EDMONTON – The Alberta government says its long-promised environmental monitoring agency will be up and running by early in the new year.
That’s despite the fact it has no leaders, scientific advisers or permanent funding.
Aboriginal groups say they’ve been left out of the process, and legislation to create the agency hasn’t passed yet.
Alberta Environment official Ernie Hui says there’s a lot of work to do.
But he says people from industry, academia and the environmental community are already getting involved.
Meetings with First Nations in the oilsands area are scheduled and the government expects to transfer up to $15 million a year to run the agency.
Howard Tennant, who led the advisory panel that led to the agency’s creation, says picking the right person to lead it will be crucial.
He says the U.S. is watching Alberta closely to ensure the monitoring is credible and impartial.
Read the release below from Alberta Energy:
Bill creates environmental monitoring agency
An arm’s-length agency will oversee environmental monitoring in Alberta.
Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, introduced Bill 31 in the Alberta Legislature today. The Protecting Alberta’s Environment Act creates the new Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA), responsible for operating a comprehensive, science-based monitoring system.
“We’re building a monitoring system to understand environmental impacts and help us manage responsible development. The new arm’s-length agency will ensure this work remains open, transparent and underpinned by science and facts.”
Initially, the arm’s length agency will be responsible for work currently done in the oil sands area under the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring plan. Eventually, AEMERA will be responsible for province-wide environmental monitoring, evaluation, and reporting as land use plans are implemented.
“The agency is the right step forward towards ensuring that science-based and science-led monitoring of the environment – air, land, water and bio-diversity is taking place. It is extremely important that we make sure that measuring, recording, interpreting and reporting takes place in order for Alberta to make the best resource management decisions.”
The work of this agency will provide the best possible data that will be used to make the best possible decisions when it comes to responsible development of the province’s natural resources. This data will detail the condition of Alberta’s environment, specifically air, land, water, and biodiversity.
Once Bill 31 passes, the Alberta government will appoint an agency chair and board members through a public application process. AEMERA is expected to start operating in early 2014.
Our government was elected to keep building Alberta, to live within its means and to fight to open new markets for Alberta’s resources. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.