Access to Information in Alberta: The Grim Picture on the Ground

I’ve been following with great interest the efforts of Intellog Blog’s effort’s to get the Government of Alberta to gain access to the location of all oil and gas well’s in the Western Sedimentary Basin. Their goal is pretty simple, they want to spur research and increase awareness around the economic opportunities, health consequences and environmental implications of the drilling. Such a conversation is, of course, made a whole lot easier if one has actual accurate information to reference.

Of course the government (paid via Alberta tax dollars) collects this information. It has simply decided that it can use the information, but no one else can.

Indeed, the Intellog Blog has struggled for 3 years to get this information. This despite the fact that the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) is abundantly clear about this: FOIPPA requires public bodies to make information available to the public that is clearly in the public interest including the environment or public health or safety.

Today the issue is before the Alberta Access to Information Commissioner, who I hope makes the right decision. Alberta (And many governments) has a dubious history of not sharing information, or even misleading the public about critical issues around health impacts.

It’d be nice to see the commissioner send a message and start to shift the culture.

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