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Today, Judge Tjosvold will resume the Syncrude trial for the killing of 1600 ducks that landed on a badly managed, lethal tailings pond. He will decide whether Syncrude can be punished for both the federal and provincial offences that it committed.

Anyone interested in the environmental toll of the tar sands should read this decision, which clearly demonstrates how little weight has been given to environmental protection.It is remarkable how much the Syncrude prosecution has galvanized public opinion in Alberta, which has been almost completely indifferent to destruction by the tar sands mines of the habitat of tens of thousands of birds and other creatures, and which has made the fish of the Athabasca river unsafe to eat.

I also highly recommend Andrew Nikiforuk’s book, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil. It’s packed with devastating facts, made more bearable by memorable writing.  Who could forget, for example, that using natural gas to extract bitumen is like “using caviar as fertilizer to grow turnips”?  Andrew is a dogged public investigator in Calgary who devotes his life to ferreting out inconvenient truths in the honorable belief that transparency will lead to better decisions. His book is well written and well organized, chronicling the corrosive effect of current Canadian and Alberta     policies on air, land, water in and beyond Alberta, and on the Canadian and Alberta economies. Read it and weep, then do something. We plan to try.

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