On October 24, 2012, the Alberta government introduced
legislation to unify upstream energy resource regulation in Alberta
under the control of a single regulator. Under Bill 2, the
Responsible Energy Development Act, the Alberta Energy Regulator
will be created, combining the existing regulatory functions of the
Energy Resources Conservation Board and Alberta Environment and
Sustainable Resource Development. The new regulator will have
responsibility for the regulation of all upstream activities
"from initial application to reclamation" in the oil,
natural gas, oil sands and coal industries, including matters
relating to air, water, land, mine and facility authorizations.
The Alberta Energy Regulator will introduce a single-window
approach to energy resource regulation, and will operate under the
policy guidance of a unified Policy Management Office. This new
body, another part of the Alberta government's effort to
integrate resource management, will set energy-related policy,
develop industry performance measures and provide policy guidance
to the sole regulator. The introduction of Bill 2 follows recent
government announcements of a regional land-use plan for the Lower
Athabasca Region (August 2012), an integrated environmental
monitoring system (October 2012), and the issuance of a discussion
paper on potential amendments to Alberta's Aboriginal
Bill 2 arose from a three-year government initiative aimed at
improving Alberta's competitiveness in the oil and gas
industry. In March 2010, the government released a report entitled
Energizing Investment: A Framework to Improve Alberta's Natural
Gas and Conventional Oil Competitiveness, in which it identified
regulatory overhaul as a key objective in "re-staking"
Alberta's competitive position. This led to the creation of the
Regulatory Enhancement Task Force, mandated to comprehensively
study the regulatory framework applicable to the upstream oil and
gas industry in Alberta. In its December 2010 final report, the
Task Force made six recommendations, all subsequently accepted by
the government, aimed at harmonizing the development and
implementation of energy resource policy, risk management and
performance evaluation. The unified regulator envisioned in Bill 2
is a direct response to these six recommendations; the Policy
Management Office is another.
The announcement of the new regulator will likely be welcomed by
industry in its attempt to streamline and simplify the existing
process of obtaining multiple approvals from various regulators for
a single project. It is anticipated that the Alberta Energy
Regulator will be operational by June, 2013; however, it will
undoubtedly be some time after that before it is known how well the
single regulator is functioning and whether the Provincial
Government was successful in achieving its goals.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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