One thing I have observed and it stays with me over the years- And that is
how a company like Syncrude has re-worked its strategy in dealing with
many issues, from Air Quality, Water Monitoring, Carbon Capture and a host
of general oilsands issues that have come under great scrutiny, especially since
the waterfowl issue back in 2008.  The critics shall always be there and showing off pictures that are not pretty. But then again, nor are the pictures
that have not been taken daily across the roadways of North America, the dead
deer, birds, bear, rabbit and many other members of Mother Natures family -
all perish in great numbers at the side of the road. The culprit - you and me.
Our cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, etc. And in some cases, the drivers
are not even aware they may have struck and killed more than one of the deer
family during a dark roadtrip.  Its sad, unfortunate and needs to be addressed.

Back to Syncrude, here is a company striving to use innovation in oil sands
without causing excessive harm. Industry always has a certain number of
accidents based on human error.  And like any other business there is not
a chance that everything will be perfect all the time. But the bright light of
change and success appear to shine on Syncrude. Having planted over 5 million
trees and shrubs, a big investment in land reclamation (4,500 hectares) and
that land is home to a herd of 300 wood bison. Also tests appear to show that
water capping of tailings will support plants, fish and insects.  The company
tells us they inspect mine areas before any disturbance to insure there are
no nesting birds. Coyotes, hares, deer and grouse exist in the region of the
oilsands. And with the even more intensive scrutiny by government, the operations of Syncrude are subject to extensive environmental regulations.

Like everyone else, I was not amused with the tailings pond incident and
the pictures of birds covered with oil. But I think Syncrude has more than
learned from such an issue - how to re-establish itself  with involvement
and investment in the Aborignal community, a commitment to environmental
stewardship and striving to focus on the big picture. 

Studies show the Wood Buffalo region's air quality is as good or better than
some major cities such as Calgary or Toronto.  And the carbon footprint
of oil from the oilsands is similar to that of oil from many other regions and in
fact less than California's or Nigeria's.

I think Syncrude has put out a challenge to critics, And we need to focus not
only on the fact that this company has links to some 450,000 jobs in Canada
but that Syncrude is working hard to address issues that deal with Mother
Nature. For that, Syncrude receives high marks from this writer.