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Wood Buffalo AB
Canada

Risking rupture: Integral accidents and in/security in Canada's bitumen sands


Author(s): Greaves, W.

Year: 2013

Abstract:
The expansion of unconventional hydrocarbon development in Western Canada is one of the most contentious issues in contemporary Canadian politics. Although widely studied, little attention has been paid to the framing of Alberta's bitumen sands within distinct and incompatible discourses of energy and environmental security. This essay examines these discourses using the tools of securitization analysis, asking the basic questions of what each presents as needing to be secured, from what, and by what means. Presented with two sets of socially constructed in/ security claims related to the bitumen sands and proposed pipeline expansion, the author suggests the social theory of Paul Virilio provides a useful intervention into securitization analysis that allows the material implications of these discourses to be clarified and assessed. Drawing upon Virilio's critical account of technological progress and his theory of accidents, this essay proposes that conventional accounts of "energy security" in the bitumen sands cannot result in meaningful conditions of security because they remain premised upon continued and expanded hydrocarbon consumption in an era of anthropogenic climate change.