Reflections on the Recent Husky Energy Spill in Alberta

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Following an oil spill on July 20, 2016, oil companies in Alberta are expected to face tougher opposition and struggle to gain support from the public, other Canadian provinces, and the various parties involved in the creation of new pipelines. The spill by Husky Energy ­ near the small town of Maidstone in Western Saskatchewan ­ was not quickly identified, nor easily controlled, and some important details in their report have suspiciously changed.

Under the watchful eyes of investors, politicians, First Nations, and other citizens, the oil in the North Saskatchewan River contaminated the water supply for cities like Prince Albert and North Battleford and many more towns in Saskatchewan. In Prince Albert, citizens were advised to cut back on water consumption. Husky amended their report later, changing the time that they report their discovery of the leak so that the new narrative shows that they notified authorities more than 13 hours faster than they originally reported.

After the widespread opposition movement to the Keystone XL pipeline found success, other proposed pipelines like the Energy East and the activists working against them have not seen the media coverage and attention that Keystone received. This may be because that pipeline was planned to run over the Ogallala Aquifer, or more broadly because it would carry oil anywhere over the United States. Continued spills like the Husky spill this summer show that these oil companies must focus on maintenance of their current pipelines and facilities, rather than creating new ones that may be just as prone to failures. The energy industry is crucial to Alberta’s economy in its current state, so the focus on that sector for jobs and revenue is understandable. However, jobs can be created in fixing and maintaining older facilities, or construction of renewable energy sites, and economies are always shifting. Rather than stepping backward into defending fossil fuels, moving forward into renewables can prove to be revolutionary.

References

Good luck selling pipelines now.  (2016, July 26).  Winnipeg Free Press.

Cotter, J.  (2016, July 28).  Husky Energy changes story about when it discovered Saskatchewan oil spill.  thestar.com

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