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Alberta government to review energy regulator, replaces board members

Last Updated Sep 6, 2019 at 1:34 pm MDT

Environment Minister Jason Nixon and Energy Minister Sonya Savage announce the review of the Alberta Energy Regulator at the McDougall Centre in Calgary. Credit: Tom Ross

The province does not plan to scrap the regulator while giving the public a chance to give feedback.

Minister Jason Nixon wants to boost oil and gas production and protect the environment.

CALGARY – The provincial government is fulfilling a campaign promise by launching a review of the Alberta Energy Regulator.

The government is concerned the performance of the AER is declining.

Energy Minister Sonya Savage says the review will look at overall changes to the Alberta Energy Regulatory’s mandate, operations and governance.

In a joint announcement with Environment Minister Jason Nixon, Savage said they have heard many complaints from industry.

“They’re too slow, they take too long, it’s too expensive, there’s too much red tape, it’s too cumbersome. So, we’re taking a look to see, ‘Why is this?'” Savage said.

In her words, they will “crack open” the AER’s core mandate to make sure they are not going beyond the scope, which was originally intended to centre around the responsible development of natural resources.

While this review is conducted, feedback will be sought from both stakeholders and the public.

Public feedback can also be left online, at alberta.ca/AER.

Nixon adds they want to ensure they can boost oil and gas while protecting the environment.

“Make sure that we have a regulator that has a foundation to be able to develop resources in an environmentally friendly way going forward, and about finding balance,” Nixon added.

Savage says its current board of directors is also being replaced with interim members, who will remain in place for the next nine months.

The moves were a campaign promise Premier Jason Kenney made before his United Conservatives were elected in April.

Kenney had said one of his first tasks would be replacing the board, especially member Ed Whittingham, who Kenney accused of committing “economic sabotage” against Alberta’s oil interests.

Whittingham, a former executive director of the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based think tank that promotes economically responsible energy development, resigned before he could be fired.

There are no plans to scrap the regulator, though it could be slimmed down in the name of finding efficiencies.

— with files from The Canadian Press