Canada’s proposed legislation to amend the way major energy projects are being reviewed doesn’t work for oil-rich Alberta and risks exacerbating the oil industry’s troubles, Alberta’s Premier Rachel Notley said at a Senate committee hearing on Thursday.
Alberta, the heart of the Canadian oil industry, has been grappling with takeaway capacity constraints, because major proposed oil pipelines have been either scrapped or stalled for years. Alberta even resorted to a mandatory short-term oil production cut in the oil patch to lift the price of Canadian oil, which had dropped to record lows in the fall of 2018.
Alberta has also argued for the Trans Mountain pipeline project expansion, which has been stalled due to fierce opposition, various court claims, and reassessments.
The Canadian government’s Bill C-69, designed to change the environmental approval process of major projects, has become a controversial proposed legislation. Supporters argue that indigenous people would be properly consulted, while opponents say that increased government powers could lead to vetoes even before a project review begins.
“Changing the way Canada approves infrastructure projects is long over-due but, unless it’s fixed, Bill C-69 is just another broken system replacing the old one,” Alberta’s Premier Notley tweetedbefore the Senate hearing today.
A day before the hearing, Notley said she would propose several amendments to the current draft legislation, such as excluding existing projects, pipelines, and in-situ facilities from additional oversight, and considering and evaluating the socio-economic benefits of a project.
“Ottawa just doesn’t get it. They don’t understand Alberta – and what this province contributes to the national economy and the well-being of all Canadians. I will make the case as clearly as I can that Bill C-69, in its current form, doesn’t work for Alberta. And, therefore, it does not work for Canada,” Notley said.
ill C-69 is far from becoming a law—it is currently being reviewed by the Senate Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources. The committee could propose amendments to the text after hearing experts and stakeholders.