Climate Change
For Immediate Release: November 28, 2023

Alberta Energy Regulator Continues to Avoid Responsibility for Toxic Tailings Disaster

Statement by Aliénor Rougeot, Climate and Energy Program Manager, Environmental Defence

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has one job: holding industry accountable. However, today’s hearings show it continues to evade responsibility for the tailings disaster it knew about and helped cover-up. The AER has become a platform for industry talking points, even using committee time to praise greenwashing from the Pathways Alliance.

While their CEO, Laurie Pushor, boasted about increased communications with impacted communities following the Kearl leak, these were, in his own words, ‘informal’ changes. These changes are neither sustainable over the long term, nor universally applied at all operations where tailings are also seeping and threatening the ecosystem.

One clear outcome of these hearings is that the AER has not taken this leak seriously and has essentially made no changes to how it operates. We commend the committee members who carefully combed through the evidence and pushed the AER to look where it doesn’t want to – at the systemic failure of toxic tailings management. We support the federal government’s call for a tailings risk assessment, which must include both risks to human health at the current levels of contamination, and risks of further tailings leaks, spills, and breaches.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Paula Gray, Environmental Defence,

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