Albertans own the natural resources in our province. That is why we get to oversee their development and can charge “rents” in the form of Royalties.
We also require those businesses who develop our resources under various agreements with government and regulators. Part of the conditions for development our our resources is the obligation to reclaim the lands to a a self-sustaining biota once the resource extraction has been completed.
The Alberta Energy Regulator runs cost scenarios on outstanding reclamation obligations. They recently ran a worst case scenario they shared with industry to get their attention and indicate the possible extent of the reclamation costs, that came all in at $260 Billion.
This is not a likely situation and must not be resumed to be the final consequences of reclamation obligations. However what ever the reclamation obligations are and if industry fails, refuses or neglects to meet their contractual obligations, Albertan are on the hook for the reclamation costs.
Here is a link to a great LinkedIn piece by Economist Mark Anielski for more context and content. Full disclosure Mark is a friend of mine and a great mind.
We need this to be a central issue for any provincial government we elect. Time has come for Albertans to start acting like resource owners. We better start insisting on better reclamation performance from those companies we do deals with to develop and operate our natural resources. They are, after all, our tenants and joint venturers.