Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Canadian government targets environment NGOs

Paul Weinberg in IPS: Job cuts totalling 1,000 at Environment Canada’s climate change division this month means there will be even fewer government scientists onboard to monitor the impact of the extraction, development and transportation of crude oil from the carbon-intensive oil sands in Alberta.

The oil sands are a major source of fossil fuel emissions which are heating areas of the planet, including the Arctic.  Ironically, this same department, just weeks earlier, produced new research confirming that toxic chemicals from oil sands tailing ponds covering 176 square kilometres in northern Alberta are leaching into the local groundwater and seeping into the Athabasca River.

But two experts on Canadian environmental policy say they expect fewer such studies to be financed by a Conservative government in Ottawa focused on the development of the Alberta oil sands. “This government is taking out specific forms of [research] capacity and those are the kind of things we need to have if we are ever going to tackle climate change,” said John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada.

“[With] any government that comes into power in the future, it’s going to take them two or three years to get the staff, to review what they have to do,” he told IPS.

Picking up the investigative slack but without the same amount of resources are the environmental NGOs such as the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute, said Mark Winfield, a professor in the faculty of environmental studies at Toronto’s York University....

Syncrude's Mildred Lake plant, shot by TastyCakes, Wikimedia Commons, public domain 

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