Nonroutine Public Involvement Authorizations

 

Nonroutine Public Involvement Authorizations

Nonroutine public involvement (NR-PI) applications for wells, facilities, and pipelines under Directive 056: Energy Development Applications and Schedules are submitted when the Directive 056 consultation or notification requirements have not been met or when there are unresolved concerns or objections. NR-PI applications undergo an in-depth issues-based review that may include statements of concern (SOCs) and the applicant’s response to those concerns. Technical referrals occur as needed based on the identified concerns. NR-PI applications may also have nonroutine technical (NR-Tech) components. Supporting documents outlined in Directive 056 are required to be submitted, and additional information may be required as a result of the application review.

The review is coordinated with the Law Branch to prepare a recommendation for the delegated decision maker. The AER encourages all parties to contact the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Team to help resolve concerns. If the ADR process is initiated, it will run at the same time as the NR-application review process.

Applicants must have all applicable approvals in place (e.g., surface lease agreements, public lands dispositions, mineral rights) before submitting the application. Additional approvals from the AER or other governmental agencies may be required; please refer to the other application processes (needs link to main page) for related AER approvals.

Detailed information about NR-PI applications can be found on the AER’s website (reference Directive 056).The following outlines the critical information requirements and the process to follow to get approval for any NR-PI well, pipeline, or facility. It contains links to relevant application submission procedures and guidance documents.

Application Submission

NR-PI applications (amendment) under Directive 056 must be submitted through the Electronic Applications Submission (EAS) System using the Digital Data Submissions (DDS) System under “Systems & Tools” on the AER website, www.aer.ca.

The application is registered using the Integrated Application Registry (IAR) system and assigned an application number for reference. All material related to the application is stored in this system. Once it has been registered, the details recorded on the application forms are locked and cannot be changed.

The application is routed to the appropriate processing staff based on the processing stream, which is determined by the information on the application forms (e.g. routine versus nonroutine).

Review Process for Nonroutine Public Involvement Well, Pipeline, and Facility Applications

All NR-PI applications are automatically published on the Public Notice of Application (PNoA) page of the AER website after registration through IAR. This encourages public participation in the approval process. Once the application is registered, applicants are required to provide a copy of the PNoA to all parties with known concerns.

Applicants are encouraged to submit related applications under the specified enactments at the same time as Directive 056 applications if similar SOCs are expected or have already been received (as “bundled applications”). This will allow the AER to consider all aspects of the project and related SOCs through one decision-making process rather than repeating the process for each application. For example, if an application for a pipeline on public lands has generated SOCs to the pipeline application, it would be beneficial for the applicant to submit the related Public Lands Act application at the same time as the Directive 056 pipeline application so the AER can make one decision on the project. The applicant can identify related applications by attaching a cover letter to the application.

Upon receipt at the AER, the application is reviewed initially for administrative completeness. This part of the review ensures that the mandatory documents required for NR-PI applications have been attached and are relevant to the application. Depending on the type of application, this will include a well survey, pipeline right-of-way and base plan maps, or facility plot plan and process flow diagram as well as the public involvement documentation outlined in the “How To…” sections of Directive 056. If the application also has an NR-Tech component, the administrative review will ensure that the documentation supporting the variance request has been submitted. Applicants may include additional attachments, such as a cover letter, to help with the decision-making process.

Further review is done to determine whether the development is within the approved Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA) areas of the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan or the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. If any part of the development is in one of these areas, the review will determine the appropriateness of issuing an approval in these areas (refer to information requirements in Bulletin 2014-28).The AER has no authority to waive compliance with or vary any restriction, limitation, or requirement regarding a land area or land use under a regional plan. Applicants that wish to seek this type of relief must apply directly to Alberta’s Land Use Secretariat established under ALSA.

A detailed review is done to ensure that the information on the application forms matches the supporting attachments. If the application also includes an NR-Tech issue, it may be necessary for the application processing staff to consult with other AER staff in a specific area of expertise, such as emissions or noise.. This additional technical review may extend the time required to process the application and will occur at the same time as the NR-PI review.

Should an SOC be received within the PNoA period, the applicant will be asked to respond to the SOC filer and submit a map showing the SOC filer’s lands or residence, or both, in relation to the project. When an SOC is received, the file is referred to the AER’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Group, which will determine whether ADR is appropriate. The applicant and SOC filer may also engage the ADR group at any time, if they are interested in ADR. The ADR process and the NR-PI review can occur at the same time.

NR-PI applications also undergo an issue-based review that focuses on the issues identified in the SOC. Additional information may be requested based on concerns raised in the SOC. For example, if noise is a concern, a noise impact assessment will be required. In some instances, such as for applications likely to proceed to a public hearing, all supporting technical documentation must be submitted for review, not just information related to the SOC concerns.

During the review, it may be necessary to ask the applicant for more information to clarify the information submitted. If more information is required, a supplemental information request (SIR) is sent to the applicant by e-mail with a submission deadline of five business days. An application may be closed if the SIR response is not received within the specified timeframe, if the application is deficient, if details on the application forms are incorrect, or if the mitigation proposed in support of an NR-Tech variance is not acceptable. The applicant will be notified by e-mail and is provided with a link to retrieve a copy of the decision. The application may be resubmitted upon receipt of the closure notice.

If the application is deemed technically complete and an SOC has not been received, it will be recommended for approval and will proceed to a decision-maker for final review and disposition. The decision-maker may choose to approve, close, or deny the application, or return it to staff for further review. The applicant is advised of the decision by e-mail and is provided with a link to retrieve a copy of the licence. The disposition document will be available on IAR Query for 30 days.

If the application is deemed technically complete and an SOC has been received during the PNoA period, a recommendation on whether to hold a hearing will proceed to a decision-maker.

If the decision-maker accepts the recommendation to disposition the application without holding a hearing, the SOC filer and the applicant receive a letter (notice of decision) advising them of the disposition of the application. The applicant will also receive an e-mail notification with a link to retrieve a copy of the licence. The disposition document will be available on IAR Query for 30 days.

If the decision-maker accepts the recommendation to hold a hearing, the hearing recommendation proceeds to the AER’s senior leadership for final decision. If accepted, the file then proceeds to the chief hearing commissioner.

Decisions about whether to hold a hearing for NR-PI applications will not be issued until the 30-day PNoA period has expired.

Application Timelines

200 business days to decision; the decision may be to approve, deny or close the application or to hold a public hearing.