The Alberta Oil Sands

Terra Informa Febuary 7 2010 (Download/Listen Here)

Rebekah Rooney  on the banks of a constructed wetland in the oilsands

Rebekah Rooney sampling vegetation on the banks of a constructed wetland in the oilsands

This week have a show with two stellar segments looking at the Alberta oil sands. First here is a quick summary of the news, brought to us by Alex Hindle, along with some extra links.

A new national park is to be established in in Labrador. Federal environment minister Jim Prentice announced last Friday that the planned Mealy Mountain National Park in central Labrador will encompass 11,000 sq kilometers of land, approximately twice the size of prince Edward island, making it the largest national park in the maritimes, Quebec and Ontario.

Last Thursday saw the commencement of the third session of the 27th provincial legislature in Alberta. In the speech from the throne, Lieutenant Governor Norman Kwong spoke of the progressive conservative’s plans to remove environmental regulatory hurdles to lure energy investment to the province. The move is supposedly intended to repair relations and business with energy companies that were allegedly injured by the province’s 2007attempts to increase royalties on oil and gas development.

Last Friday, the US based Pew Environment Group released the findings of a study pointing to the tremendous cost associate with arctic climate change. The report estimates that waning sea ice and permafrost will cost the world economy between 61 and 370 billion in 2010. The cost figure is a representation of the impact that arctic warming has on global climate change. Because the arctic acts a global air conditioner, it essentially buffers the whole planet against temperature upswings. However, as stated in the report, the arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet. This is compounded by the fact that the arctic permafrost is a depository of methane, a major greenhouse gas, that is released as the temperature warms, exacerbating the existing problem. (Pew Group Press Release)

The Bob Barker, a vessel operated by the Sea Shepherd conservation Society was rammed on Saturday by one of the Japanese ships whose whaling operations it was actively disrupting. Bob Barker was blocking the slipway of the japanese’s fleets factory ship when another Japanese boat, the Yushin Maru 3 hit it on the starboard side, penetrating its hull. No injuries were reported onboard the Barker, and the ship was able to continue its operations. (Sea Shephard News Release)

In keeping with our oil sands mining theme this week,  David Kaczan brings us an interview with Terra Informa’s very own Rebekah Rooney.  When she’s not covering breaking environmental news for Terra Infoma, Rebekah works as an ecologist and phd candidate at the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on evaluating the success of wetland reclamation efforts in the surface mineable area of the Athabasca deposit.  Already over 500 km2 of land has been destroyed to access the buried bitumen, and about 65% of that land was once wetlands.  Meeting their legal reclamation obligations requires mining companies to construct wetlands to replace some of the ones they destroyed, but how can we tell whether the wetlands they construct are adequate?  Are Canadians being saddled with a reclamation debt or are the companies putting the landscape back as good as new?  David Kaczan finds out when he chats to Rebekah Rooney.

Terra Informa correspondent Jade Gregg had the opportunity of joining the University of Alberta Oil Sands delegation 2010. About 30 University students were chosen to participate in the delegation which ran Jan 30th to 31st in Fort McMurray. The project included representatives from the University’s PC party, Liberal party, NDP party, the Centre for Student development, ECOS, APIRG, the School of Business, Aboriginal Council on Campus, the Council of Canadians, Greenpeace on campus and many more. As the first of it’s kind, the forum is meant to provide students with greater awareness regarding issues related to Oil Sands extraction in Alberta, so that we may all, as a diverse group of stakeholders, develop solutions. Suncor, Fort McMurray Food Bank, Fort McMurray Multi-Cultural Center, Everyone’s Downstream, and Oil Sands Discovery Center are just some of the organizations that contributed this year. Jade brings us the low down from up north…

Terra Informa Febuary 7 2010 (Download/Listen Here)

Last Thursday saw the commencement of the third session of the 27th provincial legislature in Alberta.  In the speech from the throne, Leuitenant Governor Norman  Kwong spoke of the progressive conservative’s plans to remove environmental regulatory hurdles to lure energy investment to the province.
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2 comments

  1. You know, I have to tell you, I really enjoy this blog and the insight from everyone who participates. I find it to be refreshing and very informative. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyway, I felt it was about time I posted, Ive spent most of my time here just lurking and reading, but today for some reason I just felt compelled to say this.

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