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An oil sands refinery in Fort McMurray, Canada.

An oil sands refinery in Fort McMurray, Canada.

© Daniel Barnes/iStockphoto

Scientists call on Canada to bar new oil sands development

More than 100 researchers are calling on Canadian officials to stop new mining of the nation’s oil sands. New projects shouldn’t start “unless consistent with an implemented plan to rapidly reduce carbon pollution, safeguard biodiversity, protect human health, and respect treaty rights,” the researchers wrote in a statement posted today on

The signers, who include a Nobel laureate, 12 fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, and 22 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, offer 10 arguments for a moratorium, “each grounded in science.” For example, they write, a 2014 report by the government of Alberta—where large oil sands deposits are located—suggests that less than 0.2% of the area affected by oil sands mining has been reclaimed, despite the industry’s assurances. They also note that studies suggest Canada can’t meet its existing commitments to curb carbon emissions if mining expands.

New development would show that “Canada has gone rogue,” said one signer, policy specialist Thomas Homer-Dixon of the University of Waterloo.