At the August 2013 Burns Lake Council meeting the Mayor advised that he had traveled to Fort McMurray and participated in an Enbridge sponsored tour of the tar sands. He was enthusiastic about their new reclamation efforts and challenged those at the meeting who might disagree with him to “get informed and involved”.
I recently came upon a report by Josette Wier from Smithers, who was on the same tour as the Mayor. She states: “While there I felt a mix of fascination and horror; fascination came from witnessing the technological prowess and accomplishments. Horror came not only from the scale of the destruction, but also from a sense of planetary disconnection… [There] is an unprecedented destruction of land, water and air allowed by extremely lenient federal and provincial regulations. A recently released report1 (July 2013) shows 4063 chronic and repetitive contraventions by the major players between 1996-2012 with an enforcement rate of 0.9 per cent and a median penalty $4,500. Further, the area affected is larger than the extraction area. Carcinogenic products associated with bitumen extraction were found in lake sediments 90 kms from the extraction site two.
None of that was mentioned in the factoids delivered by the attractive tour guide. Neither was mentioned the contribution of the tar sands extraction to global warming, the most crucial issue of our time. Even if as claimed the contribution is only a few percentage points to global carbon emissions, such added percentage points can be the tipping point for disastrous consequences to come. It appears like a delusional world propped up by our heavily lobbied federal leaders promoting their aggrandized vision of Canada as a super energy power. By tripling production in the next 20 years, the CAPP representative explained that there still will be 100 years left of production (instead of 500). Are we to continue letting giant oil multinationals decide on our behalf or are we to develop a vision that will protect the planet and include the well-being of future generations?
This information is alarming and should be a concern to the Mayor. I worry that his vision for Burns Lake includes pipelines that might result in a few jobs but ultimately the destruction of our community. I put the ball back in his court, “get informed and get involved.”