Alberta's oilsands are in for increased worldwide scrutiny as international environmental groups set up shop in Edmonton to monitor the expansion and impact of the greenhouse gas-emitting mega-projects.
"There's a broad recognition that Canada needs to address the environmental problems with the tarsands. "I don't think there's any question that you'll be seeing civil disobedience in the future." Martin said Greenpeace plans to have an office staffed in the provincial capital within the next couple of months.
The World Wildlife Fund set up an office in Edmonton last December and is currently staffing it up. That office will focus on issues including the oilsands and the proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline.
The Sierra Legal Defence Fund, which provides legal expertise to fight environmental battles in court and has just filed a legal challenge of Imperial Oil's Kearl oilsands project, also plans to open an office in Alberta within the next year.
A intriguing development, that could have impact in the post-Bush era:
The moves follow an effort by one of the most influential environmental groups in the United States to convince Americans that they should stop buying what it calls the oilsands' "bottom-of-the-barrel" energy.
A report by the Natural Resources Defence Council, to be released Monday at a symposium in Washington, D.C., says the U.S. should pass regulations to discourage the use of fuels such as oilsands-derived oil, which generates up the three times as much greenhouse gas as conventional oil during its production and use.
That same message has been taken to Europe by the World Wildlife Fund, which released a report critical of the oilsands last week in the United Kingdom.
Canada may well prove to be ground zero, in the debate over greenhouse gases. The fact that various organizations have all committed resources and staff demonstrates that tarsand development will be a high-profile issue. Plenty of exposure, none of it flattering.