Rebuttal from Pembina Institute to EthicalOil.org commentary

December 11, 2011

Letter to the Editor

CALGARY, AB, Dec. 11, 2011/ Troy Media/ – Ms. Kathryn Marshall’s opinion editorial (Why does the Pembina Institute need foreign money to fight the oil sands?) is misleading and inaccurate on a number of fronts:

  1. The Pembina Institute does not have an “anti-oil sands bias” – unlike many groups, who call for the shut-down of the oil sands industry, we call for responsible development. We’re critical of the current environmental and regulatory standards in oil sands development because there remains much room to improve. But we’ve always striven to be constructive in our criticism, and recently released the “Solving the Puzzle” report, which outlined 19 policy solutions to make oil sands development more responsible. 
  2. The British High Commission did not fund “anti oil sands campaigns” – it funded our research comparing the economic/employment opportunities of clean energy, and found that Canada’s government could have created more jobs by investing in clean energy development rather than through the projects it funded with its economic stimulus spending. It did not take aim at the oil sands industry specifically, but did support transitioning (on economic, employment and environmental grounds) to more renewable and low-carbon sources of energy. 
  3. It’s very important to note the British High Commission had no editorial licence and the views expressed in the report are solely those of the Pembina Institute.
  4. Canadian oil companies don’t have an “outstandingly clean environmental record” – the Royal Society of Canada has recognized that regulation hasn’t kept pace with development and both provincial and federal governments have acknowledged the significant gaps in water and air monitoring and ecological impacts. 
  5. We don’t want oil sands development “all to disappear” – we want it to proceed in a way that is responsible and within science based environmental limits. This is a fundamental misrepresentation of our perspective and the work we do. 
  6. The environmental impacts of oil sands extraction and the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel production and consumption are global issues that attract global interest and require global cooperation to address. Canada doesn’t seem to have an issue with allowing foreign companies to develop this resource – so the argument that there’s something nefarious behind global partners wanting to work together with Canadian environmental groups to reduce emissions and protect Canada’s environment seems deeply disingenuous. 

Ed Whittingham
Executive Director
Pembina Institute

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