Posted on Apr 2, 2020
UCP USES COVER OF PANDEMIC TO SUSPEND ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING
EDMONTON - A Ministerial Order signed by Environment Minister Jason Nixon has suspended environmental reporting previously required under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA), the Water Act and the Public Lands Act, but excludes drinking water and wastewater facilities.
“There’s no good reason for this,” said Marlin Schmidt, NDP Environment Critic. “Albertans have a right to know when the air they breathe, the ground they grow their food in, and their waterways are contaminated.
“If companies aren’t required to report for months, what does that mean for the people living in and around industrial sites, like folks in Sherwood Park?”
As recently as two days ago, a company faced charges under the water act for failing to monitor its water use, using water without Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) approval, and failing to properly report its water use to the AER.
“If folks are not required to report, there’s no way to hold them accountable under the law,” said Schmidt. “And still requiring monitoring without reporting does nothing to protect Albertans. None of this makes sense.”
Before Tuesday, environmental approvals were based on strict reporting requirements. For example, applications reviewed by the NDP Official Opposition lists requirements for a company to report monthly on flow rates for sulphur dioxide, another requires the permit holder to report monthly on nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. The UCP government needs to clarify if these requirements will change under the new rules.
“It is unclear whether environmental approvals will be affected by the changes, but what is clear is that hazardous substances being released into or environment will not be made public for months after the fact,” said Schmidt.
Under the changes, companies are still required to monitor their activities, but are not required to report them to the government.