EDMONTON — Chris Severson-Baker, Alberta regional director at the Pembina Institute, made the following statement in response to today's air quality reporting announcement by the Alberta government:
“This new report adds to the mounting evidence that Alberta needs to reduce air pollution across the province. Measures that will produce more rapid results are also needed in the numerous regional hot spots identified by the report.
“Near-term action is crucial to keep our air from getting worse. Alberta has been too slow to take action on existing pollution sources, and new ones have been added without regard for the cumulative impacts.
“The report shows that, unless emissions are cut, most of the province risks exceeding the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter. This places an unacceptable burden on people’s health and on the environment. The harmful pollutants that form fine particles — nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide — are released by burning fossil fuels. The biggest contributing sources in Alberta, by far, are oil-and-gas operations, coal plant smokestacks and vehicle tailpipes.
“The province is currently developing an action plan on climate change. Fortunately, the best options for addressing carbon emissions will also significantly lower air pollution. In the short term, an accelerated transition away from coal power would considerably reduce air pollution in many of the key hot spots.
“The best thing the Alberta government could do to improve air quality is to take meaningful action on climate change. Measures that tackle carbon pollution would also contribute to cleaner air, so long as they address the biggest contributors to deteriorating air quality in Alberta.”
Alberta Director, Pembina Institute
Report: A Costly Diagnosis (2013)
Blog: Air quality data to Government of Alberta: your move (2014)