The Tar Sands in Alberta:
- This is the world’s largest construction, energy and capital project covering an area larger than England and to date there has been no environmental, social or economic impact study.
- The Tar Sands industry is by far the largest water user in the country. Canada has no national water policy and the worst water pollution regulation enforcement in the world. 90% of the tar sands water ends up as toxic waste at the rate of 400,000,000 gallons per day. The water is so polluted it won’t freeze at -30 degrees C. This is taking place in the Athabasca Watershed that contains a fifth of Canada’s water.
- It takes 2 tons of earth and sand and 3 barrels of water to mine one barrel of dirty oil.
- It takes 1,400 cu ft. of natural gas to produce 1 barrel of oil. The Tar Sands industry uses enough natural gas (an efficient clean energy source) to heat 4,000,000 homes per day or the same as Colorado. This is slated to rise to 12,000,000 homes per day by 2015. It is estimated that Canada’s supply of natural gas will be totally consumed by the Tar Sands industry in 15 to 20 years. Canada has no government policy for natural gas depletion, and this extravagant use of our natural gas resource will only extract 29% of the estimated deposits of bitumen (tar).
- To extract the bitumen and then refine it into the low-grade end product one third of Canada’s boreal forest will be removed releasing 70 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. This project accounts for a 109% increase in green house gas (GHG) emissions since 1990 for Canada. The end product-fuel-emits three times as much GHG as conventional oil making it the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Canada has spent $6 billion on climate change programs and not met one target to date.
- From an economic view point things get even more puzzling; the investment to date is pushing $300 billion and yet Alberta has imposed the lowest royalties in the world. Between 2001 and 2004 Alberta made more money from video Lottery terminals than from oil royalties. The total cost to produce one barrel of usable oil is about $100,000 when all actual costs are tallied. In fact the oil sands produces about $99 worth of bitumen and minerals per acre whereas the water production and filtering characteristics of the replaced wetlands was worth $1,064 per acre.
- Canada is the world’s only industrial nation with no energy plan and no oil storage plan for emergencies-we have no back up!
- The provincial and federal ministries involved have approved all applications for resource extraction, lay almost zero charges for health violations, environmental damage or occupational health and safety infractions despite the death of 154 people and 34,000 injuries in the development zone in just one year.
- The air around this development is more polluted than Mexico City (before they began their clean up campaign) or the 5 worst polluted cities in China. 98% of the population is simply there for the money and the drug and alcohol consumption rate is the worst in the country. When one drug induced worker jumped off a 300-foot tower, the coroner listed the cause of death as ‘natural causes’.
- Every agency, ministry and industry group is involved in this immense farce at enormous costs both monetary, environmentally and socially and pretend everything is fine. Their answer to the staggering environmental damage is Carbon Capture and Storage. This will cost as much as the development to date and is a totally unproven fantasy technology and problematic at best. We the Canadian people are underwriting the whole mess.
Statistics taken from Tar Sands: Dirty Oil And The Future Of A Continent by Andrew Nikiforuk