Andrew Nikiforuk, the Alberta-based writer and evironmental crusader, has become the first Canadian to win the prestigious Rachel Carson Environment Book Award from the U.S.-based Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ).
Nikiforuk took the $10,000 award for his look at the development of the oil sands in Northern Alberta, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent (Greystone). According to the SEJ's website, "Andrew Nikiforuk paints an alarming picture in northern Alberta, Canada: International oil companies clear cut huge swaths of boreal forest, rake off the boggy soil, scoop up giant shovelfuls of oil sands with the largest machines on earth and use copious amounts of boiling water to separate tarry bitumen from the sand so it can be turned into petroleum for your car in Kansas. The toxic residue that comes off the sands is stored behind gigantic dikes that leak, and downstream people and fish are sick."
The SEJ's other awards all went to American publications. The book award is named after Rachel Carson, the author of the groundbreaking environmental expose Silent Spring, among others.
Nikiforuk and the rest of the winners will be honoured at the SEJ's annual meeting in October in Madison, WI.