What's the Latest Development?

Public hearings are set to begin tomorrow over Canada's plan to ship crude oil, derived from its landlocked oil sands, to the western Pacific coast. The pipeline, if approved, would open hungry Asian markets to Canadian oil. That has become a bigger priority in Canada's eyes since the Keystone XL pipeline, intended to pipe crude to the American Gulf coast, was delayed by concerns over environmental damage to the nation's largest aquifer, located in Nebraska along the pipeline's route.

What's the Big Idea?

Years ago, harvesting Canada's oil sands for crude oil, which looks more like strip mining than conventional drilling rigs, was unthinkable due simply to cost barriers. But political instability in the Middle East coupled with rising oil prices has made the oil sands more cost effective. At the same time, climate scientists warn that such a new and large source of petroleum could seriously setback the world's modest attempts to stem CO2 production. This year, Canada was the first and only nation to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.

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