38 reasons Albertans need to demand better from oil companies


I like old cars that get 8mpg. I WD-40 anything that squeaks. I love that I have a furnace in my house that keeps me toasty warm in the dead of winter. In short, I’m cool with oil. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to see a new, clean, cheap, renewable source of energy but I consider myself a realist and think we can all acknowledge that we need a source of energy to get us from where we are to where we eventually want to be. For the time being, that’s fossil fuels.

Now, all that said, I’ve had it up to here with oil and gas and pipeline and chemical and railroad companies. [highlight]My frustration isn’t because I want these companies to immediately cease to exist; it’s because I don’t trust the bastards[/highlight].

Selfish jerks making money at our collective expense

Over and over and over again, these companies have illustrated that when faced with a choice between protecting the environment (including our health) or making an extra 5¢, they’ll throw us under the bus quicker than their CEOs can say, “Our stock prices just went up!”

Read this list and explain to me how anyone can possibly think industry does an adequate job of policing itself.

  1. Edmonton Journal – Fort Chipewyan councillor latest resident diagnosed with rare cancer
  2. CBC News – Fort Chip cancer rates higher than expected: report
  3. Edmonton Journal – Higher-ups back doctors’ advocacy rights in heavy oil emissions cases
  4. vice.com – Albertans Are Abandoning Their Homes Due to Toxic Air
  5. VancouverObserver.com – Buyout packages allegedly silence Albertans struck with industry-related cancer
  6. ThinkProgress – Tar Sands Oil Development Is More Toxic Than Previously Thought, Study Finds
  7. CBC News – Leduc County defers decision on chemical plant
  8. Huffington Post – BP Oil Spill: Dolphins Plagued By Death, Disease Years After Rig Explosion
  9. CBC News – Pipeline rupture: Alberta resident unaware of 2009 blast
  10. WFPL News – Explosion On Ky. Natural Gas Pipeline Under Investigation
  11. Huffington Post – Natural Gas Pipeline Breaks Near Rocky Mountain House
  12. The Globe and Mail – Searching for answers after Red Deer’s pipeline spill
  13. National Post – Booms set up to contain Alberta pipeline spill after up to 3,000 barrels of oil spew into Red Deer River
  14. Global News – ‘Dark-coloured crude oil up on the trees’: The Red Deer River spill, one year later
  15. Huffington Post – Peter Mansbridge Was Paid By Oil And Gas Lobby For Speech
  16. ABC News – Judge Won’t Block New Round of BP Seafood Payments
  17. BBC News – Nigeria oil firms ‘deflect blame for spills’, says Amnesty
  18. Financial Post – Alberta government, industry defend air quality in industrial heartland
  19. The Tyee – Alberta’s Oil Legacy: Bad Air and Rare Cancers
  20. Huffington Post – Oilsands Tailings Seeping Into Groundwater, Athabasca River: Federal Study
  21. AllAfrica.com – Nigeria: Govt Fines Shell N800 Billion for Bonga Oil Spill – Official
  22. Global News – West Virginia residents wary of drinking water after chemical spill
  23. CBC News – Just before Lac-Mégantic, railways sought to reduce inspections
  24. The Nation – Exxon’s Pro-Fracking CEO Is Suing to Stop Fracking Near His Mansion
  25. sbs.com.au – Fukushima latest leak “poor management”
  26. Huffington Post – 500 Barrels Spill Into Red Butte Creek After Pipeline Breaks
  27. The World Post – China Oil Spill PHOTOS: Environmental And Economic Damage Becomes Clear
  28. Calgary Herald – Rainbow oil pipeline leak largest in 36 years
  29. Globe and Mail – Oil on Rainbow line halted 8 hours after problem detected
  30. Huffington Post – Yellowstone Oil Spill Prompts Evacuations
  31. Yahoo Finance – Shell’s reputation hit by North Sea oil spill
  32. Yahoo News – Chevron takes blame for Brazil oil spill
  33. The World Post – New Zealand Oil Spill: Stranded Rena Leaking Oil Country’s Worst Environmental Sea Disaster
  34. NJ.com – Oil spill at Woodbridge facility dumps diesel into Arthur Kill
  35. NY Daily News – Exxon’s oil spill in Arkansas leaves neighborhood like a scene from ‘The Walking Dead’: official
  36. USA Today – Barge with 80,000 gallons oil hits bridge, leaks
  37. USA Today – Report: Fracking raising water supply worries
  38. CTV – Enbridge record questioned, company vows to do better as Line 9 pipeline decision nears

This isn’t even a comprehensive list that goes back decades. This is a list of relatively recent events (within the last five-ish years) that I threw together after 30 minutes of Googling.

Mad doubloons.

I’m really, truly happy for anyone that can make what they believe they’re worth. I also think that you deserve every penny of it UNLESS you’re screwing someone else over to make that crazy cheddar. If, in order for you to make uber-bank, Alberta farmers have to be forced off their land, you’re an asshole. If you’re cool with fracking until it happens in your backyard, you’re an asshole. And if you have the meaty clackers to claim that as CEO of a railroad, you’re suffering just as much as the community of Lac-Mégantic, you’re SUCH an asshole.

What do we do?

Recognizing that a problem exists is just bitching if you don’t propose a solution. So, much like Vanilla Ice, when there’s a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.

There has to be a middle ground where companies are permitted to responsibly utilize our resources and where we’re allowed to have some say in what is and isn’t acceptable behavior for these corporations.

Sadly, this isn’t the current reality. How do we go about changing that?

  • Be kind to one another. Let’s acknowledge that it’s not OK to ridicule our neighbours for being concerned about the quality of the air they breath. At the same time, let’s get on the same page and agree that oil/gas/chemical/etc companies don’t get to trade years of our lives (and the lives of our families) to bolster their bottom line.
  • In the same vein, the next time you witness someone that’s questioning the status quo being labeled as an anti-oil extremist or a dirty hippie that’s allergic to work, don’t politely bite your tongue. If it’s not OK for our kids to bully each other at school, it’s not OK for adults to terrorize each other when discussing our health and our environment. Online or in meatspace, respect and defend the rights of others to protect themselves and their families.
  • It sounds like the weakest of sauce, but take 15 minutes and write a letter to your MLA and MP. Do these campaigns actually work? Goddamn right they do but it takes a concerted effort from a bunch of us.
  • If writing a letter sounds like too much effort (C’mon, really?), make a phone call or send an email or message your elected official on Facebook. It’s better than nothing.
  • Encourage those that take action. The next time you see someone attempting to make a difference, tell them they’re doing good work. It seems silly but those little words of encouragement are what keep people going when hit a dip in the road.