Alberta issues 20-year "plan" for the tar sands

The Canadian Press reports today that, "Alberta has released a 20-year plan intended to give its oilsands developments a cleaner environmental image around the world, but the strategy is light on specifics."

The article notes, "A government report Thursday calls for action to reduce emissions, curb fresh water use and cut tailings produced by oilsands projects. But the 50-page document offers no details on how measures to achieve these goals would be enforced."

WATER USE
"There are several points in the report dealing with curbing the huge volumes of fresh water used during the processing of tar-like bitumen, but the report has no clear goals or targets. 'Maximize water conservation, efficiency and productivity in the mineable oilsands sector to the lowest water use achievable,' it says. 'Identify the amount of fresh water and saline groundwater available in the oilsands regions to ensure water supplies are managed sustainably.'"

TAILINGS PONDS
"The report says Alberta should require 'reclamation of tailings to occur at the same rate or faster than production of new tailings on a regional basis'."

EMISSIONS
"A plan to reduce emissions is also vague and there's no indication it would improve on Alberta's existing strategy to allow total oilsands emissions to continue increasing until 2020 before gradual reductions over several decades."

FIRST NATIONS
"The report calls for more consultation with First Nations 'to understand the potential cumulative environmental impacts.' It also says a pilot project is needed to 'obtain baseline data to measure how cumulative impacts of development may impact Metis lands.'"

INFRASTRUCTURE
"The frantic pace of development in recent years has also created a severe shortage of housing, infrastructure and skilled workers in northern Alberta, so the report suggests major oilsands companies should be required to help plan and finance some infrastructure projects, including transportation networks."

We will have more analysis on this report, but as you can see it doesn't appear to contain much of a plan at all.

The full article is at
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2009/02/12/cgy-oilsands-plan.html