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Economy

United Conservative government to review energy regulator, replaces board members

April 29: A key NDP appointment to the Alberta Energy Regulator has stepped down just ahead of the UCP being sworn into government. Tom Vernon explains why.

The Alberta government has announced a review of the province’s energy regulator.

READ MORE: Natural gas producers demand government action in open letter to Kenney

Energy Minister Sonya Savage says the review will look at overall changes to the Alberta Energy Regulatory’s mandate, operations and governance.

She says its current board of directors is also being replaced with interim members.

“We’ve seen the performance of the AER decline over the past few years – despite hiring more staff,” Savage said. “It now takes four times longer than other jurisdictions like Texas to get a project approved in Alberta.

“We are engaging in a thoughtful and thorough evaluation of the regulator in order to maintain the high standards that have made Alberta a global oil and gas leader.”

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READ MORE: Cover-ups, lies ‘a systemic cancer’ in world of oilpatch health and safety breaches: whistleblowers

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The moves were a campaign promise Premier Jason Kenney made before his United Conservatives were elected in April.

Kenney had said one of his first tasks would be replacing the board, especially member Ed Whittingham, who Kenney accused of committing “economic sabotage” against Alberta’s oil interests.

READ MORE: AER member quits, claims he was targeted by UCP during campaign

Whittingham, a former executive direction of the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based think tank that promotes economically responsible energy development, resigned before he could be fired.

Watch below (Dec. 6, 2017): The Alberta Energy Regulator was granted new powers to vet potential companies looking to extract oil and gas from the province, which would allow them the ability to refrain from issuing a licence.

New oil, gas licensing rules give Alberta Energy Regulator more power to vet applicants
New oil, gas licensing rules give Alberta Energy Regulator more power to vet applicants