Bury your head in the (tar) sand

from the what-you-don’t-know-can’t-hurt-you-department:

One year after plans were announced for a new system to monitor the environmental effects of the Alberta tar sands, there is still no sign of any formal data…

The plans indicated that scientists would release information on an ongoing basis in some cases, and on three and six-month schedules in others. Officials anticipated the first round of information would be released before the end of last year.

The public may not have seen any results from this new endeavour, but multiple independent reports released this year have shown that the tar sands environmental footprint stretches significantly further than previously thought. A joint study between Environment Canada and scientists at Queen’s University discovered elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons—or PAHs, the chemical produced when petroleum is burned—in bodies of water as far as 90 kilometres away from Fort McMurray.

Of course anyone hoping that the new regulations would limit GHG emissions from the tar sands probably shouldn’t hold their breath:

Renowned climate scientists in Canada and the United States are urging the Canadian government, which says it is close to announcing its new oil and gas regulations, to ensure that total greenhouse gas emissions, including oil sands emissions, go down.

Scientists expressed concern that the oil and gas regulations will fail to do anything meaningful on climate change given the federally-allowed expansion of oil sands developments, and the long history of broken promises on climate action. “Across-the-board deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are required in order to avoid potentially catastrophic changes in climate.

Continued expansion of the oilsands operations runs counter to this imperative, irrespective of whatever else we may be doing in Canada,” says University of Toronto climate scientist Danny Harvey.

“In its attempt to secure approval of the Keystone Pipeline, the Canadian government is proclaiming its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the Canadian government has no credible plan for stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions, much less reducing them.”

This is the fourth time in seven years that the same government has proposed oil and gas regulations and each time, failed to act. Canada ranks as the worst performer in the developed world on climate change. In the most recent ranking of climate change performance, Canada was trailed only by Kazakhstan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, ranking 58th out of 61 countries.

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