This release was issued under a previous government.

The new regulator will be a unified one-window approach that makes it easier to navigate the system. It will also be responsible for energy resource developments from initial application to reclamation.

“With this legislation, we are laying the foundation for the next 50 years of responsible energy development in the province,” says Energy Minister Ken Hughes. “This new system will be more effective and efficient for industry and landowners and it will build on Alberta’s long-standing commitment to the environment. The result will be a benefit to not only Alberta’s economy but to Canada’s economy. It will help us maintain the social license to operate.”

Under the proposed legislation, the single regulator will assume the regulatory functions of the Energy Resources Conservation Board and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, with respect to oil, gas, oil sands and coal development. The arm’s-length agency will be governed by a board of directors, with a chief executive officer at the helm. It is expected to be operational by June 2013.

“As we grow, we must continue to find the right balance between environmental management and resource development to ensure Alberta and Canada remain global leaders on both fronts,” says Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen. “Through this regulator, we are taking a new approach to how we develop our energy resource while maintaining our strong environmental outcomes.”

Highlights of the Responsible Energy Development Act include:

  • Higher fines for individuals and companies who break the law;
  • Voluntary registry for landowners to register private surface agreements, which can then be enforced;
  • Increased flexibility for the regulator to receive and process applications in a way that supports effective and fair decision making.

This single regulator is a crucial component of the province’s plan to better manage its resources in an integrated manner. It builds on the Lower Athabasca Regional Land-Use Plan that came into effect September 1, and the recently-announced arm’s-length environmental monitoring agency.

A copy of the draft legislation can be found at www.assembly.ab.ca

Backgrounder

Responsible Energy Development Act charts new territory

The Government of Alberta is delivering on its promise to create an efficient and effective energy regulatory system.

The new regulator will be efficient and effective for landowners:

  • Voluntary registry for landowners to register private surface agreements, which can then be enforced;
  • The single regulator will be authorized to require that both parties participate in an alternative dispute resolution process, when the regulator considers it appropriate in order to resolve outstanding issues;
  • Landowners who are adversely and directly affected will have a mechanism to state their concerns.

The new regulator will be efficient and effective for industry:

  • One-window approach to project applications, creating a clear process;
  • Project applications may be consolidated or combined to gain efficiencies;
  • The regulator will have the flexibility it needs to receive applications and make decisions about energy resource activities.

The new regulator will provide an important balance to the environment:

  • It will have the ability to assess higher fines than before;
  • Through the proposed legislation, penalties and fines will be aligned across statutes;
  • The courts will also have increased fines at their disposal for companies which are not operating in accordance with agreements;
  • The environmental legislation remains as stringent as it was before.

The need for a single regulator was identified by the Regulatory Enhancement Task Force two years ago. The Task Force completed a comprehensive oil and gas regulatory review. That work included numerous consultations with industry, landowners, environmental groups and First Nations, and an online survey inviting Albertans’ feedback.

The Task Force released a report, Enhancing Assurance, which made six recommendations to ensure Alberta’s energy regulatory system is modern, efficient, competitive and effective.

Recommendations included:

  • Establish a Policy Management Office;
  • Establish a single upstream oil, gas, oil sands and coal regulator;
  • Provide a clear public engagement process;
  • Establish a common risk assessment and management approach;
  • Establish a performance measurement framework and public reporting mechanism;
  • Develop an effective mechanism to address landowner concerns.

The Government of Alberta adopted all six recommendations.

The Responsible Energy Development Act is the legislation to create the single energy regulator. Under the proposed legislation, the single upstream oil, gas, oil sands and coal regulator will oversee energy development projects from application to reclamation. It will operate at arm’s length from the Government of Alberta, under the direction of an appointed board of directors and chief executive officer.

The legislation also gives the regulator the authority to administer the Public Lands Act, the Energy Protection Enhancement Act and the Water Act, with regards to energy development.

In addition to the single regulator, the Government of Alberta is making improvements to how it sets energy-related policy. Policy direction for the province will continue to be set by the Government of Alberta, through a newly-created Policy Management Office.

The office will be responsible for providing clear policy guidance to the new regulator. The Policy Management Office is also tasked with creating an effective process to engage Albertans in the policy-making process earlier, rather than after decisions are made. The office is also tasked with developing performance measures.

The single regulator is one part of the province’s commitment to improve integration of its resource system. This integration sets and achieves the environmental, economic and social outcomes Albertans expect from resource development, while maintaining the social licence to develop resources.

In addition to creating the single regulator, the province is completing and implementing regional plans. In August, the province released its first land-use plan for the Lower Athabasca Region. On Oct. 17, the province announced another component of its integrated resource system - an environmental monitoring system.

The single regulator is expected to be in operation by June 2013.

Please visit www.energy.alberta.ca/initiatives/regulatoryenhancement.asp for more information, and to read Enhancing Assurance.

-30-

Media inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Deising
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Energy
780-901-8785
Mike.deising@gov.ab.ca

Janice Schroeder
Director, Communications
Energy
780-422-3667
Janice.schroeder@gov.ab.ca

Wayne Wood
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
780-975-9542
Wayne.wood@gov.ab.ca

Andy Weiler
Director, Communications
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
780-427-8122
Andy.weiler@gov.ab.ca  

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.