Pembina reacts to Alberta report on oilsands air pollution

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Government of Alberta report shows many air quality trigger levels near the oilsands have been exceeded

Published Aug. 14, 2014.

CALGARY — Amin Asadollahi, oilsands program director at the Pembina Institute, made the following comments in response to the release of a Status of Management Response report for the Lower Athabasca Region, which shows evidence that air quality triggers in northeastern Alberta have been exceeded:

“We are pleased to see the government publicly reporting on these air quality issues in relation to oilsands development. The evidence that some of Alberta’s air quality trigger limits have been exceeded requires immediate management action. A commitment by the province to implement measures to reduce pollution is also necessary in light of expected oilsands expansion.

“When air pollution is serious enough to exceed these trigger limits, it is supposed to prompt management action to reduce pollution from industrial facilities to ensure we don’t exceed any of the hard limits set for the region — simply doing more monitoring and investigation is not enough. Industry modelling shows that maximum legal air quality limits are projected to be exceeded in coming years if oilsands expansion proceeds as planned.

“Although many of these air quality triggers were exceeded 18 months ago, the government has proposed no corrective actions to reduce air pollution. Alberta’s lack of urgency in addressing these air quality issues is concerning.

“The Pembina Institute supported the development of the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan based on the province's commitment that it would result in management actions to proactively mitigate cumulative impacts. We urge the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Energy Regulator to immediately start development of an emissions reduction plan for the region to get nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide pollution down to targeted levels, including stricter pollution limits for existing and proposed oilsands operations.”

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