Canadian oil sands industry could do permanent environmental damage

A memorandum prepared for the the head of Canada's Privy Council Office projects that the environmental impacts of the oil sands industry could prove more substantial than previous estimates suggested, according to The Calgary Herald.

Submitted to the Privy Council Office's clerk, Wayne Wouters, the memo suggests that efforts to reduce carbon emissions have been largely unsuccessful despite efforts from the industry. As more companies switch to the more carbon-intensive in situ production and the scale of the sector expands dramatically, the carbon footprint of the industry has climbed rapidly.

The growing amount of waste from oil sands production also could permanently damage many ecologically sensitive areas.

"While the industry has taken steps to recycle water and collaborate on the development of innovative tailings management technologies, at this point in time, it is far from clear that tailings ponds can be adequately restored," the memo explained.

Ultimately, the memo suggests the health, safety and environment implications of the industry are poorly understood.

Another recently released report notes that the potential environmental ramifications of Canadian oil sands are still substantially less than those of coal, but still argued that the fuel poses a potential threat.

Further analysis of Canadian oil sands can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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