Parkland Institute Research: Fact Sheets

published October 29, 2014

Directly and Adversely Affected:

Public Participation in Tar Sands Development 2005-2014

by Mark Hudson, Evan Bowness

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Directly and Adversely Affected

On April 1, 2014, the landscape of energy regulation in Alberta shifted significantly, with both fanfare and concern. With the new Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) fully taking
over the former responsibilities of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD), and the
Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), the Alberta government and the oil and gas industry proclaimed a new, streamlined era of responsible and sustainable energy development. On the day the transition was completed, Minister McQueen pledged a future in which the environment would be “a top priority.” Industry will surely be watching carefully to see whether the new regulator makes the process speedier and more efficient. It will be up to Albertans to monitor whether the regulator is keeping the environmental end of the bargain.

Alberta’s bitumen is a public resource. Its fate should rest in public hands. In practice, this means making the processes of project licensing, approval, monitoring, and appeal as transparent, inclusive, and deliberative as possible, and exercising a degree of caution proportional to the risks and potential benefits embodied in the resource. Unfortunately, as we show below, Alberta’s record on enabling public participation so far leaves much to be desired.

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