Break the glass on your Bullsh*t Detection equipment and turn up the dial on your Skepticism Amplifier.
In the Canadian Federation we are used to the Federal and Provincial governments colliding for self-interests, but it is rare that they collude against the public interest. Seems that rare occasion is upon us around oil sands environmental monitoring.
Open and read the link, now or after, you read this precis of my take on this serious policy error.
Eco-Monitoring Budget Cuts Don’t Pass the Sniff Test:
The COVID-19 “justification” for cutting environmental monitoring in the oil sands areas outside the operating company lease area is fishy (sic)! This monitoring and data gathering is outdoors fieldwork in the forests, wetland, and the Athabasca River.
How can that be? This data collection for environmental monitoring is not gathering 50-250 people indoors in a sports bar or cramming young students crowned into school classrooms of 30+ for long periods of time. All of those activities are allowed under Medical Health Orders.
Citing administrative costs that have “ballooned” form $7m to about $10m without explanation. It sure sounds like a political tactic of diversion from attention to the core concerns of quality environmental monitoring practices. Details, please. We can’t trust your opinions anymore. We need proof.
Misinformation From Government Can’t Be Allowed to Become Normal:
There seems to be more official misinformation swimming around in all of this. “Missing the spring/summer field season due to COVID -19” needs more explanation. Was this do to Lockdown so contractors could not get to site? Isn’t environmental monitoring an “Essential Service?” It should be and with the necessary health and safety precautions taken to enable the environmental monitoring of the oil sands impacts to continue.
The stated allegation of this being a one-time budget reduction due to COVID as the cause of “most of the cost reduction” is even more suspicious. Some of the critical monitoring is being canceled forever. The Canadian Press Breaking News story says that. So what is the truth?
Consider this quote for the Canadian Press story: “…specific monitoring programs that have been cut completely, including field branch on the main branch of the Athabasca River downstream from the tar sands/oil sands, field studies on wetlands, fish, and insects, a pilot project to assess the risks posed by tar sands/oil sands tailings ponds, and water quality assessments in Wood Buffalo National Park, where Canada has faced international pressure to properly protect a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
This lack of transparency and accountability by the governments of Alberta and Canada is totally unacceptable. The misleading “information” that is being spread by our governments is more than disturbing, it’s disastrous to re-establishing the trust we need in those we elect, and those who advise them, to make evidence-based choices. When they choose to forego gathering the evidence our trust is not just betrayed, our confidence in those with power is broken.
Reinstate full environmental monitoring budgets NOW. Then fast track data gathering for what is left of the summer fieldwork season. Justify your change of mindlessness and heartlessness as “job creation” if you must. But to Albertans, who own the oil sands resources, it is that but more about responsible sustainable resource development and operations.