In response to Phase II of the Alberta Oilsands Consultations, the Pembina Institute released a blueprint that calls for a moratorium on new oilsands project approvals and lease sales until six key requirements for responsible development are addressed.
In the first round of public oilsands consultations last fall, hundreds of Albertans made their vision for oilsands development heard. This vision differs drastically from the current situation, in which the Government of Alberta and the oil industry have focused on rapid - rather than responsible - development.
The scope and scale of oilsands projects have expanded dramatically without a government plan for managing the environmental, social and economic implications of this growth. The result is a serious environmental, social and infrastructure deficit that is affecting the quality of life in Alberta.
"Alberta is in urgent need of a responsible development framework. With no public debt, a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, and engaged citizens, we can find a way to develop the oilsands responsibly and bring about sustained benefits that improve our quality of life," says Dan Woynillowicz, a Senior Policy Analyst with the Pembina Institute.
The Pembina Institute's blueprint outlines six key elements that serve as the basis for such a plan. These elements include:
- Limit Environmental Impacts: Apply science-based precautionary limits that tell us when ecosystems are threatened, so that we can make informed decisions about whether and how oilsands projects proceed.
- Address Cumulative Impacts: Improve the systems and approaches for monitoring and addressing the impacts of oilsands development on the climate, air, fresh water, boreal forest and wildlife.
- Focus on Quality of Life: Manage the rate of oilsands growth to maximize the benefits to Albertans' quality of life, and ensure that social services and infrastructure can keep pace.
- Think Like an Owner: Reform the oilsands royalty regime so that Albertans obtain maximum value from the development of the resources they own.
- Make Better Decisions for Albertans: Reform the Energy and Utilities Board's decision-making process so that the public interest comes first and only responsible oilsands projects proceed.
- Plan for the Future: Take advantage of Alberta's prosperity so as to build a more diversified, green and competitive future that includes low-impact renewable energies and responsible energy use.
"A pause on new project approvals would give the government time to implement rules needed to ensure responsible development," said Chris Severson-Baker, Director of the Pembina Institute's Energy Watch Program. "It would also give us, as Albertans, the chance to tell our grandkids that we took the time to get it right."
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For more information:
Oilsands Fever - A Blueprint for Delivering on Albertans' Expectations can be downloaded at www.pembina.org/pubs.
Director, Energy Watch
Tel: 403-269-3344 ext.101
Senior Policy Analyst
In the first phase of the public Oilsands Consultation, Albertans clearly outlined their vision for oilsands development as one that:
- Honours the rights of First Nations and Métis
- Provides a high quality of life
- Ensures a healthy environment
- Maximizes value-added in Alberta
- Builds healthy communities
- Sees Alberta benefit from the oil economy and lead in the post-oil economy
- Sees Alberta as a world leader in education, technology and a skilled workforce
- Provides high quality infrastructure and services for all Albertans
- Demonstrates leadership through world class governance
Source: Multistakeholder Committee, Government of Alberta. "Oilsands Consultation - Multistakeholder Committee Interim Report." November 30, 2006. 5.
More information on the Alberta Oilsands Consultations, including the Interim Report, is available at www.oilsandsconsultations.gov.ab.ca/
High resolution images of oilsands development are available for journalists from www.pembina.org/oil-sands/photos