Nikiforuk becomes first Canadian to win Rachel Carson Award

A book by a Calgary-based journalist about Alberta’s tarsands has won an American environment award.

Andrew Nikiforuk

CALGARY — A book by a Calgary-based journalist about Alberta’s tarsands has won an American environment award.

Andrew Nikiforuk’s Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent took this year’s Rachel Carson Environment Book Award, along with a US$10,000 prize.

The society reviewed his book as an alarming picture of Northern Alberta.

“Nikiforuk illustrates how an industry born in the 1960s has already industrialized an area larger than Florida,” the society’s release said.

“Nikiforuk shows that government agencies kowtow to industry, and that its models for monitoring environmental degradation are dubious. He found credible voices that question the sustainability of an explosively growing industry whose lifeblood is fresh water, an industry with holding ponds that rival, by volume, some of the largest dams on the globe.”

Nikiforuk is the first Canadian journalist to win the award, which is given out by the Society of Environmental Journalists.

The book was co-published by Greystone Books and the David Suzuki Foundation last fall, and has been well — or poorly — received, depending on whether you work in the oilsands industry, or the Alberta government.

Nikiforuk’s work has appeared in the likes of Saturday Night, Maclean’s, Canadian Business, Report on Business, Chatelaine, the Globe and Mail and National Post.

His next book, to be co-published by Greystone Books and the David Suzuki Foundation in fall 2010, is to focus on how North American forests are being devastated by beetles.

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