06 May Sound environmental monitoring for Alberta – will AEMERA deliver?
Sound environmental monitoring for Alberta – will AEMERA deliver?
With the proclamation of the Protecting Alberta’s Environment Act in mid-April, the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency – known as AEMERA – is now officially on duty. The purposes of AEMERA are to:
• obtain scientific data and other information about the state of Alberta’s environment; and
• ensure that the data and information is available and reported to the public in an open and transparent manner.
In carrying out these purposes, AEMERA is required to conduct several activities. These include:
• planning, coordinating and conducting environmental monitoring,
• collecting, storing, managing, analyzing and evaluating environmental monitoring data,
• reporting on the status and trends of Alberta’s environment based on the data evaluations,
• making environmental data and related evaluations and assessments publicly available,
• developing standards for environmental monitoring, and
• establishing advisory committees or panels respecting environmental monitoring (including a scientific advisory panel).
The Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development may also direct AEMERA to fulfil other purposes or carry out other activities.
Initially, AEMERA will be focusing its activities in the Alberta oil sands region taking over the provincial responsibilities under the federal-provincial Joint Oil Sands Monitoring program. The intention is that AEMERA will be eventually engaged in province-wide monitoring, evaluation and reporting. More information about AEMERA – including its current members – can be found here.
There certainly is a need for unbiased, science-based environmental monitoring in Alberta. As well, Albertans need reliable and easily accessible environmental monitoring information and data. In order to achieve these goals, AEMERA requires sufficient funding and support from government. At the same time, AEMERA needs to be able to operate as a truly independent organization, free from political interference. Given their absence in AEMERA’s legislation, we would like to see explicit timelines and standards established by AEMERA for reporting as a first step toward transparency and accountability.
Ultimately, only time will tell as to whether AEMERA is able to deliver on the promise of unbiased, science-based, and easily accessible environmental monitoring data.
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