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NEWS: New water monitoring plan for tar sands announced

The Calgary Herald reports, “The federal government on Thursday released its longawaited oilsands report that aims to improve water monitoring in the Fort McMurray area. The plan, developed in collaboration with Alberta government, is in response to the Federal Oil Sands Advisory Panel report struck by former environment minister Jim Prentice. …The plan highlights the need for water quality measurements to be taken more frequently, and in more places to ensure sufficient data. …The plan also promotes transparency and all data will be publicly available, the government said. …Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner said he agrees the industry should pay the way for monitoring (about $20 million) but conceded that must be done in a way that doesn’t cause the results to become suspect.”


GREENPEACE: “Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema said ‘this baby step falls far short’ of meeting the federal government’s responsibilities. ‘While this looks to be a good first step forward, the fact remains that the federal government needs to do more than just monitor the devastation in the tarsands – it needs to protect people and the environment by stopping the continued contamination of water, and they need to do it now. This report is a long way from being implemented and a long way from giving the type of answers Canadians should have had before this project ever began.'”

PEMBINA INSTITUTE: “Jennifer Grant, director of the Pembina Institute’s oilsands program, said the new plan is a ‘good step’ toward providing a credible foundation for the monitoring of the Athabasca River. ‘We hope this plan signals that the federal government is willing to meet its obligations to ensure that oilsands development occurs responsibly and in accordance with Canadians’ expectations,’ she said in a statement. ‘An effective monitoring system is a necessary component of responsible management of oilsands development, but monitoring alone is not sufficient.'”

LIBERALS: “Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia said that the plan was a step in the right direction, he noted that it could have been launched much sooner if government officials had paid attention to warnings from independent experts that the existing industry-led monitoring system was failing to address environmental and health concerns linked to pollution from the oilsands. ‘They dragged their feet on this for too long,’ said Scarpaleggia, the Liberals’ water critic who spearheaded parliamentary committee hearings on the issue. ‘We’ve wasted a lot of time, working to get the government to admit there was a problem.'”

NEW DEMOCRATS: “NDP environment critic Linda Duncan said the government hasn’t made it clear how the different jurisdictions and authorities will work together in their plan. ‘We had no word on what Environment Canada is going to do to step up to the plate to assert their powers under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to regulate the toxins that scientists have identified,’ said Duncan. ‘Most of the regulatory authority is under (the) Fisheries and Oceans Department and they’re the ones who have been dropping the ball.'”