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Monitoring on the Mind

With the spate of news & reports on environmental monitoring (or the lack thereof) in the oilsands region, monitoring is on the mind of a couple of AEN members.

Laura Bowman of the Environmental Law Centre posts on the need for an independent environmental monitoring agency:

…a clear, unambiguous commitment to better monitoring resources and stronger federal and provincial oversight at the approvals stage is still glaringly absent. What the oilsands really need is a well-resourced agency with the expertise and independence to be a bold regulator. 

Pembina's Terra Simieritsch writes on the importance of water quality monitoring, and asks some questions of the federal & provincial governments:

Will limits be set and will laws be enforced? And ultimately, if the data points to unacceptable changes in the Athabasca River, what are the federal and provincial governments prepared to do?
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Field Notes: News from AEN Member Groups

Melissa Gorrie posts on the Ecojustice Canada blog about the Carbon Capture and Storage Statutes Amendment Act and why Albertans…

"…should be concerned about the risks the government is taking with their health and the ecosystem and must call on government to amend this legislation before it is implemented."

Over at the Pembina Institute blog, Jennifer Grant posts about the ERCB's apparent "flip-flop" on the rules for oilsands tailings production; David Dodge introduces us to Pembina's new Executive Director; and Clare Demerse reports on the just-concluded UN climate talks in Cancun. Read more about Field Notes: News from AEN Member Groups

National pollutant data finally released, sort of

Following the recent release of new mining pollution data — compelled by a lawsuit by MiningWatch Canada & Great Lakes United — the Environmental Law Centre's Laura Bowman posts on the "sorry state of access to pollution data in Canada":

The question remains, does anyone even know the environmental impact from spills and routine releases from industry and municipalities in Canada? Is it even possible for anyone to find out if there are reporting and access to information barriers?

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Groups weigh in on Alberta's Oil Sands PR Campaign

As the Alberta government ramps up its oil sands public relations campaign, AEN member groups weigh in, and call on the government to focus on action rather than advertising. The Pembina Institute's Danielle Droitsch suggests that Alberta should pay heed to the mistakes made by BP and direct its energies towards aggressive action rather than public relations:

In the case of oil sands, public relations will go only so far to countering a growing image problem. It will likely take a dramatic gesture as suggested by the premier's council for the public in both Canada and the U.S. to take notice.

John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada, suggests that:

If the Alberta government really wants to change public perception it will take a lot more than an ad campaign and a website. Actions speak louder than words.

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The truth about tailings

The Pembina Institute's Jennifer Grant sets the record straight on some facts in Pembina's recent report, Northern Lifeblood: Empowering Northern Leaders to Protect the Mackenzie River Basin from Oil Sands Risks.

Downplaying, or ignoring unresolved tailings risks is not helpful at a time we need stronger policies and more publicly available information to inform responsible management.

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