This book began when Kevin Timoney noticed a suspicious pattern in data reported by the Alberta Energy Regulator. For tens of thousands of spills, recovery volumes exactly matched the reported spill volumes. In short, the data were too good to be true. And so began a search for the scientific truth about spills. In western North America crude oil and saline water spills – both small and large – occur daily and cause permanent damage to ecosystems that remains largely hidden from public view.
Hidden Scourge takes the reader on a journey into a covert world of energy industry spills with environmental incident data from over 100,000 spills in Alberta, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana, and the Northwest Territories. Timoney evaluates the truthfulness of regulatory reporting in light of evidence from peer-reviewed scientific data, original field observations, industrial and government reports, interviews, and documents obtained under freedom of information. In stark contrast to a halcyon picture of prosperity and "world-class" environmental management, the reality is rampant destruction of biodiversity, persistent soil contamination, failed reclamation, and thousands of undocumented spills.
Hidden Scourge grounds existential debates about climate and ecological crises in evidence of how hydrocarbon-based economies change the ecosystems where fossil fuels are extracted. The science is clear: the industry consistently damages ecosystems wherever it operates. If energy-industry regulators cannot act independently, honestly, and in the public interest, they profoundly undermine democratic institutions. The result is a legacy of contaminated sites that will burden future generations with great uncertainty and cost.
Kevin P. Timoney is a senior ecologist and author of the award-winning book The Peace-Athabasca Delta: Portrait of a Dynamic Ecosystem. He lives in Ardrossan, Alberta.
"A remarkable work by a tenacious scientist, Hidden Scourge is an important exposé of the enormous scale and dreadful effects of oil industry spills and the dysfunctional regulatory culture that enables them. Kevin Timoney reveals the environmental regulation of the oil industry as a national embarrassment."
– Kevin Taft, author of Oil's Deep State: How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Stops Action on Global Warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa and Shredding the Public Interest: Ralph Klein and 25 Years of One-Party Government
"This is a remarkable investigation that should open many eyes, and perhaps many hearts."
– Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature