“I didn’t come to Fort McMurray [Alberta] for the money. I thought I could have a positive impact on reducing the environmental footprint of our [oilsands] operations.”
And she has. Christine Daly is Suncor Energy Inc.’s wetland reclamation research coordinator, and she is part of the team that in September 2010 celebrated the successful remediation to a solid surface of the first tailings pond in the oilsands industry. What was once a 220-hectare waste dump has become a fledgling natural space, part forest and part wetland. And Daly helped create it.
Her work is an example of what may be a surprise to some—that environmental scientists are an important part of Big Oil. As Mount Royal University describes its Bachelor of Applied Science—Environmental Science:
“Elevated interest and concern for the environment has not been ignored by industry. With your knowledge of environmental science, you can guide companies and government in green practices—preventing pollution, reducing waste, appropriate use of energy, materials and natural resources.”
It is a practical approach to being green. Rather than fighting fossil fuels, there are those who see an important role for themselves in contributing to the improvement of an industry projected to remain central to global development for many decades to come.
Notes Amberly Dooley, who works in thermal regulatory affairs with Devon Canada Corporation’s environment, health and safety team, “The world needs the oil, so I’ve always said the key to ensuring environmental change is to enact change from the inside.”