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Energy Development and Use

Strip mining in the tar sands, Alberta

The problem: The development and use of fossil fuels in Canada and elsewhere around the world is the most important factor driving climate change, as well as a critical cause of endangered ecosystems and biodiversity loss. The problem is rapidly increasing as the appetite for fossil fuels continues to grow. Large areas of northern Alberta are being destroyed along with their ecosystems as the tar sands are strip-mined. Tar sands development is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases in the country. Pipelines to transport tar sands bitumen to offshore markets are being planned west across British Columbia, east across central and eastern Canada, and south into the U.S. They pose threats to the aquatic ecosystems of hundreds of rivers and streams, as well as facilitating the expansion of tar sands development and related increases in greenhouse gases. Fracking threatens aquifers in several provinces. Mega hydroelectric projects have already re-engineered the hydrological systems of northern Quebec and Manitoba and in the process damaged or destroyed many ecosystems and eliminated vast areas of wilderness. Others large hydro projects are planned in these and other provinces.
Mega energy projects are being approved without comprehensive environmental assessments, without consideration for the cumulative effects of multiple projects and without proper consultation with local communities and First Nations which are directly affected.
What needs to change: The federal government and provincial governments must develop comprehensive Energy Strategies that place conservation as the first priority and focus on a rapid decrease in the use of fossil fuels. So-called green energy strategies must be re-examined to identify energy sources that are truly “green”. An effective Environmental Assessment process must be developed, one that is not lead by proponents, and incorporates the input of environmentalists, local communities and First Nations. Energy projects that pose serious threats to ecosystems or wildlife or increase greenhouse gas emissions must be rejected.
                   Hydroelectric Development