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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Dying Ducks - The New Symbol of the Oil Sands Spells Disaster for the Alberta Energy Sector

Good for Roger Soucy of the Petroleum Services Association for this quote in a Calgary Herald today. It is a good piece of journalism on how the energy industry feeling the heat on ecological concerns with the death of 500 ducks in oil sands toxic tailing ponds

Here is the excerpt:
Even the Petroleum Services Association's Soucy says he remains optimistic, though he concedes energy-sector players have to adjust to "new realities" if the industry wants to maintain its social licence to operate. (emphasis added)
"Things are much more positive than they were in the fall," he said. "It's just going to take some time.
"Face it, you have to be optimistic if you're going to drill a hole in the ground and hope to get something out of it.
"It's always a risk, but you still have to be positive. That's what makes this industry work."

This is the kind of industry comment that shows a recognition that the energy sector has to come to grips with. It needs public support from Albertan – not just political support – if it I going to retain it social license to operate. Jobs and economic growth are vital to the well being of the province…but it is not the only thing that contributes to our well being.

When those holes are drilled in the ground, it is not only the investor funds that are at risk. There is risk for wildlife habitat especially for suffering species like grizzly and caribou. There is risk to the biodiversity of the province. There is potential for water and air risks and the negative impacts of fragmentation of the land base. Then there is the long term responsibility of the industry to reclaim the lands back to a useful, if not original purpose. I have not even mentioned the social aspects of well being that are impacted positively and negatively by too much growth too fast.

If the energy industry want to retain its social license to operate it need to address the value drivers of Albertans that relate to their activities. Our research shows the major value drivers and concerns of Albertans are around habitat, GHG, water usage and reclamation. Those are the hot topics for the
Many energy companies are conscious of this "new reality"already and are engaged in the issues. But they have a long way to go to convince the public who have been focused activated by the death of ducks in a toxic tailing pond - and full page newspaper ads apologizing are not going to cut it to regain public respect and trust.