Governments to publish long-awaited environmental data on oilsands

OTTAWA – The federal and Alberta governments are finally ready to make research and data from their oilsands monitoring program public.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent and his Alberta counterpart, Diana McQueen, are expected to launch a new data portal next Wednesday at an event at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Public access to the data has been a long time coming.

In February 2012, as part of their strategy to win international confidence in the environmental record of the oilsands, the ministers announced a three-year plan to beef up air, land and water monitoring in the region.

Key to winning that confidence was the commitment to make the data public, but more than a year later, officials and scientists were still hashing out the details.

Environmental monitoring of the oilsands has long been a hot potato in the Ottawa-Alberta relationship, with each jurisdiction claiming it was in the best position to undertake the job.

Paying for the new monitoring system has also been up in the air.

The private sector agreed to contribute up to $50 million a year, but there has been no mechanism in place to collect the money. In the meantime, government departments have been siphoning money from other areas to finance the efforts.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.