Alta premier says ‘unfortunate’ that Bellingham, Wash., to avoid oilsands fuel

CALGARY — Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach says it’s “unfortunate” that city councillors in Bellingham, Wash., have voted to avoid fuel that comes from the oilsands.

CALGARY — Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach says it’s “unfortunate” that city councillors in Bellingham, Wash., have voted to avoid fuel that comes from the oilsands.

But he says it gives him a chance to talk about what his government is doing to reduce the carbon footprint of the oilsands.

He notes the province is working to recycle and reduce water used in oilsands production and is exploring initiatives such as carbon capture and storage.

“This is really not a sprint to get the information out,” said Stelmach. “It’s a marathon.”

Councillors in Bellingham, just south of Vancouver, unanimously passed resolutions to eliminate oilsands fuel in their fleet and to move away from fossil fuels altogether.

“I was up in Jasper last summer and I know how beautiful the area is,” said Coun. Jack Weiss. “I also saw what the Fort McMurray area looks like right now.”

The resolution explicitly cites the environmental impact from Alberta’s oilsands, particularly the depletion of fresh water and the creation of sprawling, toxic tailings ponds.

Bellingham joins a list of high-profile critics of the oilsands that include Hollywood heavyweight director James Cameron.

On Wednesday, employees of the Lush cosmetics chain in Edmonton, Toronto and 40 other locations across North America staged a protest against the oilsands.

On Edmonton’s Whyte Ave., the workers appeared naked except for fake oil barrels they were wearing that bore the sign: “Time for an oil change or we’ll lose it all.”

The workers said they want governments to focus on alternative energy and stop giving tax breaks to oil companies.

Lush management says for the next two weeks, the stores will be handing out anti-oilsands information to its customers, calling the oilsands “the most destructive project on earth.”