Alberta’s oilsands don’t deserve all the bad press they’ve been getting, but the governments that regulate them do, concludes a new study by a panel of some of Canada’s top scientists.
In a report to be released today, a seven-member panel from the Royal Society of Canada found there’s “no credible evidence” that contaminants from the oilsands are boosting cancer levels in downstream communities.
It also found that the Athabasca River isn’t currently threatened by industrial water use.
But the panel — which was convened by the society independently of any government, company or non-governmental organization — concluded there are considerable risks posed by oilsands development that aren't being addressed by either the Alberta or federal government.
“Our governments — federal and provincial — need to show some leadership in ... clearly demonstrating responsibility in how the oilsands are currently developed now and in the future,” says the report’s executive summary, released in advance of the full report.
“The current visibility of relevant provincial and federal agencies ... in dealing with the major environmental challenges is low and is generally not in line with the scale of those challenges.”
Despite the criticism, Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner welcomed the report. “It raises a number of issues that require attention — some of which are already being addressed — and puts into perspective the actual impacts of oilsands development,” he said.