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After Years of Resisting, Alberta Admits Need for Strict Oil Sands Monitoring

Government and oil sands industry finally agree with environmentalists on need to rigorously measure the full impact of oil sands development

By Mathew Klie-Cribb

Feb 25, 2011
Syncrude's Mildred Lake plant

Grant said she hopes all oil sands development will be put on hold.

"It would be very challenging to make decisions in the public interest based on this program that has apparently been producing findings that aren't credible or accepted by scientists," she said.

Temporary Oil Sands Halt Unlikely

However, in late January a federal-provincial review panel conditionally approved another open-pit mine in the oil sands — The Joslyn North mine — operated by French company Total SA.

Grant said the global energy demand should not trump doing what is right for the environment.

"If Canada and the U.S. are serious about taking action on climate change, then we are going to be looking to other sources of energy that don't have such a heavy carbon footprint," she said. "And therefore we won't be developing at such a pace that we have such large concerns for water."

But Stringham said the oil sands are not much worse than some other U.S. oil sources, and technological advancements are pointing towards a future that will have an even smaller carbon foot print.

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