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Oil & Gas Oilsands: perception vs. reality Page 14



Rural electrification associations

Micro-generation for the masses page 23

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September/October 2010

where energy, the economy, and the environment intersect

Oilsands champion Preston McEachern brings unique perspectives to issues surrounding oilsands development paul wells and Diane L.M. Cook Energize Alberta

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octor Preston McEachern offers no apologies for his steadfast advocacy of Alberta’s oilsands and its importance to future North American energy security. From a scientific and life-experience point of view, the candid and occasionally controversial science, research and innovation section head in Alberta Environment’s oilsands environmental division comes by it honestly and from a unique perspective. Born in the United States, now a dual U.S.Canadian citizen and a Gulf War veteran, McEachern is unwavering in his belief that anti-oilsands campaigns being waged by various North American environmental groups do not always paint an accurate picture of either the importance of oilsands crude as an energy source or the gains that are being made in terms of the environmental footprint the large-scale projects leave in their wake. “Being a vet from the Gulf War…it certainly was an experience that I think is relevant because it definitely set the stage

and coloured my impression of what [the oilsands] means for energy security. I’ve often been labelled by green organizations as being too much of an advocate for oilsands development, and it’s coloured by that,” McEachern said during a recent presentation to the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region’s (PNWER) summer summit held in Calgary. “I think it’s absolutely essential that we develop this resource for energy security. And in order to do that, we have to do it in an environmentally sustainable way to get the social licence to do it.” With Middle East crude oil imports to the United States emanating from countries with questionable and sometimes unstable government regimes and environmental practices, and the fact that it will be decades before renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power are built in large enough scale to replace oil as a primary energy source, McEachern says the oilsands will continue to grow as an important component in the North American energy mix. ❯❯ continued on page 14

School children enchanted by visit to Enerplus oil battery Jacqueline Louie Energize Alberta tudents at Tilley Public School take their energy education seriously. Last year’s Grade 3-4 class wrote a book on what they’ve learned about the oil and gas industry: The Enchanted Drill Bit, an adventure where they explored a magic drill bit in Tilley, located southeast of Brooks, and learned all about Alberta’s petroleum sector. The Enchanted Drill Bit tells the story of the Grade 3-4 class, who went on a field trip to an oil battery owned by Enerplus Resources, to visit company employees Lorne Schmidt and B.J. Arnold. After shrinking to the size of a baby mouse, the book says, the 21 students went into the enchanted drill bit, where they learned about the Enerplus battery (where oil is stored). They learned about how oil and gas was formed, and how people remove it from the ground and process it. They also visited the Tilley general store, where they found lots of products made from petroleum, and learned about the impact of oil and gas on people’s daily lives.



The project was funded by a grant of $10,000 from BP Canada’s A+ for Energy program, which covered the book’s printing costs, as well as an audio book and a student puppet show. A collaboration between the school’s Grade 3-4 class and teacher Janice Jensen, along with editorial guidance from Schmidt, Arnold and a parent, the finished hardcover book features 21 pages of text and 21 water­ colour pictures painted by each of the students in the class, together with a photo page and signature page. (As part of the funding grant, a local artist was asked to work with the students on art techniques for the book.) The students also performed a puppet show about The Enchanted Drill Bit last May, on the day they launched their book. The project, which took an estimated 50 to 60 hours to complete, taught the students not just about the effort it takes to write and illustrate a book, but also about goal setting and perseverance. “When all is said and done, to see the work in front of you, their smiles and their lit eyes said everything,” Jensen says. “They were so excited.” ❯❯ continued on page 2

Energize Alberta Sept - October 2010  

Oilsands Champion

Energize Alberta Sept - October 2010  

Oilsands Champion