How to stop oil from leaking out of the world’s largest oil sands project
In January, Canada’s National Energy Board announced that its staff had found a breach of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The breach is alleged to have exposed water in the Athabasca River to an elevated level of benzene.
It also found that one of the wells in question had failed to meet the minimum water quality standards set out in the Safe Water Act, and therefore could not safely be used for oil extraction.
The leak was first reported in March.
According to CBC News, “the NEB said in a statement on Tuesday that the leak was discovered in September 2015 and it’s still ongoing.”
The oil industry has long argued that this is a minor incident that could have been avoided by simply following the guidelines for oil and gas development that have been put in place since 2014.
But for the oil sands, which produce about 30 per cent of Canada’s oil and are the largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions, this is simply not the case.
They are a significant source of greenhouse gas pollution and, as the report by the NEB found, they have had a significant impact on local communities and the environment.
In the oil-rich Athabaskan region of the Canadian Arctic, for instance, the number of air pollution advisories issued per million residents has more than doubled since 2015, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
And, in 2016, the government of Alberta released a report on the oil industry’s environmental impacts in the province, which found that Alberta’s oil sands are responsible for a “significant number” of climate-related air pollutants.
In addition, the oil production is also responsible for pollution from the burning of toxic coal, the burning and processing of methane gas, and toxic dust, according the report.
And while the oil and coal extraction industry has historically been highly vocal about its environmental concerns, there have been notable exceptions.
In March, the Harper government issued a “green paper” on the oilsands, and the document set out the government’s vision for the region’s future.
But the green paper included no specific targets for reducing emissions.
Instead, it set out a set of goals that would “continue to drive down greenhouse gas concentrations in the region,” but also warned that these emissions could decrease as the industry progressed.
These are the same objectives that the Harper Conservatives set for their environmental policy.
But what has happened over the past three years?
A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows that Alberta and the oilsand industry are on the wrong track when it comes to their commitment to climate action.
As a result, they are now the worst offenders in Canada when it came to climate-friendly energy, according, in part, to their lack of environmental monitoring.
“The Harper government is now taking a completely opposite approach to its climate change promises,” said Mike Hudema, executive director of the Centre for Biological Diversity’s Beyond Coal campaign.
“It’s time for Alberta and its oil sands industry to start doing what they said they were going to do, and that is to follow the rules of the road and invest in their own communities.”
Hudema is one of many people who have called on the Alberta government to adopt a new set of emissions goals.
“These goals should have been established long before the Alberta NDP government was in power,” Hudema said.
“Alberta is still trying to meet its own greenhouse gas targets, and so is the rest of the country.
That’s the only way we can really make progress towards our climate goals, which is to move away from fossil fuels.”