Bill 7, the Responsible Energy Development Amendment Act, directly addresses concerns about unnecessary delays – as a result of needless red tape and ineffective processes – in the Alberta Energy Regulator’s (AER) assessment of resource project applications. The regulator’s obligation to fully consider social and economic effects and the effects of an activity on the environment and landowners is unchanged. The legislation provides government with the backstop authority to establish maximum timelines for the AER to review applications if the regulator fails to do so. This will enhance predictability in all aspects of the review process – for industry and all Albertans.

Bill 7 builds on other recent actions to improve the performance of the AER, including the appointment of a new board and new chief executive officer. While government is encouraged AER’s new leadership team continues to take steps to address existing concerns around unnecessary processes and delays, this legislation provides Albertans further assurance regulatory certainty and predictability will no longer be compromised.

“We’ve heard, loudly and clearly, a regulatory system that provides certainty is the key driver to ensure needed capital investment flows into the province. We’re not asking the regulator to say yes or no to any project, but rather to ensure delays and uncertainty do not dissuade projects – that will help put Albertans to work – from being brought forward for review. Since being elected, we have taken a series of steps to strengthen and modernize the AER, helping to set a course for economic recovery by increasing investor confidence in Alberta’s energy sector.”

Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy

“We made a commitment to Albertans that we would review and restructure the AER in order to ensure we are able to create certainty for the province’s job creators while maintaining our commitment to excellence in terms of environmental outcomes. This legislation will harmonize government and AER policies, allowing the regulator to approve or reject projects more quickly using its already stringent standards.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks

“The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association welcomes the Government of Alberta’s commitment to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of energy project application reviews. For Alberta to remain competitive, regulatory certainty and predictability are critical, especially as our province emerges from a period of prolonged economic uncertainty. We commend the government on its support for the energy sector, while ensuring our resources are produced and transported using world-leading safety and environmental standards.”

Chris Bloomer, president and CEO, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association

“PSAC appreciates the efforts of the Alberta government to restore investor confidence and operator efficiency in our energy sector by ensuring timely decision-making and reducing red tape for projects. Providing predictably for industry and certainty to attract capital investment for the responsible development of our natural resources will lead to jobs for the oilfield services sector that PSAC represents and benefits to all Albertans.”

Elizabeth Aquin, interim president and CEO, Petroleum Services Association of Canada

Government has also directed the regulator to establish a red tape reduction task force to identify unnecessary regulator processes.

Government continues to work with the AER to address long-standing liability and environmental concerns, such as strengthening the role of the Orphan Well Association, and developing a new suite of policies – to be announced in the near future – to ensure industry can cover the cost of cleaning up oil and gas wells and sites in a manageable way.

Quick facts

  • On Sept. 6, the Government of Alberta initiated a review of the Alberta Energy Regulator and appointed an interim board of directors.
  • The interim board of directors, consisting of public servants and individuals with oil and gas expertise:
    • Provided direction on restructuring.
    • Reviewed the industry levy that funds the AER.
    • Increased clarity regarding the AER’s role in providing proper oversight.
  • On April 1, government announced the appointment of a new AER board of directors.
  • On March 26, the AER appointed a permanent CEO.