Posts tagged ‘oilsands’

August 30, 2010

Alberta – Not Telling It Like It Is

The Alberta Government and the oilsands industry have long claimed that pollutants found in the Athabasca River were from natural sources rather than the result of industry practices. A new study† led by Erin Kelly and David Schindler of the University of Alberta proves them wrong:

High levels of toxic pollutants in the Athabasca River system are linked to oilsands mining, researchers have found.

The findings counter the reports by a joint industry-government panel that the pollutant levels are due to natural sources rather than human development.

Mercury, thallium and other pollutants accumulated in higher concentrations in snowpacks and waterways near and downstream from oilsands development than in more remote areas, said a study to be published Monday afternoon in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Upstream and undeveloped sites exposed directly to the McMurray Geologic Formation, the natural source of the oilsands, did not show high levels of pollutants.

Read the complete article at CBC
†Oil sands development contributes elements toxic at low concentrations to the Athabasca River and its tributaries PNAS published ahead of print August 30, 2010, doi:10.1073/pnas.1008754107
July 15, 2010

Rethink Alberta?

Or should we just keep oiling along?

Creating a stir in Alberta, Corporate Ethics International has begun a campaign to make people think twice before visiting the province. From the CBC:

Corporate Ethics International launched billboards in four U.S. cities Wednesday that compare Alberta’s oilsands to the environmental disaster caused by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We’re just trying to create pressure that motivates the Alberta government to come to the table to talk to these groups about a solution,” said Michael Marx, executive director of the group.

The billboards were placed in Portland, Ore., Denver, Seattle and Minneapolis, four centres that generate many U.S. visitors to Alberta.

February 3, 2010

Alberta Oil Sands Threaten Rare Woodland Caribou

A News Release from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Association:

Edmonton — Alberta must act fast to protect 50% of the oil sands area from industrial use so that wilderness, biodiversity and traditional use can continue into the future.

That is the key advice contained in an open letter from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) to Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach. CPAWS wrote the letter to the premier on the occasion of World Wetlands Day, February 2, and the International Year of Biodiversity.

Read the letter (PDF)

The province and energy industry have been criticized by leading thinkers and governments for their rush to extract fuel from the oil sands without regard for the environmental costs. Alberta has a chance to prove the critics wrong, says Helene Walsh, Boreal Conservation Director for CPAWS-Northern Alberta’s chapter.

Smart land use planning key to healthy environment, sustainable energy sector

It’s possible and necessary to reconcile the interests of both habitat conservation and the industry in the oil sands area by moving quickly on protection of wildlife habitat through the land use planning process currently underway according to Walsh.

“Since only 40% of the Lower Athabasca region contains commercial oil sands, this should easily be possible,” claims Walsh.

“Due to lack of planning in the past, the decline of woodland caribou in the region is alarming. Woodland caribou is the species that best indicates the health of the Boreal forest, and the science shows they are headed for extinction without immediate improvements in wilderness protection measures.”

Government committee recommends immediate, aggressive action to protect habitat

In April 2009, the government committee responsible for advising on how to restore healthy caribou populations in the oil sands region issued its report: “Boreal caribou will not persist for more than two to four decades without immediate and aggressive management intervention. Tough choices need to be made between the management imperative to recover boreal caribou and plans for ongoing bitumen development and industrial land-use.” (Athabasca Caribou Landscape Management Options Report 2009, Athabasca Landscape Team)

The committee recommended that the province establish large protected and restored areas for caribou through the new planning process under the Alberta’s Land Use Framework.

“Protection of caribou and wildlife habitat, through our new land use planning process, would send a strong message to the entire world that we in Alberta do intend to meet our commitments to sustainable resource development and maintenance of the biodiversity of our province,” writes CPAWs in the letter to Stelmach.

CPAWS also wants the federal government to be aware of potential opportunities for Alberta to improve its image on environmental protection and to prevent the local extinction of a species at risk in the oil sand area.

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