Environmental Activist urges Government to Adopt Oil Sands Recommendations

Prairie Acid Rain Coalition
Media Release

July 26, 2007

Yesterday, the Government of Alberta released the Report and Recommendations of the Multistakeholder Committee (MSC) and Panel.

The MSC reached consensus on 96 recommendations. Some examples of the consensus recommendations to achieve the vision of "Ensures a Healthy Environment" are:

  • Create and implement comprehensive regional resource and environmental planning and management systems for the Oil Sands Area and for regions impacted by existing and proposed upgraders.
  • Work with neighboring jurisdictions and the federal government to ensure cumulative assessment and management of transboundary issues.
  • Require comprehensive reclamation and mitigation plans from the onset of development that include milestones. Establish penalties to be enforced if operators fail to meet identified milestones.

"It is my expectation that the government will implement all of the consensus recommendations as quickly as possible," said Martha Kostuch, Chair of the Prairie Acid Rain Coalition and a member of the MSC.

Unfortunately, the MSC and Panel were not able to reach consensus on 26 recommendations. Most of the recommendations they were unable to reach agreement on relate to protection of the environment.

A few of the many important recommendations the MSC and Panel did not reach consensus on are:

  • Implement interim precautionary based environmental and emission thresholds, guidelines and frameworks based on the best currently available information.
  • Set greenhouse gas targets that will cap emissions for the oil sands industry and lead to reductions consistent with Canada’s international agreements.
  • Establish a limit on the cumulative amount of land that can be disturbed at any one time in each of the oil sands areas.

One of the important non-consensus recommendations we did not reach agreement on related to becoming economic leaders is:

  • In collaboration with the Federal Government, reform the fiscal regime for oil sands to ensure that a minimum of 60 % of net value of the resource is returned to the Federal and Provincial Governments through the combined tax and royalty regimes.

Perhaps the most important recommendation that the MSC and Panel did not reach agreement on is:

  • Declare a moratorium on new oil sands development (no new leases, no new approvals) until environmental limits have been identified and infrastructure and labour concerns have been addressed.

"Of all the issues raised by the public, the uncontrolled pace of oil sands development was most often identified as being the main cause of environmental, social and economic problems related to oil sands development," said Martha Kostuch, Panel Member.

"'Stop.' 'Slow Down.' 'Take a time out to make sure we do things right.' 'What's the rush?' These are the comments we heard frequently when we toured the province," said Martha Kostuch. "The majority of the people who made submissions to the oil sands panel asked that oil sands development be slowed down. The only MSC recommendation that addresses the pace of oil sands development is the recommendation calling for a moratorium on new oil sands development."

"I urge the Government of Alberta to implement the twenty three non-consensus recommendations which, as the panel member representing the environmental non-government organizations, I supported," said Martha Kostuch. "The implementation of these recommendations in addition to the consensus recommendations will make Alberta a leader in achieving the agreed upon visions for oil sands development."

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Contact: Martha Kostuch – 403-845-9720