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Diane Francis Headshot

Greening of Hypocrisy

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The campaign against Alberta's oil sands escalated last week by a group calling itself Corporate Ethics International which is neither international nor ethical.

If this group was ethical it wouldn't have stated that the oil sands sprawled across an area twice the size of England when, in fact, the area totals 1% of England's land mass. (By the way, their campaign is called "Rethink Alberta" and attacks the province as a travel destination. It omits that the province has conservation areas bigger than Switzerland.)

If this group was ethical it wouldn't have compared the oil sands with the Gulf of Mexico fiasco where tens of millions of barrels have flooded the ocean because the Americans haven't a clue about how to regulate their energy industries.

If this group was international it would not have picked on one "foreign" country and ignored others, namely its own shocking environmental mess which is, by the way, unmatched except in China.

But no. They have chosen to attempt to make the oil sands, as they put it on their website, the "poster child" to try and end America's addiction to energy.

Here are facts that don't appear on their billboards:
-- Some 61% of Canada's electricity is generated from clean hydro-electricity sources compared with 5.7% in the US.
-- Canada has just announced the phase-out of all coal plants. America hasn't.
-- Canadian forestry companies and environmental groups around the world just announced a landmark moratorium and study on logging in the Boreal Forest region which is equivalent in size to 50% of the land mass of the lower 48 states.
-- China's coal plants emit 4.34 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, the US coal plants emit 1.9 billion tonnes and the oil sands 37 million.
-- If the US closed its ten biggest, dirtiest coal plants it would not need to impose a carbon tax and would meet Copenhagen targets overnight.
-- In all, there are 600 coal plants in the US and hundreds of mines degrading lands and lakes probably bigger than Rhode Island.
-- It's puzzling that four billboards against Alberta were placed in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Minneapolis. Seattle and Portland are nearly free from dirty coal, but Colorado generates 66.7% of its power from coal and Minnesota, 59.1%, according to authoritative website http://www.americaspower.org/The-Facts/.

Colorado, according to SourceWatch, another green site, exported coal to six other states and spewed 90 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Minnesota's 46 coal plants emitted 34.9 million tons.

The only good thing I can say about this outfit is that, once attacked about the inaccuracy concerning the size of the oil sands, they said they would place a correction online. But their failure to attack the biggest culprit in the hemisphere, the US coal industry, is in itself totally unethical and even suspicious.