Oil sands monitoring: Some positives but some opportunities missed

- February 4th, 2012

Queen’s University environmental scientist John Smol was among the scientific advisors that contributed to the creation of the Oil Sands Monitoring System, announced in Edmonton Friday by Environment Minister Peter Kent and his provincial counterpart Diana McQueen.

As my colleague Tanara McLean reported:

The program aims to create a more “transparent” and cohesive monitoring system. All oilsands monitoring in Alberta and portions of Saskatchewan will test for a master group of contaminants in air, water and land.

Nearly 200 testing stations are expected to in Alberta’s oilsands region by 2015 – up from just over 70 today.

Scientists will also be testing for contaminants in animals, bugs and fish.

Data will be made available to the public in real time as soon as this summer via federal and provincial websites.

“We challenge others in the international oil production community to match Canada’s commitment to environmental monitoring,” said Environment Canada minister Peter Kent.

On my program Friday, Smol noted: “There was a real problem with the way the monitoring was going on in the last 15 years. The upside[for industry] is they need credibility. Getting credible data out there that everyone will believe … is absolutely essential.” Watch Smol’s assessment of how the Alberta and federal government accepted the recommendations he and other scientists provided. He says there’s some positives but also some opportunities missed:

Categories: Energy, Environment

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1 comment

  1. Gabby in QC says:

    Critics of this plan say that rather than the federal & the provincial governments doing the monitoring, it should be done by an independent commission.

    The question is: which independent, commission? One involving people from the David Suzuki Foundation, the Pembina Institute, the Sierra Club, the Tides Foundation? They are all opposed to the continuing development of the oilsands, so would they be independent? Any commissioners named by the two governments who are not members of the aforementioned environment groups will most likely be viewed as suspect.

    That kind of suspicion or scepticism is even suggested in Ms. McLean’s report. The fact she uses quotes around the word “transparent” suggests she, like the critics of this plan, doubts the process will indeed be “transparent”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scare_quotes
    I may be wrong in interpreting the quotation marks but if Ms. McLean simply wanted to quote Minister Kent, why did she write “transparent and accountable” which is what the minister said?

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