Friday, October 22, 2010

Alberta will 'Tell it Like it Is' via Pro-Oil Commercials

We now have a television. After two years sans tv, Andrew has finally won the battle- we compromised at a 37 inch (seriously, our first marital compromise). It stays off for the majority of the time, but we have discovered magical cable hook-up.... which means commercials. Which is the starting point to this post.

Have you seen the pro-oil sands commercials lately, fellow Canadians?? I almost spit out my coffee the first time I saw one. I think I actually told the tv to eff off. These commercials have 'everyday' working folks, like you and me (hah), talking about how proud they are to be working for Alberta oilsands, a company that is harvesting energy responsibly. Cue happy music and environmental backlash.

(credit: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr)

You know what's really sad about these commercials? They're funded by the government of Alberta. Go unbiased provincial representatives! Woo!

The website has a whole slew of 'The real story behind Alberta's tar sands' from videos of cultural and environmental sensitivity to 'facts' and 'statistics' stating that No really, we're not the bad guys here! It's scary and makes me throw up just a little... in my mouth.

I suppose we can't truly expect a province's government officials to be unbiased about a venture that brings in BILLIONS of dollars each year in revenue. Which also follows that their website isn't going to be the most trustworthy resource of non-manipulated 'facts' and information. The province of Alberta has an invested interest in keeping the tar sands (sorry 'oilsands') running and convincing people that they really aren't that big of a deal.

If the oil sands really aren't that harmful, then other people should be saying the same thing right? Let's go have a look-see!

David Suzuki Foundation.
He has quite a lot to say about the tar sands, all of it not so rosy. According to their site over 600 square km have already been cleared, mined or disturbed and one-fifth of Alberta's landmass is already leased for further bitumen mining. This stuff makes up approximately 10% of sand extracted and requires around two tons of sand for ONE barrel of crude oil. Average emissions for oil sand extraction and upgrading (per barrel) are 3.2 to 4.5 times greater than for conventional crude oil.

On average 1.5 barrels of a processed substance of water, clay, sand and contaminants is generated for every 1 barrel of bitumen produced and 200 million litres of it gets dumped into tailing ponds every day. Currently the area for these ponds is 130 square km, projected increase to 310 by the year 2040. We've got local First Nations people suffering from higher rates of cancer, contaminated rivers that supply the rest of Alberta, oil sands that produce 5% of Canada's total carbon footprint and impacted forest and waterfowl (Stop the Tar Sands! David Suzuki Sept 2010).

World Wildlife Fund.
According to the WWF, the Alberta tar sands are the highest rising source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. They go on to state that mining and processing the bitumen produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars on the road in Canada... and it's expected to triple or quadruple over the next 20 years (great). Although clean water is one of Canada's largest natural resource, huge quantities of it are used to process the bitumen extracted (Tar Sands Impact-WWF).

Greenpeace Canada.
According to Greenpeace, along with the above mentioned information, the tar sands use more water than a city of 2 billion people every day... with a runoff of 11 million litres of contaminated run off per day in local waterways. Awesome. Further, according to Greenpeace, 3 out of 4 jobs created by the tar sands are in construction and once the job is finished those jobs disappear....

Tar Sands; Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent. (2009)
According to Andrew Nikiforuk, author, approximately 50% of Canada's energy comes from the Alberta oil sands and that over the course of 10 years Canada has quietly become a petro-state. He states that the huge political and economical dependence on the tar sands has impacted our dollar (2 billion barrels of oil get shipped south to the USA daily) and as a result our efforts to fight climate change. Any sort of climate change national statement is simply a token offer... not a serious effort so long as we continue on the Tar Sand bandwagon. He argues that without Canadians actively engaging our government officials about the tar sands, the government will act like oil executives and not our governmental leaders.  Check out his website for fabulous key documents and
(I especially like his response to accusations from the Energy Resources Conservation Board- BAM).

Currently we are 4-1 on the Tar Sands=Bad Bad Bad. Hmmm... my four resources are not funded by oil companies while the Alberta Government is. I wonder who I'll choose to believe?

We so desperately want our energy issues and climate change to be an easy quick fix without any sort of life changes required on our part. Unfortunately, we need to take a step back and start making those changes ourselves, demanding that our government work for us and critically analyzing anything claiming to be a disposable, quick fix. We can do this together, just don't let that greenwashing get to ya.

article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. This makes me crazy that the industry is still trying to plug petroleum as a green energy option! I don't understand why we all aren't starting a revolution to walk away from oil! Ugh!

  2. Well, given that my native province also boasts a Facebook group called "Eat beef, herd cows, rope calves" or some such thing... I can't say I'm surprised, really... :s

    Congrats on your marriage btw!!

  3. Wow, this is the first I've heard of tar sands or oil sands. Sadly, the US is really good at ignoring the problems of other countries, even our closest neighbors. :( Thank you for educating me!


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