I am writing in response to your article entitled, “CANADA’S LARGEST SOLAR PROJECT WILL BEGIN CONSTRUCTION NEXT YEAR” published in “Notable Life” on “August 28, 2019”.
Thank you for writing your article and providing information on an exciting new energy project in Alberta. I am taking this opportunity to open the door to a constructive, respectful conversation about Canadian energy, particularly oil and gas. I hope that you’ll take this opportunity to engage with me too.
I am a female oil and gas employee, proudly working for an Alberta-based natural gas producer. I care very much about the environment and my personal impacts on it, as does every Albertan that I know. That is why I take offense to the opening line that, “At its core, the ethos of Alberta is built on the idea that “you can’t create jobs without killing the environment.”
It’s imperative that we find a balance between environmental responsibility and progress. Oil and gas companies and the people who work for them care about the environment.
I support renewable sources of energy; however, solar, isn't the consequence-free, panacea that many people think it is. It has an environmental footprint that cannot be ignored or wished away. The footprint of the Travers Solar Project is massive. It's 4,700 acres, or 4,270 football fields, or 2,940 city blocks. The cost is also massive at half a billion dollars. Let’s remember that an “environmental footprint” is different than a “carbon footprint”. It takes a tremendous amount of materials to make a solar panel; that activity is not “kinder to the planet” when minerals such as raw earth are being mined in countries like China with abysmal labour and environmental standards.
I also find it insulting that you call it “muck currently being extracted from the ground”. That “muck” gives every single Canadian, including you, a very comfortable lifestyle.
The industry is not perfect. We recognize this, but we try very hard to keep innovating and improving, and we often succeed at being the best in the world. The Canadian oil and gas sector’s commitment to R&D and innovation has decreased emissions by 1/3 on a per barrel basis in the oil sands since 2004. For example, the GHG intensity per barrel produced from Cenovus Energy’s Christina Lake assets is lower than an average barrel of oil produced in the USA. And Cenovus is working on technology that could further reduce emissions by another 1/3. That’s pretty remarkable, but by no means unique. The entire Canadian industry is continually striving for improvements.
Canada ranks higher than any of the top 10 oil exporting nations in the world on:
Environmental Performance Index (#25)
Women, Peace & Security Index (#7)
Democracy Index (#6)
Social Progress Index (#14)
Press Freedom Index (#18)
I prefer to get my oil and gas from a country with the highest ethical and environmental standards in the world, and I’m fortunate to get to call that country home – Canada. I hope you also agree with this sentiment.
Canada currently has a reputation on the world stage for not being able to get things done. Through balanced, honest reporting from Notable Life, we can change people’s perceptions and become a country that can develop our resources responsibly and sustainably and be a world leader once again.