New Alberta environmental monitoring agency

The Government of Alberta has introduced legislation to implement what it calls the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency. Although the Government has announced the Agency in the context of monitoring of oil sands activities, the terms of reference of AEMERA are actually much broader:

(a) to obtain credible and relevant scientific data and other information regarding the condition of the environment in Alberta,

(b) to ensure the data and other information are available and reported to the public in an open and transparent manner, and

(c) any other purpose prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council [the Alberta Cabinet].

These purposes are consistent with the Premier’s statement that “People will be able to go on websites when this is done, look at a point on a map and see exactly what’s going on at that point in time.” In other words, the Bill, assuming it is passed by the Legislature, will cover not just the oil sands region but every other part of Alberta. It is not a bad idea, in GallonDaily’s opinion, to remove environmental monitoring from day to day political interference. However, the Bill may go further than industries beyond the oil sands region were expecting. Even the quantity of particulate emissions from farms, a significant but not well measured source of air pollution in Alberta, could be captured and published under the terms of reference of the new monitoring agency.

The new Agency, in carrying out its purposes, shall:

(a) plan, co-ordinate and conduct environmental monitoring,

(b) collect, store, manage, analyze and evaluate environmental monitoring data,

(c) report on the status and trends related to the condition of the environment on the basis of the evaluation of the data collected,

(d) make environmental monitoring data and related evaluations and assessments publicly available,

(e) develop standards respecting environmental monitoring,

(f) establish advisory committees or panels respecting environmental monitoring, and

(g) carry out other activities determined by the Minister.

The Agency may charge fees on a cost-recovery basis for requested services provided by the Agency in carrying out its
purposes.

The Bill that has been tabled in the Alberta Legislature can be found at http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/bills/bill/legislature_28/session_1/20120523_bill-031.pdf

GallonDaily will follow its progress with interest.

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