Occasional Papers: 30-39
Using Strategic Environmental Assessments to Guide Oil and Gas Exploration Decisions in the Beaufort Sea: Lessons Learned from Atlantic Canada
by Meinhard Doelle, Nigel Bankes and Louie Porta, 2012.
27 pp. Occasional Paper #39. $15.00 (softcover)
The 21st century has seen a renewed interest in developing Canadian Arctic oil and gas reserves. Historically, hydrocarbon development efforts focused on land or shallow water hydrocarbon potential. Since 2008 the industry has shifted its attention to the deepwater areas of the Canadian Beaufort Sea — a region that to date has experienced limited exploration and no development. In the wake of the huge Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Canada's National Energy Board (NEB) initiated a public Review of Offshore Drilling in the Canadian Arctic to ensure the regulatory system was prepared to handle the unique challenges of Arctic drilling. There was no similar examination of the adequacy and appropriateness of Canada's Arctic oil and gas rights issuance process. In this paper we argue that a key weakness in the current procedure is the failure of the government to apply state of the art Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) as part of deciding where and when to open new areas to potential oil and gas drilling activities.
Sharing Land Stewardship in Alberta: The Role of Aboriginal Peoples
by David Laidlaw and Monique M. Passelac-Ross, 2012.
53 pp. Occasional Paper #38. $20.00 (softcover)
This paper explores one possibility of revitalizing the relationship between First Nations, the people of Alberta and the lands and waters of Alberta that we all care for. To further this, we propose involving First Nations in the joint management of their traditional lands and resources under formal Joint Stewardship Agreements. We introduce the concept of co-management, which is a means of decentralizing decision-making over land use and resource management from government to local communities. We provide a brief overview of the literature on co-management.
Assessing Where Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Stand in Alberta Policy and Government Organization
by Michael M. Wenig, 2011.
40 pp. Occasional Paper #37. $15.00 (softcover)
Alberta has committed to “set a table” for renewable energy and to “encourage” energy efficiency and conservation. This commitment begs the questions of how fast or much these two sectors are expected to progress and what specific roles the province will play in promoting that progress. This paper addresses these questions by considering the evolution of provincial policy-making with respect to these two sectors and what governmental institutions have been created to specifically address the sectors.
The "Public Interest" in Section 3 of Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Act: Where Do We Stand and Where Do We Go From Here?
by Cecilia A. Low, 2011.
41 pp. Occasional Paper #36. $15.00 (softcover)
Section 3 of the Energy Resources Conservation Act (ERCA) requires the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) to consider whether a proposed energy resource project is "in the public interest" having regard to three factors, the social and economic effects of the project and its impact on the environment. Although the concept is fundamental to the discharge of the Board's mandate, the phrase "in the public interest" is not defined in the ERCA.
Since little has been written about section 3 of the ERCA and since Alberta Energy propose to change to how the public interest is engaged in the course of regulation of the upstream oil and gas industry, this paper sets out to assess the current state of the interpretation and application of that provision by the ERCB against the background of relevant social science literature on the topic of the public interest and applicable court decisions. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for the way forward.
Water Stewardship in the Lower Athabasca River: Is the Alberta Government Paying Attention to Aboriginal Rights to Water?
by Monique Passelac-Ross and Karin Buss, 2011.
61 pp. Occasional Paper #35. $20.00 (softcover)
This paper examines the status of aboriginal rights to water in the Lower Athabasca River Basin. It starts from the premise that Aboriginal peoples living in the Athabasca oil sands region have constitutionally protected water rights, and inquires whether or not these rights are acknowledged and protected by the Alberta government.
Public Participation in Energy and Natural Resources Development: A Theory and Criteria for Evaluation
by Rebeca Macias, 2010.
52 pp. Occasional Paper #34. $20.00 (softcover)
The paper focuses on the theoretical foundations of public participation in environmental decision-making and natural resources management, and develops general criteria to assess the effectiveness of both processes and results of participatory proceedings. The foundations of public participation and the justifications for its application are outlined. Habermas' theory of communicative action is used to describe an ideal model of public participation. The author's concepts of fairness and competence are used to shape the notion of effective participation. The study concludes that public participation is one important instrument to improve public policies related to environmental conservation and natural resources management. The proposed criteria incorporate ideas such as previous consensus on the rules of the debate, the increase of citizens' social and political capital, the enhancement of participants' autonomy, and the use of traditional and community knowledge. The appendix includes an analysis of the European Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention), based on the criteria proposed in the paper.
Alberta's Water for Life and Recent Trends in International Law
by J. Owen Saunders and Nickie Vlavianos, 2010.
23 pp. Occasional Paper #33. $15.00 (softcover)
In 2003, after a period of extended public consultation, the Government of Alberta introduced its Water for Life strategy. The strategy was subsequently updated and refined in 2008 and 2009, and has been the subject of extensive comment elsewhere. While the strategy has received significant attention, this paper addresses one aspect of Water for Life that has not been the subject of comment to date - the intersection of Water for Life with recent trends in international law.
Institutional Relationships and Alberta's Water for Life Strategy
by J. Owen Saunders, 2010.
31 pp. Occasional Paper #32. $15.00 (softcover)
When it was introduced by the provincial government in November 2003, the Water for Life strategy represented a potentially bold attempt to mark Alberta as the Canadian leader in modern approaches to water management. Indeed, at the time, the government described the strategy as the "most comprehensive of its kind in Canada." The strategy came against the backdrop of increasing stresses on the province's water resources and a recently-completed overhaul of the cornerstone of water management legislation with the introduction in 1996 of a new Water Act. The Act has been the subject of extensive comment elsewhere, but, in summary, it attempted to both preserve the essential core of the province's existing water management regime - which was built on the twin principles of prior allocation and "first-in-time, first-in-right" - and to incorporate modern concepts and tools of water management, as reflected in the foundational concept of ecosystem integrity and protection.
The paper begins with an overview of the Water for Life strategy, as reflected both in its original version and in subsequent refinements in later years. It then describes briefly the institutional context for water management in Alberta, focusing on the provincial agencies that have the primary ongoing responsibilities for water management in the province. The paper then turns to the description of some key planning initiatives undertaken by the province that are relevant to Water for Life, including both broader land-use planning exercises and planning efforts directed at water management more narrowly, together with a discussion of the interrelationship between these exercises and the Water for Life strategy. The final section provides some brief conclusions.
Solar Rights and Renewable Energy in Alberta
by Julie Krivitsky, 2010.
23 pp. Occasional Paper #31. $10.00 (softcover)
In 2008 the Government of Alberta introduced a strategy to address the challenge of climate change. One of the measures in the strategy envisages greening of energy production through the introduction of more sustainable ways of its production and simultaneous increase in the use of renewable sources of energy. Renewable sources of energy include, but are not limited to, such natural phenomena as the sun, wind, and tides.
This paper focuses on solar energy for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is one of the most versatile and arguably the cleanest of all the renewable energy sources. Secondly, Alberta enjoys considerable solar potential compared to many other jurisdictions. Finally, the use of this abundant resource can help to achieve the goal of greening energy production by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thus promoting the objectives set out in Alberta's 2008 Climate Change Strategy.
Wind Power and Renewable Energy in Alberta
by Julie Krivitsky, 2010.
28 pp. Occasional Paper #30. $10.00 (softcover)
In 2008 the Government of Alberta proposed a strategy addressing the challenge of climate change. One of the measures proposed in this strategy envisages greening of energy production by the introduction of more sustainable ways of its production and a simultaneous increase in the use of renewable sources of energy. Such sources include, but are not limited to, the energy derived from such natural phenomena as the sun, wind, and tides. This paper focuses on wind as an alternative source of energy for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is one of the cleanest of the renewable energy sources. Secondly, the wind regime in Alberta is particularly abundant compared to many other jurisdictions. Finally, using wind as a source of energy can help to achieve the goal of greening energy production by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thus promoting the objectives set out in Alberta's 2008 Climate Change Strategy and helping to meet the continually growing demand for electricity in the province.
This paper seeks to describe the regulatory framework governing wind power plants in Alberta and assess the framework's adequacy. The paper is organized as follows. A few preliminary comments about the nature of electricity and the main institutions regulating the electricity industry in Alberta are presented in Section 2. Section 3 reviews characteristics of wind as a source of energy. The regulatory framework governing wind power plants is outlined in Section 4. Section 5 analyses the adequacy of this framework, and Section 6 provides some concluding remarks.