04/07/2016 09:10 EDT | Updated 04/08/2017 01:12 EDT

Scientists criticize Alberta move to dismantle oilsands monitoring body

EDMONTON — Prominent Canadian scientists are telling Alberta's environment minister that disbanding an arm's-length body that monitors the environmental impact of the oilsands is a mistake.

David Schindler, a renowned University of Alberta ecologist, is one of nine A-list researchers warning Shannon Phillips that bringing the agency back under government opens the door to political interference.

Phillips made the announcement on Tuesday, citing a consultant's report that the monitoring agency was a three-year failed experiment.

She compared environmental monitoring to public health and safety and called it a core function of government.

Schindler and his colleagues say the agency was making good progress despite bureaucratic resistance.

He says credible research was being conducted.

Schindler says while the current minister may have no intention of interfering in monitoring work, the same can't necessarily be said of all future ministers.