AEN Groups weigh in on the proposed Lower Athabasca Regional Plan

As the consultation period on the Government of Alberta's proposed Lower Athabasca Regional Plan comes to a close— submissions are due June 6, 2011— AEN member groups have weighed in on the proposed plan, regulations, and frameworks.

In a recent op-ed, the Pembina Institute's Jennifer Grant states that:

…the current draft plan does more to defend the interests of oilsands developers than it does to protect the quality of Alberta's environment.

Grant points to Pembina's recent report "Solving the Puzzle: Environmental Responsibility in the Oilsands" (pdf) for some policy recommendations, and concludes that:

There is still time for Alberta to get it right and produce a world-class land-use plan for the Lower Athabasca by ensuring the final draft gets the stamp of approval from independent scientific experts at arms' length from the Alberta government and industry.

In their analysis of the plan, Ecojustice describes it as "woefully inadequate" and suggest that it "will not adequately protect the region against the cumulative effects of industrial development." According to Ecojustice's Barry Robinson:

The plan’s management framework is riddled with significant gaps and it gives far too much discretion to government decision-makers. Until those gaps are addressed and a better regulatory system is installed, the Alberta government shouldn’t approve any further oilsands developments in the area.

The Environmental Law Cente has also posted its comments and recommendations on the plan and related regulations and frameworks.