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Accountability & Transparency in Managing Alberta's Environment

Accountability and transparency are essential principles of democracy, but when it comes to managing Alberta's environment they can sometimes be in short supply. The Environmental Law Centre's Jason Unger discusses accountability in the regulatory approval process, the lack of a legal remedy to address broken promises, and proposes two legislative changes to address the issue.

The word “accountable”, meaning “responsible; answerable” (Black’s Law dictionary 9th ed.), evokes the idea that we must pay the piper for unmet promises…

 

…It seems, however, that accountability for environmental impacts and decisions related to them are becoming increasingly elusive.

The Pembina Institute's Nathan Lemphers goes on a quest in search of emergency preparedness plans in case of a oil sands tailings lake breach, and finds only secrecy and a lack of transparency.

Communities downstream of the oil sands are already skeptical about whether the Government of Alberta and oil sands operators are diligently managing the impacts and risks associated with oil sands development…

…A lack of transparency around tailings management is only adding to the skepticism and concerns.

Posted July 21, 2010 by AEN

Devon blowout highlights impacts of in situ oilsands operations

In the wake of last weekend's blowout at Devon Canada's Jackfish in situ oilsands site, the Pembina Institute's Terra Simieritsch posts on the environmental impacts of in situ oilsands operations:

We conducted a first-of-its-kind analysis of the environmental performance of in situ oil sands operations, comparing mining and in situ development side by side. Our resulting fact sheet revealed that in situ development is not an environmental gamechanger…

The bottom line is in situ oil sands development comes with significant impacts and risks - impacts and risks that shouldn't be downplayed. Cumulative impacts have the potential to extend across a very large landscape.

Posted July 14, 2010 by AEN

Capital Power breaks a key promise to Albertans

Capital Power trying to ‘wish away’ its progressive 2001 public hearing commitment in favor of simple compliance

6 Jul 2010

EDMONTON, AB — Environmental groups and landowners have joined forces to block Capital Power's bid to remove a legal requirement that it offset 50 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions that are released from the Genesee 3 coal power plant. Read more »

Posted July 6, 2010 by AEN

Review of Enbridge oilsands pipeline doesn't stack up

29 Jun 2010

VANCOUVER, B.C. — When compared to the review of the Mackenzie Gas Project, the proposed environmental assessment of the Enbridge Gateway oilsands pipeline falls short, according to an analysis released today by the Pembina Institute.

The size of the Joint Review Panel and a lack of regional representation are two key concerns, said Karen Campbell, Staff Counsel for the Pembina Institute. Read more »

Posted June 29, 2010 by AEN

BP oil spill: Not an argument to ramp up oilsands production

The Pembina Institute's Simon Dyer lays out the case against the oilsands as a "green" alternative to offshore drilling.

It's been more than two months now that oil from BP's blown out Deepwater Horizon rig has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. A man-made disaster of epic proportions, some people are now claiming that it makes Alberta's landlocked oilsands look safe in comparison. In fact, that statement couldn't be further from the truth.

Posted June 28, 2010 by AEN

AEN members react to Syncrude duck death verdict

AEN members weighed in on Friday's guilty verdict in the Syncrude ducks case. Both Sierra Club Canada and Ecojustice applauded the verdict, suggesting that the verdict further confirms the need to eliminate the toxic tailings ponds. The Pembina Institute's Simon Dyer, while calling the verdict "significant" and "positive", raises questions about the deterrent value and impact of the verdict in the broader context of the oil sands tailings ponds:

Since the incident, the amount of tailings (the toxic liquid waste produced by the oil sands extraction process) has steadily increased in volume by 200 million litres, or 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools, every day to now cover an area of 170 km2. It raises the question: Did the ducks die in vain?

Posted June 28, 2010 by AEN

Pembina reacts to proposed future federal coal regulations

23 Jun 2010

OTTAWA, ON — Marlo Raynolds, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute, made the following statement in response to today's announcement by Environment Minister Jim Prentice of future federal regulations for greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity:

“Minister Prentice’s commitment in principle to put an end to conventional coal-fired electricity is very welcome. A continued reliance on conventional coal would make achieving adequate greenhouse gas reductions in Canada virtually impossible.

Read more »

Posted June 23, 2010 by AEN

Pembina Reacts to Canada’s financial support for climate action in developing countries

23 Jun 2010

OTTAWA, ON — Clare Demerse, Associate Director of the Pembina Institute's climate change program, made the following statement in response to today's announcement by Environment Minister Jim Prentice of $400 million in “fast start” climate financing. Under the December 2009 Copenhagen Accord, developed countries agreed to provide US$30 billion in financial support for climate adaptation and emission reductions in developing countries from 2010 to 2012:

“We’re delighted to see the government announce today that it will provide Canada’s fair share of financial support for climate action in poorer countries for 2010.

 

“Providing timely and adequate ‘fast start’ financing is essential to building trust and making progress towards a strong international climate deal, both at this week’s G8 and G20 summits and at the UN talks.

 

Read more »

Posted June 23, 2010 by AEN

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