New study calls for "control checklist" on oil sands pollution
TORONTO, April 8 /CNW/ - Canada needs a new regulatory checklist to
measure and monitor pollution in Alberta's oil sands, a new study
The discussion paper, delivered today at a University of Toronto
experts' forum, says that "new project approvals and water licenses
should be suspended until the federal and Alberta governments have put
in place world-class scientific monitoring programs."
The paper is available at www.powi.ca.
Current programs are not adequate and new ones should be funded for 25
years and meet the conditions of a regulatory checklist, said the
study's authors, David Schindler, Andrew Miall and Adèle Hurley at the
forum, held by the university's Munk School of Global Affairs Program
on Water Issues.
Up to now there has been little or no focus on the long term. "Project
approval and licensing have been carried out on an individual project
basis, with little or no attention paid to cumulative environmental
effects," the authors said.
"There are serious questions about the efficacy of provincial
environmental management. The scientific input is poor and the process
Better regulation is especially important now because Canada has become
the largest supplier of non-domestic oil to the United States. Each day
1.9 million barrels goes from the Canada to the U.S., almost all of
this from the oil sands.
U.S. legislators are considering whether to approve controversial new
pipelines from Alberta to refineries near the Gulf of Mexico, and
visitors ranging from members of Congress to Oscar-winning director
James Cameron have expressed concerns about environmental damage in the
"This is clearly a crucial issue for Canada," say the discussion paper's
"Broader public interests, including long-range implications—cumulative
environmental impacts and transboundary problems—are not being
Schindler, a University of Alberta professor, is one of the world's
foremost experts on ecology and environmental issues. Miall, a
world-renowned petroleum geologist and member of recent oil sands
review panels, is a University of Toronto professor. Hurley is Director
of the Munk School's Program on Water Issues.
The authors call for a regulatory checklist that will:
Be independent from industry
Include national scientific and federal leadership
Have a transparent and collaborative governance model (a single
monitoring agency) with representation from areas directly impacted by
rapid development: First Nations; Northwest Territories; the Western
provinces and the federal government
Have stable long-term funding for 25 years
Focus on environmental concerns and suspend any new project approvals
and water licences until there is consensus on effective regulation.
Ironically, as Canadians head to the polls May 2, the authors say this
is "an ideal time to step out of the political arena, to pause for a
review of what are the most critical issues, and to assess what most
needs to be done."
Canada needs "a fully transparent and publicly accountable monitoring
system that is beyond the reach of day-to-day politics."
SOURCE Program on Water Issues, Munk School, University of Toronto
For further information:
Program On Water Issues