Environmentalists want new laws during slowdown

With the pace of oilsands development in Alberta slowed to a trickle, governments are uniquely situated to take a sober second look at environmental policies, say environmentalists.

CALGARY — With the pace of oilsands development in Alberta slowed to a trickle, governments are uniquely situated to take a sober second look at environmental policies, say environmentalists.

“I think that the slowdown we’re experiencing now is an opportunity for us to take that step back and say do we have it right?” said Lindsay Telfer, prairie director of the Sierra Club.

As the economy heads south around the globe, energy prices have followed suit, causing the rocketing pace of development in the oilsands to stall.

Most of the more than $80 billion in projects planned to help process raw bitumen from the oilsands at the massive “Upgrader Alley” near Edmonton have been delayed indefinitely.

This is the time to act, said Matt Price, project manager with Environmental Defence.

“There should be lots of time to think now because the pace isn’t so frenetic, the regulators are just busy basically approving projects.”

Ogho Ikhalo, a spokeswoman for Alberta Environment, said the government is constantly updating its environmental policies and that has not changed in any way due to the slowdown.