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Mountaiview Councillor Provides Input For New Energy Regulator

Albertans provide input for new regulator

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 03:00 am | BY PATRICIA RILEY  Mountain View Gazette

 
Alberta government officials visited Sundre on Feb. 26 to gather input from area residents regarding the new Alberta Energy Regulator.
 
“The Alberta Energy Regulator will replace the ERCB (Energy Resources Conservation Board),” Carrie Rosa, from the communications department for Alberta Energy, said at the meeting.
“It will regulate all energy-related activity in the province for oil, gas, oilsands and coal.”
About 40 people attended the open house at the Sundre Legion Hall to voice their opinions and hear about the government’s plans.
The Sundre event was the only session being held in Mountain View County as part of provincewide consultations.
Paddy Munro, Mountain View County Div. 6 councillor, attended the Sundre meeting. He said he is “absolutely” against the new regulator.
“This new bill strips landowners of important rights regarding energy projects on our lands,” Munro told the Gazette.
The regulator will repeal the rights that landowners have under the Energy Resources Conservation Act, including notice of energy projects and the right to review documents relating to the proposed energy projects, he said.
It also repeals the right to object to the energy project, trigger a hearing, the right to cross-examine the energy company or regulator and the right to present one’s case, he added.
The public interest mandate of the ERCB is being repealed, which is also a concern, he said.
“It seems to me like the new bill will fast-track energy development,” he said. “The important thing is to get it right, to properly deal with concerns of adjacent landowners and give them true options if they don’t support the project.
“Now you’re able to file a letter of concern, it just doesn’t seem enough.”
There are 19 public sessions being held across the province over the course of three weeks, from Feb. 20 to March 13.
As well as Sundre, open houses are being held in Fort Saskatchewan, Red Deer, Calgary, Drumheller, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Fort McMurray, and Drayton Valley.
As part of the information gathering process, the government is hoping to receive feedback on how Albertans would like to receive notices of energy industry activities, said Rosa.
This is because Albertans haven’t been satisfied with the way they receive notice from the current regulators, she said.
“A lot of people in this area specifically have dealings with the ERCB, so we want to know what’s working really well for them, what isn’t working well and how we can make improvements,” said Rosa, noting that the new regulator will tentatively be up and running by June.
The new regulator comes out of the Responsible Energy Development Act, which was recently passed, she said.
“We debated the piece of legislation throughout the fall. It was passed in December and now we’re building the rules and regulations that will govern this new regulator,” she said.
“We’re taking all the feedback and then we’ll start the work in building the regulations as soon as the consultation period’s done.”
Wade Clark, executive director for policy and regulatory alignment with Alberta Energy, said it is important to ensure the interest of Albertans is “protected” in the process.
“These sessions are primarily for us to listen to Albertans in terms of what their expectations are for the new regulator’s processes,” Clark said at the Sundre meeting.
Once the regulations are drafted, they will then go through the approval process through cabinet, he said.
“Our intention is to have a process of continuous improvement, come back to Albertans, find out what we got right the first time and what we need to improve upon in the future,” he said.
“We couldn’t be happier with the turnout and the range of perspectives that we’re getting. We’ve had good input from folks who are involved in the industry itself as well as landlords, environmental groups, municipalities as well.”
There is an online survey for anyone who is unable to attend a session, atwww.energy.alberta.ca/Initiatives/RegulatoryEnhancement.asp.
The online survey allows for Albertans to provide input until March 29.
“All of the input is very important for us to understand the balancing of what we have to do in the draft regulations that work for everybody,” said Clark.
 

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