In our blog post of November 5, 2012, we discussed Alberta’s new proposed energy legislation, Bill 2, The Responsible Energy Development Act (the “Bill”). The proposed legislation is designed to streamline the process for approving oil and gas projects by creating a single regulator (the “Alberta Energy Regulator”), but has drawn significant opposition from property rights activists and environmental groups. On November 21, 2012, the Alberta legislature endorsed amendments to the Bill. According to Energy Minister Ken Hughes, the amendments to the Bill strengthen landowners’ rights by ensuring that the Alberta Energy Regulator adequately considers the interests of landowners in project applications in the following manner: (i) require the regulatory agency to give public notice for all project applications it receives; (ii) clarify the appeal mechanism for project approvals; and (iii) provide individuals who believe that they are directly and adversely impacted by an application the ability to file a statement of concern with the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Despite these changes, the Wildrose Party of Alberta, the official opposition, argues that the government has not adequately amended the Bill to protect the interests of landowners and ensure environmental stewardship in Alberta. The Wildrose Party of Alberta proposed amendments include, among others: (i) restoring the right of Albertans to be notified and have a hearing if they would be directly affected by an energy project; (ii) legislating a standard timeline for project applications; (iii) restoring landowners’ ability to appeal to the Environmental Appeal Board when environmental damages are not correctly compensated; and (iv) mandating the Alberta Energy Regulator to uphold property rights and consider the concerns of the “public interest”.

The Alberta Energy Regulator will assume the functions of the Energy Resources Conservation Board and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Development. The Government of Alberta anticipates that the Alberta Energy Regulator will be fully operational by June 2013.