David Swann expressed concern today that the Act to Ensure Independent Environmental Monitoring (Bill 18) consolidates far too much authority in the Ministry of Environment and will not ensure independence.
“I believe the Minister Phillips has the best of intentions and honestly believes that environmental monitoring is an essential function of government,” said Swann. “However, the bill as written consolidates all power under the Ministry. This is the very circumstance which caused the creation of an independent body in the first place.”
“Under Bill 18, the Minister appoints the Chief Scientist, the Minister appoints new members of the Scientific Panel, the Chief Scientist reports to the Deputy Minister and the Chief Scientist chooses the schedule under which he reports to the public,” Swann continued. “Nowhere is there independent oversight.”
Swann believes replacements to the Scientific Panel should be chosen by an independent committee and the Chief Scientist be required to report to the Legislature.
“If the Minister is determined to move AEMERA back into the Ministry, the corresponding legislation must provide independence from Ministry interference. Bill 18 does not perform that function,” Swann concluded.