Alberta environmental laws continue to expand

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Nimonik is growing the EHS Tracker database with more Alberta laws, regulations, rules and compliance templates. Last year, significant changes were announced for Alberta’s regulation of energy developments. The Responsible Energy Development Act (SA2012,cR-17.3) (“the Act”) was introduced by Alison Redford’s government and promptly received royal assent. If all goes to plan, the Act is expected to come into full force by years’ end. The main intent of this Act is to simplify the approval process for oil, natural gas, oil sands and coal projects. It also replaces the Energy Resources Conservation Act. In doing so, it will merge the regulatory functions previously administered by the (now de-funct) Energy Resources Conservation Board and some functions of the Alberta Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and Alberta Energy into one single regulating agency: the Alberta Energy Regulator: (AER).

The objective of the AER is to provide regulatory oversight of Alberta’s energy development projects. Once fully developed, it will be involved in an energy operation’s full cycle of events: from application of authorization to development and eventual decommissioning. You can read more about the application process here. The AER is already responsible for the administration of laws, such as: the Oil Sands Conservation Act (RSA2000,cO-7), the Oil and Gas Conservation Act (RSA2000,cO-6). As well as administering a variety of regulations, including the Pipeline Regulation (Alta.Reg.91/2005) and the Oil Sands Conservation Regulation (Alta.Reg.76/1988). When the remaining parts of the Responsible Energy Development Act come into force, certain elements of the following Acts will also be administered by the AER, the: Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (RSA2000,cE-12), Water Act (RSA2000,cW-3) and the Public Lands Act (RSA2000,cP-40).

So what’s new at EHS Tracker and EHS Audit?
EHS Tracker already hosts and tracks changes to a variety of environment, health & safety legislation to help companies to stay compliant. What’s new is that we are tracking many new Alberta Energy Regulator Directives (“the Directives”). The AER Directives, over 80 and counting, are documents that describe how the AER requirements are to be implemented. They can additionally serve as guidelines for operations. The AER states “all licensees, permittees, and other approval holders under the jurisdiction of the AER are required to obey all directives” ( [accessed October 24, 2013]. You can view the Directives, hosted on EHS Tracker, here.

Having access and tracking changes to Directives are the first step, but operations need to understand how the Directives apply to their operations. Luckily, Nimonik and our partner Conformance Check, can help with that: we host audit templates, specifically for the petroleum sector. These guide users through a variety useful AER Directives, noting all relevant actions to be taken to ensure compliance. To view these templates, go to EHS Audit and search for “Petroleum”.

The AER is in its’ infancy and is yet to be fully developed and operational. At the same time, national and international pressure is mounting for changes to Alberta’s environment, health and safety regulatory landscape. Oil and gas operators are especially advised to stay vigilant of their evolving obligations.