Good versus evil in the oilsands debate

There have been some interesting articles in recent days that reveal "responsible development" of Alberta's oilsands is nothing more than a catch-phrase.

A government scientist revealed that an unstoppable oil spill in Cold Lake, Alberta has governments and industry "freaking out". New documents reveal that oil spills at the operation have been ongoing since last winter. Why didn't the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) notify the public? Because there was "No real trigger to put out a news release."

It should surprise no-one, then, that a new survey finds that enforcement rates for oilsands environmental violations are less than one percent. The data were obtained by scientists using an "epic" series of Freedom of Information filings which revealed 9,262 infractions since 1996. The scientists also found that the records were often incomplete and full of mistakes.

Meanwhile, MP Michelle Rempel is making the case for improving market access for the oilsands industry, while warning the debate shouldn’t become one of “good versus evil.” Rempel, the former Environment Secretary, is now Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. Rempel's remarks suggest that she is going to be the new lead on the pipeline file. Diversified oil markets is the name of the game.

We conclude with the remarks of the anonymous government scientist who bravely came forth about the Cold Lake oil spill: “I really hope I don’t lose my job, but I really felt that this was too important to sit on." This tells us that muzzling is still an ongoing issue in the Canadian government. Claiming "responsible development" while hiding evidence to the contrary is not what we would consider "good".

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