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The Joint Canada | Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring - First Annual Report: 2012-2013

Responsible development of the oil sands resource is a priority for the governments of Canada and Alberta and needs to be informed by robust, reliable monitoring of the environmental impacts. Monitoring the environmental performance of the oil sands industry has been required by regulatory operating approvals, licences and permits since industrial extraction began in 1967. With the increased pace and scale of development, and based on recommendations from expert panels, the governments of Canada and Alberta jointly agreed to enhance and integrate existing environmental monitoring to better assess the cumulative environmental impacts of development.

On February 3, 2012, the federal and provincial environment ministers jointly announced the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring (the Implementation Plan), committing the two governments to implementing a scientifically rigorous, comprehensive, integrated and transparent environmental monitoring program for the region. The Implementation Plan describes a phased implementation of enhanced monitoring activities over three years (2012–2015), and the rationalization and integration of current monitoring arrangements into a single, government-led program under the joint management of the two governments. 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.

The Implementation Plan also commits the governments to reporting annually on the progress made in carrying out the activities laid out in the Implementation Plan. This annual report highlights progress made during the first year of the Implementation Plan (2012–2013) and includes a brief summary of initial findings. Details of monitoring results, evaluation and reports can be found on the Canada-Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring Information Portal (the Portal) and links contained therein.

Introduction