Former Tory minister to head Alberta environmental monitoring agency by The Canadian Press, March 20, 2014, Lethbridge Herald
A former Tory minister has been named the head of Alberta’s long-awaited environmental monitor. Lorne Taylor will become the first chairman of the province’s flagship agency to understand the impacts of rapid industrial development throughout the province, especially in the oilsands. Among other cabinet tasks, Taylor was environment minister from 2001-2004 when Ralph Klein was premier. He was also a member of a group of fiscal hawks within the Tory caucus. More recently, he is a consultant with a private company called Water Smart. [Emphasis added]
Lorne Taylor, Former Tory Minister, To Head Alberta Environmental Monitoring Agency by Bob Weber, The Canadian Press, March 20, 2014, Huffingtonpost.ca
A former Alberta Tory environment minister has been named to lead an agency intended to help monitor the impacts of rapid oilsands and other industrial development. Lorne Taylor will be the first chairman of the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting Agency, which was set up in response to criticisms that provincial monitoring conducted when Taylor was minister was scientifically indefensible.
“Only in Alberta would the government not get the irony of that,” New Democrat critic Rachel Notley said Thursday.
Some expressed cautious optimism about Taylor’s appointment. “His heart’s in the right place,” said Bill Donahue, a water scientist and adviser to the government’s oilsands monitoring program. “He’s certainly very familiar and knowledgeable about water issues, and especially those of greatest importance in Alberta, and he’s continued to demonstrate his commitment to them since getting out of politics.”
Taylor, who points out he’s been out of government for a decade, is promising the independent, credible science Alberta industry needs to improve its international reputation. [Appears to be all about image, not at all about water]
“I think I’ve got a record of doing things and a record of achievement where people didn’t think I could do it,” he said. “Look at us in one year and see if we’ve been effective.” Taylor’s political career during the premiership of Ralph Klein included stints as minister of science and technology and, from 2001 to 2004, environment minister. He helped lead Alberta’s charge against the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement on measures to fight climate change that Klein’s government considered toxic to the oil and gas industry. In 2002, Taylor made a phone call to the head of the health region in his riding and asked why the area’s medical officer was speaking out against climate change. That doctor — David Swann, now a Liberal member of legislature — was fired a week later.
Donahue points out that Alberta Environment failed to track the impacts of the oilsands under Taylor’s watch. “The environmental science programs needed to actually provide the data and understanding that are required for informed decision-making and environmental management continued to be unfocused, grossly understaffed and underfunded during his tenure,” Donahue said. Provincial officials have acknowledged that attempts to write environmental policy continue to be hampered by a lack of research that goes back many years.
Taylor said that even when he was minister, he advocated for independent monitoring. “It was pretty clear in those days that we didn’t as a government have the credibility to talk because of our commitment and investment in the industry.” The province adopted its Water for Life policy during Taylor’s tenure, a policy still in effect. He fought against the oilfield practice of injecting fresh water into oilwells and introduced measures such as electronic recycling. The agency, set up in response to a series of expert panels, is intended to be an arm’s-length body that will monitor environmental impacts across the entire province, not just the oilsands.
Notley questioned how arm’s-length an agency led by a Tory insider can be. “Mr. Taylor is the poster child for exactly the opposite,” she said.
“Yes, he’s knowledgeable. But I think he’s someone the government understands is safe. What we need is someone who is genuinely independent.”
Swann, who said he’s “moved on” from being firing, said Taylor’s appointment isn’t going to help an industry badly in need of some environmental credibility. “This sends the wrong message to Albertans, to Canadians, to the international community about our commitment to the environment,” he said. “This is a Tory insider.”
Since leaving politics, Taylor has worked as a consultant for Alberta WaterSMART, a Calgary-based firm that advises industry and government on water use. “He’s a refreshing example of a senior politician who’s continued to pursue public interest work, post politics,” Donahue said. [WaterSMART ensures industry gets Alberta’s water; it’s a corporate interest project, not public interest – Refer below]
[Refer also to:
In early 2008, WaterSMART signed a strategic partnership with Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (formerly Alberta Research Council)…. [In early 2008, this same research council prepared shoddy reviews of Alberta Environment’s incomplete water contamination investigations at Rosebud, Ponoka, and Wetaskiwin; ignored the data indicating that Encana and Quicksilver (previously MGV) had contaminated the water; fabricated investigation records and data to blame the harmed water wells owners and nature for the dangerous levels of methane, and the ethane, nitrogen, petroleum distillates and metals in citizen tap water; and refuse to release the public water well records used. FOIP results show that the ‘independent” reviews by the Research Council were edited by Alberta Environment]
Also in 2008, WaterSMART entered into a long term strategic relationship with the Oil Sands Leadership Initiative (OSLI)…. Finally, WaterSMART conducted a foundational study with the Alberta Economic Development Authority on the sustainable use of water in Alberta. … Over the last year, WaterSMART has undergone a transformation from the Society to a company incorporated under the Alberta Business Corporations Act. [Emphasis added]
Snap above added April 6, 2016
As Environment Minister Diana McQueen said, it will be unique in the world. It may also be uniquely expensive. And yet, there is no detail whatever on how an agency with such vast duties will ultimately be funded. Few Albertans will have any problem with better environmental monitoring all over Alberta.We need it badly. And we could get it simply by improving the regional monitoring systems already in place. But the PCs need a gaudy symbol they can wrap in the Alberta flag. And so, a big, government-appointed body is going to assume control of, and greatly expand, an extremely complex provincewide system. If this makes you think of Alberta Health Services, please stop. You could hurt yourself. [Emphasis added]
Joining Tennant on the panel are five Albertans from a variety of backgrounds. They include a former president of the TransCanada pipeline group…the deputy minister of environment and water, and a former deputy minister who’s moved over to the private sector. Their independence as been questioned, however. Rachel Notley, the New Democrats’ environment critic, says panel member Neil McCrank – formerly chairman of the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board – is now part of a law firm that donated $5,000 to Alison Redford’s leadership campaign. The opposition party also says panel member Hal Kvisle, a board member of Talisman Energy and the Bank of Montreal, gave $4,000 to her campaign. And Tennant donated $500 to (now deputy premier) Doug Horner’s unsuccessful ampaign, Notley says. [Emphasis added]
Along with building public awareness about water issues, Alberta WaterSmart also works with industry. “Eighty-four per cent of the water in our province is allocated to some form of industrial use,” notes Ms. [Kim] Sturgess.
She has worked with Newalta Corp., Canada’s largest industrial waste-management and environmental services company, to recycle and reuse oil-field wastewater for industrial purposes.
“It’s a change in thinking – that water is not a waste product, but also a revenue stream,” she says.
“As we develop new water-management practices, they’ve got to end up as new business opportunities.” [Emphasis added]