Thursday, May 03, 2007

Grandmother Censored by Oil Giant

A feisty 85 year old grandmother from Colorado is finding herself in the middle of a David vs. Goliath media battle with oil sands giant Syncrude regarding a website she built to demonstrate the environmental impacts of the company's operations.

Last summer, Liz Moore took a tour of Syncrude's operations during which she photographed various standard sights such as big trucks, oily sand and bison grazing on reclaimed land. However, after seeing the devastation caused by oil sands extraction first hand, she became convinced that Americans needed to see what their thirst for oil was doing to the Canadian environment. Syncrude disagreed, and in April they responded with legal action stating that they owned the photos that Ms. Moore took and that she must be immediately remove them from her website. Ms. Moore complied.

Syncrude was quick to defend its actions, stating that Ms. Moore had signed a waiver that gave the company ownership over any photos she took. That's nice and tidy from the legal standpoint, but like most legal technicalities it completely misses the point. First of all, Syncrude's "private operations" are one of the most destructive industrial processes in the world, and affect people well beyond the borders of their sights. Impacts of Alberta's oil sands include:

  • 359 million litres of water diversions authorized from the Athabasca River - twice the volume used by the city of Calgary in an single year.
  • the return of less than 10% of that volume to the river. The rest remains contaminated and is stored in vast tailing ponds which already total 50 square kilometers in area.
  • massive increases in rare cancers among the Fort Chipewyan First Nations near Syncrude's operations.
  • greenhouse gas emissions that are currently the second highest in Canada.
  • Syncrude is the 6th largest emitting company in Canada.
  • oil production is expected to triple by 2015.

The second point is that the folks at Syncrude are acting like a bunch of wankers by thinking that they are actually accomplishing anything by launching legal action against senior citizens. To prove it, here's my own photo montage showing what's going on in Alberta's oil patch and its affects on Canadians and the environment.

Globe and Mail link courtesy of DeSmogBlog


knb said...

I cannot get your montage to play, but I heard this story earlier today and could not believe it.

Thank you for putting it out there.

WindWhisperer said...

Odiyya, that's a great photo montage. I'm convinced that profiteers in the oil industry will never ever care about environmental impacts of their industry standards. I think there is a general view of environmental issues as a long long term consideration, and their profit margins as a much more pressing concern. I hope the media and concerned citizens keep up a tireless fight to promote awareness and expose the most evasive culprits.