Believing in clean oilsands like putting faith in ‘magic fairies,’ Alberta scientist says by Tom Spears, April 12, 2013, Ottawa Citizen in Calgary Herald
Claims that Alberta’s oilsands are environmentally harmless are “lies” and won’t convince anyone in Washington, one of this country’s most famous ecologists said Friday. Political leaders in Alberta and Ottawa “seem to think that Americans believe in magic fairies — just shut your eyes and say the oilsands are clean four times and it happens,” said David Schindler of the University of Alberta. He said this reflects the current federal ideology — not anti-science, but “anti-some kinds of science. Anything with ‘environmental’ in it seems to be anathema.” Schindler, a freshwater scientist, was speaking at Carleton University. He has been a leading research on pollutants ranging from phosphates to acid rain to toxic waste, and in 2001 won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, a national award given to the country’s top scientist. Showing his audience an aerial photo of a scarred landscape in oilsands country, he said environmental assessments show there is no environmental impact and companies claim the damage is later remediated.
“Why are people allowed to lie to the public like this? I just don’t understand this. We have to challenge them,” he said. “Obvious the people who used to challenge them, the civil servants, are no longer allowed to.
“If you got towns around the world to nominate the village idiot from every town and flew them over the oilsands, and asked them, ‘Yes or no, is this a significant impact?’ I think I know what the answer would be.” At Fisheries and Oceans Canada he said “there’s nobody who knows any science in about the upper 10 levels of management … They’re accountants, they’re business people.” Schindler worked for Fisheries and Oceans in the 1970s and 1980s. [Emphasis added]