Occasional Papers: 40-49

Calibrating Liquefied Natural Gas Export Life Cycle Assessment: 
Accounting for Legal Boundaries and Post-Export Markets

by Prof. James Coleman, Dr. Adebola S. Kasumu, Jeanne Liendo, Vivian Li, and Dr. Sarah M. Jordaan, 2015.
36 pp. Occasional Paper #49. $20.00 (softcover)

The climate impact of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export from North America is one of the most pressing questions for Canadian and world energy policy today. This paper performs the first life cycle assessment (LCA) of the greenhouse gas emissions from LNG exports from Canada, assuming that importing countries use the natural gas for electricity generation. It shows that the climate impact of LNG depends on where it is sent. If LNG from Canada displaces electricity in coal-dependent countries, it will likely lower global greenhouse gas emissions. If it displaces electricity from countries that rely on low carbon sources such as hydroelectricity and nuclear power, it will likely increase global emissions. A broad suite of policy and regulatory measures is discussed for reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to LNG export, from life cycle regulation to facility-level emissions management.

Biodiversity and Conservation Offsets: A Guide for Albertans

by David W. Poulton, 2015.
29 pp. Occasional Paper #48. $15.00 (softcover)

The purpose of this paper is to introduce Albertans to one of these new tools, conservation offsets. Under an offset system the negative environmental impacts of land or resource development may be compensated for by the intentional creation of corresponding positive impacts. This paper describes this tool and the approach that Alberta is taking in policy development respecting offsets. It also offers some comments on the strengths and weaknesses of the approach Alberta is taking.

The Nuclear Fuel Waste Act and Canada’s Plan for the Long-Term Management of its Nuclear Fuel Waste

by Ramona Sladic, 2015.
26 pp. Occasional Paper #47. $15.00 (softcover)

In 2002, the Government of Canada passed the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act (NFWA) which came into force on November 15 of the same year. The purpose of the NFWA is to “provide a framework to enable the Governor-in-Council to make, from the proposals of the waste management organization, a decision on the management of nuclear fuel waste that is based on a comprehensive, integrated and economically sound approach for Canada.”

This paper will address Canada’s plan for the long-term management of its nuclear fuel waste. In addition to exploring the plan itself, the specific issues for analysis and discussion include a review of the key provisions of the NFWA, which serve as the legislative underpinnings for the development of Canada’s plan; a discussion of the waste management organization created pursuant to the NFWA; identification of the substantive progress that has been made in satisfying the intentions of the NFWA; a review of the legal challenges that have been brought forward involving the NFWA, the waste management organization, and the plan to date; and a hypothetical challenge that could be made to Canada’s plan.

Environmental Sentencing Policy in Alberta: A Critical Review

by Chilenye Nwapi, 2015.
32 pp. Occasional Paper #46. $15.00 (softcover)

This paper reviews the sentencing policy in environmental cases in Alberta, Canada with a view to identifying the underlying theoretical justifications, the prevailing sentencing options and the principles governing their application, and the factors that influence environmental sentencing generally in Alberta. The ultimate goal is to assess the application of the sentencing principles and factors to determine their usefulness and potential effectiveness. After analyzing the legal nature of environmental offences, the paper proceeds to analyze the theories informing environmental sentencing in Alberta. This is followed by a discussion of the available environmental sentencing options in Alberta and lastly by an analysis of the factors considered in the application of those options. A major conclusion of this paper is that there appears to be a deliberate policy towards increased fines – both traditional fines (fines simpliciter) and non-traditional fines (such as fines imposed in the nature of creative sentencing). This policy reflects increasing awareness in Alberta of the need to toughen up on environmental criminals.

Alberta's CO2 Reduction Strategy - Assessing the Environmental Integrity of Emissions Trading Schemes

by Ana Maria Radu, 2014.
33 pp. Occasional Paper #45. $15.00 (softcover)

National and regional emission trading schemes (ETSs) for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions represent an essential policy response to climate change around the world. Witnessing a proliferation of carbon pricing schemes in different jurisdictions, the possibility of further reducing compliance costs by allowing allowances to be traded, not just within, the systems become reality. This is commonly referred as linking the systems. This process is not risk-free; as a matter of fact ill-considered links may be counter-productive, to the point that they might undercut the efforts to reduce GHG emissions. This paper signals the need to identify such ill links and points out the danger zones when linking ETSs. The paper proposes a criteria-based analysis in order to determine the degree of environmental integrity.

Alberta First Nations Consultation & Accommodation Handbook

by David Laidlaw and Monique Passelac-Ross, 2014.
118 pp. Occasional Paper #44. $35.00 (softcover)

Alberta has had two attempts to develop a First Nation’s consultation and accommodation process. The first in 2005 was controversial for First Nations and frustrating for resource companies. The First Nation Consultation Policy (2013) was released on August 16, 2013. There were some conceptual improvements such as the centralization of First Nation Consultation and a consultation levy on resource companies. There are notable failures including the process of developing the new policy and the continued misunderstanding of the governing Treaties. Aboriginal consultation in Alberta after the new Policy will still be a frustrating, complicated, and expensive exercise despite government, industry, First Nations’ and public hopes. It need not be so. In this report, this latest attempt is described and critiqued with best practices from other jurisdiction suggested to correct the flaws.

Environmental Assessment of Nuclear Power Plants in Alberta

by Astrid Kalkbrenner, 2013.
41 pp. Occasional Paper #43. $20.00 (softcover)

This paper focuses on the nuclear licensing process which is the environmental impact assessment. In the Alberta context, the jurisdictional power over environmental impact assessments and provincial legislation are analyzed to enhance the understanding of potential conflicts that arise if plans to construct a nuclear power plant in Alberta become real. Although, this approach seems to be of a theoretical nature at present, during nuclear conferences questions centering on the division of power and its consequences were raised by the oil sands industry. Consequently, there is a demand for clarification which this paper attempts to address.

Legal Obstacles to the Development of Geothermal Energy in Alberta

by Grant Van Hal, 2013.
41 pp. Occasional Paper #42. $20.00 (softcover)

Alberta lacks even basic legislation that would allow developers to obtain the permits and leases needed to develop the provinces substantial geothermal resources. Creating the requisite legislative pathway would help the province meet its goal to diversify its energy supply, while simultaneously bringing the province closer to achieving its GHG reduction targets. There are no jurisdictional barriers that would prevent the province from implementing the required legislation. In fact, much of the work could be accomplished through the passage of mere regulation.

Strategies for Cleaning Up Contaminated Sites in Alberta

by Robert K. Omura, 2013.
101 pp. Occasional Paper #41. $25.00 (softcover)

A major obstacle to the goal of sustainable urban development has been the ongoing presence of historic contamination. No one wants to live, work or play next to contaminated land. These so-called brownfield sites often remain abandoned and underutilized lands that could be put to higher or better uses if the longstanding problem of contamination is addressed. This paper identifies key factors underlying the brownfield market failure and discusses ways to correct the market failure. The paper looks at improved information through capacity building, fixing structural problems associated with the regulatory system, such as the way liability rules operate within environmental legislation, and a sustainable development approach through greater municipal action. It attempts to integrate current theories of liability with the regulatory framework under federal, provincial and municipal law, and discusses the rapid expansion of municipal activism as a good approach to an effective brownfield strategy.

A Review of the Environmental Enforcement Culture in Alberta in Relation to the Oil Sands

by Dr. Chilenye Nwapi, 2013.
49 pp. Occasional Paper #40. $20.00 (softcover)

This paper reviews the environmental enforcement culture in Alberta with a view to ascertaining what mechanisms are in place in Alberta for responding to the commission of environmental offences in the context of the oil sands and the extent to which those mechanisms are being used. The paper identifies and discusses a number of enforcement mechanisms available in Alberta, including administrative penalties, orders, warnings and prosecutions. The paper observes that there is a clear policy towards increased penalties and that creative sentencing is now the norm in the enforcement of environmental offences in Alberta. Lastly, the paper finds that the legal and policy framework for environmental enforcement in Alberta has been offender-focused, with little attention being paid to the plight of victims of environmental offences.