Oil sands air monitoring agency running on emergency fund

Independent oil sands watchdog Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA), seems to have its day counted as an air pollution monitor, since its industry-dominated board refused to approve a new budget, Fort McMurray Today reports.

The organization — which has watched air quality in Canada’s northeast since 1997 — proposed a $14-million budget for 2014 that was declined last week by the board, which includes industry representatives such as Shell, Syncrude, Suncor and CNRL, as well as First Nations and environmentalists.

Directors only approved a $2 million emergency fund that will keep the agency running through January. After that, no one really knows what will happen.

“We’ve called a special meeting for the third week in January and I expect the budget issues will be resolved,” executive director Kevin Percy told The Edmonton Journal.

WBEA is not the only oil sand monitoring agency facing financial issues. The Cumulative Effects Management Association (CEMA), which does scientific work on environment policy for government, is also dealing with lack of funding and faces possible closure next month.

Image by Michael G. Chan