According to the Environmental Protection Agency, methane leakage from oil & gas wells makes up more than one quarter of the total methane emissions to the atmosphere. Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. There are more than 300,000 oil & gas wells in Alberta with some 60,000+ coal bed methane wells planned for the future.
The total land area associated with past and present oil and gas development in Alberta is approximately 10,000 sq km. or 1,000,000 ha (2,470,000 acres).
Each year, 10,000 to 15,000 new wells are drilled in Alberta. The current rate of land being developed for oil and gas production in this province is approximately 120 ha (300 acres) a day.
If Alberta (a province of 3.6 million) were a country it would have the highest carbon footprint of any other country in the world at 69 tonnes/year per person. The next highest is Qatar at 48.8 tonnes per person. This is largely due to the tar sands industry in the northeastern portion of the province, the phenomenal number of oil and gas wells, and in no small measure to the amount of huge gas guzzling pick up trucks and SUVs on Alberta roads.
Albertans and their conservative government have clearly demonstrated time and again, that they are far more interested in making a buck destroying the environment and wringing whatever "resource" they can from the Earth, than they are in protecting and preserving clean air, water and soil from toxic pollutants for the sake of wildlife, people's health and those who will come after us.
It should also come as no surprise that the leader of the popular ultra-rightwing Wildrose party in Alberta Danielle Smith, is a climate change denier.
I think author William Marsden put it best in the title of his book about the tar sands, "Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta Is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada And Doesn't Seem to Care".
In a story from the Vancouver Sun dated June 14, 2012, Stephen Hume reports:
Between 1990 and 2005, the Alberta Energy Utilities Board recorded more than 16,000 “releases” by pipelines, of which more than half involved hydrocarbons and roughly 30 per cent were “hydrocarbon liquid,” which would mean oil or distillates.Yet it was only 1/2 hour before the Edmonton chapter of Greenpeace showed photographs on the steps of the Alberta Legislature back on July 20, 2012, of the oily mess that remains on Rainbow Lake, where last year 4.5 million litres of oil contaminated the region, that the province reluctantly agreed to a pipeline review.
Since 2006, pipeline ruptures number in the thousands and have spilled the equivalent of almost 28 million litres of oil.
In 2010 alone, pipelines in Alberta carrying either oil or some combination of oil, gas or
distillates failed on average every 1.4 days and they spilled roughly 3.4 million litres of oil.
If our elected representatives in this province, and the oil and gas companies who reside in their back pockets, weren't so pathetic and environmentally destructive, perhaps I could see my way clear to crack a smile over their arrogant and ignorant attitudes. Stupid to the last drop indeed!
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The air pollutant emissions data was compiled in collaboration with provincial, territorial and regional environmental agencies using the latest emission estimation methodologies and statistics available, and data reported by facilities to the National Pollutant Release Inventory. It represents the most comprehensive information on emissions of key air pollutants available in Canada. ~ Environment CanadaHere is a pollution map of North America from 2005
This map shows the locations of almost 35,000 industrial facilities in North America that reported on releases or transfers of pollutants in 2005. ~ Commission for Environmental Cooperation