A report issued by the nonprofit organization Environmental Defense has declared petroleum extraction projects in Canada’s oil sands to be “the most destructive project on Earth.”
“When even former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed, who started the Tar Sands ball rolling, is calling for change, you know this is a major disaster,” said Aaron Freeman, the group’s policy director.
The report accuses the Canadian government of allowing the Tar Sands Project to emit levels of greenhouse gases that far outstrip any reductions made in other areas.
“Ottawa is letting the Tar Sands hold Canadians hostage on global warming,” said Program Manager Matt Price. “The federal government is not using laws already on the books to require companies to reduce emissions and clean up their toxic mess.”
The group also says that the project has contaminated rivers and groundwater with toxic chemicals, caused an increase in acid rain and created “health sacrifice zones” in the surrounding region.
On the same day as the report’s publication, Canadian First Nations groups also attacked the Tar Sands Project for its contamination of community water supplies.
“Elders tell us water is the boss,” said Councillor Willis Flett, of Mikisew Cree First Nation, “and without clean water we wouldn’t exist. Now the boss is in trouble and needs our help.”
“Nobody lives closer to the land and water than we do, and we’ve seen bad changes over the past dozen years,” said Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. “As goes the water so go we, and we are seeing strange diseases now.”
In 2007, Canada’s national health agency launched a complaint against the Fort Chipewyan town doctor after he publicly complained about rates of abnormal diseases in the town. “This is Canada’s problem,” Freeman said of the Tar Sands Project. “Our federal elected leaders need to clean it up or shut it down.”