‘Stop the regulatory merry go round:’ Alberta ministers to fight C 69 in Ottawa
A new bill to change Canada's energy project approval process is meeting resistance from politicians in oil country
CALGARY—Alberta cabinet ministers are heading to Ottawa to push for changes to federal legislation that would overhaul energy project reviews.
Premier Rachel Notley said Tuesday that Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips will make Alberta’s case to the Senate that Bill C-69 needs to be fixed.
“We need to stop the regulatory merry-go-round, not supercharge it,” she said in a speech to the International Pipeline Conference. “We need to improve our competitive position, not make it harder to get things built.”
The bill, which is still under consideration in the Senate, would create a new Impact Assessment Agency and replace the National Energy Board with the Canadian Energy Regulator.
It introduces new timelines and specific steps that companies and governments will have to take in order for new energy projects to go ahead.
“In its current form, C-69 hurts Alberta. It hurts our competitive position by creating uncertainty,” Notley said.
Notley said she wants the legislation to clearly spell out that downstream emissions—from the burning of the fossil fuels—would be excluded from reviews.
She said uncertainty about review timelines, and the criteria by which projects will be judged, need to be cleared up.
“It’s also a major overreach of federal jurisdiction, into our province’s right to develop and control our own resources—something Albertans have a lot more experience at than folks from Ottawa.”
Notley told reporters she has no quibbles with the goal of C-69: to create a regulatory regime that Canadians trust.
“I support their intent, but you need to really engage really carefully to make sure that you don’t kill yourself with good intentions,” she said.
McCuaig-Boyd said her office has not been given a date for when she’ll have her say in the Senate.
In the meantime, she said she’ll be refining the message she plans to send.
“Maybe a little storytelling mixed in with it: This is what the impact means to Alberta.”
In Edmonton, Opposition United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney said his caucus has been pushing Notley’s government for months to take action on C-69.
Kenney said Notley has resisted because of a misconceived policy to follow Trudeau’s climate plan and his other pipeline initiatives in order to get a pipeline to the B.C. coast.
That pipeline, the Trans Mountain extension from Edmonton to Burnaby, is in legal limbo as the federal government studies the impact of the line on marine traffic and consults further with Indigenous groups.
Kenney said Notley needs to push Trudeau on getting action for Alberta on C-69 and show she has some clout in Ottawa.
“Premier Notley and the NDP, they’ve done so much to cover for Justin Trudeau. They have been so unquestioning of the Trudeau approach to pipelines and energy policy. Surely this has got them enough credit to stay ‘Stop’ on this one issue,” Kenney told reporters at the legislature.
“This is a litmus test for the effectiveness of this alliance that the NDP has created with the Trudeau government.”
The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association slammed the potential legislation in submissions to a Parliamentary committee in March, saying: “if the goal is to curtail oil and gas production and to have no more pipelines built, this legislation has hit the mark.”
Following Notley’s speech Tuesday, association president and CEO Chris Bloomer said the premier’s tough language was welcome.
“We said from the outset that this bill does not provide the clarity and certainty that the government was trying to achieve,” he said.
—With files from Dean Bennett in Edmonton.