Needless to say, we never believed a word the tar sands industry says, whether it relates to the supposed number of jobs created by the Keystone XL pipeline (see here for the real number), or the supposed lack of environmental harm inflicted by tar sands operations. Well, now a new study, published yesterday in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" (and cited in the New York Times), demolishes the tar sands industry's "contention that its planted forests may actually be better than the boreal forest they replace." To the contrary:
Claims by industry that they will “return the land we use including reclaiming tailings ponds - to a sustainable landscape that is equal to or better than how we found it” (33) and that it “will be replanted with the same trees and plants and formed into habitat for the same species” (34) are clearly greenwashing. The postmining landscape will support >65% less peatland. One consequence of this transformation is a dramatic loss of carbon storage and sequestration potential, the cost of which has not been factored into land-use decisions. To fairly evaluate the costs and benefits of oil sands mining in Alberta, impacts on natural capital and ecosystem services must be rigorously assessed.
The bottom line is this: the more we examine tar sands oil development, including the Keystone XL export pipeline, the worse it looks on every level. How about we focus our efforts - and investments - on clean energy development instead?
P.S. Cornell is out with a brand new study which finds that "Keystone XL could, over a 50-year period, generate up to 91 major spills." In turn, a major spill "could inflict significant economic damage, causing workers to lose jobs, businesses to close, and residents to relocate. "