OTTAWA - The federal government's first line of defence against critics of the oilsands was to be a revamped environmental monitoring system, unveiled with fanfare in Alberta in February last year.
But the three-year plan to keep a closer watch on the air, water and habitat in northern Alberta has still produced no formal results.
Central to the plan was making all the data public so the world could decide for itself, based on science, whether the oilsands were being developed responsibly.
The federal government's chief scientist, Karen Dodds, says the data will be published as soon as the province, Ottawa and five regional organizations can all agree on how to make sure the facts are reliable and comparable.
She says the federal-provincial plan has already led to a significant increase in research, especially of the water systems, but the data-management framework is still being negotiated.
The federal Conservatives quest for credibility in the oilsands has taken on an urgency in the last two weeks, in the wake of a public chiding from the federal environmental watchdog and weighty words about climate change from U.S. President Barack Obama.