Canada, Home of the World’s Dirtiest Oil

A new multi-million government PR campaign claims Canada is a “clean energy superpower“. Meanwhile oil production from Canada’s oil sands — the world’s dirtiest oil — is ramping up from 1.2 million barrels a day to 3.5 million. Sadly yet another example of a government resorting to the “big lie”.

By the way virtually all of this oil goes to the US market.

I wrote a series of investigative articles for IPS on the enormous environmental impacts of Canada’s oil sands in 2006. That series has been updated and collected into an e-Book format (download for free).

Here’s an excerpt from Oil Stains in the Boreal Forest: The Environmental Cost of Canada’s Oil Sands


* Dig up two tonnes of earth and rock
* Burn up to 1500 cubic feet of natural gas to boil approx 700 litres of fresh water to process the dirt
* Throw away 950 litres of toxic mine tailings and emit 480 kilograms of CO2, the main greenhouse gas causing global warming

REPEAT 1.2 million times a day (one barrel of oil makes about 75 litres of gasoline)

Note: this analysis does not include local air pollution, impacts on wildlife and local people from oil sands operations and pipelines.

Oil Stains in the Boreal Forest

FREE eBook!! Reveals environmental impacts of Canada’s oil sands industry – the world’s largest industrial project.

2 thoughts on “Canada, Home of the World’s Dirtiest Oil

  1. CANADIAN ELECTION 2008: Failure to follow environmental guidelines results in a NANAIMO VISITOR BOYCOTT call.

    Recent responses derived through a formal environmental petition (#225) to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada have showcased the failure of the Harper government to follow its own environmental guidelines designed to protect the environment at the local level. A controversial development was made possible through the issuance of Fisheries Act S. 35(2) Authorization after a Canadian Environmental Assessment Act screening process (CEAA) was conducted. Conflicting opinions after the fact by the responsible ministers proves Canadians’ have to deal with flawed CEAA screening process.

    The environmental petition focused on the placement of a berm with an asphalt Trans Canada Trail and page-wire fencing across a registered sensitive ecosystem inventory. Environment Minister John Baird acknowledged that environmental guidelines were not followed by the City of Nanaimo and responded: “The existing paved trail through the wetland poses a potential risk to wildlife and may impede movement of wildlife, including species at risk. As a general approach, Environment Canada prefers that travel corridors are available for wildlife.” and further wrote, “fencing may impede movement of the low-flying Virginia rail. Environment Canada would have preferred that there be no fencing.” To date, none of the harmful fencing has been removed as stated in DFO Minister response #10.

    Both Canada and the Province of BC co-produce conservation manuals and guidelines that discourage inappropriate developments into sensitive ecosystems. An asphalt trail across a marsh is highly inappropriate. Community stewards follow these environmental guidelines and find themselves in conflict with a municipality (Nanaimo) that did not want to be constrained by such environmental protection measures. In identifying the real problem, Minister Baird responded, “However, these guidelines are not supported by legislative or regulatory powers, and cannot be enforced unless a local government chooses to enact and follow by-law legislation based on the guidelines.”

    When the City of Nanaimo and the federal government allowed the asphalt trail to be built, they in effect thumbed their noises at the government environmental guidelines. Since then, Local environmental stewards have been fighting a losing battle to have the asphalt removed and have it replaced with the wooden boardwalk that was promised in a Land Use Plan that was develop by the community. Corrective measures to the asphalt trial by local community stewards have been dismissed by Nanaimo City Council. It is also clear that the governments’ stewardship model that we are working under is not effectively protecting the environment at the local level, and volunteer stewards have to go to great lengths to fulfill their stewardship role. It now has become necessary to criticize the conduct of our local municipal government in a larger public forum such as a website that can be easily found through search engines.

    This is to inform you that I have deciding to express my views and advance my protest through the construction of a new website called: Running a website and overseeing a visitor boycott is not a preferred activity for an awarding winning steward, but a last resort. A visitor boycott call is a sad, but necessary tool to let Nanaimo City Council and DFO know that their decision to ignore environmental guidelines must end, and that they must approach our environmental issues conservatively and with the utmost care. I prefer to sit down with decision makers to find solution and compromises to the environmental issues they created. Until then, this Nanaimo visitor boycott website will remain a direct consequence of the poor decision making by Nanaimo City Council.

    In summary, the boycott website will be designed to communicate to people throughout the world the environmental concerns that have been expressed regarding the harmful effects of building an asphalt trail across an ecologically sensitive area and placing sports fields next to Jingle Pot Marsh Nature Park. Wildlife continues to be harassed by those city-supported developments. I believe the pattern of decision making by Nanaimo City Council regarding the development at the Third Street/Jingle Pot Marsh has been profoundly wrong. Unenforceable guidelines and having ineffective environmental regulations are equally wrong. We need our federal government to created new legislative or regulatory powers to make our federal environmental guideline meaningful and effective.

    Please make this local story known. Thank you!

    Rory Rickwood
    Nanaimo Environmental Steward

    For further information, I can be contacted through this email or by Cell: 250.797-2116.

    Background Information: “Auditor General of Canada website” (See Environment Minister response #13 and DFO Minister response #10) “Blog/Nanaimo News Bulletin News Report”
    “Blog/Globe and Mail News Report”
    “Times-Colonist News Report” “Website Article” “Click Rory Rickwood to read submission to government website” “for Sierra Legal Defence Fund Media Release”

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