Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

A Kinder, Gentler Tar Sands, brought to you by the Pembina Institute and World Wildlife Fund

What is it that prevents Pembina Institute and WWF from just saying "Stop!" to the tar sands instead of just lobbying to improve their "environmental performance." Maybe it is something to do with the fact that they both receive multi-million dollar funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts, whose parent companies Sun Oil/Sunoco built the first tar sands project in 1967 and who continue to refine large amounts of sythetic tar sands crude oil in Ohio and are planning to extend tar sands supply pipelines as far east as their refineries in Philadelphia.

- Tarpit Pete

First-ever Oil Sands Environmental Report Card Reveals Weak Environmental Performance
(Toronto: January 10, 2008)

Today, Pembina Institute and WWF-Canada released Under-Mining The Environment, the Oil Sands Report Card – the most comprehensive comparative assessment of 10 of Alberta’s operating, approved or applied for oil sands mines. The mines, for the most part, get a failing grade.

The average score among all oil sands projects surveyed was only 33 per cent, demonstrating substantial room for improvement across the sector. The leading operation in the survey was the Albian Sands Muskeg River Mine, scoring 56 per cent. The weakest operations were Syncrude and the proposed Synenco Northern Lights Mine both with scores of 18 per cent.

Oil sands mines were ranked on 20 different environmental indicators in five categories: environmental management, land impacts, air pollution, water use, and management of greenhouse gases. Companies were invited to complete the survey questionnaire and provided with two opportunities to comment on their performance. In total, seven of the 10 projects participated in the survey. Three companies, Total E&P, Syncrude and Canadian Natural declined to respond.

“There is growing concern in Alberta, in the rest of Canada and internationally about the environmental impacts of oil sands mining,” states Dan Woynillowicz of the Pembina Institute. “Despite these concerns we found that oil sands companies are making weak efforts to manage their environmental impacts. We found only one mining operation came close to a passing grade and that substantial improvements in environmental performance were possible for all projects.”

Key findings of the report card include:
· While the majority of oil sands operations have comprehensive environmental policies in place, only two companies provided evidence of having an independently-accredited environmental management system such as ISO 14001.
· With the exception of the existing Albian Muskeg River Mine, no operation has voluntary targets to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
· No project or company has publicly-reported targets to reduce water usage from the Athabasca River.
· Despite more than 40 years of oil sands development, not a single hectare of land has been certified as reclaimed under Government of Alberta guidelines.

“The poor environmental performance reflects badly on the oil sands mining companies, which include the largest and most profitable major oil companies in the world. These companies have both the expertise and the resources to do much better.” states Rob Powell of WWF-Canada. “Government must establish limits to curb impacts on fresh water, the global atmosphere, wildlife and public health”
“We also believe an opportunity exists for companies to step up and work together to solve these environmental challenges,” adds Marlo Raynolds, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute. “Let’s get the best engineers available focused on environmental performance.”

In the report card, Pembina Institute and WWF-Canada also provide recommendations to improve oil sands environmental management, including a need for greater transparency from Government and industry on environmental performance, the need to implement currently available best-practices and a stronger commitment to voluntary reductions in environmental impacts.

The report and all the analysis data are available online at http://www.oilsandswatch.org and http://www.wwf.ca/oilsandsreport


For more information contact:

Dan Woynillowicz, Pembina Institute (Toronto)
Cell: 403-888-6272

Rob Powell, WWF-Canada (Edmonton)
Tel: 780-459-9453 ext. 21

Note to Editors, News Directors:
The report, fact sheet and data tables can be downloaded from http://www.pembina.org/pub/1571 and http://www.wwf.ca/oilsandsreport


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