Celebrities undoubtedly hate the gossip website TMZ.com for its uncanny ability to get the scoop, usually accompanied by unauthorized and usually unflattering video and photos, and latest detail about their private lives. TMZ, by the way, stands for Thirty Mile Zone. Anything film production that happens within 30 miles of the intersection of West Beverly Boulevard and North La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles is counted as “local Hollywood,’’ and determines the rates and work rules film industry unions demand for their members.
Just as TMZ is the place for all things celebrity, OSIP is the place for the latest on oil sands. Photo credit: iStockphoto
Well, Alberta’s oil sands production area is 80 times bigger than the TMZ and although the region isn’t home to anything quite as exotic as the Kardashians, it does now have its own TMZ.com (sort of). The just-launched Oil Sands Information Portal, or OSIP for short, is the new online go-to destination for the scoop on oil sands.
OSIP is run by the Alberta government, independently of industry, on behalf of Albertans, Canadians and everyone with an interest or concern about oil sands. Just as TMZ is the place for all things celebrity, OSIP is the place for the latest on the environmental performance of oil sands facilities.
With extensive and up-to-date online maps on current or planned developments, OSIP marks a huge leap forward in transparency for the industry. If you want to know about tailing ponds or reclamation, land disturbance or air pollution, wildlife and habitat conservation or climate change, OSIP will give you all the facts, right down to the individual plant and facility level.
The OSIP’s interactive pages make it easy to find real-time regional air quality information and river flow data, including historical information dating back to when Marilyn Monroe was the “it” girl.
And just as TMZ offers a range of documents from divorce papers to criminal filings, OSIP offers one-stop to a downloadable data library chock full of environmental impact statements, regulatory approvals and compliances.
While celebrities probably don’t always appreciate TMZ’s intense scrutiny, we in the oil sands industry welcome OSIP and similar efforts to make our activities more transparent.
Often-time industry critics agree. Pembina Institute said of OSIP: “Pembina Institute has been calling for more transparency as a key element to improve oil sands decision making for years; this portal is a positive step toward achieving a higher level of accountability and environmental performance in the oil sands."
We couldn’t agree more. It’s our firm view that easy access to common facts and data can only help enrich and deepen the necessary public dialogue about oil sands development and its environmental, social and economic impacts.