Governments of Alberta and Canada take another important step in the work to ensure continued responsible development of the oil sands
It’s been just over a year since Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development stood with Canada’s Environment Minister to announce The Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring.
Today, both Ministers are in Ottawa to announce another important step in the implementation of this comprehensive monitoring program – the creation of a joint online portal that will house information and data collected through the joint monitoring program activities.
Transparency is a key part of our ongoing work to ensure Albertans, Canadians, and the world, have access to environmental monitoring data related to oil sands activities. What’s being launched today is the first phase of a publicly-facing information portal.
The joint portal complements Alberta’s existing online oil sands information portal. Here, interactive maps and an extensive data library bring together information on such things as water use, greenhouse gas emissions, tailings ponds and reclamation, so that anyone interested around the world can easily access them via computer or tablet.
We encourage you to visit both sites to access a variety of information and data that’s organized for different users – from interested people from across the globe who want to look at overall trends, to academics and researchers looking for downloadable data sets.
A joint portal is just one of many enhancements that have taken place since the joint plan was announced in February 2012. Although the plan will not be fully operational until 2015, we’re already seeing results.
For example, baseline scientific data was improved through:
- increased sampling frequency of air, aquatic life, and water;
- broadened monitoring for contaminants specific to the oil sands;
- new monitoring sites for air, aquatic life, and water;
- consistency in sampling methods and analysis;
- an intensive, integrated sampling program to better understand contaminant sources; and,
- implementation of an expanded groundwater monitoring network.
You can read more about the many enhancements we’ve implemented over the past year – as well as future planned activities – on the Spring 2013 update fact sheet.
Alberta has several decades of environmental excellence to build upon – and we will use our extensive experience to create one of the most progressive environmental monitoring programs of any industrially-developed region in the world. Not only are we implementing a state-of-the-art scientific monitoring program in the oil sands, Alberta is also creating an arms-length agency to oversee environmental monitoring across the entire province. This work is ongoing and we are looking forward to establishing the agency in the near future.
We will be providing regular updates on both the implementation of the joint oil sands monitoring program and Alberta’s work to establish a province-wide monitoring system. As a key pillar in Alberta’s integrated resource management system, enhanced and transparent monitoring is a vital component of our ongoing work to assure Albertans – and indeed the world – of our commitment to excellence in environmental stewardship.
Through enhanced environmental monitoring, comprehensive land-use plans with environmental triggers and limits, and the establishment of a single regulator, Alberta continues to take bold actions to ensure we remain a leader in responsible resource development.