We want polluters to clean up their mess and put people back to work
We’re advocating for a wide-scale, industry-funded reclamation of Canada’s aging and expired oil and gas infrastructure that puts thousands of people back to work in every corner of the country.
“Polluter pays” is the law, but it’s not being enforced. We want provincial regulators across the country to collect cleanup costs from polluting companies in advance, to make sure toxic sites get cleaned up and the public doesn’t get stuck with the bill.
In Alberta, we have a plan for an industry-funded reclamation of aging oil and gas wells that will put thousands of people back to work in every corner of the province.
By building a national movement to turn environmental cleanup into a massive employment opportunity, we can set an example for the rest of the world. We can clean up our environmental legacy of poorly regulated fossil fuel developments and bring workable solutions to the climate crisis.
All over Canada, oil, gas, and mining companies have abandoned hundreds of thousands of toxic extraction projects. In Alberta alone, there are over 450,000+ oil and gas wells and 430,000+ kilometers of pipelines that will need to be cleaned up in the coming years. The problem is, there’s no deadline for them to do it.
“Polluter pays” is the principle that companies or people that pollute should pay the costs they impose on society. It’s a foundational principle in many of Canada’s environmental laws, but it’s usually only enforced after something terrible has happened and there’s been a long process to prove the company’s responsibility for the environmental damage. Sometimes, it’s not enforced at all. That leaves the public vulnerable to toxic pollutants and billions of dollars in cleanup costs. We want to change that.
There are thousands of unemployed fossil fuel workers who have the skills and experience to clean up this aging infrastructure. At The Leap, we know there are massive employment opportunities in healing the land.
We know our communities deserve better — and we have a plan.
USE OUR INTERACTIVE MAP TO SEE ALL OF ALBERTA’S AGING OIL AND GAS PROJECTS
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What does “polluter pays” mean?
“Polluter pays” is the principle that companies or people that pollute should pay the costs they impose on society.
2. Do we already have “polluter pays” legislation in Canada?
YES. Polluter pays is a key guiding principle of the 1999 Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and is embedded in environmental legislation across the country (Source: CEPA 1999 Guiding Principles).
3. So what’s the problem?
The problem is the “polluter pays” principle is not proactively enforced across the country, leaving the public vulnerable to toxic pollutants and billions of dollars in cleanup costs. usually only enforced after something terrible has happened and there’s been a long process to prove the company’s responsibility for the environmental damage. Sometimes, it’s not enforced at all.
4. How is polluter pays currently enforced in Canada?
It’s inconsistent across provinces. Some provinces require the company to pay partial costs in advance, but usually based on the company’s own estimates. Some government regulators only fine companies after the environmental damage has taken place.
On a federal level, the Environmental Damages Fund (EDF) collects funds received through fines and court orders from companies that have been found to have caused environmental damage. They use the money to fund those cleanup projects, or ones that would remedy an equivalent amount of damage elsewhere.
5. So how should “polluter pays” work?
We want provincial regulators to require oil, gas and mining companies to pay in advance into a cleanup fund to cover the true costs of their environmental liabilities. In other words, they need to set aside funds for the entirety of their future cleanup, instead of being able to go bankrupt and walk away from their liabilities, leaving the public with the bill.
6. Why can’t we just leave the wells there?
Inactive wells that haven’t been properly cleaned up pose risks for leaking, explosion, and ongoing contamination of the land, air, and water.
7. How much does it cost to clean up a well?
It’s controversial, but Alberta’s Orphan Well Association estimates that it costs an average of over $300,000 to reclaim a single well. Full cycle reclamation costs can range from $100,000, up to millions of dollars for a really difficult well. In Alberta alone, the total cost of cleaning up every inactive well has been estimated to range from a few hundred million to up to $100 billion.
8. How many jobs could it create?
The good news is, reclaiming (cleaning up) oil and gas infrastructure uses many of the same skills as the riggers, drillers, and engineers who installed them in the first place. Reclamation doesn’t require massive retraining for industry workers. This project could put hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their jobs back to work tomorrow, for decades to come.