Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring

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The oil sands are a strategic natural resource and a key driver of economic development, and their rapid expansion has led to a need for a more comprehensive understanding of their potential cumulative environmental impacts. A strengthened scientific understanding of these impacts can help guide effective and responsible environmental management of this valuable resource. The Governments of Canada and Alberta are committed to working together to ensure that future development of the oil sands takes place in an environmentally sustainable manner.

It is important to recognize that considerable monitoring work is already taking place in the oil sands through the efforts of the Governments of Alberta and Canada as well as industry. This work provides a solid foundation on which to build, but there remains a need for a scientifically credible, integrated approach to environmental monitoring, including an improved understanding of how the different types of impacts - on air, water, land, and biodiversity - affect one another. An enhanced monitoring system will provide information on the state of the air, water, land and biodiversity, ultimately supporting the responsible development of the resource.

Following extensive discussions between the Governments of Canada and Alberta, a Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring (“the Implementation Plan”) has been developed for monitoring in the oil sands area. The Implementation Plan builds on a foundation of monitoring that is already in place, and is intended to enhance existing monitoring activities. It reflects the Integrated Monitoring Plan for the Oil Sands released by Environment Canada on July 21, 2011, and will be consistent with the Government of Alberta’s plans for a province-wide environmental monitoring system, including the oil sands region. Both orders of government are committed to building an integrated monitoring program and commit to working together to implement this program. 

The Implementation Plan describes a phased implementation with monitoring activities over the next three years. The result will be an improved characterization of the state of the environment in the oil sands area and an enhanced understanding of cumulative effects and environmental change, including future impacts arising from multiple stressors - which will become more important to understand as development continues.

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