Soiling the Planet Wins a Pat on the Back

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Help me figure out the lesson that we should draw from an event this week. The Alberta Government, central to perhaps the most disastrous project in North America, is receiving an award for leadership at an Environment Forum.  Consider me confused …

The Aspen Institute and National Geographic are banding together to give out six awards as part of the Aspen Environment Forum.  

A ceremony to recognize and reward excellence for those making a real and concrete contribution to innovation, implementation, and communication of energy and environmental solutions.

Amid the awardees are some heroes, but some are far from heroes. The “government” awardee: The Province of Alberta, Canada. Yes, that Alberta government which is facilitating what has been called the most destructive project on Earth: devastating Alberta in the rapacious Tar Sands projects.   And, this is occurring in the same month that National Georgraphic ran The Canadian Oil Boom: Scraping Bottom.

Nowhere on Earth is more earth being moved these days than in the Athabasca Valley. To extract each barrel of oil from a surface mine, the industry must first cut down the forest, then remove an average of two tons of peat and dirt that lie above the oil sands layer, then two tons of the sand itself. It must heat several barrels of water to strip the bitumen from the sand and upgrade it, and afterward it discharges contaminated water into tailings ponds like the one near Mildred Lake. They now cover around 50 square miles. Last April some 500 migrating ducks mistook one of those ponds, at a newer Syncrude mine north of Fort McKay, for a hospitable stopover, landed on its oily surface, and died. The incident stirred international attention-Greenpeace broke into the Syncrude facility and hoisted a banner of a skull over the pipe discharging tailings, along with a sign that read “World’s Dirtiest Oil: Stop the Tar Sands.”

Peter Essick, the photographer for that piece, will be at the Forum, to give a lunchtime presentation entitled “Scraping Bottom” on March 26th.

A National Geographic photographer and an environment editor report back on their explorations of Alberta’s oil sands at the height of a mining boom.

This is, of course, the day before the Government of Alberta will receive their ‘prestigious’ prize.

The government striving to accelerate these destructive practices is to be awarded a prize for its “leadership” in carbon capture and sequestration.

And, it is hard to see how this choice meets the Award Criteria.

Have to wonder whether anyone will note the hypocrisy of having Essick giving a lunchtime presentation, presumably to the entire conference, and then giving an enivironmental/energy leadership award to one of the key abetters of the “worst project on the planet” the next evening in front of the same crowd.  Hopefully, more than few in attendence will be squirming in their seats with discomfort come Friday evening.


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