New Bill 22 proposes changes to series of environmental tools in the name of “red tape reduction”
June 12, 2020
Edmonton – A new bill was proposed by the provincial government on June 11, 2020, which takes aim at removing “red tape” to reduce costs, speed up approvals, and eliminate regulations the government deems unnecessary. The new Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2020, was proposed by the provincial government on June 11, 2020. The omnibus bill includes 14 changes across six ministries that would affect land use activities within our protected parks, oil sands project approvals, and energy efficiency–among other concerning environmental issues.
The bill proposes changes to the Oil Sands Conservation Act that would leave the final decision on oil sands project approvals in the hands of the Alberta Energy Regulator and eliminate the role of Cabinet for approving or rejecting projects. Oil sands projects have pervasive impacts on the environment, water, air, wildlife and downstream communities. Healthy ecosystems and our communities depend on critical and responsible government oversight on reviewing, potentially highly impactful, energy projects. CPAWS Northern Alberta finds this loss of this oversight very concerning.
Additionally, the Bill dismantles the Energy Efficiency Alberta Act, impacting Alberta’s ability to act on climate change, and foreclosing an opportunity to create jobs and support the economy.
Bill 22 adds to a long list of recent provincial decisions to erode environmental regulations and remove policies that are in place to protect Alberta’s diverse natural heritage. “It feels a lot like death by a thousand cuts, and it’s the environment that is going to pay the price,” says Gillian Chow-Fraser, Boreal Program Manager for CPAWS Northern Alberta. “When you take a step back, you see the decisions for what they are: a slow dismantling of the tools that are supposed to ensure Albertans have a healthy environment.”
The proposed bill joins a host of other decisions by Alberta Environment and Park’s, including the move to delist and remove 164 parks from the provincial parks system, rescind the Alberta Coal Policy, increase the amount of forest that can be harvested by forestry companies, and support Alberta Energy Regulator’s to unilaterally suspend environmental monitoring activities for oil and gas projects.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land and water and ensuring our parks are managed to protect the biodiversity within them. Over the last 50+ years, CPAWS has played a lead role in protecting over half a million square kilometres – an area bigger than the entire Yukon Territory. Our vision is to protect at least half of our public land and water so that future generations can experience Canada’s irreplaceable wilderness.
CPAWS has chapters in almost every province and territory across Canada, and two chapters here in Alberta – a Southern Alberta chapter located in Calgary and a Northern Alberta chapter located in Edmonton. As a collaborative organization, CPAWS works closely with government of all levels, industry representatives, and communities to manage our impact on a shared landscape. We also advocate for the creation of parks and protected areas for the benefit of both current and future generations of Canadians.