Environment Minister Jim Prentice has appointed an independent Advisory Panel of leading scientists to report on the current state of environmental research and monitoring in the region around Alberta’s oil sands – in particular, industrial pollution in the Athabasca River and connecting waterways.
The panel are to make recommendations to the Minister to ensure that state-of-the-art monitoring and best practices are implemented.
“We are determined to develop Canada’s oil sands in a manner that it sustainable and environmentally-sensitive,” said Minister Prentice. “This independent review by some of Canada’s most respected scientists is a critical step in ensuring that environmental issues are balanced with economic considerations.”
Chaired by Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the Advisory Panel members include Dr. Peter J. Dillon, Dr. Subhasis Ghoshal, Dr. Andrew D. Miall, Dr. Joseph Rasmussen and Dr. John P. Smol, a professor in the Department of Biology at Queen’s University.
Professor Smol is a holder of the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change and has been presented with numerous research and teaching awards, including the NSERC Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal, Canada’s top scientific prize, in 2004.
He and the rest of the advisory panel have been tasked to:
1. Document, review and assess the current body of scientific research and monitoring.
2. Identify strengths and weaknesses in the scientific monitoring, and the reasons for them.
Environment Canada will be providing both scientific and logistical support to aid the group with their analysis of current peer reviewed literature and discussions with recognized experts.
Within 60 days, it will report back to Minister Prentice and this report will be publicly available on the Environment Canada website.
Professor Smol has accomplished award winning research in the fields of limnology and his study of environmental change has addressed the impact of acid rain, nutrients and climate warming on aquatic systems.
He is the founding editor of the Journal of Paleolimnology and is currently editor-in-chief of the journal Environmental Reviews.
Smol also co-directs the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory at Queen’s University, a group of about 30 paleolimnologists from around the world who work on a variety of limnological and paleoecological problems.
Photo courtesy the Queen’s University News Centre