File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Alberta Environment and Parks deputy minister Bev Yee outlines a departmental re-organization under which the climate change office created during Phillips’ tenure will disappear. So will the environmental monitoring and science division, initially created as an arm’s-length agency in 2014 by the provincial Conservative government and brought back into government by the New Democrats.

Alberta ending separate offices for climate change, environmental monitoring

EDMONTON — Alberta’s United Conservative government plans to eliminate its stand-alone offices for climate change policy and environmental monitoring, a move some say will damage the province’s standing and its ability to make science-based plans.

“What’s going to suffer is Alberta’s international reputation (and) our overall approach to science and evidence-based decision making,” said New Democrat legislature member Shannon Phillips, who was environment minister in the previous government.

The intention is outlined in a Sept. 10 email from Alberta Environment and Parks deputy minister Bev Yee, obtained by The Canadian Press.

Yee outlines a departmental re-organization under which the climate change office created during Phillips’ tenure will disappear. So will the environmental monitoring and science division, initially created as an arm’s-length agency in 2014 by the provincial Conservative government and brought back into government by the New Democrats.

Both will be “integrated into the new structure,” says Yee’s email.

“The primary drivers and intended outcomes of this reorganization include enhanced business integration, the achievement of efficiencies, and providing better support to achieve government priorities,” wrote Yee.

The changes are to be effective Oct. 15.

Alberta Environment did not provide an interview to explain the move.

In an email, department spokeswoman Jess Sinclair said the climate change office has been incorporated into Alberta Environment’s general policy effort “in order to ensure that (department) policy is developed with an eye to the overall management of pollution in the province.”

It wasn’t clear where the formerly separate monitoring office will end up.

Sinclair called the changes “a bureaucratic move” and said climate work will be done through the important policy office.

But Phillips said the moves downgrade both climate and monitoring policy.

“We no longer have a government that is interested in putting forward credible climate change policy or credible monitoring and science in the oilsands,” she said. “I have serious questions about the resourcing of environmental monitoring in the oilsands.”

Phillips suggested the change is a prelude to cuts.

“It’s easier to hide the cuts if they’re absorbed within the department.”

Environmental groups called the changes part of a pattern in Jason Kenney’s United Conservative government to roll back climate and environmental policies.

“If this government didn’t have a very clear agenda to stall climate action and harass environmental organizations, then I might be willing to consider this normal operations for a new government,” said Catherine Abreu of Climate Action Network Canada.

“(But) I can’t help but see the elimination of their climate department as part of their overall strategy.”

Just Posted

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg in Edmonton for climate rally; counter-rally planned

EDMONTON — Albertans are planning to hit Edmonton’s streets today to support… Continue reading

Facebook CEO defends refusal to take down some content

WASHINGTON — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday defended the social media… Continue reading

Deep-sea explorers seek out sunken World War II ships

Deep-sea explorers scouring the world’s oceans for sunken World War II ships… Continue reading

Fewer than 850 irregular border crossers deported, hundreds more in limbo

Multiple options for appeals, diplomatic difficulties and changing global conditions mean only… Continue reading

Rural crime tour hits Sylvan Lake

About 60 people showed up to voice concerns about state of crime and punishment in Alberta

Your community calendar

Wednesday Red Deer River Naturalists Flower Focus Group Meeting. When: Oct. 16… Continue reading

Meet the candidates running in Red Deer-Lacombe

Each of the candidates running in the Red Deer-Lacombe riding were invited… Continue reading

FIFA claims 82M TV audience for Women’s World Cup final

ZURICH — FIFA research says the Women’s World Cup final drew an… Continue reading

Basketball fans welcome former Raptor Kawhi Leonard back to Vancouver

VANCOUVER — Kawhi Leonard had a tough night on the court Thursday,… Continue reading

CBS signs Stephen Colbert to 3-year extension

NEW YORK — Stephen Colbert will be sticking around for four more… Continue reading

Country artists bring tears, prayers to CMT awards show

NASHVILLE — Country music artists cried together and prayed together at an… Continue reading

Kawhi back in Canada, NBA GMs think he’ll go back to finals

Kawhi Leonard was back in Canada, where last season he won a… Continue reading

Saskatchewan Roughriders aim to bring home energy on the road to B.C. Lions

VANCOUVER — The Saskatchewan Roughriders are hoping they can bring the spirit… Continue reading

Most Read