Read about Neil McCrank and his EUB/ERCB/AER Brotherhood first:
Who needs ICORE! EUB trained deregulation – for free. It was the “Brotherhood of regulators,” says ex-EUB Chair Neil McCrank, who enabled the Caroline Cover-up and Encana illegally frac’ing Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers, with the “regulator” abusing it’s power, punishing Ernst instead of the company; was Chair when EUB incorporated the notoriously evil Synergy Alberta; authorized the “repulsive” spying on innocent Albertans that made gov’t change it to ERCB; etc., etc.
Neil McCrank, when he chair of the EUB Brotherhood, authorized the “repulsive” lying and spying scandal the above cartoon captured, from Justice Perras report on the scandal.
Why Alberta’s review of its energy watchdog is vital to get right — and difficult to do, Industry woes, environmental concerns mean big change for the oil and gas regulator by Tony Seskus, CBC News, Nov 08, 2019
These are strange days at the Alberta Energy Regulator.
Weeks after the provincial government removed its board and launched a review of the agency, three investigations detailed gross mismanagement and a culture of fear inside the industry watchdog.
Then, the same week Finance Minister Travis Toews unveiled a provincial budget that includes reductions to the AER’s ranks, the regulator announced its three executive vice-presidents were no longer with the organization.
Change is definitely blowing through the halls of the regulator.
“We’re doing a full review of the AER and its mandate, its governance structure and its operational practices,” Energy Minister Sonya Savage told reporters ahead of the provincial budget last month.
That’s no small endeavour.
The AER is one of Alberta’s most recognized public agencies. It oversees the massive energy sector and is expected to ensure the safe and environmentally responsible development of the industry.
If the province is going to shake up or refocus the organization, it may also want to ask how it can help rebuild confidence in the agency and, fundamentally, what kind of regulator Alberta needs.
These questions aren’t easily answered, particularly now.
The oil and gas industry — the biggest cog in the provincial economy — continues to struggle to regain its footing [because of its own relentless greed] while it is under heightened scrutiny for its environmental legacy and the effects of climate change.
Not that Alberta hasn’t dealt with big challenges before.
The province’s first regulator was created in 1938 amid fears that if industry was left unchecked, the race to get rich by drilling fastest could damage oil reservoirs and nip the sector in the bud.
Though they were not popular with everyone, rules were established with the public interest in mind.
Alberta government launches review of energy regulator
The regulator has undergone several evolutions since then. The AER was created in 2013 with a mandate to ensure orderly and efficient resource development, but safe and environmentally responsible, too.
The Progressive Conservative government said then it would streamline processes, saving megaproject developers months of waiting for approvals while allowing Alberta to focus more effectively on its environmental priorities.
In time, however, industry complained of slow approval times, while environmentalists brought attention to the growing and costly legacy of aging energy infrastructure like orphaned pipelines and oil wells.
Then three provincial probes into the AER found its senior leadership had shifted much of their focus to an international side project called ICORE.
Its operation led to questions about the priorities and oversight of the AER as well as the treatment of staff, many of whom were worried speaking out would cost them their jobs.
It’s the kind of scandal that could invite big change.
The government’s vision includes a “leaner” regulator that more “efficiently manages industry investments,” according to budget documents. It says total savings to industry are expected to be $147 million over four years.
Pipeline company CEO says premier supports Indigenous rights challenge
The agency is funded through administrative levies charged to industry. It says it has less than 1,160 full-time employees, though its numbers will decrease further over the next few months. Budget documents show the number positions will drop to 970 this year.
Neil McCrank, chairman of one of the regulator’s predecessors, the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, from 1998 to 2007, believes there are fundamental issues the government should examine. [McCrank has zero credibility on AER or it’s Brotherhood predecessors.]
McCrank said the government should decide whether the regulator is going to be truly independent. He said some provinces, like Saskatchewan, deal with regulatory matters inside government. But if Alberta wants the organization to run as an independent agency, it should ensure that it really is.
McCrank also believes it may be time to evaluate the structure atop the organization, from the board to the C-suite. If the AER is going to keep a board of directors, its responsibilities must be clear, he said. The auditor general’s report on ICORE found the AER’s board did not have all the skills to conduct proper oversight. [Sounds like McCrank means AER Board wasn’t smart enough to keep hidden the standard thievery and thuggery going on at the AER (he wasn’t either! Refer to cartoon above).]
Finally, McCrank says there’s a discussion to be had about how the AER is funded. For decades, its funding was shared between the government and industry, though the sector gradually ended up paying most of it. These days it’s funded solely by industry.
“I think if the government, on behalf of the people, is paying half of the cost of the regulator and the industry is paying the other half, there seems to be a balance,” McCrank said. [More foreshadowing? Kenney’s review just a setup to deregulate and steal more money from taxpayers to give to industry, likely the amount he cut from AER’s budget]
Canada’s oilpatch has struggled to attract investment in recent years [Ya, because the industry has been brazenly lying to investors and investment firms, calling analysts “fucking assholes,” losing masses of money, polluting, harming, destroying, abusing families and communities everywhere they operate, with investors wisening up quickly to the dying, devastatingly nasty, billions of dollars losing industry], while the U.S. has slashed taxes and red tape for its sector. Some believe changes at the regulator could make Alberta more competitive.
[An Encana Nastiness Interlude:
Last week, we learned that Clayton Woitas, the CEO of Canadian energy company Encana, uttered an angry expletive after an analyst asked him an impertinent question. “The answer would be no,” Woitas said. “Fucking asshole.”
This week, we learn that lawyers for the firm “want the clip off the Internet”. They’ve issued a takedown demand to the audio hosting service used by the Globe and Mail reporter who wrote the story.
Adorable. You know what the answer is?
The answer would be no, fucking asshole [Chirbit]
End Encana nastiness Interlude (No wonder the compnay’s on the run to hide in the USA under ridiculous new name~)]
Groups like the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), with a membership that produces most of the country’s oil and gas, sees a more focused and efficient regulator as something that could help the sector. Greater regulatory certainty [translation, more and more and more deregulation to let us pollute and abuse as we like], they say, will result in increased capital investment. [It appears investors and investment firms have wisened up and or lost too many billions. Even deregulatory free for all won’t bring them back. Investors have caught on that oil and gas companies just want investor, taxpayer and public pension (like CPP and Kenney grabbing Teachers’ pension) money to make off with it while leaving billions in pollution harms and liabilities]
In a submission to the government last month, CAPP and other industry associations said timelines for application decisions can be lengthy and highly variable. That is a competitiveness risk for the sector, it says.
They say the regulator needs to focus on key roles, like making sound and timely development decisions. What it shouldn’t do, in their opinion, is stray outside its mandate [like regulating? operating in the public interest? Owing a duty of care? not violating harmed Albertans’ Charter of Rights?], like spending money on scientific studies where a direct link to AER jurisdiction isn’t clear. [I’d like to see those studies!]
“It’s going to take some tough decisions and some strong focus, but at the end of the day, this is going to be critical to re-establishing and asserting Alberta competitiveness,” said CAPP vice-president Ben Brunnen.
“It’s one of the key levers that the Alberta government has to strengthen the competitiveness of the industry.”
Brian Fleck, an AER board member from 2017 until September, said the agency has taken steps to cut red tape and duplication in its approvals processes, including the use of an online tool that reduces paperwork. When the province unveiled the new approach last year, it said it should ultimately save the industry more than $600 million annually.
In his opinion, it’s important the AER continue with those efforts. [Mr. Fleck must have rec’d a super rich see la later package!]
With the UCP government declaring that it wants Alberta to be one of North America’s most attractive places to do business, one might expect
a retooling [deregulating, as usual] of its energy regulator with that in mind.
But many people in and outside Alberta will also be watching to see the government’s actions don’t come at the expense of safe and environmentally responsible development. [Alberta’s never had that!] That’s still a part of the AER’s mandate.
Alberta’s regulator has faced challenges before, but this could be among its biggest yet.
A few of the comments:
Only in Alberta is establishing regulatory controls “difficult to do”.
Is “Alberta Energy Regulator” the new tarmonger euphemism for “oil lobbyist”?
Maybe if Alberta looked at the scientific data and acted on it with any kind of sincerity, it would have a chance to rebuild a little bit of credibility. It looks like the opposite is happening under the conservative lackeys.
Refer also to: