For more than three decades Andrew Nikiforuk has written about energy, economics and the West for a variety of Canadian publications including the Walrus, Maclean’s, Canadian Business, The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, Chatelaine, Georgia Straight, Equinox and Harrowsmith.
In the late 1990s, he investigated the social and ecological impacts of intensive livestock industries and the legacy of northern uranium mining for the Calgary Herald. His public policy position papers on water diversion in the Great Lakes (2004) and water, energy and North American integration (2007) for the Program on Water Issues at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre sparked both discussion and reform.
Nikiforuk’s journalism has won seven National Magazine Awards since 1989 and top honours for investigative writing from the Association of Canadian Journalists. His dramatic Alberta based-book, Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig’s War Against Big Oil, won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction in 2002 and has recently been reissued by Greystone Books with an introduction by Chris Hedges. Pandemonium, which exposes the impact of global trade on disease exchanges, received widespread national acclaim.
The Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent, which criticized the pace and scale of the world’s largest energy project, was a national bestseller and won the 2009 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award. It was also listed as a finalist for the Grantham Prize for Excellence In Reporting on the Environment.
Empire of the Beetle, an account of how one tiny beetle reshaped the geography of the west, was a Governor General’s nominee for non-fiction in 2011 and remains a constant seller throughout the Rocky Mountain west.
In 2012 The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude, argued that the energy institution of slavery has shaped our careless use of fossil fuels. The radical treatise received widespread acclaim and calls for a moral revolution in our attitudes towards energy consumption.
His latest investigative book, Slick Water, examines the moral and legal implications of hydraulic fracturing, a brute force technology, that contaminates aquifers and causes earthquakes. In particular the book highlights the remarkable story of oil patch consultant Jessica Ernst.
Nikiforuk and his wife and three sons, Aidan, Keegan and Torin, live in Calgary, Alberta. Whether speaking or writing about melting glaciers, educational shams or the destruction of the boreal forest, Nikiforuk has earned a reputation as an honest and provocative voice in Canadian journalism. Nikiforuk is now a contributing editor for Canada’s best independent newspaper, the Tyee (http://thetyee.ca)
Disclosure: As a freelance writer and independent author I often engage in a variety of writing and speaking contracts. I have written public policy documents for the Program on Water Issues at the Munk Centre as well as two fully referenced reports for Greenpeace on bitumen and Arctic oil development. The World Wildlife Fund contracted Ed Struzik and myself to take part in a national tour on oil and climate change issues in 2010. A variety of universities, civil and community groups including Friends of Salmon, the Pembina Institute and the National Farmer’s Union have paid for public talks over the years. I have also worked under contract with Tides Canada to research and deliver pubic information to improve the environmental footprint of Canadian oil and gas development.
Since 2008 I have advocated for a national debate about the pace and scale of tar sands development. I have also endorsed a conservative and Norwegian-like solution to Alberta’s chaotic bitumen development. Former Premier Peter Lougheed articulated the solution as early 2004 with the following principles: Slow Down. Behave Like An Owner. Collect Our Fair Share. Save For the Rainy Day. Approve One Project At a Time. Clean Up the Mess. Add Value To the Resource.To Lougheed’s original list, I would add a national carbon tax.
Rapid tar sands development combined with the ruinous impact of petro revenues on government coffers has seriously contaminated Canada’s politics and undermined its economic and environmental security. A corporatist agenda to export dirty oil has transformed the country into a dysfunctional petro state.