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Page added on July 26, 2013

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Less Than 1 Percent of Tar Sands Infractions Penalized

Public Policy

A new report finds that enforcement of environmental infractions by companies in the Alberta oil sands are 17 times lower than similar infractions reported to the United State’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The report [pdf], authored by the environmental non-profit Global Forest Watch, looked at more than fifteen years of data on recorded environmental mishaps by oil sand’s companies, tracking the follow-up actions taken and the final verdict on fines.

The findings are shocking and come at a very inconvenient time for government and industry supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline project that would greatly increase tar sands processing and shipments to the United States.

Of the more than 4,000 infractions reported, less than 1-percent (.09 to be exact) received an enforcement action (that would be less than 40 of 4,000). Compare this the US Environmental Protection Agency, who has an enforcement rate of 16% for similar infractions by companies under their Clean Water Act.

Global Forest Watch also found that the median fine for environmental infractions in the oil sands over the past 16 years was $4,500. If you were an oil sands player like ExxonMobil, who reported a profit last year of $44.9 billion, would you change your ways over a $4,500 fine?

Royal Dutch Shell Oil’s CEO, another big player in the oil sands, probably spent $4,500 on golf and dinner yesterday.

TransCanada, the company trying to convince US president Barack Obama to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, was out last week touting Canada as a world leader in environmental protection. TransCanada wrote in the Globe and Mail that:

“The only relevant question is whether the U.S. wants to source its heavy oil from Canada, a friendly and stable ally with strict environmental standards, or from other suppliers whose interests are not aligned with those of the United States and have limited or no environmental standards.”

Relevant question indeed, and here’s the answer: Canada does not have “strict environmental standards” at all and this report puts even more pressure on President Obama to not approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

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6 Comments on "Less Than 1 Percent of Tar Sands Infractions Penalized"

  1. Plantagenet on Fri, 26th Jul 2013 8:10 pm 

    Trying to claim that Canada is an irresponsible polluter is silly.

    Have these know-nothings ever been to Canada?

    Canada is a far cleaner, more environmentally responsible and and more energy efficient country then the USA.

  2. GregT on Fri, 26th Jul 2013 9:59 pm 

    I have, I even happen to live here.

    We are still exporting coal, uranium, and asbestos. Athabascan Tar sands open pit mining is one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet. The recently rammed through omnibus bill c45, is a threat to most navigable waterways throughout the country. We have all but killed off the east coast cod fishery, and are working diligently to do the same to wild Pacific salmon stocks. We have the 9th largest energy use per capita in the world, the US is 11th.

    The only reasons why we might be a cleaner, more environmentally responsible country, is that over 90% of our landmass is unpopulated, and we recycle. 🙂

  3. BillT on Sat, 27th Jul 2013 1:24 am 

    Be patient Canadians! The US has plans for you. They are getting to the point where all of those unused resources are needed by the empire to keep going. The NAU is around the corner and we will pillage your country as easily as we have the 3rd world. Easier as you are conveniently next door.

  4. DC on Sat, 27th Jul 2013 1:54 am 

    ROFL@Plant! Typical amerikan. ‘My’ people generate as much waste per capita, toxic or otherwise as almost anyone else on *Earth*. We even beat amerikans out when it comes to sheer waste of energy and materials. The only reason people think Canada is so ‘clean’ is we have bigger rugs to sweep our mess under than most.

    As for the article itself, I am truly shocked! I had no idea the Alberta and Harper Regime had such a high prosecution rate. My money was on 0%. But nearly 1%?!

    Damn, I had no idea it was that high…..

    As for know-nothings that have never been to the country….looks upwards at first comment….

  5. Beery on Sat, 27th Jul 2013 3:11 am 

    Planty, you’ve swallowed the propaganda hook, line and sinker. Look behind Canada’s PR and you’ll find lots of pollution to worry about. I’m surprised you didn’t see the story about Canada’s asbestos scandal that happened a year or two ago. And surely you’re not suggesting that the tar sands are environmentally friendly? I mean, get a clue!

    Yes, Canada is a far cleaner, more environmentally responsible and and more energy efficient country then the USA. But that’s like saying Idi Amin was no Pol Pot.

  6. actioncjackson on Sat, 27th Jul 2013 7:29 am 

    WARNING. Your government doesn’t care about the planet. WARNING. Money and greed have the power to decimate humanity. WARNING. Your government is lying to you and goes to great lengths to deceive you.

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