The Alberta government is wavering on whether new land, water and air monitoring in the oil sands will be fully independent, one of a series of questions the province faces as it overhauls its environment strategy amid mounting public scrutiny.
One of Premier Alison Redford’s first major initiatives was to boost environmental oversight in the booming sector. Several reviews showed the existing system was subpar, and the new, robust monitoring system was designed to quell critics’ complaints.
Run jointly with Ottawa, it would increase pollution testing throughout the region. Many external scientists applauded the plan, but stressed it had to be independent when implemented.
Now, a picture of the system is beginning to emerge. Yet another external panel, at the province’s request, will next month present two visions for how it could run: one fully independent, and one run by government using work by independent scientists.