Starting March 29, 2014, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) will accept Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) applications previously submitted to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. Also from that time, all EPEA application fees will be set to zero. Other submission requirements, such as the requirement to submit an application in PDF format, will remain.
EPEA aims to protect air, land*, and water.
EPEA and accompanying regulations set out in detail which activities require approvals and the requirements for obtaining them. The act supports a streamlined approach to approvals: coordinating and integrating the review of potential impacts of proposed projects on the environment.
*Land that has been altered from its natural state to house an industrial, manufacturing, or processing facility.
Application forms and associated documents required for EPEA approvals—including registrations—should be sent to EPEA.WA.Applications@aer.ca.
When filling out EPEA applications, applicants are required to include the location, capacity, and size of the activity; its nature; and an account of any public consultation undertaken or proposed by the applicant, along with any other requirements specified in the Act, regulations, and applicable policies and guides. It is possible for the regulator to waive requirements that do not apply to a proposed project. EPEA regulations and guides have been developed to provide applicants with detailed requirements for specific types of activities.
Public involvement is a key component of the EPEA approval process. Under section 31 of the Responsible Energy Development Act (REDA), the public must be notified of all applications. Further, anyone who believes that they may be directly and adversely affected by an application may file a statement of concern with the AER. All filed statements of concern are addressed by the AER and industry prior to moving ahead with their proposed energy activity.
An EPEA application review determines whether the specified activity's impact on the environment is in accordance with the Act and associated regulations. The review may address design plans, site suitability, proposed monitoring programs, and methods of minimizing the generation, use, and release of substances.
To complete a review, the regulator may request additional information and ask the applicant to hold public information meetings or address statements of concern.
REDA provides that the AER may make a decision on an application with or without a hearing.
Post-review, the AER decides whether an EPEA approval will be issued and under what conditions.
Following the decision, a notice of decision is provided to the applicant (or approval holder) and to those parties who filed statements of concern. These decisions can also be found using the publication of decisions tool.
Some decisions of the AER are appealable. Section 36 of REDA describes what types of decisions may be appealed, and who is eligible to file a request for regulatory appeal. The filing requirements for a request for regulatory appeal, including form, content, and time limits, are set out in section 30 of the AER Rules of Practice.
Approvals may be issued for a maximum of ten years, but the AER can set a shorter term. See the Environmental Protection and Enhancement (Miscellaneous) Regulation (section 7) for details.
Changes to approvals
An applicant is able to apply for an amendment to an approval at any time.
All amendments and changes to an activity are subject to the public notice, statement of concern, and approval review and appeal process. Changes in an activity that do not require an amendment are specified in section 67(3) of EPEA.
Suspension and cancellation
It is possible to suspend or cancel an approval upon request from an approval holder, on the regulator’s initiative, or through an enforcement order.
An approval can be transferred with the prior written consent of the AER. Applications for transfer should be sent to EPEA.WA.Applications@aer.ca. The AER can add terms and conditions to address the transfer of an EPEA approval to a new approval holder.
Monitoring & Reporting Information Management
The AER and ESRD have recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) addressing the management of monitoring and reporting information conditioned as part of an EPEA authorization. This agreement has been established to ensure the continued collection of monitoring and reporting information and the seamless continuation of data management practices during this regulatory transition. This agreement sets out the specific data management services that both ESRD and AER will provide following proclamation.
As part of the MOU, ESRD will continue to collect monitoring and reporting information submitted as a condition of an EPEA authorization on behalf of the AER. ESRD will also continue to provide support to industry on data submission processes and will continue to interact with industry on behalf of the AER for any additional inquiries specific to monitoring and reporting submissions covered by the MOU.
The AER reserves the right to provide final direction on any and all monitoring and reporting inquiries or issues under their mandate. Contravention reporting under the EPEA will be unaffected by the portions of the MOU on data management. Contraventions will continue to be reported to either ESRD or AER for activities under their respective mandates.
Before undertaking any activities related to mines or waste management, the applicant or approval holder may be required to provide adequate financial security. In the event that terms of the approval or legislation are contravened by the applicant, security can be used by the AER to remedy the deficiencies.
This helpful tool allows users to view AER and ESRD authorizations issued under the EPEA.