The prestigious scientific journal Nature is urging scientists to
speak out against the environmental impacts of Alberta’s oil sands.
“It would be unrealistic to expect that we could harvest fossil fuels or minerals without an effect on the environment,” reads an editorial
in this week’s issue. “But the fast development of the tar sands,
combined with weak regulation and a lack of effective watchdogs, have
made them an environmentalist’s nightmare.”
Since the 1990s, greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands
extraction have declined 30 percent per barrel, the journal notes. And
ongoing University of Alberta research to reduce water impacts is a
positive step, it reads.
On the surface, Nature’s editorial argues, Alberta
government regulations appear to be tough on industry. Large companies
have to pay $15 per tonne on each tonne of carbon they emit over a
certain limit and mined lands and tailings ponds must legally be
“But many of these rules are weaker than they seem,” the editorial argues.
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