mr slimp - i have no links which come immediately to mind, so take this for what it is....
i had cause to speculatively research a job opportunity and looked into oil sands mining a bit more, for personal ethical reasons. i didn't sit easily with what i found.
oil sands are of interest for the bitumen they hold. the extraction of this material is done thru two methods; if the resource is relatively shallow, then a massive and sprawling open mine is cut; much like a quarry; obvious deforestation and water re-routing.
deeper seams are twin shafted, with blasts of high pressured water steam being used to fragment the sands into a pit, into which the liquified bitumen can be 'skimmed' from the sludge, extracted and then refined. all of this requires tremendous amounts of water, which is then deposited carefully to avoid widespread and uncontrollable pollution; by forming huge, lifeless black lakes. the lesser of two evils.
this extraction and refining of course is energetically expensive and is dependent upon the consumption of natural gas supplies. but the gas to oil ratio is deemed enuff to be economically viable. not much gas left for export tho; and massive infrastructure is built on site for the refinery facilities.
the loss of landscapes (which will topogrpahically never be the same, but will repopulate) is temporary, but the potential for hydrological disturbance is considerable and pronounced.
i believe i recall (but it seems too low to be true) that for each barrel of crude produced, it uses 4 barrels of fresh water. with canada possessing the second largest oil reserve in the world (exceeded only by saudi arabia) they are gonna need a lot of water!
and of course the oil corps only lease sections of the oil fields from the province. 'the land returns to the people'.... but will they want it?
the potential litigation, regarding the acceptable condition being returned at the end of the lease term agreement, and enforcing such acceptable standards is an endless battle far from even being started, let alone concluded.
but maybe i worry too much?
Just coz you don't understand it
Doesn't mean it makes no sense!