Regina — In the wake of “The Price of Oil” investigation into oil industry impacts in Saskatchewan by the Toronto Star, National Observer and Global News, the realities of living with the health and environmental effects of oil are beginning to receive public attention.

Despite these impacts, oil-producing regions in Saskatchewan are still characterized by strong resistance to the science of climate change and high degrees of trust and acceptance in the oil industry. As part of the Corporate Mapping Project, University of Regina Geography professor Dr. Emily Eaton investigates how people living in oil producing communities understand climate change, environmentalism, resource nationalism and the culture of silence that makes people reluctant to criticize industry in these communities.

Climate Politics in the Patch: Engaging Saskatchewan’s Oil-Producing Communities on Climate Change Issues argues for a different way of engaging rural communities on the contentious politics of oil, one that focuses on the significant local impacts of extraction and the real grievances of people living with oil. Eaton argues that our best hope of pushing past the impasse between pro and anti-oil politics will involve taking seriously the grievances of those living with oil, while articulating an alternative economic/energy vision for rural Saskatchewan.

Highlights include:

  • Public opinion polling shows that people in Saskatchewan (especially in SE Saskatchewan) are among the least likely in Canada to think the earth is warming.
  • Participants viewed climate change policies being driven by Eastern Politicians and urban environmentalists as threats to both the oil industry and their communities.
  • Interviewees perceived the oil industry as a leader in environmental protection, already subject to intense regulatory scrutiny by government.
  • While interviewees did share stories of oil’s negative impacts, they reported not wanting to speak about these impacts in their communities for fear of, or experience with, being censured.
  • Interviewees spoke of how the oil industry uses money and non-disclosure agreements to suppress public knowledge of negative oil impacts.

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Climate Politics in the Patch: Engaging Saskatchewan’s Oil-Producing Communities on Climate Change Issues is available for download on the Corporate Mapping Project website.

For more information contact the report’s author, Emily Eaton at 306-585-4034.

Author: Corporate Mapping Project

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