Canada and Alberta Take Action to Implement World Class Monitoring System for the Oil Sands

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EDMONTON, Alta (MMD Newswire) February 6, 2012 -- Increased air, water, land and biodiversity monitoring in the oil sands will begin this year as the Governmentof Canada and Government ofAlberta take amajor step forward in their partnership to improve environmental monitoring in the oil sands region.

The Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring commits to a scientifically rigorous, comprehensive, integrated, and transparent environmental monitoring program for the region. It outlines the path forward to enhance the monitoring of water, air, land and biodiversity in the oil sands by demonstrating how we will sample more sites for more substances more frequently. The program is designed to provide an improved understanding of the long-term cumulative effects of oil sands development.

"The Alberta oil sands are a key driver of the Canadian economy," said Canada's Environment Minister, the Honourable Peter Kent. "Today we are launching one of the most transparent and accountable oil sands monitoring system in the world. These scientific reports will be posted on our web page for the world to see. We challenge others in the international oil producing community to match Canada's commitment to environmental monitoring."

"Albertans, and Canadians, have high expectations that we excel at both energy production and environmental protection," said the Honourable Diana McQueen, Minister of Alberta Environment and Water. "We can have it both ways. We are confident this environmental monitoring system will be one of the most progressive and comprehensive of any industrially developed region in the world."

The three-year implementation plan begins this spring with increased sampling frequency, parameters, and locations. It will also integrate relevant parts of existing monitoring efforts and will give government and industry the scientific foundation necessary to continue to promote the environmentally sustainable development of the oil sands. The implementation plan reflects the Integrated Oil Sands Environment Monitoring Plan released by Environment Canada in July and will be consistent with the Government of Alberta's plans for a province-wide environmental monitoring system.

Data from the new monitoring program, and the methods on which it is based, will be transparent, supported by necessary quality assurance, and will be made publicly available to allow independent scientific assessments and evaluations. This will encourage informed discussions and analysis on the impacts of oil sands development based on high-quality scientific information.

As the process continues to move forward, implementation of the monitoring program will be jointly managed by the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta. Annual progress reports on implementation will be prepared for the first three years, with an external scientific peer review of the program and the end of the third year. Following that, a full external, scientific review of the new program will be conducted every five years.

Currently, both governments and industry commit significant resources to environmental monitoring. It is expected that industry will provide increased funding required to implement this new program.

The two governments will move forward immediately with discussions with industry, as well as other stakeholders, to establish the details related to implementation, including the arrangements for sustainable funding of the program. This engagement with industry, scientists and other stakeholders will be ongoing as we continue to implement our joint plan.

At the same time, both governments will take immediate steps required to start implementing the activities outlined for year one of the program, and make the fullest possible use of the upcoming field season for monitoring. Monitoring in the oil sands will be managed in an adaptive manner, with plans and activities evolving to reflect experience gained from initial work. Details in years two and three will be finalized, refined and adjusted based on this adaptive approach, while continuing to reflect the comprehensive, integrated approach of year one.

Source: Alberta Environment and Water

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