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LETTER: Harden-Donahue challenges Kent’s ‘ethical oil’ comment

Council of Canadians energy and climate campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue writes in a letter to the editor published in the Ottawa Citizen today that:

It is disappointing, but not surprising, to hear our new environment minister, Peter Kent refer to the tarsands as “ethical oil.”

What is ethical about crude that produces three to five times per barrel, the carbon emissions of conventional oil, while many suffer the ravages of climate change? What is ethical about massive leaking tailings ponds and a watershed under stress contaminated with cancer-causing toxins? What is ethical about a community, Fort Chipewyan, with cancer rates 30 per cent higher than expected?

Kent’s statement is not surprising. It is yet more of the same from the Harper (and Stelmach) governments. Weak, industry-led self-regulation continues to be the norm. While talk of regulation and water monitoring sounds good, the proof is in the pudding and the pudding is polluted with carcinogens. Why regulate when you can pretend that carbon capture and storage – which helps to justify more development and overall emissions – is an acceptable solution?

Kent’s words are yet more proof that the Harper government is leaning more on industry reports and Ezra Levant (author of Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s Oilsands) to inform its talking points than the truth. Canada’s tarsands are having significant environmental and social impacts. They are the cutting edge of humanity’s ongoing addiction to fossil fuels and descent into reliance on unconventional sources instead of greater energy conservation, efficiency and renewable sources. Canada has a moral responsibility to change course, and quickly.

Her letter can be read at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/What+ethical+about+tarsands/4078892/story.html.