Clearing the Air of Oil Sands Myths

Pembina Institute Distributes Facts to Key Decision Makers in Canada and the U.S.

On June 4, 2009, the Pembina Institute distributed copies of a new resource, Clearing the Air on Oil Sands Myths, to key Canadian and U.S. decision makers. It identifies a growing body of oil sands “spin” from federal and Alberta politicians and the oil sands industry.

Whether they are dismissing evidence of leaking tailings lakes, ignoring the severe disturbance associated with in situ oil sands development or making claims of leadership on climate change, government and industry have sought to muddy public discussion about the environmental impacts of oil sands development through dozens of claims that fail to provide the full story.

“Government and industry brochures and presentations that defend status quo oil sands development are littered with misleading statements,” notes lead report author Jennifer Grant. “We wanted to make sure that decision makers, the public and the media had access to the full story when considering and discussing oil sands development.”

The oil sands are being internationally scrutinized for their large per-barrel greenhouse gas emissions intensity, the overall growth in greenhouse gas pollution, the production of toxic tailings waste and the lack of rules to limit cumulative environmental impacts to air, water and wildlife.

“Downplaying these impacts with often selective and spurious comparisons risks further diminishing Canada's international reputation,” says Grant.

Clearing the Air on Oil Sands Myths provides the full context and facts about oil sands development with concise, referenced information on its environmental impacts.

“It’s been our experience that government and industry are placing greater emphasis on public relations than public policy,” says Simon Dyer, the Pembina Institute’s Oil Sands Program Director. “Playing with numbers and miscommunicating the impacts associated with oil sands development is irresponsible and shifts attention away from where it’s really needed — implementing strong laws and policies to ensure that oil sands development occurs responsibly.”


Visit the Oil Sands Myths webpage to view the slide show and download the report.

For more information contact:

Jennifer Grant
Policy Analyst
The Pembina Institute

Simon Dyer
Oil Sands Program Director
The Pembina Institute