. John Krisfalusci

      Yeah good luck on that happening.

      US will take over gradually... you just watch... ^_^

    3. matt van den ham

      there's already a pipeline in place, what more could they want. it would cost almost the same to control it themselves. The oil production will be reduced over time, people just need to stop buying in to it. It's just a matter of attitude readjustment. Even Americans are trying to shift over to alternative fuels and vehicles. Oil will become an outdated technology, you watch. :-)

    4. RedMagnolia


      We will run out of oil before it has a chance to be outdated.

      Everyone keeps talking about cars but fails to mention power plants and the another of coal and natural gas they burn up. There is nothing clean about coal from mining to burning. We are seeing what problem fracking is causing with ground water (by the way you do realize that fresh water is becoming a real issue).

      We cannot continue with the way of life we that is so ingrained into us to buy and consume.

      There is not one thing in you daily life that oil doesn't touch in one way or the other.

      Humans have pooped in their own home. big time.

      Frankly I will be very glad when we have made ourselves extent which I don't think is that far off.

    5. Silliuss

      We kicked the U.S. a** at war time, we will do it again.

    6. illuminatilizardperson

      I think it will be easier to deal with Canada, than it has been dealing with the middle east. They don't seem to feel an urge to declare a religious war on us, and randomly behead people around the world who disagree with them, and I don't think they will form an alliance with other countries to control the supply and price to the same degree that the middle east has; just a thought...