Reverse job-killing oilpatch monitoring suspensions: Alberta Opposition leader

Reverse job-killing oilpatch monitoring suspensions: Alberta Opposition leader

Reverse job-killing oilpatch monitoring suspensions: Alberta Opposition leader

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney should step in to reverse a decision by the province’s energy regulator to suspend most environmental monitoring in the oilpatch, says the province’s Opposition leader.

The NDP’s Rachel Notley says if the United Conservative premier doesn’t reverse the decision — which the regulator says was made because of the COVID-19 pandemic — it will cost jobs in the sector, as international investors shy away from an industry increasingly seen as an environmental outlier.

“(Wednesday) was a very bad day for people who care about our air, land and water,” Notley said Friday.

“The only people it was worse for were the people in Alberta who care about maintaining any kind of job or economic security within the oil and gas sector. It’s Albertans who need the jobs in that sector who will pay the price.”

On Wednesday, the Alberta Energy Regulator expanded previous monitoring suspensions for open-pit oilsands mines to include the entire oilpatch.

Companies no longer have to monitor fumes released by burning, or look for and repair leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Surface water no longer needs to be tested, unless it escapes into the environment — and that water no longer needs to be tested in a lab.

Most soil and groundwater monitoring is gone. In-situ oilsands operations no longer have to do wildlife, reclamation and wetland monitoring, including research.

Most suspensions have no sunset date.

Martin Foy, the regulator’s vice-president, has said the decisions were made to protect monitoring workers and the small communities they visit.

Notley scoffed.

“The idea that we can force workers to work elbow-to-elbow at packing plants, have servers walk through restaurants with 50 people in them, but somehow it’s unsafe for environmental monitoring experts to go out and test water and air?

“It’s the most ridiculous assertion I’ve ever heard.”

Notley pointed out that concerns over environmental regulation in Alberta’s oilpatch were behind recent decisions of two of the world’s largest investment funds — Blackrock and Norges Bank — to restrict investments there.

Earlier this week, a U.S.-based investment research firm came to a similar conclusion.

“The Alberta government has become the oilpatch’s own worst enemy by weakening environmental monitoring and oversight to the extent that foreign investors and foreign companies alike face reputational risks by investing in oilsands companies and projects,” said analyst Jackie Cook of Morningstar.

Kenney said he doesn’t control the regulator.

“It’s an independent regulatory body that makes its own decisions without direction from government,” he said.

Notley said the premier has plenty of authority to roll back regulatory rulings.

“They have every ability to direct the AER to undo this short-sighted and damaging decision.”

The regulator’s decisions this week were preceded by similar orders from cabinet. Environment Minister Jason Nixon and Energy Minister Sonya Savage suspended environmental reporting requirements in April.

“Jason Kenney has to take responsibility for his extreme political decisions,” said Notley.

“Now we’re left with the Wild West of environmental protection and oversight in Alberta. This is ideological, it is thoughtless and the long-term consequences are going to be very poor for our industry.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2020

— Follow @row1960 on Twitter

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Business

Just Posted

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Most Read