As first discussed in our earlier publication entitled
Alberta Government Sets Up New Environmental Monitoring
Agency1, the Alberta Minister of
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Diana McQueen (the
"Minister") introduced Bill 31, Protecting
Alberta's Environment Act, ("Bill 31") in the provincial
Legislature.2 Bill 31 will establish the Alberta
Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA),
an arm's-length agency responsible for operating a
comprehensive, science-based environmental monitoring system. The
provincial government heralds AEMERA's creation as the next
step in developing a more integrated and coordinated approach to
developing and managing Alberta's natural resources.
AEMERA's initial focus will be on the Lower Athabasca area,
and more specifically on work which is currently being 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 data AEMERA collects will detail the
condition of Alberta's environment – specifically air,
land, water, and biodiversity.
AEMERA's management board, which has already been appointed,
will oversee AEMERA's creation. The management board's
initial work will focus on how the new agency will operate,
long-term funding options, and establishing a Science Advisory
Panel to provide input and advice on monitoring efforts. The
current management board will operate until AEMERA is legally
established under Alberta law. Once Bill 31 passes, the Alberta
government will appoint an agency chair and board members through a
public application process.
Bill 31 mandates that AEMERA appoint a Science Advisory Panel to
periodically review the scientific basis and the components of
AEMERA's monitoring, evaluation, and reporting activities, and
to advise AEMERA regarding the scientific integrity of
environmental monitoring in Alberta. Bill 31 also empowers
AEMERA to establish any advisory committee or panel that it
considers necessary in connection with any matter pertaining to its
AEMERA's stated purposes in Bill 31 are:
To create credible and relevant scientific data and other
information regarding the condition of the environment in Alberta,
To ensure the data and other information are available and
reported to the public in an open and transparent manner.
In carrying out its purposes, Bill 31 requires AEMERA to:
a) plan, co-ordinate and conduct
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, develop
standards respecting environmental monitoring,
e) establish advisory committees
or panels respecting environmental monitoring, and
f) carry out other
activities determined by the Minister.
Bill 31 allows AEMERA to charge fees on a cost-recovery basis
for requested services it provides in fulfilling its mandate.
Bill 31 requires AEMERA to report to the public on the condition
of Alberta's environment, at a frequency determined by AEMERA
in consultation with the Minister.
Bill 31 passed its first reading on October 28, and must pass
additional readings before it receives Royal Assent and comes into
The provincial government expects that AEMERA will start
operating in early 2014.
1 Original publication date: November 28, 2012.
2 1st Sess, 28th Leg, Alberta, 2013.
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