STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Greenpeace Hits Back

Posted by mhudema on June 27, 2008

Greenpeace ‘travel ads’ mock Alberta oilsands
Robert Remington
Canwest News Service

CALGARY – Looking for a different getaway spot this weekend? Greenpeace suggests an oilsands vacation to northern Alberta’s “open-pit paradise.”

In the latest salvo over Alberta’s “dirty oil,” the environmental organization launched a mock Travel Alberta website Thursday at http://www.travellingalberta.com.

The site shows children with black goo on their faces playing on “beautiful black-sand beaches that stretch for miles” and mom getting a tar sand facial at a spa.

Your day at a luxury resort on the edge of a tailing pond begins with “a propane cannon wake-up call,” says the video, which also features dad fly-fishing on a toxic pond with a catch dripping in thick oil.

Propane canons are used to keep migratory birds off tailings ponds, but they were not in use when 500 ducks died on a Syncrude pond north of Fort McMurray, Alta., in April.

The video also touts paragliding over oilsands mega-mines where enthusiasts can “ride the unique coal-bed methane and sour gas updrafts.” A couple is shown sipping wine at sunset against a backdrop of towering stacks spewing emissions into a yellow sky.

Cindy Ady, the province’s tourism minister, was not amused by the satire.

“I’m disappointed,” said Ady, who called the video an insult to the 110,000 people who work in Alberta’s tourism industry.

“We have an awful lot to offer in this province. If you talk to the millions of people who come here every year, they will tell you what a stunning province it is.”

But Greenpeace was making no apologies.

“It’s pretty humorous but the information it brings out about the tarsands is very appropriate,” Mike Hudema, a Greenpeace campaigner in Edmonton, said Thursday.

Hudema said the video was done to counter the province’s $25-million campaign to dispel what Premier Ed Stelmach called “myths” about environmental problems with oilsands production, and a recent oilsands website launched by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

The Greenpeace video comes on the heels of concerns expressed this week by U.S. mayors and the Barack Obama presidential campaign about the use of “dirty” oil from Alberta.

David Swann, the Liberal environment critic, called the Greenpeace video disappointing but understandable.

“These guys have put together something pretty slick showing the other side of oilsands that people need to see . . . but we have to find a balance,” Swann said.

“This is an important industry to Alberta and our environmental protection is not there yet. The industry is looking for guidance and consistent enforcement. I can understand where Greenpeace is coming from. I hope it will challenge the government to stop greenwashing and actually respond to people’s environmental concerns.”

© Calgary Herald 2008
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