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Cody Battershill

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5 shocking lies about the oil sands

 5 Shocking lies about the oil sands


the Canadian oil sands

Lie #1: The oil sands has destroyed an area the size of Florida:

Reality: the oilsands deposits sit underneath an area comparable to the size of Florida BUT only 3% of the oil sands deposits are shallow enough to ever be mined. Anyone who says the oil sands will destroy an area the size of Florida is simply lying, and they know it. It comes down to geography plain and simple.

Lie #2: The oil sands has caused a massive increase in rare cancers

Reality: There is the well documented and quoted case of Doctor John O’Connor who claimed there was a epidemic of cancer cases which grabbed headlines, yet he was proven wrong and was sanctioned by the  Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons for serious ethical breaches. The investigator discovered that instead of a cancer epidemic Dr. O’Connor’s public statements about the health of Fort Chipewyan’s residents contained “mistruths, inaccuracies and unconfirmed information.”  This is where the rumours started. If you are looking for credible, factual, scientific information on the topic then The Royal Society of Canada is a good source. In 2010 the RSC released a report stating there was no correlation between the oil sands and elevated instances of cancer. The report went on to say the oil sands was not likely to cause an increase in cancer among the general population.

Lie #3: We don’t need the oil sands, the world should focus on renewable energy

Reality: There has been a massive push towards new sources of energy but the fact remains, there are side affects to every energy source. Wind farms kill anywhere from 75,000 – 275,000 birds a year in North America and are only possible with rare earth minerals that are mined in China. Nuclear energy has its own misgiving also, with the Fukushima disaster fresh in our minds and the ongoing issue of where to store nuclear waste in several countries. We all want to shift our way of life towards renewable energy sources but it simply cannot happen overnight. Our entire way of life is only possible because of oil and gas. To quote the Pulitzer prize winning author Daniel Yergin ” It is oil that makes possible where we live, how we live, how we commute, how we travel – even where we conduct our courtships. Oil makes it possible to transport food to the totally non self-sufficient  mega cities of the world. Oil and natural gas are the essential components in the fertilizer on which world agriculture depends, oil also provides the plastics & chemicals that are the bricks & mortar of contemporary civilization” The world needs oil, energy demand is forecast to grow by 53% between now and 2035 and while we should focus on research and development of new technologies for renewable energy, the fact remains, we must live our lives. The USA spends $50 billion a year protecting OPEC shipping lanes so they can import OPEC oil, I would reason that the USA can source more oil from safe, friendly Canada and transfer that incredible amount of money into R & D for renewable energy. The world needs more Canadian oil, not less.

Lie #4: Development of the oilsands has destroyed an enormous amount of the Canadian forest

Reality: In 40 years of oilsands development 0.02% of the Canadian forest has been disturbed, furthermore all areas disturbed by oilsands mining must legally be reclaimed back to a vegetative state. Currently 10% of the mining footprint has been or is in the process of being reclaimed. Lush cosmetics among others has been so quick to promote themselves by bashing the oil sands with pictures of the mining operations. What they fail to mention is mining will only ever affect 3% of the total land area the oil sands occupies. In addition mining is not a new industry specific to the oil sands region only. Human beings have mined since the beginning of time and when you look at other industries you will see the oil sands is leading the pack when it comes to environmental performance, monitoring and improvement.

Lie #5: If we continue to develop the oil sands it is game over for the climate

Reality: The oil sands is currently responsible for roughly 0.1% of world greenhouse gas emissions. Now I am no mathematical expert but what about the other 99.9%? In this case I would question the sanity or education of anyone who wants to tell me that 0.1% of something is a game changer. Even according the the NEB’s high oil sands production forecast for 2035, emissions are still less than 1% of the worlds total.  In addition the oil sands industry has reduced greenhouse gas emissions per barrel by 29% over the last 20 years. Industry and government are spending $billions on research and implementation of better environmental performance, this will only accelerate as time goes on. Desmond Tutu on the other hand has publicly come out against the oil sands even though his country is currently building 2 coal power plants that will combine to emit over 50% of the emissions the oil sands do, and that is just 2 coal power plants. What about Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, India and China. China is commissioning several coal power plants per MONTH. Even in the USA the oil sands produces about 3.5% of the emissions the USA power generation sector does. There is even a single coal power plant in Illinois that produces all by itself 25% of the emissions the entire oil sands does. We all should now be thinking ” Why don’t the celebrities and paid professional protesters hold hands around coal power plants and sing kumbaya while protesting” and the answer simply is they are not paid to do so and the people who spread these lies about the oil sands also enjoy modern conveniences, driving, flying, electricity and so forth. For them their bus runs on hypocrisy.

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  1. Cathy Smith says

    Thanks for these excellent articles. Everyone needs to get involved in telling the truth!
    We in Southern Alberta rely heavily on oil and gas production. Over 300 oil and gas service
    companies are located in and around Medicine Hat.

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