Say ‘No’ to Self-Regulating Fossil Fuel Companies

Alberta tar sands

Target: Alison Redford, Premier of Alberta, Canada

Goal: Demand reversal of Alberta’s decision to put a fossil fuel-funded group in charge of regulating oil extraction

When criminals are allowed to police themselves, one can expect an increase in crime. A similar story is unfolding in Canada’s Alberta province, where tar sands oil extraction is quickly becoming the only game in town. This fossil fuel is considered among the most polluting, because of the chemicals and energy-intensive processes needed to obtain oil from bitumen sand deposits. Yet Alberta’s provincial government has decided to hand regulation of the industry to a group funded largely by oil, coal and gas companies.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is tasked with regulating tar sands extraction, as well as “allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while securing their economic benefits for all Albertans,” according to their website. The AER chairman, Gerry Priotti, helped found a major Canadian oil lobbying group. Now, under Priotti’s leadership, the AER is responsible for holding the industry to the country’s Water Act and Public Lands Act, addressing oil spills and other accidents, and even approving drilling permits.

Just how polluting is this method of extraction? Scientists have reported a 7,300 square mile ring of mercury contamination in the water and land surrounding Alberta’s tar sands. Mercury accumulates in fatty tissues, affecting the nervous system while moving its way up the food chain. Urge the Alberta government to protect its citizens, the environment, and those not yet born. Demand a reversal of its decision to let the industry police itself.


Dear Alison Redford, Premier of Alberta, Canada,

Your province has a rich history of ranching and farming, supports a wide diversity of plants and animals, and has been a favorite tourist destination for more than a century. From the rolling prairies to the Rocky Mountains, there is much to see and much to love. Yet another side of Alberta has featured prominently in the news, of late. Dramatic increases in tar sands oil production have changed the physical and political landscape of Alberta, arguably for the worse.

A ring of mercury contamination stretching 7,300 miles now surrounds the tar sands, leeching into the soil and water with impacts far from extraction sites. The fact that the fossil-fuel funded Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) will soon be responsible for regulating the industry is cause for much concern. Led by a former industry lobbyist, the AER’s role will include enforcing environmental regulations, issuing permits, and managing oil spills. Can we honestly believe that the group is capable of doing so impartially, or with the best interests of all Albertans in mind?

Your international work on human rights issues has has likely helped you see the ‘bigger picture’ when it comes to challenging, complex matters such as this. Alberta has profited greatly from tar sands oil, but at what cost? I must insist that you reverse the decision to allow the AER to regulate Alberta’s tar sands. Please, take into consideration the lasting, harmful impact of tar sands on the health of your constituents and the environment, and recognize that in no way can the AER be trusted to regulate the industry.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: TastyCakes via Wikipedia

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