Oil Sands Archive
2013-05-15 AWA News Release: Time for Alberta Forest Industry to Stop Logging Critical Caribou Habitat
As the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) marks its three year anniversary at the end of this week, companies are still logging in threatened Alberta caribou habitat. CBFA promised to accelerate protection of caribou and other boreal species at risk, but even though it was signed by most of Alberta’s forest industry, it has not delivered in Alberta. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) and Keepers of the Athabasca call on the forestry industry to stop logging in Alberta critical caribou habitat until sustainable populations are attained.
AWA's letter to Alberta Energy Minister Hughes thanking the Alberta government for deferring new mineral rights sales in the Little Smoky and A La Peche caribou ranges, and requesting measures for existing energy lease holders to maintain and restore caribou habitat there.
For the first time, Alberta is deferring the sale of new mineral rights across the entire range of two of its fifteen caribou herds until Cabinet first adopts range plans describing how critical habitat will be protected to recover those two populations. In a letter yesterday to Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA), Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes stated that effective immediately, new mineral rights sales will be halted across the Little Smoky and A La Peche herd ranges northeast of Jasper National Park until range plans are approved in 2014. AWA welcomes this decision by the Redford government as a good first step in the survival chances of these two caribou herds.
In a May 2, 2013 letter to Alberta WIlderness ASsociation, Alberta Energy Minster Ken Hughes states that effective immediately, new mineral rights sales will be halted across the Little Smoky and A La Peche caribou ranges north of Jasper National Park until Cabinet approves range plans in 2014.
Today the Alberta government will once again violate its own caribou policy and the federal caribou recovery strategy by auctioning yet more new oil and gas leases in the ranges of threatened Alberta caribou, including in the Little Smoky range that is more than 95% disturbed. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) calls on the government to cease this irresponsible energy development approach and act on its promises to maintain and restore caribou habitat.
An open letter to Alberta ESRD Minister Diana McQueen asking for more disclosure on the just-announced 3-day release of acutely lethal water from a Suncor wastewater pond into the Athabasca River that occurred March 2011, as well as the March 26, 2013 10-hour overflow of water from the same pond into the Athabasca River. The letter is signed by 44 organizations including Alberta Wilderness Association.
The Alberta government is selling new petroleum and natural gas lease sales in five threatened caribou range areas in March 2013, including in an auction that closes today, despite already unacceptably high industrial disturbance of caribou habitat in those areas. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) calls on the Alberta government to cease new surface leasing and new disturbance permits in Alberta caribou ranges and to make good on its promises to maintain and restore caribou habitat.
Wild Lands Advocate update, December 2012, by Carolyn Campbell. Report on the presentation made by the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition - a group that includes AWA - to a joint federal-provincial environmental assessment panel. That presentation was made in opposition to Shell's expansion proposal for its Jackpine bitumen mine.
Updated water withdrawal rules for oil sands mines are needed now, to better protect the Lower Athabasca River (north of Fort McMurray). The Alberta government promised new rules would be in place by September 2010, over two years ago. The Lower Athabasca River provides habitat for 31 of Alberta’s 59 species of fish. Meanwhile, industrial pressures are increasing: Imperial Oil-Exxon Mobil’s Kearl mine recent start up will increase River withdrawal demands. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) urges the federal and provincial governments to release updated rules requiring mines to cease water withdrawals during lowest winter flows, which could be accomplished at modest cost to operators.
The Oil Sands Environmental Coalition, including Alberta Wilderness Association, appeared yesterday and today before a joint federal-provincial regulatory panel considering another large tar sands mine along the lower Athabasca River. OSEC outlined why Shell's Jackpine Mine expansion proposal is not in the public interest and should not be approved. Alberta Wilderness Association focused on the Project's significant impacts of expected irreversible loss to peat wetlands and old-growth forest, as well as harm to the Athabasca River at lowest winter flows from further water withdrawals.
Oil Sands Environmental Coalition will present evidence Tuesday November 6 showing Shell Canada’s proposal to expand the Jackpine oilsands mine is not in the public interest; internationally recognized water scientist David Schindler to address the panel on Friday
2012-10-29 ENGO News Release: Coalition calls on panel to reject Shell Jackpine oilsands mine expansion
With public hearings into a proposed oilsands mine expansion set to begin today, a coalition of environmental groups is calling on the joint federal-provincial review panel to reject the project. Shell’s proposal to expand its Jackpine oilsands mine would increase production at the existing facility by 100,000 barrels per day. The company’s environmental assessment shows that expanding the Jackpine oilsands mine along with other planned developments will harm fish and wildlife, damage wetlands and old growth forests, exceed legally binding air quality limits and cause acid rain. It will leave a legacy of toxic waste buried in lakes, damage two significant rivers, and produce greenhouse gas pollution that will put Canada’s and Alberta’s climate targets further out of reach.
Wild Lands Advocate article, June 2012, by Carolyn Campbell. Campbell describes the minimal progress made in cumulative effects management in Alberta's oilsands, despite the fact that cumulative effects consideration in environmental assessments has been required by law since 1992.
2012-08-22 AWA News Release: Lower Athabasca Plan: Significant Progress, but Wildlife Await Land Disturbance Plan Inside Oil Sands Area
The Lower Athabasca regional plan for northeast Alberta released today is a significant step forward in managing cumulative development effects, but regrettably misses many important and promised pieces for wildlife. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) congratulates the Alberta government for establishing air and water management frameworks and significant new Wildland Parks outside the large Oil Sands Area. AWA looks forward to working with the Redford government towards completion of promised land management pieces inside the Oil Sands Area to address overwhelming multiple pressures on wildlife there.
Wild Lands Advocate update, June 2012, by Ian Urquhart. Describes the scrapping of plans to transport huge modules destine for Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake oilsands project on rural roads in Montana, Idaho and Washington.
As development continues to destroy wetlands crucial to Alberta’s water security and climate regulation, a new research paper by a University of Alberta ecologist, Dr. Lee Foote, concludes that the government should negotiate mineable oil sands development limits. The paper cites doubtful reclamation success for the extensive peat wetlands central to that landscape. The Alberta Wilderness Association and Water Matters call on Alberta’s political party leaders to commit to meaningful wetland conservation measures including protection of boreal wetlands.
University of Alberta scientists Rooney, Bayley and Schindler have released a study emphasizing that peatlands cannot be reclaimed once destroyed by tar sands mines. As they cover 65% of the pre-mining landscape, this loss will have far-reaching impacts on regional ecology and biodiversity that have not been assessed. This loss also represents a large unaccounted-for source of carbon emissions.
Last year, the Alberta government killed 145 garbage-habituated black bears at oilsands camps in Alberta. Poorly-managed oilsands camps have been long known to attract bears to garbage. But rather than enforcing regulations, or prosecuting the guilty companies, Alberta government staff simply move in and kill bears. Lots of bears.
2012-02-03 AWA News Release: Beyond Monitoring - Responsible Management Needed for Oilsands Wildlife and Wetlands Impacts
Today, forty five years after the first tar sands mines started, the federal government has finally taken steps to introduce credible monitoring for contaminants and habitat degradation from oilsands development. Alberta Wilderness Association believes that long-overdue monitoring of Alberta’s oilsands impacts is a step in the right direction, but monitoring itself will not fix any of the issues which have so bedeviled the industry for the past few years.
2012-01-00 Canada's woodland caribou: industrial disturbances in their ranges and implications for their survival
Report by Global Forest Watch Canada. Finds that for the eight boreal woodland caribou populations with ranges in Alberta's bitumen (oil sands) administration area, the amount of industrial disturbance is 64% of their ranges as of 2010, compared to a Canada-wide average of 14% industrial disturbance. The combined natural and industrial disturbance rate in a caribou's range should be about 20% or less (i.e., 80% undisturbed) to result in caribou herds likely to be self-sustaining.