Mike de Souza

Mon, 2013-02-18 15:49Carol Linnitt
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Tar Sands Tailings Contaminate Alberta Groundwater

The massive tailings ponds holding billions of litres of tar sands waste are leaking into Alberta's groundwater, according to internal documents obtained by Postmedia's Mike De Souza.

An internal memorandum prepared for Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and obtained through Access to Information legislation says evidence confirms groundwater toxins related to bitumen mining and upgrading are migrating from tailings ponds and are not naturally occurring as government and industry have previously stated.

“The studies have, for the first time, detected potentially harmful, mining-related organic acid contaminants in groundwater outside a long-established out-of-pit tailings pond,” the memo reads. “This finding is consistent with publicly available technical reports of seepage (both projected in theory, and detected in practice).”

This newly released document shows the federal government has been aware of the problem since June 2012 without publicly addressing the information. The study, made available online by Natural Resources Canada in December 2012, was still “pending release” at the time Minister Oliver was briefed of its contents in June.

Wed, 2012-11-14 21:04Carol Linnitt
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Toxic Tar Sands: Scientists Document Spread of Pollution, Water Contamination, Effects on Fish

Today federal scientists from Environment Canada presented research at an international toxicology conference in the U.S. that indicates contaminants from the Alberta tar sands are polluting the landscape on a scale much larger than previously thought.

A team lead by federal scientist Jane Kirk discovered contaminants in lakes as far as 100 kilometers away from tar sands operations. The federal research confirms and expands upon the hotly contested findings of aquatic scientist David Schindler who, in 2010, found pollution from the tar sands accumulating on the landscape up to 50 kilometers away.

“That means the footprint is four times bigger than we found,” Schindler told Postmedia News.

Senior scientist Derek Muir, who presented some of the findings at Wednesday's conference, said the contaminated region is “potentially larger than we might have anticipated.” The 'legacy' of chemicals in lake sediment gives evidence that tar sands pollution has been traveling long distances for decades. Samples show the build up of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, known to cause cancer in humans and to be toxic to aquatic animals, in 6 remote and undisturbed lakes up to 100 kilometers away from tar sands operations.

The pollutants are “petrogenic” in nature, meaning they are petroleum derived, and have steadily and dramatically increased since the 1970s, showing the contaminant levels “seem to parallel the development of the oilsands industry,” Muir said.

Fri, 2012-06-22 14:04Meribeth Deen
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Enbridge Lobbyists Successfully Eliminated Fish Habitat Protections For Pipeline

Changes to the Fisheries Act limiting the protection of fish habitat did not, as it turns out, arise simply out of a series of complaints by disgruntled farmers hoping to fill in small patches of wetlands or municipalities seeking to repair bridges, as claimed by Minister Keith Ashfield.


Briefing notes obtained by the Access to Information Act show Enbridge found the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)’s demands “onerous” and, in more than 100 visits with government officials between January and the tabling of amendments to the Fisheries Act, Enbridge lobbyists made clear that they wished to see the department’s regulatory powers limited.

The documents, dug up by Postmedia’s Mike De Souza and Peter O’Neil, show disagreements between DFO and Enbridge occurred over two years, and concerned more than 1,000 waterways on the proposed route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline.


The Conservative budget bill, Bill C-38, has made sweeping changes to the Federal Fisheries Act by eliminating Section 35, which makes it an offense to harmfully alter, disrupt or destroy fish habitat. The regulations which replace Section 35 prohibit “serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or aboriginal fishery or fish that support such a fishery.”

Read the story: Federal documents reveal clash between Enbridge, DFO
  

Fri, 2011-10-28 11:52Carol Linnitt
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Canadian Embassy Coaches Diplomats To Promote Tar Sands, Overstate Environmental Protection Efforts

The Canadian government, on the provincial and federal level, needs to tag team on tar sands public relations, according to an internal Canadian Embassy document reported on by Mike De Souza yesterday in the Financial Post. The newly released document, obtained by Environmental Defense Canada through an access to information request, details the outcome of a 2010 overseas trip taken by Alberta’s former Environment Minister Rob Renner. According to the Embassy staff who prepared the report, international investors and stakeholders feel Canada’s lack of unified tar sands advocacy leaves the world’s dirtiest source of energy vulnerable to attack.

During a week long visit to the United Kingdom, Renner heard the concerns of invested parties who suggested Alberta take the lead in a nationwide and government-directed public relations campaign to “temper negative coverage” of the tar sands. 

According to the internal report “there is a strong need for consistent (Alberta and federal government) messaging and cooperation on this file. The opponents of oilsands will find ways to exploit any lack of coherence and coordination, undermining common objectives shared by (the Canadian government) and (the Alberta government) on this issue.”
Tue, 2011-09-13 20:16Richard Littlemore
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Talisman funded Friends of Science skeptic film

Calgary oil company Talisman Energy has been outed as the major funder behind a Friends of Science video series that falsely tried to claim legitimacy by tacking a University of Calgary logo on its opening credits.

Postmedia reporter Mike De Souza has an excellent article in the Calgary Herald, exposing Talisman as the largest donor in a complicated campaign to sluice cash through the Calgary Foundation and the University of Calgary to finance phony “education” projects. The University has long since distanced itself from the Friends of Science, although it never disciplined Prof. Barry Cooper, the political scientist, climate change skeptic and Calgary Herald columnist who set up the fake U of C Education Fund to launder oil money that was being used to finance climate denial films, radio ads, political advocacy and public campaigns.

But even after exposing all of its own dirty laundry in an audit, the University continued to protect the funders, keeping donors such as Talisman out of their reports. De Souza, to his credit, finally wedged the name loose in a Freedom of Information request.

Mon, 2011-05-30 10:12Emma Pullman
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Canada Hides 20 Percent Tar Sands Annual Pollution Increase from UN

The Canadian federal government deliberately excluded data documenting a 20 percent increase in annual pollution from Alberta's tar sands industry in 2009. That detail was missing from a recent 567-page report on climate change that Canada was required to submit to the United Nations.

According to Postmedia News, Canada left the most recent numbers out of the report, a national inventory on Canada’s greenhouse gas pollution. The numbers are used to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastropic climate change. It is certainly not the first time that Canada has dragged its feet on its international climate obligations, but omission of vital information is a new low, even for them.

Fri, 2011-02-04 15:31Richard Littlemore
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Kent Insists - Against the Evidence - that Canada has a Plan

Environment Minister Even Calls that Plan “Credible”

Postmedia reporter Mike De Souza has an amusing story about outrage in the office of Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent over coverage of a ministerial speech last week.

The Minister had told the Economic Club of Canada that “Canada has a credible plan for addressing our environmental challenges.” At the same time, his department was releasing a document with the graph at left, showing a vast gap between the government’s stated emission reduction targets and the continuing rise of those emissions.

De Souza gives the Minister’s office every chance to comment, clarify or correct his report. But at the end of the day, it sure looks like Canada’s plan is to blow off its commitments once again - woefully, just as everyone expected.

Thu, 2007-12-13 17:21Richard Littlemore
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Bali: Canadian Security Threatens Enviros with Indonesian Jail

The head of the Canadian delegation's security contingent threatened a group of young environmentalists with the prospect of spending time in an Indonesian jail, yesterday - and then followed up by summoning Indonesian police, as CanWest News Service's Mike de Souza reports here.

It's fortunate that the Indonesian police have a sense of occasion - even a tolerance for democracy - that goes beyond what is being shown in the Canadian delegation. The police interviewed the young environmentalists briefly and then left them to their task.

Wed, 2007-12-05 11:19Richard Littlemore
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Bali-bound Baird Hiding Climate Information

Canadian scientists say the federal government is sticking to its policy of willful ignorance on climate change, most recently by delaying the release of a report outlining likely impacts.

In a story today by CanWest News Service's Mike De Souza, several senior scientists say climate change has huge implications for Canada. Melting of the Arctic ice could reveal resource wealth - and trigger conflicts over who should have access and ownership of those resources.

Warming could also destroy rich fish species like the sockeye salmon, and falling water levels could disrupt shipping and reduce Canada's capacity to generate electricity.

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