The Oil Sands are back in the news, as a new round of Greenpeace efforts are targeting Suncor, the second time in recent weeks.
I have a tough time fully forming my opinion on the oil sands. Without a doubt, I am worried about their impact, particularly on our water sources. The greenhouse gas emissions are also a concern, but I worry that environmentalists are focusing too much on the oil sands. Most research shows that the bulk of the GHG emissions in the life-cycle of oil production comes in the transport fuel combustion phase, which is to say, when it is used by consumers. Product from the oil sands does create more emissions than conventional sources, but does it justify the effort that environmentalists are putting in to stop them?
My thought right now is no. We’d be best served focusing our efforts on reducing the need for oil. No demand, no oil sands production. It’s that simple. I worry that we’re going to lose the big picture in going after the oil sands.
But I’m open to arguments, and am by no means set in my view. I’d love to hear thoughts from others on this topic. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the oil sands. I had the opportunity to tour Syncrude’s Mildred Lake mine in July, and I appreciate the opportunity greatly. Here is a selection of photos from my visit.
You can see my full photo set here.