TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – The Canadian government on Wednesday highlighted its plans for the responsible development of Canada’s oil sands and its commitment to move the strategic resource to new markets.
Minister of State responsible for Western Economic Diversification Michelle Rempel delivered a keynote speech on behalf of Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver at the Oil Sands and Heavy Oil Technologies 2013 conference in Alberta, saying the oil sands were one of the world’s biggest innovation projects and the Canadian government was working hard to make important scientific contributions to help reduce potential environmental impacts from the development of this critical resource.
“Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (Cosia) is also a powerful demonstration of the collective will to develop the oil sands sustainably. To date, Cosia member companies have shared 446 distinct technologies and innovations that cost over C$700-million to develop,” she said.
Rempel pointed out that, in 2012, Canada and Alberta had also established a joint oil sands monitoring programme that was intended to take unprecedented steps to enhance the monitoring of air, land, water and biodiversity at oil sands operations. The programme improves the ability to detect changes in the environment and manage cumulative impacts.
Last month, the federal government also announced its intention to strengthen pipeline safety by enshrining the principle of “polluter pays” in law and proposing regulations that would require companies operating significant crude oil pipelines to have a minimum of $1-billion in financial capacity.
Earlier this year, government announced a world-class marine safety package, including eight new tanker safety measures, the Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act and a tanker safety expert panel. “Taken together, these initiatives strengthen and ensure the appropriate response in the unlikely event of a spill,” she said.
“By continuing to ensure responsible resource development and protection of the environment, we will help ensure Canadians across the country benefit from the economic contribution of the oil sands.
“The government of Canada is committed to the continuous improvement of our regulatory and safety regimes to ensure the protection of the environment and citizens come first,” she said.
However, environmental activist organisation Environmental Defence climate/energy programme manager Adam Scott recently told Mining Weekly Online that Canada’s “have to” attitude toward pushing for oil sands development and pipelines to get the product to market is a missed opportunity to build a green economy by investing in a sustainable green economy.
“Canada is tying itself to future boom-and-bust commodity cycles, instead of investing in exporting green-technology alternatives,” he said.