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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Issue 10 - Evidence - Morning meeting

EDMONTON, Wednesday, March 9, 2005

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources met this day at 10:08 a.m. to examine and report on emerging issues related to its mandate.

Senator Tommy Banks (Chairman) in the chair.


The Chairman: Honourable senators, as our first group of witnesses this morning, we have Mr. Steve Hrudey, a professor at the University of Alberta; Mr. John Zahary, President of the Alberta Chamber of Resources; and Mr. Brad Anderson, Executive Director of the Alberta Chamber of Resources. We are grateful for you taking the time to be with us.

Mr. Hrudey, may I thank you and your wife, Elizabeth, for having given us this book and the editorial that you wrote. Thank you very much. We will be getting into those matters in some detail.

We are studying a number of things at the same time, running off in all directions. This morning Mr. Hrudey will to talk to us about some aspects of water, or anything you want, Mr. Hrudey, that you think we should hear. The same will be true of you, Mr. Zahary and Mr. Anderson. We will hear whatever you think we ought to hear.

Our present studies are of water in the widest sense of that word — GHG emissions, anything to do with energy, environment or natural resources that you think we ought to hear.

I think that Alberta is unique in having a chamber of resources; am I right? Does any other province that you know of have a chamber of resources, Mr. Anderson?

Mr. Brad Anderson, Executive Director, Alberta Chamber of Resources: We are unique in the sense that we are a chamber that represents multi-sectors of resource production. We represent forestry, oil sands, oil and gas, and coal. That is unique across the country, yes.

The Chairman: I will be arbitrary and ask Mr. Hrudey to speak first. If you are agreeable, gentlemen, we will hear from all of you on what you would like us to hear. Then we will have time for questions and dialogue.

I would ask you to tell us everything that you want us to hear as concisely as you can to allow the greatest amount of time for that dialogue.

Mr. Steve Hrudey, as an individual: Senators, I am here to address you today on the subject of safe drinking water. Water is second only to air as the most vital requirement for human survival and lack of it for more than a few days is fatal. Consumption of contaminated drinking water can be fatal even more rapidly, as we have found, to our misfortune, about five years ago this May in Walkerton.

The reason I am making these comments today is there remain many clear signs too many Canadians do not understand how Walkerton happened, and if we do not understand, there is too great a chance of it happening again in Canada.

I had the privilege of serving Justice O'Connor as a member of the research advisory panel to the Walkerton inquiry, and that experience led me, with my wife as a co-author, to write the book that you referred to, Safe Drinking Water.

The subject of the book is 70 case studies of outbreaks in 15 affluent nations over the past 30 years. Our analysis showed that there were a number of common themes. I guess the good news is that contaminated drinking water outbreaks are remarkably rare in developed countries, considering the pervasive potential for water to transmit disease.

We know that millions of people die around the world every year from waterborne disease, which is unfortunate, because we have known the means of preventing that for over 150 years.

The causes were first discovered during cholera outbreaks in London in the mid-1850s, and over the next 50 to 100 years, we discovered the means, through water treatment and disinfection, to pretty much eliminate those outbreaks.

In my brief I have included a figure that shows the decline in waterborne fatalities in the U.S. over the past century, and it is quite dramatic. However, notwithstanding that, they have had fatal waterborne disease outbreaks in the U.S.

The largest of those was in 1993 in Milwaukee, where some 400,000 consumers were affected and some 50 to 70 deaths occurred over the two years following the outbreak amongst immune-compromised individuals. There were four deaths from waterborne disease in Cabool, Missouri, in 1990; seven deaths in Gideon, Missouri, in 1993; and two deaths at the Washington County Fair outside the state capital of Albany, New York, in 1999.

The reason I bring this up in relation to your mandate is that the U.S. has arguably the most detailed and stringent drinking water regulations anywhere in the world, and, of course, it is also the richest nation in the world. This raises the question of how effective stringency in drinking water regulations is in preventing waterborne disease.

I have referred in my brief to the Speech from the Throne to open the Third Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament. The quote is as follows:

...the Government will intensify its commitment to...clean water. We will engage...the provinces to achieve more stringent national guidelines on...water quality.

Unfortunately, it is my contention that this reflects a serious misinterpretation of what happened in Walkerton. In fact, if Walkerton had met the requirements that had been specified for the well that was responsible since it was opened in 1978, the outbreak would never have happened.

The problem was not lack of stringency in the requirements; the problem was that the requirements were not carried out with competence.

In fact, Justice O'Connor found that the outbreak would have been prevented by the use of continuous chlorine residual and turbidity monitors at well 5. This is sadly ironic, because it had been Ontario Ministry of Environment policy since 1994, six years before Walkerton happened, to require continuous chlorine residual monitors at wells such as well 5, which had been identified as being in that category in 1978 when it was commissioned.

Therefore, this was clearly a failure of regulatory and public health oversight. The device, the continuous chlorine residual monitor, costs approximately $8,000.

In my view, pursuing more stringent numerical guidelines for drinking water quality will not improve drinking water safety in Canada. If nothing else, it may simply distract from getting the real job done, which involves recognizing what the primary threats to drinking water safety are, and dealing with inadequate training and the undervaluing of the benefits of safe water.

Another reflection of the misunderstanding is that immediately after Walkerton, the Ontario Ministry of Environment brought out regulation 459 that required drinking water providers to monitor quarterly for 43 pesticides and PCBs. These are very expensive analyses to do and totally irrelevant to what caused the outbreak in Walkerton.

Here you have on the one hand small communities saying they are cash-strapped and cannot deal with drinking water safety, and on the other you have a regulatory response that wastes money.

Because microbial pathogens come from humans, pets, livestock and other animals, you will find them wherever people are providing a water supply. It is microbial pathogens that are the greatest threat to drinking water safety. They can occur in any geographic setting, and any drinking water supply that is not secured against the threat from these pathogens is inherently unsafe.

The questions you should be asking are ``when,'' ``which pathogen,'' ``how severe,'' and not ``if'' an outbreak will occur if you fail to deal with the pathogens.

Now, there are rare cases where chemical contamination is an issue. We had one this week at Stratford, where back flow from a car wash contaminated a water supply. These things can and do happen, but they do not require the same pervasive and continuous control as pathogens for ensuring drinking water safety.

The World Health Organization recently looked at the entire range of chemical contaminants and concluded that a relatively short list of arsenic, fluoride, selenium, nitrate and lead are the ones with documented evidence of causing human disease via drinking water. Yet we have these massive lists of things that water utilities are being expected to monitor.

Focusing either on the number of chemicals or making the limits for those chemicals more stringent will do nothing to improve the safety of drinking water for most Canadians. The levels are adequate now.

My confidence that Canadian public officials understood the problems was further undermined by the plea bargains that took place in the criminal proceedings against the Koebel brothers last December. I have provided, as you referred to, an editorial that I wrote in the National Post in December, commenting on that situation.

In order to get the guilty pleas, the Ontario prosecutor accepted a statement of facts that was based on evidence from a Health Canada epidemiologist who admitted to not being a specialist in disinfection. In her evidence to the Ontario Provincial Police, she said that even had the Koebel brothers increased the chlorine level in Walkerton's water system, it would not have prevented this tragedy.

The Crown used that evidence to show that it cannot be said that the criminal conduct of Stan Koebel and Frank Koebel, their failure to properly monitor, sample and test the well water was, in law, a significant contributing cause of the deaths and injuries. That is complete and utter fiction. It is totally at odds with the findings of the Walkerton inquiry. In fact, the operators in Walkerton were responsible for ensuring the chlorine residual was measured daily. Virtually all of the entries in 1999 and right up until the outbreak in May 2000 were false.

Commissioner O'Connor pointed out that one of the purposes of measuring chlorine residual is to determine whether contamination is overwhelming the disinfecting capacity of the chlorine. He also found that the scope of the outbreak would very likely have been substantially reduced if the operators had measured chlorine residuals at well 5 daily, as they should have.

Some eight days passed without valid chlorine residual monitoring between the time the contamination happened and when the boil water advisory was issued. Yet this plea bargain represents the tragedy as somehow something that could not have been prevented by any person, no matter how competent, which totally misrepresents the situation.

After investing $9 million in the Walkerton inquiry to reveal the truth of what happened, to have such a complete misunderstanding enshrined in the court findings is rather distressing.

There is a bigger issue here that runs counter to our intuition. It turns out that actual monitoring of treated water quality does not provide the primary means for achieving drinking water safety.

Now, this may seem counterintuitive. The treated drinking water is what we drink, and so of course that would be what we would like to know the quality of. However, it turns out that because we use treatment techniques to make the presence of contaminants rare in treated water, intermittent monitoring for these various parameters is not very effective in telling us whether it is safe or not.

I have given an example in the brief to show numerically how this works. I have used airport security screening as an example. If you had devices that were 99 per cent accurate; that is to say, that only 1 per cent of the time they would give you a false positive — in other words, detect somebody who is unarmed as carrying a weapon — and if you suppose that less than 1 in 10,000 people is carrying a weapon, a 1 per cent false positive rate applied to 9,999 unarmed passengers will detect about 100 unarmed passengers before you find the one who is armed.

Of course, when we are dealing with people carrying weapons on planes we might be willing to tolerate a high false positive rate, and I suppose we do every time we go to an airport. However, false positives also have consequences, and you cannot be issuing inaccurate boil water advisories all the time.

It turns out that drinking water quality monitoring is more effectively used to monitor the processes and the threats coming into a water treatment system.

This reality is now well recognized in new Canadian guidance for ``source to tap,'' and it is present in the new World Health Organization drinking water guidelines that are modelled on a framework that we developed in Australia. However, unfortunately, this approach is not widely understood, and our own research shows that many drinking water professionals do not understand that premise.

Justice O'Connor found that ultimately, the safety of drinking water is protected by effective management systems and operating practices run by skilled and well-trained staff.

When I wrote the brief, I observed that for other essential services, like policing, the provincial police or the RCMP provide local service. Of course, they could not have anticipated the tragic events of last week. However, the idea that essential services are provided by larger agencies, whether it be policing or public health, is well established, and yet when it comes to drinking water, we have made every municipality responsible for its safety, no matter how small or ill- equipped they may be to discharge that responsibility.

I was recently advised that a survey of small systems in the U.S. has found that the average age of water treatment operators is 55. These are small systems, where there is no opportunity for these experienced operators to mentor younger staff, and so we are likely, if those demographics apply to Canada, to face a real crisis in the near future.

It is likely that no improvements can be expected if Canadians remain ill-informed about the real problems in providing safe drinking water and complacent about the need to deal with these problems. It is ironic that drinking water safety in Canada is likely greater than it has ever been, despite the number of small systems that could perhaps be better at what they do.

We find that large numbers of people living in urban areas, where they are supplied with very safe drinking water, are paying up to 1,000 times more for water that comes in plastic bottles than for water that comes out of their taps. Many of them are paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for home water treatment devices. If these same investments could be put into our public drinking water systems, whether they are run by public entities or private corporations, we would all be much better off.

The reality is that safe drinking water remains a bargain. It is a remarkable privilege to have safe drinking water delivered on demand to our households, and yet we are taking it too much for granted.

In closing, when we considered what we could say from looking at all these outbreaks around the world and where the misunderstandings lay, we decided that ultimately, it does come back to consumers. Therefore, we generated a list of questions that consumers should ask of their water supplier. Our sense is that if all Canadian drinking water consumers could get satisfactory answers to the questions we provided — and I will not run through them — then we could all be assured of having safe drinking water. Stricter regulations are not the answer.

The Chairman: Thank you. We will come back to you with questions in a moment.

Mr. John Zahary, President, Alberta Chamber of Commerce: Good morning, everyone. It is a pleasure for me to be here today. I am President of the Alberta Chamber of Resources and also President and Chief Executive Officer of Viking Energy Royalty Trust.

The Alberta Chamber of Resources has championed the orderly and responsible development of Alberta's natural resources since 1935. Today our members represent oil sands, forestry, mining, minerals, coal, power generation and transmission, oil and gas pipelines and service companies.

The chamber's diverse membership of approximately 170 companies generates over $50 billion annually, employs tens of thousands of Albertans and creates tremendous economic value and growth within the province and within Canada.

The chamber is well known for its success in pursuing oil sands initiatives on behalf of its members and stakeholders. The report of our National Task Force on Oil Sands Strategy in the mid-1990s set the vision for the development and expansion of the oil sands. The chamber released last year the ``Oil Sands Technology Road Map,'' a strategy that will be essential to the continued development in the oil sands in the years ahead.

The ACR has been involved in issues relating to the use of water for a number of years. For example, we participated in the Province of Alberta's Water for Life strategy that was developed over the last few years.

In 2004, the chamber struck a water committee whose mandate is to assist members of the ACR in the development of policies, strategies and activities relating to the efficient and responsible utilization of water.

The water committee members represent nearly all of the resource sectors. The committee prepared this presentation, and it has been discussed and approved by the ACR's board of directors.

First, let me provide some background on the oil sands. The oil sands deposit is located largely in Northeastern Alberta, representing an extremely important resource for all Canadians. The oil sands are extremely large deposits of thick, viscous hydrocarbon.

The oil is generally produced by two methods. The first is surface mining, where the oil sands are dug up from the surface, for example, by using large shovels and trucks. The viscous oil or bitumen is then separated from the sand using hot water and floatation. This method is generally used when the deposits are quite shallow, as they are north of Fort McMurray.

The second method involves drilling and then producing the oil through the wells. In some cases, the oil can be made to flow up the well bores without the use of any injected products, usually by using specialized drilling and pumping techniques.

In most cases, however, it is necessary to inject some products to allow the viscous oil to flow up the well bores. This method is generally called ``in situ recovery.''

In most cases, the injected product, usually steam, increases the temperature of the bitumen, thus reducing its viscosity and allowing it to be brought to the surface. Typically, this second method is necessary when the deposits of oil sands are deeper, as they are south of Fort McMurray in the Cold Lake area, and also in the Peace River area directly north of Edmonton.

The heavy oil or bitumen can then be shipped to refineries or further upgraded to a higher quality product and then transported to market.

There are currently three active surface mining operations, with a few additional ones proposed, and a number of in situ operations. I think you just heard some of this from the minister.

In total, about 35 per cent of Canada's oil production now comes from the oil sands, depending on how you measure it.

It is estimated that by 2010, 68 per cent of Canada's oil output is expected to come from the oil sands as conventional oil production declines and new oil sands projects that are currently in development and planning phases complement the existing projects.

The oil sands have become a major driver of economic activity in the country over the last few decades and are expected to be even more important in the future. The industry provides a significant revenue stream for the federal government in the form of personal and corporate taxes. The Athabasca Regional Infrastructure Working Group has calculated a current contribution of about $1.5 billion a year, and this is expected to grow over the next 10 years to the range of $3 billion to $4 billion. This is truly a significant contribution from one industry.

The oil sands industry companies are demonstrated leaders in sustainability. Companies such as Suncor, Syncrude, Petro-Canada and Imperial, to name a few, are well known for balancing environmental, social and economic objectives in the design and operation of their projects.

All of the operators are engaged with stakeholders through participation in various multi-stakeholder organizations addressing social and environmental concerns, including the Cumulative Environmental Management Association, Wood Buffalo Environment Association and the Lakeland Industry Community Association.

These groups operate in a consensus-based mode and have membership from aboriginal communities, all levels of government, from municipal to federal, and non-governmental organizations and concerned citizens.

The oil sands industry is heavily regulated by a number of provincial and federal bodies. Each new project is reviewed by a number of agencies, including federal departments, following the Canada-Alberta Agreement for Environmental Assessment Cooperation.

Environmental impact assessments are completed considering cumulative effects of existing approved and planned developments in the region. All the projects require the approval of the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, and many projects have had public hearings, with two recent projects undergoing the scrutiny of a joint federal-provincial panel struck under the auspices of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Recognizing the importance of water to Alberta's economy, quality of life and environment, the Province of Alberta developed the Water for Life strategy. As well, it has established a water council to work on water-related issues across the province and provide recommendations for the implementation of the strategy.

The Alberta Chamber of Resources has a representative on this committee. We understand that the province may be appearing, or may have already appeared, to discuss this strategy in more detail.

Water is an essential resource used to convert the oil sands deposits into a variety of oil products. Water is used in the oil and sands separation process, as a transportation medium and to provide heat and cooling transfer capability. Water is also used in filling the voids in the reservoirs left behind when the bitumen is removed and in the potable and sanitary systems used to support the operations.

The oil sands industry is proud of the fact that it recycles a significant amount of the water that it uses, thus using the water multiple times rather than relying on new sources. There is a high degree of recycling in the industry, and while there is no single fixed number that you can quote, as each operation has unique characteristics, it is in excess of 75 per cent for mining operations and about 90 per cent for in situ operations.

The only long-term retention of water in the oil sands is in the void spaces in the tailings deposits or in the in situ reservoir and specific waste water streams that are disposed of in deep geologic formations.

The water used in the oil sands industry is sourced from both surface and groundwater systems. The source is dependent on the bitumen recovery technology employed and the location of the operation. Surface water is the primary source for surface mining, and a mixture of groundwater, brackish as well as fresh, and surface water are the primary sources for in situ operations.

I have included in the handout at figure 5 a copy of the water cycle that is used for surface mining operations. Water is imported into the process and cycled within the processing units. A large component of water is recycled within the extraction and tailings deposition process. There is opportunity for small volumes of depressurization water to enter the cycle if there are aquifers present in the mining deposit. All surface runoff and precipitation is captured and used to reduce the importation of water.

There are evaporative losses, and water also exits the cycle in the oil products and sanitary sewage discharge. Water retained in the tailings deposits is discharged back into the process over time as the tailings deposits consolidate. Water uses will differ between integrated operations producing upgraded oil products and those producing bitumen products that require further processing at other facilities.

The water cycle for an in situ operation is on the next page, figure 6, in situ being the well drilling operation. The water cycle for in situ is different in that the primary use of water is to generate steam, which is then pumped into the reservoir to heat the bitumen.

The produced water in the bitumen stream is then sent through a separation process and treated to be reused in the generation of steam. A makeup source of water is required to fill the void spaces left behind by the removal of bitumen.

The oil sands industry is an efficient user of water, and since inception there have been tremendous improvements in that efficiency, to the current level of 3 to 4 cubic metres of water imported per cubic metre of production in surface mining operations and less than 1 cubic metre of water imported per cubic metre of production for in situ operations.

The current surface mining operators import about 3 to 4 cubic metres, and the trend for that is to be reduced to about 2 cubic metres of water. The downward trend is based on forecasts from current operators that are in steady- state operations. There are incremental water needs in the startup phase of the operation to build up the operating water inventory for the extraction and tailings disposal processes.

In addition to the environmental drivers that encourage operators to efficiently use water there are also important economic drivers. The handling and storage of water increases operating costs, so it is in the best interest of industry to use less water.

From the mining perspective, building tailings ponds to hold the operating inventory is very expensive, and we seek to minimize the volume of water needed to operate. Water treatment for in situ operators is a significant energy cost.

To put the use of water in the oil sands into proper perspective, it should be noted that of the total water allocations in Alberta in 2003, the largest, approximately 45 per cent, went to irrigation, while the oil and gas industry, including the oil sands, was licensed to draw around 4 per cent. Not all of the allocation to the oil and gas industry was utilized, further reducing the total amount used.

As well, water shortages and associated environmental and socioeconomic impacts in Alberta tend to be concentrated in the southern river basins. In contrast, most of the water used by the oil sands industry is concentrated in more northern river basins, where shortages are much less prevalent.

The Athabasca River watershed is the primary source of water for all of the surface mining operations, and it is very important to the industry and stakeholders alike to ensure the ecological integrity of the river is maintained.

Figure 11 in the PowerPoint presentation summarizes the current licensed allocations in the Athabasca River Basin, oil sands and non-oil sands, and includes a forecast for planned but not approved oil sands projects.

Considering all approved and planned operations, the forecast allocation is 3.6 per cent of the mean annual flow. This can be compared to allocations of 18 per cent for the Bow and Red Deer rivers, and over 70 per cent allocation of mean annual flows in the Oldman, Waterton, Belly and St. Mary's rivers. That is on the following slide.

All industry members are working within the multi-stakeholder group of CEMA, the Cumulative Environmental Management Association, to determine management objectives for this important waterway. Current work is focused on the determination of the science-based in-stream flow needs value for low flow conditions.

The lowest recorded flow in the Athabasca River over a seven-day period was measured in 2002. A worst-case scenario would result if all non-oil sands users as well as all current and planned oil sands operators used the maximum allocated water on the same day at the lowest flow conditions. In this scenario, the withdrawal would be approximately 15 to 16 per cent of the low flow.

It must be emphasized that the chance of all these conditions lining up is remote, but it exists. That is why it is important to understand what the impact of that would be. In comparison to the statistics stated above, the worst-case scenario for the Athabasca River is better than the average case for the Bow, Red Deer, Waterton Valley and St. Mary's rivers.

While much has been done by oil sands operators to minimize their use of water, to maximize their recycling of water, and to maximize the percentage of water that they use from brackish, non-potable sources, operators recognize the need to look for even more ways to become efficient.

In surface mining operations, focus is directed at the following themes: Increase the recycle component through equipment design to utilize and treat poorer quality water; accelerate the consolidation of tailings to release water back into the hydrologic cycle; move toward air cooling and cooling towers to replace water cooling loops; minimize operating inventories through establishment of off-river storage for river low flow periods; and continued improvement of freshwater management.

For in situ operations, the focus is on increasing recycling through replacement and improvement in water treatment; reducing the use of fresh water by introducing more brackish or saline water into the water supply — the potential to test desalination technology is being explored — reducing the steam requirements by adding solvents to achieve the necessary drop in bitumen viscosity; continuing to improve on the steam-to-oil ratio through improved reservoir modelling and well placement; and pursuing new technology alternatives that would use no water to produce the bitumen.

In addition to the work on water, the Alberta Chamber of Resources is active in looking for opportunities to reduce the footprint on the land and air as resource projects are developed. The ACR's integrated landscape management project has been looking for opportunities to minimize land disturbance by coordinating activities of resource developers and searching for other ways to mitigate impact.

With respect to the air environment, the ACR has a climate change committee that has worked with governments to understand the impact of resource developments.

We were also asked to make some comments about the opportunity for carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery and sequestration in the oil sands. Carbon dioxide has been used for enhanced oil recovery in oil fields around the world for a number of years.

In Canada, carbon dioxide floods have been tested for a number of years as well. The first injection in a large carbon dioxide flood, in the EnCana-operated Weyburn field in Southeastern Saskatchewan, occurred in 2001. This project is now the world's largest geologic storage and enhanced oil recovery project, with 5,000 tonnes a day of carbon dioxide currently being injected into the reservoir.

This field has been extensively studied over the past seven years, with the support of the federal and provincial governments, many oil and gas companies in Canada and around the world and foreign governments, through the Petroleum Technology and Research Centre headquartered in Regina.

CO2 flooding has been investigated for application in the oil sands for a few decades. CO2 floods can increase the amount of oil recovery, largely through two reservoir processes, pressure maintenance and the viscosity improvement of the oil. They can operate in miscible or immiscible processes, with miscible processes being more effective.

The Chairman: Would you take a minute to explain for the record what those terms mean, please.

Mr. Zahary: ``Miscible'' and ``immiscible'' refer to the mixing of two products. If you inject paint thinner into paint, it would be a solvent that would mix with the paint. That would be considered a miscible process. The two can combine. An immiscible process is when they do not combine.

If the conditions are right — which generally requires higher pressure — the CO2 will mix with the oil and reduce its viscosity. If it is not deep enough and the pressure is not right, you will not get the mixing. Therefore, you have the effect of pressure support, but not the effect of the solvent sweep that you would get if it mixed.

Given the nature of the oil in the oil sands and the relatively shallow depths at which the formations occur, the flooding in the oil sands would likely be an immiscible process.

While thus far, thermal processes or hydrocarbon solvent processes have been shown to be more effective in recovering oil from the oil sands, the industry continues to look for opportunities to minimize its footprint and recover more oil.

There certainly is additional opportunity for using CO2 to recover more oil and gas in Western Canada and depleted reservoirs to sequester CO2. Research continues on that opportunity, as additional projects have come forward recently and more are likely to emerge in the years ahead.

In conclusion, the oil sands operators are responsible in their current use of water while continuing to strive for further reductions in use.

We certainly appreciate the opportunity to appear today.

Senator Angus: I will direct my questions to you, Mr. Zahary, on the technological issues.

We were privileged before we came here to have access to your ``Oil Sands Technology Road Map.'' Could you perhaps expand a little for the record on how this document came into being? Is it current and state of the art in terms of what is needed to unlock, as you say, the potential?

Mr. Zahary: This document — we have some additional copies here today — was put together over the last few years. I think we published it about one year ago. It was an attempt by all the oil sands operators, as well the provincial and federal governments, to put in one place all the different ideas and thoughts about technology development for the oil sands.

It is important to recognize that of the current production of about a million barrels a day, about 600,000 barrels a day come from surface mining, about 250,000 barrels come from in situ mining using thermal techniques, and about a further 150,000 barrels come from using drilling and pumping technologies that generally are not using heat to liberate the oil from the oil sands.

Senator Angus: For the million barrels a day roughly that are coming from the oil sands, you mentioned that 600,000, approximately, come from the surface mining operations. The public is aware of the Syncrude operation, the Suncor operation and the Shell or the Western Oil Sands complex. Which of those three, if any, are in the in situ mode?

Mr. Zahary: Those three projects are all surface mining.

Senator Angus: So the in situ projects are where?

Mr. Zahary: The in situ projects are generally in areas where the oil sands formations are deeper. The in situ project that has been active for the longest period is Imperial Oil's Cold Lake operation, which is due east of Edmonton, very close to the Alberta/Saskatchewan border.

That project currently produces, I think, about 140,000 barrels a day using the injection of steam to reduce the viscosity.

Just to maybe conclude on that ``Oil Sands Technology Road Map,'' it is still, obviously, current. It was put together about a year ago. It is at the forefront of gathering together current technology projects and future technology ideas. Certainly it has been of enormous interest since it was published. We are frequently asked about the information contained in the road map, domestically and internationally.

Senator Angus: As of today, March 9, 2005, what would you say, perhaps in order of priority, are the major technological barriers to achieving the goal of 5 million barrels a day?

Mr. Zahary: It is a big question, and maybe I will break it down into segments, as well as talk about the mining and the in situ situations.

Senator Angus: Thank you.

Mr. Zahary: The mining technology has three components. One is digging up the ore. The second is separating the sand from the oil. The third is upgrading the oil.

Within the mining area there have been significant technology improvements, and it is often just a matter of coming up with ways to make the recovery more efficient.

It includes building bigger trucks. I think you are going to Fort McMurray, so you will see the size of some of this equipment. It is just building wheels — the rubber technology to build wheels big enough to go on these vehicles has been an enormous challenge for years. The size of these trucks has grown over time, and provides economies of scale for the production of this oil where the deposits are enormous.

We are in a very competitive industry worldwide in oil production, and to be economic, you have to find ways to reduce the cost.

Therefore, in digging up the oil, it has meant building sizeable trucks, building diggers, coming up with rubber technology to build wheels to go on these vehicles.

In terms of separating the oil from the sand, it is usually a combination of heat and chemicals. The driver there is coming up with ways to use less heat, and more efficient, lower cost ways to separate the oil from the oil sands. In terms of upgrading, there are a number of different ways that can be done.

Some of these technologies have been around for many years, but we continue to advance in upgrading them.

In terms of the in situ techniques, when you drill the wells, you drill the initial portion vertically, and then you drill a horizontal portion. It is very similar to drinking a slurpy or an iced cappuccino, whereby you often draw on the straw and drain the area around it but not the other portions, so you have to move the straw to another part of the iced beverage in order to access that portion.

Senator Angus: Good analogy.

Mr. Zahary: Picking up a well and moving it over slightly is a much more challenging task than moving a straw in a drink. Technology was developed whereby the well could be drilled vertically and then a horizontal leg put on it, and that allows you to access that much more of the reservoir.

It seems relatively simple, but when you are doing it half a kilometre, a kilometre or three or four kilometres underground, it is actually quite a technological challenge.

Today there are many horizontal wells. The steam-assisted gravity drainage technology that is now most often used to liberate the oil is essentially drilling two horizontal wells quite close to each other and using one to inject the steam to heat the reservoir and the other to draw the liberated oil out of the formation.

It is often a matter of building pumps that can survive those temperature conditions; it seems simple, but it is, in fact, incredibly challenging to come up with this technology. The oil sands industry has been a leader worldwide in developing technology. Canadian technology is now frequently used around the world. We are exporting our technology to many countries to help them produce their heavier oil deposits as well.

Senator Angus: In your answer on the prioritization of the technological challenges in front of us, you did not use the phrase ``carbon sequestration,'' but I understand this is a major element of the problem. Can this be done on site? Could you tell us a little about carbon sequestration and what it does?

Mr. Zahary: As these projects get larger and use energy to produce, they become a source of emissions. That is not unique, obviously, to oil sands operators. Plants that make cars or produce power anywhere in the country or in the world produce emissions of carbon.

We have the opportunity, when we have underground reservoirs from which we have removed hydrocarbons, the oil and the gas, to put the carbon —in this case, carbon dioxide usually, or flue gases — back into those same reservoirs and trap them for long-term geologic storage.

We can reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by putting it back into these reservoirs.

Senator Angus: Is it more common though today to have to pipe it to disposal sites that are remote from the project sites?

Mr. Zahary: Yes. Quite often it is necessary to move it into appropriate reservoirs. If you have reservoirs somewhere in the country that are not depleted, you do not necessarily want to start putting the carbon dioxide back into those reservoirs. In some cases, it actually enhances the recovery, but there are other circumstances where a natural gas reservoir, say, is completely depleted and would be a great place to store carbon dioxide emissions.

As we all become more environmentally conscious, we are looking for opportunities to put that carbon dioxide or other gases back in the reservoirs. Other toxics are also being sequestered in underground reservoirs.

Senator Milne: Is this feasible in the oil sands?

Mr. Zahary: It is possible in the oil sands. Because the reservoirs are fairly shallow, it is difficult to get the degree of pressure to do it effectively. It is more effective in deeper reservoirs. The Weyburn field in Southeastern Saskatchewan is a deeper reservoir and a more efficient place to store the carbon dioxide.

The advantage of the oil sands is that it is an extremely large deposit of oil, and so although you cannot store as much in each reservoir, there are many more reservoirs. It does have the potential to be a place to store carbon dioxide.

Senator Milne: Are they looking at that now?

Mr. Zahary: It has been looked at over a number of years. CO2 floods have been investigated in the oil sands for at least 30 years. It has not generally been the best place to do it. In fact, CO2 flooding and sequestration are, in my view, more likely to occur in other places before they occur in the oil sands.

Senator Milne: So it is not happening anywhere in Alberta?

Mr. Zahary: There are a number of demonstration pilot projects on CO2 flooding, including a recent announcement by NRCan that they are contributing to four projects in Alberta — four different areas with four different operators.

There have been other CO2 flooding projects tested over the last 30 years.

Senator Angus: Do we have the technology now to do this CO2 sequestration or sequestration of these other toxic gases? Is it more the cost of applying it that is the barrier? Is there much R&D still required in this area?

Mr. Zahary: The idea of doing CO2 flooding is, in a general sense, not a new technology; there have been CO2 floods. However, every field is different and needs to be investigated for its individual characteristics. We do need to do further work to do it. It also is an economic issue, because transporting carbon dioxide to a place where you can inject it is extremely costly. Somebody has to bear the cost of that.

Senator Angus: Somebody; the proponents.

I had a number of questions on the water element of the extraction of bitumen. I think many of them, if not all, were answered in your comments. However, just one simple fact for the record: How much water is used in the production of one barrel of tar sand oil?

Mr. Zahary: Right now, in terms of new water that is brought into the system for surface mining, it is about three to four barrels per barrel of oil. That is a number that has declined and is likely to decline further.

In terms of in situ production, the well production is about one new barrel of water per barrel of oil.

Senator Angus: I think you mentioned 75 per cent is recyclable or is being recycled in one form or another now.

Mr. Zahary: Increasingly, operators are using brackish water — this is highly saline water that is not suitable for consumption and occurs in underground geologic formations. It is cleaned up and used instead of fresh sources.

Senator Angus: You talked about the main source being the Athabasca River Basin and the low percentage of the overall Alberta allocation of licensed water supply that the industry uses.

Does the industry pay for any of the water it uses in these projects?

Mr. Zahary: The industry pays in terms of its cost for handling the water. When water is taken out of an underground saline source, for example, it is necessary to drill a well or put the equipment in to pump the water to the surface, to put in the pipelines to transport that water and re-inject it. There is a significant cost incurred in handling the water.

I do not believe there is any payment made for the water as a resource in Alberta, or in most jurisdictions in the country.

Senator Angus: My last question is about the technological side of things. I believe that a number of technologies are being explored and are fully described in the publication that we referred to, the ``Oil Sands Technology Road Map.''

In the area of reduction in water use and efficient recycling, are there any other technologies that are showing promise that have not been referred to in this document or in your testimony?

Mr. Zahary: The document does refer to a large number of different technologies, although a document of that size is obviously not comprehensive.

The idea of carbon dioxide flooding; the idea of injecting hydrocarbon solvents to reduce the viscosity without the use of heat is a technology that is increasingly being used as a complement to using heat, and water is the medium for delivering the heat to the formation.

The use of some kind of solvent instead of heated water is certainly increasing among a number of different operators in the oil sands.

Senator Angus: Our fearless leader, Senator Banks, has taught us that as we are all learning about this exciting industry, we should conclude our questioning — something I would never do in a courtroom — by asking you, if you had a wish list, what would you want us to put in our report that would help this industry, as I say, reach this admirable goal of unlocking the incredible potential?

Mr. Zahary: I think it would probably be useful to put in that as Canadians we are by nature modest, and so often we do not recognize a resource until somebody outside the country does. The oil sands are an example of where we have a very significant resource in this country, with a great opportunity that has come to fruition to some extent, and for which there is great opportunity in the future.

It is important for us to understand the magnitude of that resource. This ``Oil Sands Technology Road Map'' has created enormous interest in the U.S. because it helps to get the story out about the magnitude of the resource that we have in this country. It may be better understood in some places outside the country than it is inside.

Therefore, it is a matter of understanding the magnitude of the resource, but also its technological challenges. The amount of technology used and the pace of technology growth are extremely important, and I think that is something that we need to continue to focus on.

Mr. Anderson: That is a great question, and I just have to chip in here. My career was in oil sands until I took the job at the Alberta Chamber of Resources. In fact, I was in Washington in December to go over this ``Oil Sands Technology Road Map'' with the U.S. Department of Energy.

I think what intrigued our friends in the U.S. was how we Canadians maintained the vision to get after our oil sands, because they have a resource that is very similar called oil shale; they gave up on it.

We stuck with it — 40 years of a combination of government support in R&D, support from industry and support from the public, frankly. We just kept going. This is a purely technology-driven industry that had a vision from the get- go that nobody gave up on.

It is an amazing story, and I agree with Mr. Zahary, we should be proud.

We have to keep that vision, and that is what we try to do in the ``Oil Sands Technology Road Map.'' We are now at a million barrels a day. That is unbelievable. People still do not believe that we have managed to accomplish that, but we have.

What is our next target? Well, we can be among the largest suppliers of oil in the world, and we are being looked at that way now.

We must always recognize that the oil sands oil is perhaps the most expensive oil in the world to produce. It always will be, so we have to be really smart to do it. Even once you get the oil out of the ground it is still among the most expensive in the world to turn into a useful product like gasoline.

We have those two enormous challenges, but we have been up to it all along. It is creating a vision and just sticking with it.

Senator Buchanan: Have they given up on oil shale in the United States?

Mr. Anderson: They are re-examining it now. There was a pilot project that shut down in the last several years. It was the last one. In fact, the Department of Energy people in the U.S. showed me with great pride their oil shale technology road map based on our work, so they are back at it.

Senator Spivak: I have not had an opportunity to look at the ``Oil Sands Technology Road Map,'' so maybe some of my questions are answered in there.

First of all, I want to ask you about the cost of producing a barrel of oil. Is there a difference between the surface mining versus the drilling cost? How much does it cost right now?

Mr. Zahary: On surface mining, I will use some round numbers. Today, the operating costs for a surface mine, and this would be a Syncrude or Suncor operation, would be maybe $17 to $20 a barrel.

In terms of an in situ project, where you are using heat underground, it is about $8 a barrel in round numbers.

The difference is the in situ project produces oil of an inferior quality. When you are talking about $17 to $20 for Syncrude or Suncor, it is to produce higher quality oil, so it sells for a $4 to $6 premium. It is a little like comparing apples and oranges. The $8 produces an inferior quality product that sells at a discount.

It does not include the royalties, the taxes, the general and administrative costs, and the capital costs to develop these resources.

Senator Spivak: What does it cost OPEC, $2 a barrel or something like that?

Mr. Zahary: I think it is somewhat more than that now and actually climbing quite rapidly in many of those countries. Today, Venezuela, an OPEC country, is producing heavier oils as well.

The costs are increasing in those environments as well, and you have to look at the full cost of getting it to market. Today, when capital is very mobile, the oil in the oil sands is produced by operators who have the opportunity to produce it in other countries of the world as well, but they have pursued the opportunity in this jurisdiction to produce it competitively. The royalty structure, the tax structure, facilitates that, and if it did not, obviously they would produce it in other jurisdictions.

The Chairman: Professor Hrudey, we are on record in other respects as saying that we have to internalize the costs of production in order to bring about efficiency.

We have heard, for example, today that in respect of water for the purposes of oil sands development, there is a cost of handling it and getting it to the right place, whether it is saline water or potable water out of the river, and that nothing is paid for the water. We have pointed out, and I am sure that you would concur, that we have had this delusion, not with respect to using the water in the oil sands necessarily, because that is a very small percentage of it, but with respect to what you are talking about — paying attention to the health aspects of our water.

Would paying for it in some realistic, internalized way be a contributor to greater safety? Secondly, you talked about waterborne diseases, but we have in addition problems with chemicals that are not diseases per se, but are other kinds of contaminants that relate to our health.

Talk about that just for a minute, if you would. I am sorry that we are running out of time. Every time we hear witnesses, we find that we have a quarter of the time that we need.

Mr. Hrudey: Sure. Cost is probably one of the prime drivers of the safety issue. I was struck, when I got involved with the Walkerton inquiry, by the fact that, as someone pointed out, the average water bill in Ontario was $200 a year. This is incredibly cheap, and to some extent explains the poor infrastructure and lack of attention that was paid in a lot of these smaller communities.

The Walkerton inquiry came back with the recommendation that you have to have a full cost accounting, because water is primarily delivered by municipalities and the costs of producing the water have not necessarily been charged to consumers on a direct cost-recovery basis. Some municipalities will divert the income that they get from their water rates into other things.

The Chairman: Would that be fixed by privatizing the delivery of water, which has been tried in a few places? What is your view of that?

Mr. Hrudey: That was one of the hot potatoes we had to deal with, and essentially, the judgment of the inquiry in its report was that it does not really matter, it is competence that matters. There are good private utilities, there are bad private utilities. There are good public ones, there are bad public ones.

What you need is competence, and that means you have to run it like a business, but it does not have to be privately owned to be good. It has to use full cost accounting principles. You have to collect the funds that are required to do the job right. You have to maintain your system. These things all cost money.

There is a mindset that water is a right and should be free. Water is no more a right than food is. There is a cost to everything. If you want to keep it safe, it will cost somebody something.

You are quite right that having that accounting structure is essential to assuring safety.

The Chairman: One of our colleagues introduced private legislation that would, by the simple expedient of declaring in the Food and Drugs Act that water is food, increase the degree of scrutiny to which water that is coming out of our taps is subject.

His point was that we have very clear regulations and very clear scrutiny for the production of bubble gum but not for water, and we could live without bubble gum.

Mr. Hrudey: That sounds good, but actually, that is one of the messages I am trying to deal with, that is, I do not think that more detailed regulation on the quality of the water is the answer to the problem; it is on the quality of the process of producing the water.

The Chairman: The standards are there, and the efficiency of maintaining those standards is the problem?

Mr. Hrudey: Exactly. It is the people, management issues, the commitment; it is the organization of how we do it. We have evolved this process whereby we have downloaded the responsibility for producing safe drinking water to our most junior level of government, which in many places is simply not capable of delivering it. In a lot of communities, the person who treats the water is also the dog catcher and the street sweeper. That is putting public health in the hands of people who are not equipped to handle it.

The Chairman: Our colleague's point was it ought to be made a federal responsibility by putting it in the Food and Drugs Act, rather than a municipal one, which it is now. What do you think about that?

Mr. Hrudey: I think that may be going too far. There are analogies. I do a lot of work in Australia, where they have state-wide water corporations that take responsibility for making sure that things are done well across the state.

The solution we proposed for Ontario at the Walkerton inquiry was not to convert their Crown corporation into the water provider for all the utilities, but that everybody who produces water had to be accredited to a quality management standard. If a small community was prepared to invest the resources in becoming accredited, it could stay in the business. If it decided that was too difficult, then it would have to get out of the business and contract with somebody who was capable of doing it. The focus should be on competence.

The Chairman: Talk for a minute about chemicals as opposed to bugs.

Mr. Hrudey: I think that has been the big issue. When I did my training in 1970, we had pretty much wrestled a lot of the bug issues to the ground, and I was told there was no more need for research. Shortly after that, all these chemical issues started to arise.

I think the truth is a lot of it has been a distraction. Water is not a very efficient means of poisoning people with chemicals. Most of the big-name toxic chemicals are not very soluble in water. That is why the PCB issue that I mentioned was so ridiculous. You could not deliver enough PCBs via drinking water to harm anybody because they are not soluble.

If you are worried about toxic chemicals, food is a far more efficient vehicle for delivering those chemicals. Water is not very efficient. There is only this very short list that the World Health Organization came up with — arsenic, fluoride, nitrate, selenium — that have documented evidence of producing health effects in humans via drinking water.

The Chairman: There has been recent concern about the extent to which pharmaceuticals are present in water, because we consume them, we put them into the system, and they are not taken care of by the treatments. Talk about that for a second.

Mr. Hrudey: Well, like most of these issues, you need to look at it and become informed, you cannot just dismiss it. The part that is relevant, of course, is that pharmaceuticals are worth looking at because they are designed to be biologically active, and clearly you want them to be delivered to people for whom they are prescribed, not to people for whom they are not intended.

The reality, though, is that the ability to detect them in water does not mean that we have a problem. There is a huge range between absolute absence of something in water and a level that might cause harmful effects. That range of numbers is so huge it is incomprehensible. It is almost on a galactic scale.

Do I believe that we will find in the fullness of time that pharmaceuticals are a major health issue in drinking water? Very likely not, however, it is something we clearly have to have a look at to satisfy ourselves it is not a problem.

Senator Spivak: Where are the greatest greenhouse gas emissions? Are they in the surface mining; are they in the drilling; are they in the separating; are they in the upgrading? Where are the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions coming from and where is the concentration on attempting to reduce them?

Mr. Zahary: The greatest greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry are from consumption of the products — to heat your house or run your car. A small amount, in a relative sense, comes from the production of oil and gas.

In terms of within production of oil and gas, what phase of the development —

Senator Spivak: It is 25 per cent, though, of the greenhouse gas emissions, I understand.

Mr. Zahary: I do not know the accuracy of that number. However, in terms of the energy that is consumed to create oil and gas, when you produce and upgrade heavier quality oil, more energy is consumed than when you extract something that is more easily produced.

I believe that upgrading is the part of the process that consumes the most energy. However, relatively speaking, the greenhouse gases that we produce in this country from consumption are far greater.

Senator Spivak: I just want to ask about the recycling. First of all, I do not really understand what you are recycling. What proportion of the water used is fresh water; what portion is saline?

When you say ``recycling,'' do you mean reusing that water for the process of producing the oil? That is what you are talking about?

Mr. Zahary: Right. In terms of recycling, for example, water would be heated to create steam that would be injected into a formation. That steam is then the conduit to heat the oil. The oil and the water are then produced back. The oil is sent to market. The water is separated from the oil, cleaned and reheated, and re-injected into the formation.

That is the recycling loop.

Senator Spivak: You need it to be clean before you reuse it?

Mr. Zahary: It needs to be handled, because you do not want to inject something into a formation that damages its ability to produce oil. You are taking the oil out because it is of interest to the consumer, obviously, in running his car.

The water is re-injected, and it goes through a cleaning process so that there is nothing in it that would then damage the formation.

Senator Spivak: This is mostly in the Athabasca region, what we are talking about? It is not mostly, it is entirely in the Athabasca region; it is not in the south. What is the capability to switch to using just saline water and not fresh water, drinking water? Are you using mostly groundwater or surface water?

When you say you are using saline water, is it 5 per cent, 10 per cent?

Mr. Zahary: The injection of water into oil reservoirs occurs throughout the world, including all parts of Alberta. Within what we call the conventional oil industry, that is known as water flooding. It is a technique to maintain pressure in the fields.

What we are talking about in surface mining or in situ activity is similar, in that the water is used for pressure maintenance. In an oil sands field, the water is used as a conduit for heat.

There has been an enormous shift, particularly in newer developments — and the oil sands are almost all new, having been developed in the last 20 or 25 years — to using less fresh water and more brackish, non-potable saline water.

I do not know the absolute amount that is used in the system that comes from saline sources, but certainly for in situ operations, it would be well in excess of 50 per cent. We could get you that number.

The Chairman: If you would get that number for us and let the clerk know.

Senator Adams: I live in the Arctic and we are having problems with the water. Do you have any information or studies in that regard?

Mr. Hrudey: I think the issues in those areas, as I understand them, are you need to invest in both the water and the sanitation, because the danger would be the sanitation can contaminate the water supply. Because of the low density population, there are lots of good raw water sources available, and the trick is to make sure the sanitation facilities do not contaminate that supply.

The Chairman: Thank you very much, gentlemen, for being with us. We will have more questions to ask you, and I hope that you will permit us to write to you through the clerk and that you will answer them when you can. I hope that we have a chance to speak with you again. We are very grateful for your being here this morning.

Our next group of witnesses, from the Clean Air Strategic Alliance, includes Donna Tingley, Executive Director; Linda F. Duncan, a member of the board representing the Lake Wabamun Enhancement and Protection Association. With us as well is Mr. John Donner, another member of the board, and representing the Government of Alberta.

Ms. Donna Tingley, Executive Director, Clean Air Strategic Alliance: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. We are honoured to be invited to speak to you today about the Clean Air Strategic Alliance, the organization with which we are associated.

My name is Donna Tingley and I work as the Executive Director of the Clean Air Strategic Alliance, or CASA, as we call it. The other members of the panel here are volunteer members of the board of directors.

I will give a short introduction to the Clean Air Strategic Alliance and that will be followed by more detailed presentations by the board members who represent the sectors that participate in CASA; non-government organizations, government. Sadly, our industry representative, Barbara Korol from Dow Chemical, is not here. There was some confusion over the time.

They will give you the real nuts and bolts, the guts of CASA, as they are the participants. I am the worker here.

Linda Duncan is speaking for the NGO members of the board of directors and she can introduce herself in more detail later.

John Donner is representing the government members of the board of directors.

As I said, we have industry participating on the board as well.

We have prepared a small package for you that I see has been distributed. We have resisted the temptation to give you lots of paper. We have lots of paper.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Ms. Tingley: We put the key documents in that package. I or my colleagues would be happy to answer any further questions later. We also have an extensive website that includes everything we have ever written, and it is well organized. You are welcome to look at that, of course. I also wanted to thank Geoff Williams, our communications adviser, who is here and helped us prepare, and who may take a few photos, if you do not mind.

I will briefly introduce the organization. I think you have my notes. I wanted to give you a little background on how CASA originated.

In 1990, then Environment Minister Ralph Klein and Energy Minister Rick Orman decided that there was a need for a multi-stakeholder organization to travel throughout Alberta and consult with the public on air quality issues, what ought to be done about some of those issues. At the time, they were thinking about smog, climate change — not too different from what we work on now. It was a multi-stakeholder group, meaning that government, industry and NGOs were part of that consultation process.

When that multi-stakeholder group reported back to the provincial government, they had a number of recommendations on the substance of the issues, energy efficiency and so on, but their main recommendation was that there should be in place an ongoing process that would use a consensus/collaborative process to address air quality issues into the future.

In 1994, CASA was formed as a society. It is independent of our stakeholders, but it consists always of these three groups, the NGOs, industry and government. There is a small secretariat where I work that remains neutral on the issues but helps the board and the project teams move forward.

The Chairman: How is it funded?

Ms. Tingley: The operations, which, frankly, consist mostly of the salaries of the secretariat, are funded by the province. Three departments contribute more or less equal shares: Alberta Environment, Alberta Health and Wellness and Alberta Energy.

Our project teams, and we have a number of them, sometimes need additional money to hire consultants, hold workshops and so on, and in such cases they look around the table to the members for financial contributions. Part of the commitment at CASA is participating, but also writing a cheque when needed. Of course, the NGOs are not usually in a position to write cheques, but contribute greatly in terms of volunteer time.

Within the consensus process, we are looking for agreement, but also that the members are satisfied, are comfortable with the outcome. It meets their basic needs. The result is that all members are equal at the table because any one of them can prevent the consensus from being achieved.

An important and maybe unique principle that CASA uses is that each sector, each stakeholder group, appoints its own members to the table. I think that adds enormously to the credibility of the entire process.

That is a thumbnail sketch of the organization.

I will now turn to John Donner, who will speak a little more about the philosophy of CASA and also some successes.

Mr. John Donner, Board Alternate representing Alberta Environment, Clean Air Strategic Alliance: CASA's mission statement is that the Clean Air Strategic Alliance is a stakeholder partnership — and I want to underline the partnership element — that has been given shared responsibility. Again, it is a key that government is sharing in the accountability with stakeholders to develop the strategic agenda. It is shared responsibility among its members, including the Government of Alberta, for strategic planning and evaluation of air quality in Alberta through a collaborative process.

The collaboration, the partnership, the shared responsibility, the strategic planning are really the features that make CASA unique, in our view. It is exemplified by a former minister who committed to defending the consensus recommendations of CASA at the cabinet table. He could not, of course, bind the cabinet, but he committed to taking them unchanged and arguing for them.

When you have the industry community, the non-governmental organizations and government representatives agreeing to something, it is very powerful to bring that to political decision makers and say ``Here is an answer that is at once innovative and has consensus.''

Partners use consensus, and there is a real focus on innovative solutions, beginning at a high level of problem solving not from entrenched positions, but from the common interests and objectives that can be pursued.

With consensus, solutions are long-lasting, implementable, and supported by all stakeholders.

Government contributions leverage other contributions. You asked about funding. We fund the core, but then we see the incredible effort, not only in terms of cash from industry, but in-kind participation from the non-governmental and industry sectors, and indeed from other government players.

At the table there are six government representatives, including three from the Government of Alberta, and you have heard that they are from the energy, environment and health departments. Environment Canada participates on the board, and we have representatives of our two municipal associations.

We have had a number of achievements over 10 ten years — managing smog-producing emissions, that is, fine particulate matter and ozone; substantial solution gas flaring and venting reductions. We have had a 70 per cent reduction in flaring since 1996, 38 per cent since 2000 for venting.

There has been work on reducing emissions from vehicles. We see CASA as one of our key elements in keeping clean areas clean, which is our commitment under national agreements.

We believe strongly in shared responsibility, gaining agreement on the objectives toward which we are working and then finding the partners to implement the solutions. That is how CASA operates.

CASA is not an implementer, it is not a doer, it is a developer of solutions, of recommendations, and the genius of CASA is that it engages stakeholders such that they are willing recipients and implementers of those recommendations.

The focus is not exclusively on the Alberta government, it is on who are the relevant stakeholders to implement the actions that have been developed by the stakeholder community.

Ms. Linda F. Duncan, Board Alternate representing the Lake Wabamun Enhancement and Protection Association, Clean Air Strategic Alliance: Thank you.

I was asked to come here as one of the public and non-government organization members of CASA. I am even further afield. Our group considers itself to be a community grassroots organization, unlike bigger NGOs.

I want to give you a little background on who I am and then on my involvement in one of the specific CASA initiatives to show you why so many people are now committed to CASA. I am giving you this introduction because I was one of the skeptics when I came on the board, and I have been a member now for about four years. I was a very active participant, along with others, putting in literally thousands of volunteer hours, on the strategy for management of emissions from the coal-fired industry in Alberta.

My background is 30 years as an environmental lawyer. I worked with non-government legal organizations, but I have also served as chief of enforcement for Environment Canada. I was also the head of law and enforcement for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Montreal for four years. I have been the assistant deputy of resources for the Yukon.

I worked as an international consultant in Bangladesh and Indonesia, helping to set up their environmental enforcement regimes. I am currently the Vice-President of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, and I also sit on the board of another group, the Canadian Council for Human Resources in the Environment Industry.

As an aside, I would just encourage you, if you have a chance, to meet with them, because they are working on such things as developing technical certification for water technicians.

I thought, when you were talking to Steve Hrudey, I would just pass that on. I would be happy to give you information about them.

The Chairman: We would be grateful if you would do that.

Ms. Duncan: I have been invited here because I am one of the non-government members of the CASA board, and I joined as a representative of the executive of a small grassroots organization of 400 or so families who were concerned about protecting Lake Wabamun. Our main concern has been the ever-expanding coal-fired power industry and coal mines, and we could not come up with a more direct interface between water quality, recreational use, air pollution and the generation of energy in Alberta.

I wanted to share with you one of the notable successes that I was fortunate enough to participate in, as did Mr. Donner, that CASA sponsored. It was the emissions management framework for air emissions from the coal-fired industry in Alberta. The coal-fired industry across Canada is a subject of concern for the national and provincial governments. It is the remaining largest source of industrial mercury in Canada and constitutes 40-plus per cent of the mercury in the country, 80 per cent or more for Alberta alone.

It is the largest generator of nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide emissions; it is an emitter of GHG and also particulate and other heavy metals. Needless to say, it was a highly contentious issue. There was a lot of contention around approvals for expansion of the industry. To his credit, the prior Minister of Environment that Mr. Donner mentioned came to CASA to ask if the public, industry and government representatives would be willing to look at a new way of managing air emissions for the sector.

The end result, after intensive work for two and a half years, was a consensus report, and we came up with a design for the control of mercury emissions and other heavy metals, fine particulate, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide. In addition, we tackled very contentious issues such as greenhouse gases and incentives for renewables. Dialogue is continuing on those latter two, but on greenhouse gases, leading-edge work was done on a model for how a sector approach might be adopted for their management.

The forum was unique. It was completely open and transparent. All of the information that industry and government would look at came to the table. All of the parties were involved in deciding which consultants we would hire. We did a lot of modelling for the costing, for improved controls of those pollutants, and the public was right at the table, deciding what the terms of reference would be and who the consultants would be.

And as Mr. Donner mentioned, the end result of that kind of process is that you get an incredible buy-in. I do not want to mislead you; there were a lot of heated debates, there was a lot of contention, but the magic of the CASA forum is it was not invented from a particular process. It is there, it has existed now for more than a decade, and it has a full-time, paid, very effective secretariat. We have the support there all the time behind the scenes, organizing the meetings, contracting with the consultants and so forth.

The end result was all the players had access to the technical/scientific costing information and an equal voice at the table.

In the final analysis, when we set the forecasting numbers for all of these substances for the next 25 years, everybody had a voice, and we did not have an agreement unless everybody was part of it.

I found it to be a fantastic process. I do not think consensus processes are suitable for everything, but for issues like standard setting, that is the route to go. I would like to strongly recommend to the Senate that you investigate the process more thoroughly, particularly since the federal government is currently looking into sector councils.

The kinds of results that we came up with in our work provide long-term certainty for industry, and long-term certainty for the public that their concerns will be heard into the future. Also, every five years, we will have a multi- stakeholder review of new technologies and whether or not the standards should be improved for future projects. We also came up with a unique mechanism for looking at hot spots. It is a process well worth looking at.

The unique document that we came up with was, as Mr. Donner mentioned, taken to cabinet by the minister and adopted by them.

CASA is taking on a lot of other leading-edge contentious issues: confined feedlot operations, the air pollution from those; vehicle emissions, continued innovative work in that area; human and animal health effects of air pollution, a very contentious issue in Alberta. CASA provides a credible forum for anybody to come forward.

While I sit on the board, for the many issues that we take on, we reinvent the membership there. Individual members of the community can come forward and make a case as to why they should also be part of the team. The exciting thing about it is it is not just the usual suspects.

In my experience in working in this field for over 30 years, we have lost some of the magic of public consultation. I think it is important to make sure that you continually scrutinize the processes that are set up at the federal level, as well as the provincial level, and make sure that government decision making reflects what the people who are affected think. The CASA process has done that in a unique way.

The Chairman: Thank you. That is precisely, at least in part, why we are here, as Fred Allen used to say.

Mr. Donner: Could I just add a couple comments on behalf of my absent colleague?

The Chairman: Certainly.

Mr. Donner: CASA always travels in a pack of at least three, and usually four, and that is reflective of the fact that we believe strongly in achieving consensus among the three constituencies represented. You will almost always see an NGO, a government, and an industry person together. Unfortunately, the industry person cannot be here.

I wanted to emphasize that point, and simply reflect that the decision making is based on achieving environmental as well as economic outcomes, which is, in large part, the constellation of interests.

Our focus is on an airshed approach, which is about monitoring information through a place-based, a regional or a community-based approach, again involving multi-stakeholders in identifying the monitoring program and also enabling that group to take action to address local air quality.

This grows out of the consultation that Ms. Tringley referred to in developing the clean air strategy. It resulted in industry moving from being simply stack monitors to starting to be community monitors, and to broadening our ability to measure the ambient air quality on a community basis that rationalizes the economics so that we do not have duplications or gaps.

I wanted to emphasize that another facet of what CASA offers is this airshed approach that is linked to, at present, six partnerships, although we are trying to expand that.

We have one in the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association airshed in the Fort McMurray area; the Peach airshed zone in the Grande Prairie region; the west central, which is in the Hinton, Jasper area; Parkland Airshed Management Zone in the centre; and Palliser and Fort Air. They are all gatherings of local industry, environmental groups and governments to monitor the air and start setting their own priorities for managing their air quality. It is another level or tier of the CASA process.

The Chairman: Are those airsheds that you referred to a meteorological effect or arbitrary geographical ones?

Mr. Donner: They are established by willing communities of interest. We have had a fair amount of discussion at CASA to make sure that we get comprehensive coverage overall, but it is based on trying to attract the industry, the communities in an area, and then they start to look at what is imported, what is self-generated, what are the impacts downstream.

The Chairman: Thank you very much, all of you. We will now begin the conversation, which I hope we will all find interesting.

Senator Milne: Ms. Tingley, I do not want a specific list of CASA stakeholders, but I would like to have an idea of who they are and where the funding comes from.

Ms. Tingley: I will tell you a little about our theory of the stakeholders' business. We want everyone at the table who has a stake in the outcome, and that means whoever can make or break a deal on an issue.

We have a board of directors, and of course we cannot keep changing our board members depending on the issue. Therefore, when the organization was formed, people at the time — and I was not there — identified the interests that they thought would be concerned with air quality into the future, and made a very good judgment, I think.

It is more or less equally industry, government and NGOs. On the government side, there are three provincial departments, as you have heard, Environment Canada and two municipal authorities. On the industry side, Barbara Korol represents the chemical manufacturers, but the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the small producers, forestry, agriculture, mining and utilities are all represented. From the NGO side, there are organizations concerned with pollution issues, organizations concerned with wilderness issues, consumer issues and health issues. That is the range on the board of directors.

When we establish a project team to work on an issue — we are pretty much issue based — we can start from first principles and ask who ought to be at the table to deal effectively with it. There will be people representing the board interest, but also others.

We have started work, for example, on intensive livestock operations, or as we call them here, confined feeding operations. We have looked widely at the agriculture industry to make sure they are represented at the table, and then environmental groups, local municipal groups and so on.

In terms of total participants on all of our project teams, it is in the range of 200 to 300.

That is the big group of stakeholders. On the board there are 20 members and 20 alternates.

You asked about funding. The core funding this year is $780,000, and as I mentioned earlier, it is pretty much divided equally among contributions from Alberta Energy, Alberta Environment and Alberta Health and Wellness.

Senator Milne: So it is basically government?

Ms. Tingley: It is government funding for the core operations. Then if the project teams need additional funds to do specific work that they wish to undertake, they will look around the table for funding, and that comes from industry and government, generally speaking.

In the work that Linda Duncan was referring to on electricity, we did quite a lot of econometric modelling. In any event, it was pretty costly, as it turns out — more than $100,000.

The government and industry contributed fairly sizeable cheques to have that work done.

Senator Milne: You have industry funding as well then?

Ms. Tingley: Yes.

The Chairman: On a project basis?

Ms. Tingley: On a project basis; the core funding is from the provincial government.

Senator Milne: When you have a certain project or problem that you are looking at and you have all the stakeholders together operating on a consensus basis, how do you make sure that you do not end up with an answer that is the lowest common denominator?

This is what I am always afraid of with consensus. We could talk about Kyoto, which is consensus based. Unless the government says ``This is what you will do,'' industry will not do it, so I am sometimes leery about consensus-based operations.

Ms. Duncan: Ms. Tingley is deferring to me because I am probably the most appropriate person to answer that, since my constituency has that concern. That was one of my main concerns about the CASA process. Frankly, that is one of my concerns about a lot of consensus processes.

I think, though, that the CASA board members, the government, industry and public, have been pretty careful about what issues they select to come before CASA and there are also clear ground rules. I can assure you that the public representatives will not accept any lowest common denominator.

The reason we are able to push the agenda is government is an active member there. By the way, I had meant to mention, in the case of the air standards electricity sector, the federal government is also participating there, and the municipal governments participate in many of our task groups. It is not only a forum for provincial government, we have everybody buying in and actively participating.

Government sends a very clear message that this is the forum and do not think you will get away with having lesser standards or an easier road by not going through this process. If you agree to come to the table and if you agree to this issue should be on the table, then everybody has to give and take.

There is also a responsibility on the members to follow through. That is the unique thing, I think, about the CASA process. It is not just one of these consultations where you all have your say and then the government goes off and makes a decision and that is the end of it.

If you took a look at the report that we did on electricity, you would see we included timelines for the implementation of every single aspect, the opportunity to follow up and scrutinize and, when new information comes forward, to push the envelope even further.

It is not seen as an end game, it is seen in many ways as an ongoing process.

Senator Milne: Therefore you do a follow-up; you measure results to see if industry and government and all the stakeholders are living up to the agreement that they have arrived at by consensus?

Ms. Duncan: We certainly do. I assure you that the representatives, particularly the public members, are constantly coming to the board and saying ``What about that agreement that we have reached?''

Senator Milne: What about your neighbours on Lake Wabamun?

Ms. Duncan: I assure you that there is continuous consultation and outreach.

Mr. Donner: There are two points I would like to make. One concerns your original question about consensus leading to a lowest common denominator. ``Consensus'' is a popular term. It has a very specific meaning within CASA. It means that you can live with the result, not necessarily that you like the result or it gives you what you want, but you can live with it.

There is also a discipline in striving for consensus; we want consensus. If you cannot reach consensus, you document the differences and move it up to the next decision-making level.

There is a process there that helps move along the decision making.

Senator Milne: Then what is the next decision level?

Mr. Donner: The first decision level is the project team, and then it is the board, and then it is to whomever you are referring it, often government.

There is a process for moving through. It does not stall in an endless search for consensus.

The other issue you asked about was the follow-up. In some cases, we have implementation teams that actually track implementation. In other cases, we have a performance measure that tracks, year by year, what the recommendations were, what the percentage of implementation was, and, if necessary, what needs to be done; or are those discarded recommendations or are they are still in play?

The Chairman: Who decides what you look at? Can CASA decide?

Mr. Donner: A decision is made through the CASA process. We have a decision-making tiering system that looks at whether it is appropriate for CASA — it is called the CAM system — and gets a multi-stakeholder working group together to develop terms of reference and scope the issue, and then it moves into a project team.

In each case, it is dependent on the interest of the stakeholders in being part of it and on the cash coming forward to support it. In a sense, it is stakeholders voting with their time and their resources.

CASA is open to statements of opportunity, and there is also, I think every three years, an opportunity for CASA members to take a look and say, ``These issues are not being addressed.''

Senator Milne: Has CASA taken any position with regard to the usefulness of emissions trading systems in reducing air pollution?

Ms. Duncan: A very large interest. In fact, one of the matters that were referred to our CASA team by the Minister of Environment was to provide some advice and guidance on the development of emissions trading for the electricity sector. That ended up being a very large component of what we came forward with.

The minister said that he wanted some new, innovative ideas and concepts on how he could move the environmental protection agenda forward but also look at cost effectiveness and so forth.

The end result in our report was a mix of management tools. For example, there were recommendations that more of a regulatory approach be taken on mercury; it is give and take. The public representatives, who were leery of it, said, Okay, we are willing to give it a try on the NOx and SOx, on condition that we take the regulatory approach on mercury and that there not be trading.

In fact, there are specific recommendations on the whole framework for the emissions trading and how it could be done sector wide, and a table that we had developed that is continuing under the guise of the department in the implementation stage.

Senator Milne: Do we have that report?

Mr. Donner: I do not believe you do. It is very thick.

Senator Milne: It might be useful to have a copy sent.

Mr. Donner: May I supplement that, because it is under my authority that we are moving ahead with the implementation.

First of all, to underline that, it is on SOx and NOx for the electricity — sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides.

This was a recommendation specifically for the electricity sector. Our ambition as a department is to see how we can broaden that and have explicit directions for my department to pursue it in an aggressive manner.

Senator Milne: That is very encouraging.

We have heard several times in the last few days, specifically this morning, that Alberta and the oil and gas industry will see their international competitiveness undermined by Kyoto. The position of Minister Dion right now is that Kyoto is an effective opportunity for companies to improve their processes. What side of this debate is CASA on and what steps have the Alberta-based industries already taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Because I know they have.

Mr. Donner: I think there might be two questions there.

Senator Milne: Yes.

Mr. Donner: First of all, CASA has not been dealing with the climate change issue as a whole. The most recent discussions CASA has had have been around, as Ms. Duncan said, a greenhouse gas strategy for the electricity sector.

It developed a fairly creative way of looking at this in terms of the capacity of the sector to make reductions, the kind of standard you would put on new plants, the kind of general reduction obligation you would put on existing plants and the kind of flexible instruments would you put in place to achieve those reductions.

CASA could not come up with what the number was on each element of because it is an interrelated set of issues, and it obviously depended on decisions by the Alberta government, by the federal government. Therefore, CASA did not opine on the specific levels, but it put in place a framework, and to my mind, a very creative framework.

It has not monitored the level of action by industry per se. If I were to make a comment it would be ad hominem, it would not be with respect to CASA, so perhaps I will leave it there.

From our perspective, industry in Alberta has taken a leadership role in response to climate change if you look at some of their intensity reductions and some other elements, but there are certainly questions about what further needs to be done.

When CASA looked at that, it put in the context of a specific sector and what kinds of requirements would encourage that kind of continuous improvement. I am trying to distinguish between what CASA would say and what others might say on behalf of the ministry.

Senator Buchanan: I want to comment on consensus. The word ``consensus'' has really come into being over the last number of years, and it does work, there is no question about it.

For instance, we operate on a consensus basis in running governments. In cabinet we operate on a consensus basis. The premier decides the consensus, but that is not dictatorial, it is consensus.

Let me give you another good example of consensus.

Senator Spivak: That is dictatorship.

Senator Buchanan: No, it is not. Do you know that the most famous consensus in Canada occurred in 1981 when the Prime Minister said, ``You know what? All you premiers, you are just like a town meeting group and I do not have to listen to you.'' He goes to London and he says to the House of Lords, the House of Commons, ``I want to patriate the Constitution; I want the Constitution Act without the Canadian provincial governments.'' They said, ``We are not getting involved in that. You go on home and settle that.''

He came back home and said, ``I will push it through without you guys and gals.'' Eight of us went to the Supreme Court of Canada. The court, in that great decision, said, ``Mr. Trudeau, you cannot do that. You must have consensus among the provinces of Canada.'' Linda Duncan might remember that.

Senator Milne: Is this a question?

Senator Buchanan: That is just an aside.

Linda Duncan, I would like to ask you a question now. I know where you are coming from. I have talked to Elizabeth May about this, discussed it with her. Even David Suzuki called me a dinosaur because we dared to build another coal-generating plant in Nova Scotia. I simply put the question to him: ``David, what are the alternatives?'' I say to Elizabeth May, ``What are the alternatives?''

We generate 70 per cent of our electricity from coal in Nova Scotia. I ask you, what are the alternatives to burning coal to generate electricity?

Ms. Duncan: Actually, I had the honour of teaching at Dalhousie for a while, too, so I have a connection to your province.

I do not think it is so much the alternatives to electricity as an alternative way of looking at how we will provide electricity and still protect the environment.

Senator Buchanan: That is what I am talking about.

Ms. Duncan: A number of governments, including our own here in Alberta, say that they are committed to clean coal technology. Some of us feel that that is not moving fast enough; there is not enough money invested. However, that is part of what we did in the CASA process. I also sit on the committee on controlling mercury from the coal-fired industry. Through both of those processes we have been examining all the research into technology development.

The role of government — and you are the Senate and part of our government — is to push that by taking a strong stance on ensuring protection of the environment for the public and regulating those substances that may cause harm. Industry will say, the KPMG survey said, all of the surveys of the CEOs of industry say, in answer to when do you decide that you will invest in environmental protection, ``Well, when the government passes a regulation that requires that we look into alternative technology.''

I do not think it is so much a case of beating up on the nuclear industry, beating up the coal-fired industry or whatever. All of those who make money from the provision of services to the public have an obligation to make sure that they provide them in the safest way possible.

The obligation of the government is to hold their feet to the fire and say, ``If you want to be in the competitive market of providing electricity and other energies to the public, you also have to look for the most environmentally benign way to do that, and at the same time, make it cost effective.''

There are a lot of technologies out there now and it is simply the responsibility of government to make sure it is done in a clean way.

Senator Buchanan: We have looked at every technology. Let me tell you something. We decided not just to reduce SO2, but to eliminate SO2. And we did. We built the first coal-fired fluidized bed plant in Canada. I opened it 14 years ago.

Do you know what? The minute we opened it, David Suzuki and Elizabeth May came down to Cape Breton to condemn us for daring to open another coal-fired plant, even though they were the ones who talked about clean coal technology, and that is what we did — fluidized bed technology. He called me a dinosaur for having dared to build this plant.

I asked him, ``What did you want us to build?'' ``Do not build it.'' I said, ``What can we do?'' ``Build wind-powered generators.'' Oh, that is interesting. First of all, somebody said to me once, ``The only great wind you have in Halifax is coming out of the legislature,'' but that would not generate too much electricity.

The point I am making is you can use all kinds of clean coal technologies but you will still be condemned for burning coal, because we have tried it. In our fluidized bed plant, we use chemically washed coal to burn in our other generators, and we are still condemned for it.

Therefore, what will we do? Will we say, ``We will scrap our 1,600-megawatt coal-burning plants and burn natural gas?'' One, we do not have enough natural gas. We have it, but not enough. Two, it is too costly to convert. Three, will we use wind power? We do not have enough wind power. We only have three areas in Nova Scotia where you can generate a little. Even that will be very costly. Therefore, what do we do?

Do we say to the people, ``Look, we will slowly move into other methods of generating electricity, but it will cost you?'' The power rates will increase. Bang, they are way up. There is not a politician in Nova Scotia who would get re- elected. You say ``That's too bad.'' Who would get re-elected? Nobody would. In the real world, you have to get elected, get re-elected.

The Chairman: Senators, I will ask us to ask specific questions of the witnesses rather than rhetorical ones.

Senator Buchanan: I never ask a rhetorical question.

I simply would like to know what should we do in a province like Nova Scotia? Now, here in Alberta you can say, ``Oh, you have so much natural gas and other methods.'' However we do not, so what are we supposed to do?

Ms. Duncan: Senator, all I can recommend is that the Province of Nova Scotia and other jurisdictions that are using coal-fired or nuclear energy, and the federal government, entertain forums like the CASA review such as we have in Alberta, because it is only through a multi-stakeholder review that you get the contentious competitors participating. Maybe I am the Elizabeth May of Alberta.

People will buy into a process that is credible; they will not buy into a process that is not. There are no magic bullets.

I wanted to share with you the costing that we did.

Senator Buchanan: What you are talking about is not the real world of politics.

The Chairman: It is here.

Senator Buchanan: I do not think so. I was listening to what the minister said this morning too.

I just wanted to get that off my chest, as I do all the time.

Ms. Duncan: We have proven in our modelling that the technologies we recommended are affordable. That was part of the process.

Senator Spivak: I have a short comment that I must make because I think what you have discovered here, and I want to congratulate you, is a way to channel people who often have no forum and do not know how to oppose things that harm their very existence.

I have two questions. Also, I have to say that it is possible to make changes, because when you look at the forestry industry and how they had to change their processes because they were killing all the fish, they did it.

What is your top priority among the air quality issues? Is it the feedlot issue?

Secondly, when you were looking at the electricity industry, you did not, I suppose, concentrate on CO2 because it is only indirectly a health issue. Or did you?

Ms. Tingley: Certainly the confined feeding operation issue is our newest big item. We are working with new stakeholders and are at the point now of defining the problem. We have other new issues we are working on, indoor air quality, for example. We are just starting on that and working to define the problem.

We are continuing work that we have been doing previously on renewable and alternative energy, energy efficiency and conservation. It is a long list.

Mr. Donner: We expressly asked for inclusion of greenhouse gases, mercury and other air issues. We were looking for an integrated approach rather than a one-by-one strategy. The report first dealt with everything other than greenhouse gases, and then subsequently came back with the advice I referred to on greenhouse gases, including CO2.

Senator Spivak: That is how you are rating the problems you see in Alberta. First the feedlot and then the energy — that is how you do it. That is how you set your priorities, in terms of what people think are the most important problems? That is my question.

Mr. Donner: As part of our performance measures we look at the information we have on air quality. That is fed into the CASA process.

Previously, we have put in place a framework for managing a set of emissions. We have previously put in a framework to deal with ozone particulates. Those are in the implementation stage.

We move through, identify a policy issue, come to a solution, recommend an implementation, and then periodically revisit that. The other way in which this happens is through the airshed process, when people might identify a particular issue or what has to be done there.

Senator Spivak: Within that framework, what kind of timeline were you looking at and what kind of measures for the coal-burning generators to reduce those emissions?

What did you offer to government in terms of timelines and measures?

Ms. Duncan: First of all, the time issue is an interesting one, because a number of us thought there was no way we would handle this in the time allotted. However, the good thing about the minister saying this is the deadline for the feedback is it really pushed the consensus. In the end, I think we had to extend it by at least six months because it was a huge task to take on all those substances, many of which were very controversial.

On the timing of implementation, the commitment for 2010 was already made at the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment table. We pushed the agenda and got a compromise that we would reach that by 2009 on mercury. In fact, Alberta deserves a big pat on the back because we are the leaders in all jurisdictions on pushing the controls on mercury and coal-fired.

On the NOx and SOx, it is over a 25-year period. Into the hopper also came the deregulated electricity regime, so we also had to grapple with the fact that you had these power purchase agreements.

In Alberta you have somebody who generates and somebody who sells the electricity and they have agreements between them, so we had to incorporate that. It was a very contentious issue.

In spite of that, there was pressure on us from the government not to try to push for any contracts between the generators and vendors of electricity to be broken. Under the same tent, we wanted to have controls in place as soon as possible. In the end, the compromise was the end of the plant's life or 25 years.

I am not good on the numbers. It varied by substance. The particulate control is tied into the mercury control, so presumably there will be reductions in the particulate, and at the same time, we have the technologies to reduce the mercury.

Again, as I mentioned, there is also the fact that there will be a review every five years. Therefore, if there are new technologies and it looks as if you can go further with renewables and so forth, then we can examine those — everybody in the industry, the government and the public. However, the plants now in process are bound to those standards. We will not open those up again. For any new facilities, it will be opened up.

Senator Adams: In the Arctic, the wind has been changing over the last few years. What is happening with wind and the movement of air in other countries? Does your organization have anything to do with that? Perhaps I should be asking this question of Environment Canada.

Up in Rankin Inlet, at one time we measured winds at 60 kilometres an hour. Now we register winds up to 124 kilometres an hour. Does that have something to do with climate change or with too much pollution? What is causing it?

Mr. Donner: To the best of my knowledge, we do not do meteorological monitoring. We do not capture that information. To the extent that we are looking at what might blow over the mountains in terms of evaluating acid deposition, for example, we have models. However, the actual wind is not part of what CASA studies.

Senator Adams: It has something to do with the air movement. For example, whenever we have cool weather, I hear that we get chemicals falling into our area. Is that true?

The Chairman: I think that is a meteorological question as opposed to an air quality question. It is air quality, but the result is meteorological.

Thank you very much, witnesses. We have a long list of questions that we have not yet been able to ask you. I hope that you will permit us to send them to you by letter and that you will, if you can, respond to us through the clerk of our committee. I hope that we will have the opportunity by one means or another of speaking to you again because you have been very helpful to our various studies, of which there are about six going on at the moment.

Thank you very kindly for being generous with your time this morning.

The committee adjourned.

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