The Edmonton Journal editorial today reflects the values of Albertans around the importance of reclamation around oil sands. We know that the type of reclamation, habitat protection and ecological monitoring are the top three values that Albertans believe need to drive and guide decisions on oil sands development. The same issues arise in the entire energy sector in Alberta...not just the oil sands.
It is a serious concern and we need to be sure we get it right...starting now - not way into the future when it is someone else's "problem." This is just another issue that current Albertans have to insist government and industry take a long term look. We should not pass on a burden of reclamation to future generations because we refused failed or neglected to meet our duty to mitigate the environmental and habitat damage we must do as part of oil sands development.
Ecological monitoring is being done but the quality is in question and the focus is not understood or trusted. This is a major concern of Albertans. Industry must address this for its social license to operate and political parties and leadership candidates who want to form governments must attend to this concern if they want the trust and consent of citizens to govern in the next election. Integrity is the issue. Not just what politicians or political parties say - but can you trust them to deliver.
We can do conservation offsets to mitigate the energy sector's footprint and fragmentation of the Boreal forest too. This concept is part of the new land stewardship legislation that needs to be retained...but the offsets need to be large enough to actually enhance the prospects of at risk species like grizzly and caribou.
It is all part of a move where Albertans are revisiting values that say we need to harmonize with nature - not just try and engineer our way out of nature.