Ottawa – The federal government is failing to uphold its duty to clean up the Tar Sands, according to a new report by Environmental Defence released today on Parliament Hill. Canada’s Toxic Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth shows how failure to enforce federal laws is allowing the Tar Sands to become Canada’s most serious environmental liability.
“Ottawa is letting the Tar Sands hold Canadians hostage on global warming,” said Matt Price, Program Manager with Environmental Defence. “The federal government is not using laws already on the books to require companies to reduce emissions and clean up their toxic mess.”
First Nations living downriver of the Tar Sands are also bringing their concerns to Ottawa today. The community of Fort Chipewyan made headlines last year when Health Canada launched a complaint against the town doctor for speaking out about abnormal disease rates in the community.
“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.”
“Elders tell us water is the boss, and without clean water we wouldn’t exist. Now the boss is in trouble and needs our help,” said Councillor Willis Flett, Mikisew Cree First Nation.
Key report findings include:
Weak federal “intensity” targets will allow Tar Sands greenhouse gas emissions to double by 2020, wiping out progress that other parts of Canada are making to combat climate change.
Toxic tailings ponds, visible from space, are seeping into the region’s groundwater, and pollution is rising in the Athabasca River contrary to the federal Fisheries Act.
New federal pollution measures will let Tar Sands Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions grow by 60% by 2015.
Tar Sands pollution is causing acid rain in Saskatchewan and beyond.
Tar Sands upgraders and refineries are creating health “sacrifice zones” in Alberta and Ontario.
Supertankers as big as the West Edmonton Mall are planned for the coast of BC to take Tar Sands oil to Asia.
Federal environmental assessments rubber stamp massive new Tar Sands mines by relying on industry-driven management bodies that are known to be broken.
“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, Policy Director, Environmental Defence “This is Canada’s problem – our federal elected leaders need to clean it up or shut it down.”
Canada’s Toxic Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth is available to download for free on the Environmental Defence web site – www.environmentaldefence.ca.
About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research solutions. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, clean water and thriving ecosystems nationwide, and to bring a halt to Canada’s contribution to climate change.
– 30 –
For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)