Oilsands panel recommends critical fixes

A high-level scientific panel has sharply criticized the water quality monitoring system in Alberta's oilsands, going so far as to say “there is no system.”

The Oilsands Advisory Panel, appointed by former federal environment minister Jim Prentice, made its findings public in Ottawa on Tuesday in a joint news conference with current Environment Minister John Baird, who promised to act on the panel’s recommendations.

The panel’s chair, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, was critical of a piecemeal approach to water quality monitoring, saying the system is fragmented with no links between data on water quality — including ground water — and air quality.

She also said there is no reliable longitudinal data that would give a solid understanding of the environmental impact of the oilsands.... Read more »

Quebec study of potential shale gas pollution needs broader mandate: Cirque founder

Quebec's environment ministry should have been given a larger mandate to study the effects of extracting shale gas, Guy Laliberté, a philanthropist and creator of the Cirque du Soleil, said Monday. [...]

Quebec's interest in shale gas — a natural gas stored inside rocks, deep in the ground, and known as shale — has elicited considerable protest from environmentalists and residents in the province. But extracting shale gas is nothing new to the western provinces. [...]

"The risk depends somewhat on geology," said John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club Canada. "But in all cases, you have to drill through the water table in order to reach the shale. And as a result, there's a real opportunity for a small leak or crack in the pipe to end up contaminating the groundwater with significant chemical pollutants." [...]

Ottawa kept in dark on abnormal fish found in oil-sands rivers

Hundreds of deformed fish found in rivers running through the Alberta oil sands have been collected and documented by an industry-led monitoring body, The Globe and Mail has learned, but the findings were not shared with the public or key decision makers in government.

That body, the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP), has been criticized in scientific quarters as secretive and is under the scrutiny of three reviews. Former environment minister Jim Prentice ordered one of those reviews after being shown photos this fall of a few malformed fish, and it was delivered Thursday to Environment Canada.... Read more »

NEB rejects greener energy future for Mackenzie

EDMONTON— The National Energy Board’s approval of the Mackenzie Gas Project (MGP) flies in the face of the Board’s stated commitment to sustainability and overturns years of study by a review panel, Sierra Club Prairie said today.


“It’s a tall order for a massive fossil fuel project to contribute to sustainability, but the NEB’s decision takes Canada in the opposite direction,” said Sheila Muxlow, director of Sierra Club Prairie. “The only conclusion we can draw is that the NEB is still locked in the status-quo reliance on fossil fuels, which offers no plan for a transition into a greener energy future.”

 ... Read more »

Decision day for Mackenzie pipeline

The National Energy Board will hand down its ruling Thursday on the $16-billion Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline project. [...] Peter Linder with Delta One Capital tells 660News he doubts the pipeline will ever be built. [...] The executive director of Sierra Club Canada agrees. John Bennett says thanks to bleak return prospects, it looks like the environmental movement won't have to worry about the impact the development will have on the northern Canada.


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