The Saskatchewan Environmental Society strongly supports reduced consumption of fossil fuels because of their climate change impacts, which are projected to become more and more severe as the 21st century proceeds.
Our concerns about climate change have also led SES to stand opposed to further expansion of Alberta’s oil sands industry. Find out what we need to do to avoid dangerous oilsand expansion in Saskatchewan. Oil sands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Oil sands also pose other dangers, including more than 170 square kilometers of toxic tailings ponds in Alberta, and acid deposition on Northern Saskatchewan’s pristine lakes and rivers. Northern Saskatchewan is particularly vulnerable to acid rain, since it has the most acid sensitive forest soils in all of Canada.
Over the past three years, the oil sands industry has sharply increased its shipments of oil sands bitumen and conventional crude by train. SES is concerned that Canada’s rail system is ill equipped to safely handle these dangerous shipments. Already there have been many derailments, including the loss of 47 lives when a train carrying crude oil derailed in Quebec in 2013. For this reason, SES has pressed the Saskatchewan government for an environmental impact study into a huge oil-by-rail loading facility being planned near Kerrobert, Saskatchewan. Read our request for an Environmental Impact Assessment. The Province has refused our request. SES is also pressing for an end to the use of DOT-111 rail cars for moving crude oil. These rail cars are outdated and not equipped with the necessary safety features for handling volatile crude.
Coal burning still dominates Saskatchewan’s electricity grid, providing more than 50% of all electricity consumed in Saskatchewan. SES is urging the Saskatchewan government to follow Ontario’s lead, and phase out its dirty coal-fired power plants.
When assessing the risks of fossil fuels, it is important to bear in mind that whenever oil or coal are burned, the carbon dioxide released will remain as a heat trapping greenhouse gas in the atmosphere for an average of at least 100 years. This helps explain the continuous buildup of manmade carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the resulting long-term negative impacts on our climate.