I have to point out that “fracking” isn’t something new. Deep reservoirs were “fracked” so long ago that even I don’t remember how long ago it was. What is new is that it is being done in shallow shale gas formations, and the risk of breaking through to the surface is greater.
I saw David Suzuki’s program on it, and it isn’t so much the fracking that is stupid, but the way they are going about it in some places that is stupid and environmentally responsible. I would like to believe that they would never be allowed to do it under Alberta’s regulations.
As a side note, back in the really early days, in Pennsylvania, wells were stimulated by pouring a charge of liquid explosive (I think it was nitroglycerine) down the hole and setting it off. The completly uncontrolled explosion would fracture the formation and blow oil up the wellbore. Then the well would produce more, but it was a completely disgusting practice.
I won’t try to tell anybody that producing (oil or any other kind of industry) is clean, but there have been a lot of improvements over the last 100 years in how things are done.
By the way, not all butumen produced in Alberta comes from mining tar sands. More and more of it is produced by in-situ methods that are a lot cleaner (at least given the present state of the mining technology.)
As far as the name, I guess bituminous sands is really the correct name, but that’s harder to say and type, so I guess tar sands will have to do if you all prefer it. But I remember it was called oil sands to from way back before there was a need to be politically correct about it. To me those names are all interchangeable.
As to refineries, I don’t understand why we aren’t building them in Alberta. It would be good for our economy, and it should cost less to transport refined products rather than crude oil, whether it is conventional oil, heavy oil, or upgraded heavy oil.
And finally, carbon emissions: Far more CO2 is emitted by the burning of fossil fuels than by the production of them. If north Americans would give up their love affair with pick-me-up trucks and SUVs, and drive something more sensible, there would be less demand for oil. I realize there are some people (farmers, etc.) who need a bigger vehicle, but there is no need to drive a gas-guzzling truck to go to work five days of the week and the mall on weekends.