RSC Report: Science, regulation and the precautionary principle

RSC Report: Science, regulation and the precautionary principle

12/18/2010

Earlier this week the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) released a lengthy report on the state of oilsands science and regulation in Alberta.  The report rightly notes the lack of data on such important issues as water quality, air quality, reclamation, cancer rates, and a variety of other issues.  From this, it draws conclusions about the state of the environmental impact of the oilsands and its regulation.

What is happening in the oilsands is this: opponents are continually putting forward the basis for establishing risks, and trying to get regulators to use precaution.  Proponents are pointing out scientific uncertainty about those same risks.  Scientific uncertainty is maintained by various policies regarding monitoring, assessment, and limited public access to information and regulatory processes.  Regulators often rely on uncertainties to justify authorizations and place the onus on the public or critics to prove harm.

Read “RSC Report: Science, regulation and the precautionary principle” on the ELC blog.

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