It all began at Tim Hortons ...

It all began at Tim Hortons ... r1 ... r33 In late 2018, our Alberta reporter, Sharon J. Riley, was meeting with a farmer in a Tim Hortons in southern Alberta.

They were there to talk about oil and gas wells. Then he mentioned, in an off-hand sort of a way, that even when wells were officially reclaimed, they were still failing government criteria.

Her ears pricked up immediately.

In fact, he said, he'd heard rumours that the government had studied this, and of all the reclaimed wells sites it looked at, all but one failed.

That really got her attention.

What followed was more than a year of investigating the government's oil and gas well reclamation program.

After filing multiple freedom-of-information requests (paid for by you, our dear readers), she stumbled on what can only be described as the smoking gun — a report, commissioned by the Alberta government in 2018, that found "mounting evidence" oil and gas well sites were unlikely to be reclaimed in the long run.

It turned out the farmer hadn't been wrong.

When she started poking around further, she heard from a former senior government official that this report had been buried. It was, they said, "politically inconvenient."

Now the province's United Conservative Party government is moving ahead with plans to eliminate the government division that had been pushing to monitor the long-term reclamation of oil and gas wells in the first place.

The results of Sharon's investigation were published last week and it's causing quite a stir in Alberta. Liberal leader David Khan called it "alarming" and the story has been shared or referenced by journalists from the CBC, the National Observer, The Tyee and others. The story is one of our top-read stories this month, and is still gaining traction.

Read on for the week's top stories!

Emma Gilchrist
Editor-in-Chief

PS: The Narwhal's job postings are still live! Check them out — and send in your applications to join our team — if you haven't already.

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Report 'buried' by Alberta government reveals 'mounting evidence' that oil and gas wells aren't reclaimed in the long run

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Be like Niall and donate what you can to support The Narwhal's reader-funded journalism. Follow us on the 'gram That feeling when you find out The Narwhal is hiring. Share this newsletter signup link with all your favourite cats. Copyright © 2020 The Narwhal, All rights reserved.
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