Did the Kenney-controlled UCP government lie to us, mislead us, or disinform us…or undertake all of these deceits when environmental rules were suspended by the Alberta Energy Regulator in April and May “based on public health concerns”?

Shouldn’t the Alberta government be upfront and focused on bringing this information to light in a clear and transparent way?  The AER sure didn’t and the UCP government was not being responsible or accountable either.

Thanks to a Freedom of Information request by Global News and excellent reporting by Mike De Souza, Albertans, as owners of the energy resources in our province, get to pass judgment based on facts, not propaganda, as we seek to answer these questions.

  • “Under normal circumstances, the AER would review rule changes or proposals from industry through an open process that would allow for public participation and access to proposals, evidence, and analysis of decisions. But in this case, it took a freedom of information request from Global News to prompt the regulator to release a partially-censored copy of the records that show how it reached its decisions.”

It should not take a FOIP application to get accountability and transparency from the Alberta Energy Regulator.  They are supposed to work in the Public Interest.  What happened here?  COVID was used, once again by the UCP government, as cover for a bad policy or abusive political decisions.

Even a cursory read of this new story moke one come to the conclusion of more collusion between the Regulatory and Industry in service of the public interest or the duty to consult with First Nations.  Here is what Chief Allan Adam had to say about the AER decision making process:

  •  “The fact that a public regulator appears to have not only consulted but actively collaborated with private industry without the knowledge or involvement of affected First Nations or the people of Alberta is deeply troubling,” Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam told Global News.

The CEO of the AER acknowledges the lack of consultation “during the public health emergency” in a letter of June 23 to the four First Nations affected, offering to meet and an AER executive “would be in touch shortly.”  Three weeks have passed and no details of any follow up have been received.

  • “AER could simply acknowledge that First Nations have constitutional rights it cannot ignore and pick up the phone,” said Fort McKay First Nation Chief Mel Grandjamb. “It should not be onerous to forge a working relationship.”

Mr. Pushor, the AER CEO further to state:

  • “Regardless of the unique circumstances surrounding the decisions, we acknowledge the importance of engagement and are reviewing our processes to find improvements.”

Part of the “Improvement” must also include the obligations Alberta owes to  the NWT, who was also left out of the notification obligation of the AER regulatory suspension.

We still don’t know why 19 different monitoring requirements were suspended.  We are told the suspensions were for public health reasons due to COVID concerns.  Suspiciously, some regulatory suspensions were of monitoring processes that we automated and do not require human activities.  Yet Industry spokespeople say there was no economic reasons for the regulatory suspensions of monitoring?  Really?

We need much more clarity and openness from the AER about this strange set of circumstances.  We also need more disclosure from the industry on what they requested to be suspended through CAPP.  Where is the disclosure of what exactly was determined to be the risk to human health to those doing professionals who do the monitoring and why Health Orders could not be complied with?

It is unacceptable that FOIP has to be used to get what should be normal, in-the-course-of business public disclosure of such serious regulatory suspensions, especially in these COVID times.  Trust is being betrayed on an on-going basis.  That must stop, but it will be up to citizens as taxpayers. voters and resource owners to make it happen.

Full disclosure, I am a Suncor shareholder and have done consulting work for them in the past.  I was also the Executive Director of the Oil Sands Developers Group, a coalition of oil sands corporations.


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