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Alberta First Nations appeal suspension of environmental monitoring in oilpatch

Last Updated Jun 8, 2020 at 4:49 pm MST

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley visits an oil and gas pipe fabrication plant in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 15, 2019. Alberta's Official Opposition leader says Premier Jason Kenney should step in to reverse a decision from the province's energy regulator to suspend environmental monitoring requirements. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

EDMONTON — Three northern Alberta First Nations want to appeal the province’s decision to suspend environmental monitoring in the oilpatch.

The Mikisew Cree First Nation, the Fort McKay First Nation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation have made the request to the regulator’s internal appeals body.

The Alberta Energy Regulator made the decision earlier this spring.

It later explained this was an attempt to keep workers and communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melody Lepine of the Mikisew Cree, who live in the oilsands region, says Indigenous people in the area were left entirely in the dark over the move.

She said she saw no justification for it, adding First Nations haven’t been given any explanation of how the province will track environmental impacts during the suspension.

Lepine points out monitoring is one of the conditions under which companies are granted access to the land.

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley also called on Laurie Pushor to resign as head of the Alberta Energy Regulator.

She said his decision to suspend environmental monitoring shows he’s too close the United conservative government to be independent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2020

The Canadian Press