05 Jun Calgary likes Green Regs & Ham!
Last week, over 100 environmental nonprofit leaders, regulatory lawyers and industry representatives gathered together to enjoy Green Regs & Ham in Calgary. This second-annual event featured Gerry Protti, Chair of the Alberta Energy Regulator (the AER), who provided an overview of the regulator’s first year in operation.
Mr. Protti addressed some of the challenges and successes of the past year. Some highlights of his presentation included:
- As of April 1st, responsibility for environmental matters related to oil and gas under Alberta’s Water Act and Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act has been transferred to the AER.
- The AER intends to take a holistic approach to oil and gas development and regulation, including:
- the adoption of “play-based” regulation, which focuses on regulating the surface and subsurface of a particular formation (as opposed to the traditional one well-one licence approach);
- use of a performance-based approach to regulate outcomes, which includes managing cumulative effects, minimizing spread of surface infrastructure, and conserving and managing water; and
- increased planning and collaboration among companies and community stakeholders.
- With respect to making determinations of standing, the AER is still using the “directly and adversely affected” test.
In addition to the presentation (that you can view here), there was the unique opportunity to direct questions to the AER Chair through our pre-event survey and at the event. We received lots of great advance questions from our guests which Mr. Protti addressed during his presentation. As well, Mr. Protti responded to additional questions in the live Q&A. When asked what he would like to “do over,” Mr. Protti replied that he felt that, despite working hard on it over the past year, the AER could have communicated better with the public.
Throughout the transition to the AER, we have worked with the government’s Policy Management Office to assist with policy development. This includes addressing the “directly and adversely affected” test for standing currently used by the AER (and other regulatory bodies). We continue to promote and advise that the “genuine public interest” test for standing is superior and ought to be adopted. Our research shows that broadening standing to include genuine public interest results in better decisions and higher public confidence in the decision-making process. Further, broadened standing does not adversely affect timing of development. In fact, we see this kind of decision-making as a win-win for all stakeholders: industry, the public and the environment. Stay tuned for more on this topic in future blog posts, publications and events. You can also find a wealth of information on standing under Public Participation on both our website and our blog.
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