We will pay for oilsands monitoring

The new federal environmental monitoring plan stopped me short on Page 11 of the first part on Air Monitoring. There is an image that shows the NO2 (nitrous oxide) monitoring related to North America. We’re a little pale dot compared to the bright orange and red gash of pollution down east in Canada and the U.S. and California.

The new federal environmental monitoring plan stopped me short on Page 11 of the first part on Air Monitoring. There is an image that shows the NO2 (nitrous oxide) monitoring related to North America. We’re a little pale dot compared to the bright orange and red gash of pollution down east in Canada and the U.S. and California.

In light of this evidence, I am wondering why we need the world-class monitoring system?

Let’s go back to the Standing Committee on the Environment testimony. Dr. D. George Dixon is vice-president of the University of Waterloo and 20-year veteran of oilsands aquatic toxicology related to mining. He had this to say about the status quo of industry monitoring itself with provincial/federal oversight:

“Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Don’t you think it’s odd that the industry is monitoring itself on such an important issue?

“Dr. D. George Dixon: … in the majority of cases in which there is material being released from the industry into a receiving environment, it is up to industry to do the monitoring under the surveillance and audit of either the provincial or federal government. It has to do with the amount of human resources available within those ministries. Don’t get the impression that the companies have a licence to run wild. From what I can see, the audit procedure is pretty rigorous. …”

He is saying that government ministries don’t have enough human power to do the monitoring, that government audits are rigorous, and that almost all industries do the same thing.

Good heavens! Does that mean every mining company, every industry in Canada should also have world-class monitoring? Many are far more toxic than the oilsands. Must we hire hundreds of people to federal and provincial workers, just to monitor at a world-class level? I doubt those hundreds of environmental specialists even exist in the HR pool.

But wait — federal Environment Minister Peter Kent said that industry would pay for this.

Let me get this straight. Industry presently pays about $4 million a year for RAMP — the water monitoring program that does not include all company monitoring, and does not include WBEA (air).

So Kent is apparently assuming that this industry will gratefully take an annual hit of 12.5 times part of their current budgeted aquatics monitoring tab, just to monitor more … what?

It appears he never consulted with industry or the taxpayer.

Because Kent is wrong.

Industry won’t be paying for it.

You and I will.

As noted in a fall 2010 document from the Oil Sands Research and Information Network (OSRIN) at the University of Alberta, authored by James and Vold:

“It is important to recognize that industry monitoring costs are eligible expenses for royalty calculation purposes (i.e., they reduce royalties payable), which means that the public is ultimately paying for a portion of the costs when industry pays for monitoring.

One implication is that the amount of monitoring and reporting can be established at the level commensurate with the public‘s need for assurance and willingness to pay based on the perceived need.” (https://era.library.ualberta.ca/public/view/item/uuid:7df75ac3-198c-40a8-8e53-3bccc04532b6)

Fellow taxpayers — beware of eco-nuts driving up your taxes through demanding ever more strenuous environmental infrastructure and monitoring.

Although some naive Big Oil haters may be rubbing their hands in glee as they think they are tearing $50 million chunks of fleshy profit from the behemoth of industry, the truth is that the expenses of oilsands companies (just like those of every other business) are deductible before taxable (both federal and provincial) profits are calculated.

I don’t perceive a need to monitor the oilsands with such an expensive world-class system. I don’t want to add more government workers or bureaucracy.

I’m not willing to pay more taxes to satisfy global eco-hypocrites in New York, London, Paris and Toronto, who daily produce volumes of “municipal tailings ponds.”

Those people have destroyed wetlands, run roughshod over wildlife, polluted rivers to death, produce thousands of tons of household waste every day (12,000 tons per day for New York!). But they want the environmental gold standard from us — with our gold!

Put stop payment on my world-class oilsands monitoring cheque. We in Alberta already have some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the world for oilsands. Let’s not also have the most overdone, silliest (despite being most “scientific”) and most expensive.

Why the hype for the world-class standard the rest of the world doesn’t keep?

How about adequate, effective and cost-efficient?

Something we can afford that monitors what we need to know, not everything there is to know. Like what we already have — with tweaking.

Michelle Stirling-Anosh is a Ponoka-based freelance columnist.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

A recent investigation by the RCMP Central Alberta District Crime Reduction Unit led to the arrests of 24 people. (Contributed photo)
24 people arrested following RCMP investigation in central Alberta

Twenty-four people are facing a combined 235 charges following an investigation by… Continue reading

Photo from Town of Sylvan Lake Facebook page
Sylvan Lake communities band together on development plan

Sylvan Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan expected to be approved next spring

Tribe restaurant owner Paul Harris, left, consults with manager Brandon Bouchard about how to proceed under pandemic rules that make it hard for eateries to be profitable. (Contributed photo).
New pandemic rules deemed workable for Red Deer retailers

Stricter COVID-19 reduction measures introduced in lead-up to Christmas

Quentin Lee Strawberry
Man accused in 2019 Red Deer murder will stay behind bars

Quentin Strawberry going to trial next year on second-degree murder charge

Hockey Canada suspends world junior selection camp after positive COVID-19 tests

Hockey Canada suspends world junior selection camp after positive COVID-19 tests

Justice Minister David Lametti responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Liberals to present bill on single-game sports betting

Liberals to present bill on single-game sports betting

Bayern, Man City win to advance to Champions League last-16

Bayern, Man City win to advance to Champions League last-16

FILE - In this March 26, 2006 file photo, former soccer player Diego Maradona smokes a cigar as he watches Argentina's first division soccer match between Boca Juniors and River Plate in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Argentine soccer great who was among the best players ever and who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity, died from a heart attack on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, at his home in Buenos Aires. He was 60. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)
Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona dies at 60

Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona dies at 60

In this July 1, 2020, photo, Salt Lake Tribune data columnist and Utah Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen poses for a photo. Larsen is a sports writer, but with much of that world sidelined during the pandemic he's been digging into coronavirus data and its sobering implications. So when he found himself with a cache of spare change, partially from his childhood piggy bank, he knew plenty of people could use it. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid

Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 18, 2020 file photo, a view of a 'Matterhorn-Express' gondola lift in front of Matterhorn mountain in the Zermatt ski resort, in Zermatt, Switzerland. Restrictions to slow the curve of coronavirus infections have kept ski lifts closed in Italy, France, Germany and Austria, as well as countries further east. But skiers are already heading to mountains in Switzerland, drawing an envious gaze from ski industry and local officials in mountain regions elsewhere on the continent who lost most of last season due to the virus. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP, File)
As season nears, Europe ponders skiing during pandemic

As season nears, Europe ponders skiing during pandemic

FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2015 file photo, actor John Boyega, right, pose with Star Wars characters during the Japan Premiere of their latest film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in Tokyo. Boyega stars in Steve McQueen’s “Red White and Blue,” the third film in the director’s anthology of West Indian life in London from the ‘60s through the ’80s. The five-film series will debut Dec. 4. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
John Boyega isn’t going to ‘take the money and shush’

John Boyega isn’t going to ‘take the money and shush’

The Hockley Motel in Mono, Ont., is shown in this undated handout photo. An Ontario motel that served as a backdrop for the beloved CBC sitcom "Schitt's Creek" is up for sale. The Hockley Motel in Mono, about an hour's drive northwest of Toronto, was listed for $2 million today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Colliers International
Calling all eccentric millionaires: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel up for sale for $2 million

Calling all eccentric millionaires: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel up for sale for $2 million

Most Read