Alberta First Nations worried by suspension of oilsands environmental monitoring

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The leader of a First Nation surrounded by oilsands development is frustrated by the Alberta Energy Regulator’s decision to suspend a wide array of environmental reporting requirements for oilsands companies.

“We are surprised and disappointed there was no effort to consult us on this decision,” said a release from Mel Grandjamb, head of the Fort McKay First Nation.

Grandjamb points out the regulator’s new head, Laurie Pushor, has emphasized in recent interviews that he wants to rebuild trust in the agency and improve its relations with bands.

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“It is unfortunate that aspiration has not translated into actually talking to those communities deeply affected by AER decisions,” he wrote.

Fort McKay, located north of Fort McMurray in the heart of the oilsands, is surrounded on three sides by development. Its concerns about those impacts are long-standing.

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In a series of decisions released earlier this week, the regulator relieved four oilsands major companies of the responsibility to meet environmental monitoring conditions in their licences to operate.

Conditions suspended include on-site monitoring studies under the Fort McKay Air Quality and Odours Project. Odour assessment and communication protocols already in place are to remain.

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