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Oil Sands Fever and Lack of Environmental Review

Oil Sands Fever and Lack of Environmental Review

The Harper Conservatives are well known for being defenders of the oil sands (no matter what effect they have on the climate), going so far as to modify the environmental assessment process in the latest budget so the project can go ahead more quickly.

The Tories became vicious when Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair suggested the Alberta oil sands were artificially inflating the Canadian dollar and that was hurting other industries across the country, particularly manufacturing in Ontario. The Tories demanded that Mulcair visit the oil sands before having any such opinion on them, and suggested that he could not have an open mind when he scheduled his visit.

Now, as Mulcair is in Alberta visiting the oil sands (though the Premier of the province also a Conservative refused to meet with him) a new report has come out from the Pembina Institute supporting his assertion that the development is causing a type of ‘Dutch Disease’ in the country. The report calls what’s happening in Canada ‘oil sands fever’ and says it differs from what happened in Holland but is creating “clear winners and losers” in the Canadian economy. The Pembina Institute encourages the government to look towards the growing clean energy economy to maintain Canada’s place in the world economy, because that’s where the future lies.

While in Alberta, Mulcair called for more environmental oversight, not less, and at the same time the province was working to clean up a May 19 oil spill, one of the largest in North America in recent years.

More oversight could prove beneficial, especially noting one line in the Globe and Mail article: “As with many recent pipeline accidents, Calgary-based Pace did not detect a problem, but was informed of the leak by another company after the spill was spotted from an aircraft.”

The Harper Government has, however, cut 776 jobs at Environment Canada, which will slow down the review process and could lead to more spills like this going undiscovered. They’ve also spent a lot of time silencing scientists who speak to reporters about environmental issues but Environment Minister Peter Kent says the government believes scientists should be focused on ‘taxpayer funded research’ rather than interviews, but that they are allowed to speak up, as long as journalists make ‘reasonable requests.’

The oil sands fight will continue, with the Harper government on the side of the business and making sure nothing stands in the way of new developments and the opposition on the side of environmental sustainability and appropriate rules for the companies that are exploiting it for profit.

Related Stories:

Canadian Minister Promotes Tar Sands At A Climate Summit

Tar Sands Destroying Wolf and Cariboo Populations in Canada

The Dirty Truth About Tar Sands Oil Extraction

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Photo Credit: jasonweoodhead23

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46 comments

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11:16PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

Thank you, Stephen Harper and Alison Redford (Alberta Premier) for the pipelines! I'm SO happy and ecstatic that there was a spill Thursday that contaminated a stream, lake, and the Red Deer River UPSTREAM from where I live! I'm really excited about having to go shopping tomorrow for bottled water in case that crud can't be contained before it contaminates my city's drinking water! (I can get along without drinking water if I need to, but my cats can't). Spare a thought for the people of Sundre, and the dead wildlife, won't you?

Oh, sorry, what? You say there is NOTHING to worry about? The dead fish, the oil-soaked birds and beavers, and the people whose farms and ranches are in danger of being permanently poisoned might disagree with you...

9:46PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

The deceptive hoopla about tar sands oil "spilled" into the US in regard to the extention of the Keystone XL pipeline: the usual stuff about jobs (not that many in the long term) and "independence from foreign oil" (when did Canada join the Union? lol) when in fact the stuff was/is slated for export to China as well as other countries. Like you up north, there would be no lowering of gas prices, which, ecologic issues aside, are an important issue to working class families. I have to get back to today's issue of the Los Angeles Times, that, I believe featured an article about indicators of previous extinctions being present today. Harper and his likeminded ilk in the US clearly do nol give a rat's ass for anybodyh but themselves. A pox on all their houses!

9:31PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

Oil sands suck!

5:11PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

Harper is not the legitimate leader of the country. His previous minority governments were twice forced to election or he would have been brought up on criminal charges for contempt of parliament. This last time the conservatives defrauded the election. The Superior Court of Ontario has begun ordering elections in ridings where the conservatives defrauded the electorate and the conservatives are resorting to scare tactics. This is the most secretive government in Canada's history. It is the most corrupt government in the history of British Parliamentary Democracy (which spans centuries). Harper is also widely known to be a sociopath (there have been many articles written about his mental illness). Wide spread opposition to the Harper Fascist Dictatorship appears in the news daily. 65% of Canadians did NOT vote Conservative and he still defrauded the electorate and obtained (just) a majority of the seats (by 1 seat). This man needs to be removed from office and imprisoned with every member of the conservative party. A recent canadian poll found that 1/4 of Canadians compare him to Hitler. As for the tar sands... Harper is willing to destroy the environment to make a fast buck for the oil barons who have padded his pockets (and those of fellow conservatives) to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes.

4:32PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

Oh those pesky environmentalists and their annoying reviews. Now they're complaining about extracting and using the dirtiest form of carbon there is which will help to further accelerate climate change and the eventual misery of billions of humans and other forms of life. When are they ever going to learn that oil company executives can't live without their Bentley Mulsannes and solid gold bathroom fixtures??

1:44PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

No surprise here. Fear not though. We can make Canada energy independent and supply China with tons of fuel. Then China can keep stealing American jobs making cheap crap for American's to buy. Can't you see the rainbow?

12:01PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

Sad story it will be alot worse if Romney is elected you will see more and more of this .

10:47AM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

"...the province was working to clean up a May 19 oil spill, one of the largest in North America in recent years."

Well, my goodness, what a shockeroo.

10:43AM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

"Why Conservatives Can't Govern" by Alan Wolfe
www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2006/0607.wolfe.html

8:58AM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

(whoops - got cut off) : U.S. farmers are selling one-fifth of their corn to ethanol production, so U.S. soybean farmers are switching to corn, so Brazilian soybean farmers are expanding into cattle pastures, so Brazilian cattlemen are displaced to the Amazon. It's the remorseless economics of commodities markets.Deforestation accounts for 20% of all current carbon emissions. So unless the world can eliminate emissions from all other sources--cars, power plants, factories, even flatulent cows--it needs to reduce deforestation or risk an environmental catastrophe. That means limiting the expansion of agriculture, a daunting task as the world's population keeps expanding. And saving forests is probably an impossibility so long as vast expanses of cropland are used to grow modest amounts of fuel. The biofuels boom, in short, is one that could haunt the planet for generations--and it's only getting started. BioFuels are definitely NOT the answer - not if the question is "how can we save our world?"



(thank you Julie!)

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