Federal Government Missing in Action on Most Destructive Project on Earth - the Tar Sands

    First Nation communities downriver of Tar Sands bring case to Ottawa

    OTTAWA, Feb. 15 /CNW/ - The federal government is failing to uphold its
duty to clean up the Tar Sands, according to a new report by Environmental
Defence released today on Parliament Hill. Canada's Toxic Tar Sands: The Most
Destructive Project on Earth shows how failure to enforce federal laws is
allowing the Tar Sands to become Canada's most serious environmental
    "Ottawa is letting the Tar Sands hold Canadians hostage on global
warming," said Matt Price, Program Manager with Environmental Defence. "The
federal government is not using laws already on the books to require companies
to reduce emissions and clean up their toxic mess."
    First Nations living downriver of the Tar Sands are also bringing their
concerns to Ottawa today. The community of Fort Chipewyan made headlines last
year when Health Canada launched a complaint against the town doctor for
speaking out about abnormal disease rates in the community.
    "Nobody lives closer to the land and water than we do, and we've seen bad
changes over the past dozen years," said Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca
Chipewyan First Nation. "As goes the water so go we, and we are seeing strange
diseases now."
    "Elders tell us water is the boss, and without clean water we wouldn't
exist. Now the boss is in trouble and needs our help," said Councillor Willis
Flett, Mikisew Cree First Nation.

    Key report findings include:
    -   Weak federal "intensity" targets will allow Tar Sands greenhouse gas
        emissions to double by 2020, wiping out progress that other parts of
        Canada are making to combat climate change.
    -   Toxic tailings ponds, visible from space, are seeping into the
        region's groundwater, and pollution is rising in the Athabasca River
        contrary to the federal Fisheries Act.
    -   New federal pollution measures will let Tar Sands Volatile Organic
        Compound (VOC) emissions grow by 60% by 2015.
    -   Tar Sands pollution is causing acid rain in Saskatchewan and beyond.
    -   Tar Sands upgraders and refineries are creating health "sacrifice
        zones" in Alberta and Ontario.
    -   Supertankers as big as the West Edmonton Mall are planned for the
        coast of BC to take Tar Sands oil to Asia.
    -   Federal environmental assessments rubber stamp massive new Tar Sands
        mines by relying on industry-driven management bodies that are known
        to be broken.

    "When even former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed, who started the Tar
Sands ball rolling, is calling for change, you know this is a major disaster,"
said Aaron Freeman, Policy Director, Environmental Defence. "This is Canada's
problem - our federal elected leaders need to clean it up or shut it down."
    Canada's Toxic Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth is
available to download for free on the Environmental Defence web site -

    About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental
Defence protects the environment and human health. We research solutions. We
educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air,
clean water and thriving ecosystems nationwide, and to bring a halt to
Canada's contribution to climate change.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232, (647)
280-9521 (cell)

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