I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Syncrude Goes to Court

Call me naive: I'm  wondering why Syncrude is fighting federal and provincial charges in the case of the dead ducks in their tailings pond.  Syncrude has apologized in public for the  1600 duck deaths.  So why isn't Syncrude taking its legal fees and putting its money into measures to prevent this from happening again? 
Not only that, their public relations staff could announce that Syncrude fully accepts responsibility amd os saving taxpayers the cost of a full trial. The answer, of course, is that the issue at stake is bigger than a one time incident. 
Speaking outside the courthouse Monday, Sierra Club Prairie director Lindsay Telfer said the case goes far beyond the ducks, and the "tailings ponds themselves are on trial.  I think that this incident specifically showed the world just how toxic the tailings ponds are," she said. "We know now that the waters have killed 1,600 ducks, we know that those waters are leaking into the Athabasca [River] and we know downstream communities have significant health problems."  Environmentalists and observers from the oil industry are watching the trial closely because it could set a precedent for tailings-pond operators.
And there you have it: tar sands producers are worried this case will set a legal precedent.  They fear they will be forced to take responsibility for their despoilation of the commons.  And if Syncrude loses, might tar sand producers also be forced to account for their emission of greenhouse gases?

 Watch for this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada if Syncrude loses. 

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