Toxic Sludge

Comment: Sierra Club Prairie on Fed Gov't Scientific Panel

Action Required Until Effects Understood

Sheila Muxlow, Director with the Sierra Club Prairie, had to the following to say about the Federal Government appointment of a scientific panel to study the effects of tar sands.

"Although the appointment of this panel is a quiet admission by the federal government that tar sands are adversly affecting Northern Alberta,  it does not go far enough to ensure there will be no further damage. If the government seriously wishes to address the environmental and health concerns of local people on a comprehensive scale, they would call for an immediate moratorium on all new approvals and construction until the effects of existing projects are clearly understood and the harm mitigated. In the immediate, this means saying no to the Total application for the Joslyn North Mine Project open pit mine." 
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Scientists to probe oil sands pollution claims

OTTAWA — A panel of scientific experts will have 60 days to investigate new research suggesting that oilsands operations are contaminating the Athabasca River and endangering human health, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said Thursday.

“We are determined to develop Canada’s oilsands in a manner that it sustainable and environmentally sensitive,” said Mr. Prentice in a statement. “This independent review by some of Canada’s most respected scientists is a critical step in ensuring that environmental issues are balanced with economic considerations.”

Industry representatives have suggested pollution in the river is coming from natural deposits, but several prominent scientists, including David Schindler from the University of Alberta, have concluded the evidence overwhelmingly suggests the industrial activity is to blame.... Read more »

James Cameron lends star power to fight against oil-sands ‘curse’

In a visit rivalling that of a royal dignitary, Canadian director James Cameron emerged as a high-profile voice for first nations groups who call Alberta’s oil sands “a curse,” pitting the Hollywood heavyweight against oil companies and the province that has long supported them.

Mr. Cameron effectively lent his celebrity to the leaders of several Alberta first nations by appearing with them Wednesday, thrusting their long-held complaints to unprecedented prominence.

But while many were wary of what Mr. Cameron describes as Hollywood “drive-by environmentalism,” he wielded a keen understanding of the industry and its intricacies, after wrapping up a three-day oil-sands tour. He was praised even by his opponents for listening to industry, government and first nations alike.... Read more »

Braid: Cameron is gone, but the battle is just beginning

After all that fuss, Alberta and the oilsands probably escaped James Cameron's visit with scraped knees rather than internal injuries.

The great movie man called for more regulation of the sands. Premier Ed Stelmach, the most regulation-friendly leader Alberta has ever had, can certainly live with that.

Most crucially, Cameron did not call for shutdowns or boycotts, although he wants a moratorium on new tailings ponds. That may be inevitable anyway.

Mostly, Cameron seems to want what the government already claims to be doing. You could sense the shudder of relief pass through the legislature.

All this might seem trivial, and maybe it is. But Cameron's views matter because his reach is so vast. A couple of good movies gets you a lot of airtime on this planet.

So Stelmach was right to race home from Ottawa to meet him (although his staff still insists the premier would have been back anyway.)... Read more »

Premier Ed Stelmach dismisses James Cameron's oilsands critique

With Alberta's oilsands in the spotlight like never before, Premier Ed Stelmach said Wednesday "quiet diplomacy" is the province's best counter to negative publicity -- rejecting a Hollywood director's warnings the resource could become "a curse."

James Cameron's tour of the oilsands this week has attracted international attention on Alberta that will likely only intensify with Oprah Winfrey taking an interest in his trip to the province.

Cameron delivered a measured but stinging critique Wednesday of the oilsands, and the need to moderate the scale and pace of development. He warned the resource could be "a curse" or "a gift" to Alberta, depending on whether the provincial and federal governments properly manage the bitumen bounty.... Read more »


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