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Groups call for former oil exec to step down as Alberta's new energy regulator

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Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: tourist_on_earth, scottog

The Council of Canadians has joined with more than 30 landowner, labour, environmental and First Nation groups to call on Alberta Premier Alison Redford to remove Gerry Protti, founding President of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and former Encana executive, as the chair of the province's new energy regulator. The groups are hoping Protti will be asked to step down and that public consultation take place to address concerns about Alberta's move to a single regulator model.

Some of the groups making this demand include Greenpeace Canada, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, the Alberta Federation of Labour, the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, the Kainai Lethbridge Earth Watch, L'Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA), and Public Interest Alberta.

The letter states: "We the undersigned are very concerned about the Alberta government's move to a single energy regulator and its appointment of Gerry Protti, former founding President of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) as its new chair. The move to a single regulator means fewer eyes will assess the environmental and social impacts of energy projects. Fewer people will regulate and enforce Alberta's environmental regulations. It also concentrates power in fewer hands so that landowner rights and Treaty impacts may not be properly addressed."

In its article about the letter, the Canadian Press reports, "Protti was the industry's representative during the design of the new board, which takes over in June. It will combine the regulatory functions of the old board as well as much of the enforcement and investigation currently done by Alberta Environment....The public will still have access to the courts to appeal the regulator's decisions. But the new approach chokes off internal avenues of appeal that existed under the old system for aboriginal and public concerns. It also makes it harder to gain standing to appear before a regulatory hearing. Panel members who will run hearings on project applications will be appointed directly by government."

The Edmonton Journal adds, "The energy regulator will provide one-stop shopping for oil companies to get permits for new projects. The agency will take over from Alberta Environment in issuing environmental and water permits as well as enforcement of environment laws."

The full letter signed by the Council of Canadians can be read here.

Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: tourist_on_earth, scottog

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