Tag Archive: Ethics


As Republicans take the reins of the 2011 Legislature next month, high on their agenda is revising the countries’ energy and environmental laws, to boost natural-resource development and jobs.

“If we are going to have jobs, it will be in natural resources,” says Sen. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee. “I think our committee will be very busy.”

Montana is one state in which the agenda of politicians is very environmentally related.

Republican lawmakers, who will have strong majorities in both chambers of the 2011 Legislature, already have requested scores of bills in this arena, targeting everything from the Montana Environmental Policy Act to renewable-energy mandates, which they see as unnecessary.

Many Democrats as well as the state’s environmental community are bracing for a fight, saying the state’s environmental-protection laws will come under “constant and very serious attack.”

In addition to the proposed changes to MEPA and renewable-power incentives, environmentalists say they’re also expecting attempts to alter or roll back the state’s ban on cyanide heap-leach gold mines, weaken the state Superfund hazardous-waste cleanup law, enact private-property laws that could stymie environmental regulations and perhaps even encourage nuclear-power development in Montana.

Republicans, however, say their convincing victory in legislative races in November is a message that Montanans want more development of all resources, including oil, gas, coal, timber and more.

Sorry for not having any posts in the last 3 weeks, but I’ve been very busy. At least someone in the US Government fakes caring about the environment!

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Alberta’s oil sands are a reasonably sized source of oil located in one of Canada’s Prairie provinces, Alberta. Ezra Levant is a Canadian lawyer and blogger with an interesting opinion on the oil sands.

Environmentalists are constantly thinking about what they could be doing better to sell action on climate change. The folks on the other side, possibly including Ezra Levant, apparently are not afflicted with the same sense of self doubt.

How else can you explain a rebranding exercise being embraced by conservative commentators in Canada to market the produce of Alberta’s tar sands as “ethical oil”?

The case is being made in a new book by conservative activist Ezra Levant called: “Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands”.

From what I can glean in press reports, the gist of Levant’s argument is that yes, Canadian tar sands oil is really, really bad for the planet — it produces three times the greenhouse gas emissions as convention oil, poisons rivers and destroys ancient boreal forest — but it’s politically smarter than buying from the Middle East or Venezuela.

Or as Levant so subtly puts it:

“You can’t fill up your car’s gastank with solar panels or windmills or cold fusion or dilithium crystals. It’s Canadian ethical oil, or Saudi terrorist oil.”

It’s pretty clear to me that Ezra Levant cares more about politics than the environment. To Levant, Canadian ‘ethical oil’ is better than the alternative, Saudi ‘terrorist’ oil. But at what price does it come? Is it REALLY ethical if it means three times the emissions and destroying ancient forest?

For the larger part of my childhood, I grew up in and around these forests. It is NOT ethical oil if beautiful boreal forest is destroyed, no matter how great the political benefit.

“It looks like a meteor strike: From out of nowhere, a huge clearing appears in the jungle — a deep rust-colored pit surrounded by mounds of dirt and thick stands of trees pushed to the side in dense piles of overturned soil.

But this is no act of nature. It is the result of the steady labor of a dozen barefoot men, who have blasted away at the earth for three days with high-pressure water hoses and earth-movers, searching for gold and destroying a swathe of rainforest.

Juergen Plein, a 29-year-old miner, said he needs the work mining, and doesn’t know any other way to get at the precious metal.

“I think about it,” Plein, nearly shouting over the roar of generators, said of the damage. “But survival comes first.”

Thanks to record gold prices, hundreds of small-scale mining operations are proliferating along the northeastern shoulder of South America. Small-scale miners produced a record of nearly 16.5 metric tons of gold in 2009, according to Suriname’s government.

Miners are tearing up trees, poisoning creeks with mercury and, in some places, erecting makeshift jungle towns with shops, prostitutes and churches.” – Ben Fox, AP

Ben Fox seems to think that this ‘tearing up [of] trees and poisoning creeks with mercury’ is a bad idea. He, just as I do, sees the ethical wrongs posed in blowing up precious jungle areas in order to make a profit, and he cares very much about the environment, as an semi-anthropocentric and semi-ecocentric. As world inhabitants, we need to care for the land, and this means keeping rainforests and gold outcrops in the ground safe and intact. The author and I both put a very high premium on the environment as partial ecocentrics and we think that this is an unbelievable betrayal of Mother Nature.

However, Juergen Plein, a resident miner, seems to think that this destruction is acceptable since he makes a profit off the gold he mines, which is a very greedy, part a. Clearly this is a man without an environmental moral compass- if only he could see the damage he is causing the environment, one would hope he would stop.

But this is not the case. Plein and other miners will continue to mine because they make money and have no value for the environment, unlike myself and the author of the article. As this devastation continues, rainforest will be unable to grow back and gold will be exploited further as it will be easier to do so, resulting in positive feedback that could go on until Suriname’s rainforest ceases to exist.

But hopefully not.