EDMONTON — The Alberta government could protect the environment and achieve responsible oilsands development by adopting key policy changes, recommended by the Pembina Institute in a report released today.
Solving the puzzle: environmental responsibility in oilsands development outlines 19 specific solutions available to help the Alberta government adequately address the environmental impacts of oilsands operations. The report recommends implementing specific policies to protect air, land and water, along with a credible approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and a world-class environmental monitoring system.
"These policy recommendations are rigorous, practical and consistent with the best available science and leading policies in other jurisdictions," said Jennifer Grant, director of the Pembina Institute's oilsands program.
"The Government of Alberta faces a narrow and critically important window of opportunity to raise the bar on oilsands development. We challenge the government to use its authority to deliver a plan that is capable of achieving the environmental outcomes expected by Albertans, Canadians and increasingly, the international community."
The report follows the release of the province's draft Lower Athabasca Integrated Regional Plan (LAIRP), for which consultations are underway. The draft LAIRP plan has been criticized for its significant gaps and limits that don't protect the environment and are not informed by science. The Pembina Institute has called for an independent panel to provide a scientific review of the government's draft plan, and would welcome a similar review of the 19 solutions it has proposed.
"There are abundant solutions that have not been implemented to address oilsands impacts and help restore Alberta's international reputation," said Simon Dyer, policy director at the Pembina Institute. "From protecting the Athabasca River, to demanding the best available technologies to reduce oilsands air pollution, to implementing a policy to protect wetlands — there is no shortage of opportunities to improve the current mismanagement of the oilsands. The Government of Alberta needs to rise to the challenge."
A checklist of the Pembina Institute's key recommendations and the full report are available online.
Jennifer Grant (Calgary)
Oilsands Program Director
Simon Dyer (Edmonton)
Cell: 403 322 3937