by Aaryn Lambert

    Responsible Actions, Responsible Oil.

    At first glance, Alberta’s oil sands are just deposits of bitumen mixed with sand and clay. But if you look deeper, you’ll see the progress, the possibilities and the people behind the oil sands.

    Using current technology and under current economic conditions, 169.9 billion barrels of oil can be recovered, making Alberta’s oil sands among the world’s largest resources of oil. Canada is the largest oil supplier to the United States, of which 1.6 million barrels per day come from Alberta.

    Energy demand is increasing worldwide, and so is the demand for Alberta’s reliable and secure oil. In order to balance development with environmental protection, social responsibility and economic success, the Government of Alberta created Responsible Actions: A Plan for Alberta’s Oil Sands, a 20-year strategic plan that establishes six concrete strategies to support responsible oil-sands development.

    Oil Sands Strategy

    Over 50 projects and initiatives are reflected in the strategic plan, many of which have already made significant progress. Some accomplishments so far include:

    • $2 billion for carbon capture and storage: To reduce the impacts of industrial greenhouse gas emissions and meet the goals of Alberta’s Climate Change Strategy, $2 billion has been committed for carbon capture and storage, funding four commercial-scale breakthrough projects.

    • Tougher rules on tailings ponds: The new Tailings Management Framework now in development aims to minimize the storage of fluid tailings in ponds, to optimize water management and to reclaim existing tailings ponds more quickly. Stringent new tailings management regulations were released in 2009, in order to reduce the inventory of fluid tailings at oil-sands mining operations.

    • Easing housing pressures in Fort McMurray: The Alberta government is investing $166 million to support the development of more housing in the Fort McMurray area through the new Parsons Creek community. Parsons Creek will be home to an estimated 24,000 residents in 8,000 homes when completed. Approximately 1,000 of the homes will be affordable housing.

    • Enhanced regulatory system: The Regulatory Enhancement project is implementing recommendations to better integrate the oil and gas policy and regulatory system. Integration of regulatory responsibilities presents an opportunity to enhance energy sector regulation based on the principles of effectiveness, efficiency, adaptability, predictability, fairness and transparency.

    • Better labour force planning: The Government of Alberta has developed tools to forecast future labour shortages more effectively and assist with labour force planning. The government is also partnering with Aboriginal communities to provide training, career and employment development for Aboriginal people.

    The Government of Alberta remains committed to the vision set out by Responsible Actions – one of economic growth, green technology and innovation, and enhanced quality of life. Balancing the environmental, social and economic impacts of oilsands development is critical – not only to Albertans, but to all who see the value of Alberta’s energy resource.

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