Regular readers of this blog will know that the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers regularly places advertisements defending the tar sands, and I like to comment on each one. They deserve serious attention, after all this is CAPP's bid to make a case for the sustainability of this much reviled industry.
Today's tar sands beefcake is Garrett Brown, another strong but sensitive type, smiling confidently and crouching to show his closeness to the soil, in front of a wood. The headline states : "I grew up on a farm. I know what it means to have the land restored."
Maybe it's because I'm British, but the words farmer and land restoration do not sing in harmony in my mind. The average UK farmer only becomes a friend of the environment once he's been subsidised, regulated, monitored and cajoled; in other words given the full carrot and stick treatment. Left to his own devices he'll regard the rivers and streams through his land as a useful run off for toxic waste, but I suppose it might be different in Canada. No, actually I don't suppose that at all.
Garrett is an environmental officer for Conoco Phillips, concerned with land reclamation.
In reality, only 0.2% of the land disturbed by tar sands mining has been certified as reclaimed. You don't need a degree in ecology to know that land which has had its entire vegetation and topsoil removed, cannot be restored to its previous state, even if you can plant trees on it. Currently there is no solution to the toxic tailing ponds; there is no way of restoring the land they occupy. Conoco has had a problem with birds dying in the tailing ponds.
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