This is an important time for Alberta. We have been hard at work to strengthen environmental monitoring in our province, because when it comes to resource management and the environment, this government recognizes we need continuous improvement to meet the challenges we face.
Under Premier Redford’s leadership, we are taking a new approach to how we develop and manage our natural resources. We call it integrated resource management. It’s an approach that will help us address our current and future challenges.
Simply put: integrated resource management provides a more coordinated focus to all of the work we do around resource development, including environmental management. With the eyes of the world on us, we believe this is the right approach at the right time.
At the end of the day, we want to ensure Albertans receive the best the economic, environmental and social benefits from the development of our resources.
It’s no small task.
Integrated resource management encompasses many different initiatives, including completed regional plans under a provincial Land-use Framework; and the Regulatory Enhancement Project, which includes establishing a single regulator for oil and gas, oil sands and coal.
But most importantly, this system requires comprehensive, science-based and integrated environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting. Such a foundation is imperative if we are to be successful in our efforts to strengthen and maintain the credibility of our resource management system.
Back in March, the province created a working group of experts to help us answer important questions on how to build this world-class monitoring system for Alberta. We asked the group to provide workable – and achievable – options to build a monitoring system that is designed to succeed and built to last.
This is a system that is effectively coordinated; a system that integrates air, water, land and biodiversity monitoring; a system that has scientific oversight; and a system that is accessible and open.
It is a system unlike any other in the world. And it will show Albertans, Canadians and the world that we are serious about our responsibility as stewards of this land.
Implementation of the new environmental monitoring agency will begin in Alberta’s oil sands region – this will give added assurance that we have the most scientifically credible monitoring system in the world for this critical global resource.
As the agency evolves so too will its scope, eventually taking responsibility for environmental monitoring across the province.
Effective immediately, we have created a management board to direct the creation of the permanent arms-length agency. We anticipate the board will operate until the agency is legally established under the laws of Alberta. An agency board of directors is already in place and ready to work.
Members of the board were selected based on their qualifications and successful careers as leaders in environmental research and the academic world; as administrators and in business development and innovation. They represent a broad cross-section of the skills, experience and talent needed to guide the development of the agency. We want the best possible, advice and guidance from the board based on members’ skills, experience and knowledge.
Like all Albertans, I look forward to the outcome of their work.
By building on the joint federal-provincial enhanced monitoring system already underway in the oil sands, coupled with our comprehensive land-use plan that focuses on cumulative effects management in the Lower Athabasca region, Alberta is already positioned as a global leader in environmental management.
This new arm’s-length agency will take us to a new level.
It will show Albertans that we have heard their concerns and we are taking action. We will continue to do what we need to in order to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we cherish, and the abundant wildlife and fish that make our province unique.
I am proud of our work to date, and I am excited for tomorrow’s successes.
– Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development