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Province seeks input on energy regulator

The new Alberta Energy Regulator, which will soon guide the industry, government and public, got a closer look on Tuesday in Red Deer.

The provincial government is introducing the Alberta Energy Regulator on June 1 with regulations that will be put in place and phased in.

Government staff are crisscrossing the province over three weeks to gather feedback on what those regulations should look like for the Alberta Energy Regulator. It will assume the duties of the current Energy Resources Conservation Board, as well as related duties of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

A public session on how the incoming energy regulator should work drew more than 25 people.

Mountain View County Councillor Paddy Munro, among the 27 people at Westerner Park’s Harvest Centre, said a number of adjacent landowners to oil and gas resources are concerned with what the new regulations may entail.

“They’re very concerned that this may be used as a tool to fast-track energy development and our concern is to do it properly, not necessarily quickly for industry,” said Munro. “We’re concerned about our roads, our environment.”

Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski said she’s heard some valid concerns, including that proper notification be given to the landowner of a development in his area, as well as notification to adjacent landowners since air quality can be affected.

“I think we have to work harder at ensuring that landowners and adjacent landowners are notified, so they can issue a letter of concern,” said Jablonski.

Alasdair MacKinnon, working for Red Deer’s Agri-Trend Land Resources that helps landowners deal with land agents, said he’s curious about what these regulations will entail since they will be the cornerstone of the recently passed Responsible Energy Development Act (REDA). This is where people need to get involved, since these regulations will show how the industry, government and public will interact, he added.

As a chartered mediator, he was particularly interested in how alternative dispute resolution would be used to resolve any issues.

“If a landowner and an oil company do not agree, they are to go to alternative dispute resolution,” said MacKinnon.

Wade Clark, executive director for Policy and Regulatory Alignment of Alberta Energy, said the regulations will determine a number of things, including how the Alberta Energy Regulator notifies people of applications in their area, regarding energy resource activities.

One of the questions being asked during the session is: How much time do people need to respond to an application?

So far, sessions are showing overall that people want clarity of process, Clark said.

“People really want to know what the new regulator is going to do to keep them informed and that’s been a recurring message for the last three years for the Regulatory Enhancement Project,” said Clark.

ltester@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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