By March 10, 2017 Read More →

Alberta Metis groups claim conflict of interest as AER’s chief environmental scientist leaves

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(Photo: L to R Fred ‘Jumbo’ Fraser of Fort Chipewyan, Shirley Tremblay of Conklin, Ron Quintal of Fort McKay and Gail Gallupe of Fort McMurray pictured as they signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Sept. 3, 2015, Metis. Sarah Anderson REPORTER) Source: mymcmurray.com

“AER is conflicted.  It’s dual mandate to both grow the industry and protect the environment means having to choose one over the other” – Metis

Story updated Mar 13, 2017 after further clarification from AER on its mandate.

Metis groups around Fort McMurray are reacting with disappointment to the very recent and sudden departure of Dr. Monique Dube, chief environmental scientist with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), according to a press release.

“No one did more to bring credibility to the AER in its role to ensure environmentally responsible development than Dr. Dube,” said Fred Fraser, President at Fort Chipewyan Metis.

“She prioritized the environment and quickly established a protocol for hearing and dealing with genuine and proven Metis and First Nation’s concerns over air and water quality issues.  So, the question I want to pose directly to the AER is, why is she gone?

It seems her departure from the AER occurred late last week.

“AER has a duty to respect the privacy and confidentiality related to employment matters,” said Ryan Bartlett, AER senior advisor for public affairs responded to North American Energy News’ request for comment.

Dube has been credited as instrumental to a frank, fresh approach to stakeholder relations, especially with Metis communities around the oil sands, bringing genuine accountability to her role and to the regulator, and for the quality of her research and recommendations.

“The AER is conflicted.  It’s dual mandate to both grow the industry and protect the environment means having to choose one over the other.  With Dr. Monique Dube as Chief Environment Scientist, we knew that we had a serious voice for the environment within the AER,” said  Gail Gallupe, president of the McMurray Metis.

North American Energy News also inquired to AER whether there was a conflict of interest with a dual mandate. “It is not in the AER’s mandate to promote or grow the industry. Government of Alberta policy allows energy development in Alberta, and the AER’s mandate is to ensure that any energy development is safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible over its entire life cycle,” said Bartlett.

“We worry now that her voice is gone.  As such, we call on the provincial government and the Ministers of Energy and Environment & Parks to fix this conflict in the AER by separating its functions.  Let the AER focus on growing the industry, and make environmental regulation a separate function answering to the Minister.  The agency in charge of environment sustainability in energy must not be allowed to become a rubber stamp,” said Gallupe.

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