On November 5, 2012, Bill 2, Responsible Energy Development Act (the “Bill”), received second reading in the Alberta Legislature. The proposed legislation will create a single provincial regulator, the Alberta Energy Regulator, for all oil and gas related activities, which is currently administered by the Energy Resources Conservation Board in concert with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. In its current form, the mandate of the Alberta Energy Regulator will be to provide for the efficient, safe, orderly and environmentally responsible development of upstream oil and gas, oil sands and coal development in the province of Alberta. The Alberta Energy Regulator will be responsible to consider and decide applications and other matters in respect of pipelines, processing plants, mines and other oil and gas related facilities and operations in the province from application to reclamation.
Under the proposed legislation, the Alberta Energy Regulator will operate at arm’s length from the Government of Alberta, under the direction of an appointed board of directors and chief executive officer. According to the Government of Alberta, a principle goal of the Bill is the creation of a “one-window” approach to project applications which will result in a clear and efficient system for the development of resource projects. As proposed, the Bill includes provision to regulate the disposition and management of public lands, the protection of the environment and the conservation and management of water, including the wise allocation and use of water. The Government of Alberta anticipates that the Alberta Energy Regulator will be fully operational by June 2013.
The Wildrose Party of Alberta, the official opposition, has stated that it will propose 12 amendments to the Bill to ensure that it properly protects landowners, communities and the environment, and is pushing the Government of Alberta to send the bill to a standing all-party committee on resource development for further review and debate. Critics of the Bill are concerned that the proposed legislation does not adequately recognize and protect the interests of individual landowners and fails to adequately protect the environment.