I can’t count the number of times that people upon hearing some of the real facts from the energy industry say: “Well, why doesn’t the energy industry communicate all that good stuff to people better.”.
Shy of hiring people to scream facts on city streetcorners, I am not sure what the hell else industry can do. The vast majority of the energy industry works within and often surpasses environmental regulations of all levels of government. Sites are reclaimed and bonds are posted for new sites and facilities reclamation down the road. Proactive studies and techniques are constantly being used to further mitigate environmental impact and with great success. These things are advertised, local hearings are held everywhere, press releases are issued and people are invited to visit energy sites and facilities to see things for themselves. Despite all that, it seems like the energy industry is screaming into the wind.
Now below I will go into some of the horsecrap that the energy industry has to deal with in trying to protect it’s reputation.
In today’s Edmonton Journal there was a story with the headline:
Oilsands research confirmed: Snow contaminated near operations, says federal report.
Oh dear! Whatever shall we do? The article then goes on to point out:
“analyzed winter snow and found that contamination levels were “highest near oilsands development compared to further away,”
Wow! They discovered that there is more oilsands stuff in the snow near the oilsands than there is farther away from the oilsands. Sorry but that is a little less than profound kids.
Yes though, contaminant buildup was found in the snow near oilsands facilities. When phrased right, that can sound rather scary. But wait, lets look at the last paragraph of the article:
“The Environment Canada document also said that substances found in the study were typical of development of all kinds and can even be found in the snow in cities with no heavy industry, but they were continuing their work.”
To put this in other words, nothing unusual or dangerous has been found in the study of the snow in the area. It has the same stuff in it as anybody’s own back yard.
The article also included a picture of a fish with a tumour that was caught downstream of the oilsands as can be seen below.
Yes, that is indeed one ugly tumour. Bear in mind that fish can and do develop tumours without exposure to oilsands as well.
Lets see what the article had to say about the water and fish:
“researchers had tested the toxicity of the Athabasca River water in the spring of 2010 with negative results, and also that no link was established between levels of contaminants found and any effect on fish.”
So in other words, the picture of the fish has utterly no bearing on the article at all aside from trying to make what is essentially an article highlighting a study that found no outstanding environmental devastation around the oilsands.
The article also tries to imply that some sort of gag order has been released on the study. All I see really is indications of efforts to get a controlled message of the study outcomes. That is not unusual. Press plans are common and it is best to have a consistent message. No conspiracy here.
I understand that it is tough to write articles that interest people. It would be more principled to bury a boring report on an environmental study than to mess with one like this to imply that there is an environmental catastrophe happening in Alberta’s oilsands when there simply is not one.
It is just getting tiresome trying to keep up facts to counter the endless and poorly sourced bullshit being spread about Alberta’s energy industry. I do wish some elements of our media would step up a little better on this.