MUST WATCH! If Mr. Protti doesn’t have a conflict of interest, then who does? by NDP, May 9, 2013
NDP Leader Brian Mason points out numerous conflicts of interest in the appointment of Gerry Protti as chair of the regulator responsible for approving all energy projects in Alberta. Question Period – May 8, 2013
Joint committee proposed to protect and renew democracy by Alberta Government, June 15, 2015
Premier Rachel Notley and Official Opposition Leader Brian Jean have jointly proposed a special legislative committee to review Alberta’s elections, whistleblower and conflict of interest legislation. The committee will be comprised of nine government MLAs and eight opposition MLAs.
“Albertans expect the rules governing their elections to ensure that the political process is all about citizens, and not about special interests. They have the right to know that every citizen – including those in the public service – is free to speak out about issues in government. And they expect clear rules governing conflict of interest.”
Premier Rachel Notley
“Wildrose proposed a careful review of these issues as a key element of our agenda for this new Legislature. I’m pleased to join the Premier in proposing this long-overdue review and renewal. We will have a lot more to propose and there will be many issues on which we disagree with this government. But, as I told the Premier when we met last week, where we can work together we should, in the best interest of all Albertans. It is hard to imagine a more important issue than protecting and renewing our democracy.”
Brian Jean, Leader of the Official Opposition
A motion will be presented to establish the special committee during the spring 2015 sitting of the Legislature, requesting a report within a year. [Is this how conflict of interest at the AER will get cleaned up?]
Sharp criticism of Protti as AER chairman an unresolved issue for Notley by Stephen Ewart, June 13, 2015, Calgary Herald
Photo by Ted Rhodes, Calgary Herald: Rachel Notley was outspoken about the appointment of Gerry Protti, centre, as chairman of the Alberta Energy Regulator while in opposition.
“I am appalled by this inside job appointment … how can we trust Mr. Protti’s independence, objectivity and judgment?”
“The new regulator has an obligation to Albertans to protect our water and our air and land and to trust and ensure our oil and gas development is sustainable. Albertans need to trust that’s happening and that’s not going to happen when we appoint someone as closely tied to the industry as Protti.”
– Rachel Notley, NDP environment critic, April 2013
Rachel Notley went out of her way to criticize Gerry Protti’s appointment as chairman of the Alberta Energy Regulator by the Conservative government two years ago and since her election victory last month, Premier Notley is now his boss.
Six weeks into the New Democrats’ mandate from Alberta voters, Protti is still in his job. Given it’s the prerogative of any new government to ensure the top public servants are aligned with its vision — and dismiss those who aren’t — his job security is another matter.
Shortly after the former oil industry executive and lobbyist — and a senior bureaucrat in Alberta’s energy ministry early in his career — was named chairman of the regulatory agency that overseas development of the province’s vast petroleum resources Notley said she was shocked by the message it sent.
She wasn’t alone with her criticism. More than 30 environmental, landowner and aboriginal groups called on the government to remove Protti — the former executive with Encana and president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers — as AER chairman. They asked for “a more balanced person for the position.”
At the time of Protti’s appointment, Notley called it evidence of the regulator’s “pro-industry mandate.”
“If we act like a banana republic. the rest of the world is going to treat us like one,” she said in April 2013.
Two years — and a tectonic shift in Alberta’s traditional conservative politics — later and Notley’s now the leader of that “banana republic.” The premier’s office did not respond to questions Friday when asked if Notley has confidence in Protti to serve the final three years of his five-year term.
The issue became, potentially, more complex this week when it emerged Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd’s newly hired chief-of-staff, Graham Mitchell, had been registered federally as a lobbyist for the Leadnow Society, an organization opposed to pipeline projects to ship Alberta crude.
McCuaig-Boyd defended Mitchell’s hire and maintained she’s “the one in charge.”
The AER, meanwhile, said Protti has no intention of stepping down.
“He’s not going to speculate on the status of his position,” AER spokesman Bob Curran said Friday. “He’s going to remain focused on his corporate governance role and part of that role is ensuring the AER supports the policy set forth by the premier and her cabinet.”
The AER has a lot on its agenda with the “fracking revolution” and unconventional resources transforming the oil and gas industry.
Jim Ellis, a former Canadian Forces commander and senior bureaucrat in the Alberta government, was named president of the AER shortly after Protti’s appointment and he’s charged with implementing a multi-year effort to reorganize and improve efficiency [Spread the Fox Creek Frac Quakin’ Deregulated Blanket Approval Process across Alberta?] at the regulator.
Protti’s role as chairman relates to governance of the organization. [Speed up the “Rubber-Regulator-Stamp Machine?” Surely approving non-compliant applications in a day isn’t fast enough]
Ellis spoke with McCuaig-Boyd this week and is scheduled to meet Environment Minister Shannon Phillips next week to discuss the AER’s mandate and day-to-day operations. Curran said Protti would be pleased to meet with the premier and has offered to meet with McCauig-Boyd and Phillips to discuss the governance structure of the regulator.
The conversation between Notley and Protti will take place soon enough. At that point, she can tell him it is better they part ways for her implement her vision for regulatory reforms or she can explain the “deliverables” she wants and see if Protti’s prepared to deliver on her instructions.
Protti could be a valuable conduit to the industry — and to industry thinking — for his new boss but it remains to be seen if Notley meant what she said in opposition or if it was simply politics.
She’s certainly more tight-lipped about it now that she’s premier. [Emphasis added]
A few comments to the article:
Energy regulator? Was anything regulated within the oil industry when the conservatives had power?
June 14 at 8:21am
The energy regulator has existed in Alberta for over 60 years!!
It has had many names in the course of that time, it’s most recent is Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). As there are 1200 employees, that you potentially live next to, that help regulate the industry I am going to assume you didn’t mean this as a slight to these workers…
A very noted decision was last year; to limit venting/flaring in the Peace River area. AER commissioners at this hearing decided to rule in favor of the landowners and not in favor or industry. The companies in that area now have to install expensive recovery systems due to the pollution/air concerns.
AER also implemented a new monitoring and reporting system for earthquakes in the Fox Creek area, where fracking is prevalent following the larger seismic activity in February. This was done very quickly in order to immediately address and monitor concerns.
Maybe you should head over to www.aer.ca and learn something before you make uneducated responses.
It’s true, the regulator has been around for awhile and they have changed monikers a few times, most recently from the ERCB to the AER. In this recent change the AER also gave themselves new regulations, called the Responsible Energy and Development Act. Every Albertan should read it, as it is the most high handed and hard to digest set of rules for regulation one could imagine. The AER owes no duty of care to Albertans and has written themselves utter indemnity into REDA for their action or inaction in regulatory dealings. With the new regulations the AER also swept the Water Act, Public Lands Act and the Mines and Minerals Act under their rug of industry funded regulations. This happened around June of 2013, yet the AER has no mandate, regulation or initiative to protect or monitor water resources when it comes to industrial impacts and use. They also have zero initiatives/programs to protect public health.
The actions taken in the Peace River region are nothing to tout on behalf of the AER. The issues and hearings came about because local families were being sickened by the volatile and hazardous chemicals being vented from heated bitumen tanks, largely from Baytex Energy lease sites. Most other companies had voluntarily began to mitigate venting and I’m not sure how “expensive” some of the systems were, there were pics online of producers using garbage bags and duct tape (it really is just a matter of tying in the venting tanks to production lines), but Baytex refused to willingly install mitigation measures and it went into a song and dance with the AER playing the hero, writing some exclusive measures, and making a show about inspection sweeps for non-compliance…that they advertised they were doing before-hand. (just a little heads up to their industry friends) Baytex bought out these families and their land and put a gag order on the settlement and the STOPBaytex site has been taken down but you can read about the situation and the public health impact through hearing transcripts on the AER web-site. Although this was a prudent move for this area, what about the rest of Alberta? There are venting well sites everywhere, behind our home they released sour gas emissions, on average 15 million litres/month for years. Thousands of well sites are permitted to vent waste gases at 900 m3/day, that is 900,000 litres and does not include emissions from compressors, fugitive sources, well tests or processing facilities.
As per Fox Creek and seismicity, the AER has not been responsible here either. Fox Creek is the guinea pig for play-based regulations, where majors get to make one single, less prescriptive application for an entire region than what is currently needed for a single well bore. Under the guise of efficiency, the AER rubber stamps an application that covers all aspects of an energy project from water use and diversions, to infrastructure/processing and even community relations. What has happened in Fox Creek in the year since this started? Severe water shortages, insane tax increases for local business and frack induced earthquakes. The AER’s response was to start a “stop-light” system….because you can stop a quake once it starts?! If you review the program, it may actually make you laugh, until you realize that the AER has every intention of making play-based regs industry standard for our province. Julia Fulford of the AER just told our local synergy chapter CMAG as much this past month. The only way to stop frack quakes is to stop fracking and injecting massive amounts of waste into lost circulation wells and depleted reservoirs.
We have years of dealing with the AER under our belt because of serious events of non-compliance by a company operating near our home. As you have suggested, I do visit the AER site daily, my children and I have even met with Gerald Protti, presenting him with a painting. Some of the things you can learn from their site is how intently the organization is de-regulating. One only has to review the changes made to Directive 60-Flaring, Incineration and Venting to appreciate this point. The AER has removed notification to residents of temporary venting operations, made off-lease odours (emissions) permissible (when formerly they were not) and changed the modeling requirements (not actual testing even) of H2S in sour wells from 1% to 5%. H2S is fatal at 1000ppm, 5% is 50, 000ppm. These and many other regulatory changes demonstrate that the AER is not interested in protecting public health, they are entirely industry funded, as their web-site suggests, (except currently there is 250million in the 2015 DOE budget for AER operations) and as such, they are not working for Albertans but for the industry they are supposed to be regulating.
The appointment of Protti is par for the course of this top-heavy regulatory body with only industry interests at heart. As a family living in central Alberta, where we have been surrounded by hydraulic fracturing operations, we turned to the regulator to mitigate serious non-compliances of a local operator and we have been continually disappointed, even appalled at the actions of the regulator. One lead inspector on our case, went to work for the company we had issues with (and a legal action against) and another inspector asked why I was “picking on” the company in question. Inspections were sub-standard with no continuity and getting information from the regulator is like pulling teeth. Although they preach transparency, we had to FOIP and pay nearly a $1000 and invest considerable time to access well records, enforcement letters, sampling reports and other details regarding operations near our home. Currently, the AER has created a report about our family and the serious concerns we have about past and ongoing emissions (the company falsified their public documents to us so that we were unaware of sour gas venting and combustion by our home and continued to lie to us about it for years), that although has passed through the hands of Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services way back in March, the AER has not given our family a copy of the report.
There is obvious need to have a serious review of the AER, its Directives, its Board and its regulatory oversight, as the current formula is not protecting our air, land or water as Mrs. Notley succinctly pointed out is the actual mandate of the AER. Heck, we even have a recording posted of an AER inspector saying that although air quality monitoring is required under Directive 60 to ensure that industry activities do not exceed AAAQO, no such testing is ever done, because of the cost. When we requested such monitoring as per the Directives from the company, the AER and AHS it was outright dismissed and not done. We did our own and recorded benzene and other VOC contaminants higher than the City of Calgary and picked up limonene (citrus terpene) that was used in the frack job 2km away.
Reply · · 22 hours ago
2015 06 13 Snap of Petromanas Board of Director, AER Chair Gerard Protti:
[Refer also to:
2015: Alberta’s NDP sticking with Alberta Energy Regulator’s oversight and approval system: “There is a process in place for companies to follow should they want to develop Alberta’s energy resources. I expect all companies to follow this process”
After the 2012 Frankenchild piece below, did Encana/Cenovus/Protti and or the AER synergize the Environmental Law Centre? Did the Centre invite Protti to present his propaganda two years later or did Protti “order” them to invite his Propaganda Ham presentation?
Gerry Protti at Green Regs & Ham, Calgary, 2014
Last week, over 100 environmental nonprofit leaders, regulatory lawyers and industry representatives gathered together to enjoy Green Regs & Ham in Calgary. This second-annual event featured Gerry Protti, Chair of the Alberta Energy Regulator (the AER), who provided an overview of the regulator’s first year in operation.
Mr. Protti addressed some of the challenges and successes of the past year. Some highlights of his presentation included:
- As of April 1st, responsibility for environmental matters related to oil and gas under Alberta’s Water Act and Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act has been transferred to the AER.
- The AER intends to take a holistic approach to oil and gas development and regulation, including:
- the adoption of “play-based” regulation [example is Fox Creek, look at the world record frac quakes, road damages, sky rocketing taxes and serious and expensive water problems and restrictions and more suffered by the community to see just how “holistic” the AER has become under Protti], which focuses on regulating the surface and subsurface of a particular formation (as opposed to the traditional one well-one licence approach);
- use of a performance-based approach to regulate outcomes, which includes managing cumulative effects [The AER does nothing when companies refuse to assess cumulative effects/impacts, never mind manage them], minimizing spread of surface infrastructure, and conserving and managing water; and
- increased planning and collaboration among companies and community stakeholders [How easy is it to increase from nothing? And how much above nothing is the AER increasing planning and collaboration? ]
- With respect to making determinations of standing, the AER is still using the “directly and adversely affected” test. [Even if you are breathing deadly sour gas or frac fumes day and night, your livestock, land and business irreparably harmed, and have your water lost or ruined because of oil and gas operations under your land or next door to your home and water well, the AER “test” ensures you are defined as “appearing” to have no rights, not even to your own water, health, security of person, Charter Rights or health and rights of your loved ones, so that you get no standing.]
In addition to the presentation (that you can view here), there was the unique opportunity to direct questions to the AER Chair through our pre-event survey and at the event. We received lots of great advance questions from our guests which Mr. Protti addressed during his presentation. As well, Mr. Protti responded to additional questions in the live Q&A. When asked what he would like to “do over,” Mr. Protti replied that he felt that, despite working hard on it over the past year, the AER could have communicated better with the public. [Lied less? Propagandized less? Bullied less? Abused less? Kept less secrets? Disclose all drilling, cementing, fracing, servicing, perforating chemicals? WITHOUT PROTTI APPOINTED BY THE ALBERT GOVERNMENT AS CHAIR?]
Throughout the transition to the AER, we have worked with the government’s Policy Management Office to assist with policy development. This includes addressing the “directly and adversely affected” test for standing currently used by the AER (and other regulatory bodies). We continue to promote and advise that the “genuine public interest” test for standing is superior and ought to be adopted. Our research shows that broadening standing to include genuine public interest results in better decisions and higher public confidence in the decision-making process. Further, broadened standing does not adversely affect timing of development. In fact, we see this kind of decision-making as a win-win for all stakeholders: industry, the public and the environment. Stay tuned for more on this topic in future blog posts, publications and events. You can also find a wealth of information on standing under Public Participation on both our website and ourblog.
A very special thank you to the Alberta Energy Regulator, our sponsors, Devon Canada and Cenovus Energy [Protti acts as/was executive special advisor to Cenovus, which was morphed out of Encana after Ernst served Encana with the lawsuit] and our other donors for helping us host this successful event. [How low into the greed pockets do Canada’s Environmental and Justice NGOs go? Emphasis added]
[None of the Environmental Law Centre’s links below go to any of the resources they list except Protti’s slides and the oil company websites. What does that tell us about the Environmental Law Centre?]
Click here to download or view Mr. Gerry Protti’s presentation about the Alberta Energy Regulator from the June 17th Green Regs and Ham event in Calgary.
Here are a few other resources mentioned during the event:
- The Environmental Law Centre’s Comments on Bill 2 (Responsible Energy Development Act)
- Our Model Environmental and Sustainability Assessment Law
- Sign up for our free model law webinar on June 24
April 27, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Carl Hunt
I agree that a ‘best in class regulator’ must be independent of government but should be responsible to the Govt (public). Alberta AER will never be best in class unless it is independent of industry and not run by the petroleum industry. A regulator should regulate, monitor and enforce by prosecuting violations in public court. We also need an independent regulator of environmental laws to protect renewable resources.
This review is another charade like the Royalty Review 2007,”Our Fair Share’ , a public review that was written by a government selected group of business people. The petroleum industry still convinced the government (in private meetings) to ignore the recommendations.
Why should this review be any different than dozens of past public reviews that made recommendations that didn’t agree with government ideology or industry priorities?
April 27, 2015 at 9:22 pm | Jack Elliott, retired Alberta citizen.
The AER is doomed to failure at becoming a “best-in-class” regulator, given the three essential characteristics outlined, unless it becomes an agency independent of both government and energy companies. In that context it would also need sufficient resources to enter the courts as needed to “regulate”. Otherwise, this is simply an exercise in self-gratification by the AER.
2015 06: The EPA admitted that Rosebud aquifers were frac’d and area water wells contaminated with natural gas. Why did Dr. John Cherry and his Canadian Council of Academies (CCA) frac panel “experts” leave out this damning evidence in their 2014 report, even though Encana’s data and Tilley and Muehlenbach’s peer-reviewed paper were public years before (and during) the CCA’s review?
2014 08, CAPP (that Protti created and Chaired for years) Confesses Rosebud’s flammable water was contaminated by fracing:
2006, Why did Protti lie to the press about Ernst’s contaminated drinking water? Do we want liars chairing the AER?
2005 01 31: 38th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology Testmony by Gerry Protti (VP EnCana Corporation):
… This is completely new technology relative to five years ago….
Slide from Ernst presentations. Encana fractured into Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers, repeatedly in 2004
1986 Previously Public Historic Record on the Ernst (then Feckley) Water Well filed with Alberta Environment and included in the 2008 Alberta Research Council’s report on the Ernst contamination case (Alberta Environment removed Ernst’s historic record from the water well database in about 2010 along with those on the other methane and ethane contaminated water wells in Alberta, and replaced them with altered records that all had the Gas Present No removed):