hi-oilsands

The pressure is on the Alberta government to get its long-promised environmental monitoring panel running.

Howard Tennant, one of the government's advisers on the project, hopes legislation to create the monitoring agency passes in the next two weeks so the panel can get started.

The proposed Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency has no leaders, scientific advisers or permanent funding mechanism, and First Nations say they've been left out of the process.

One group has already announced it won't participate in the government's oilsands monitoring and another is dissatisfied.

Alberta's oilsands customers are watching to see how serious the government is about ensuring the province's resources are developed responsibly, Tennant said.

It's important because the U.S. is nearing decisions on whether to approve pipelines to transport Alberta bitumen south. 

The federal government is concerned enough to have tendered a contract Tuesday to buy $18 million worth of international advertising to reassure potential trading partners about Canadian environmental policies.

Ernie Hui, the environment deputy minister charged with creating the new agency, knows there's a lot to do to get it on its feet by the government's announced target of early 2014.