Q & A - EPEA

These are a series of questions from the AER Phase 3 Implementation Industry Presentations held in Calgary in March 2014. This page will be updated as questions pertaining to EPEA and Water Act are asked and answered by our subject matter experts.

Q: When will the AER become responsible for EPEA and the Water Act?
A: The AER will assume the powers duties and functions under EPEA and the Water Act on March 29, 2014.

Q: What is EPEA?
A: The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) is provincial legislation and one of the statutes that the AER will regulate under upon proclamation. The purpose of this Act is to support and promote the protection, enhancement and wise use of the environment while recognizing the matters set out in section 2 of EPEA.

Q: Will the AER regulate under existing regulation and guidance documents or develop its own?
A: The AER will rely on the regulations, policy and guidance already developed by the provincial department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) for EPEA and the Water Act. In the interest of continuous improvement, the AER will work with ESRD and other agencies toward clearer, more effective, more efficient, and more consistent regulations and guidance documents where appropriate.

Q: How will policies be updated?
A: In the interest of continuous improvement, the AER will work with the Government of Alberta toward clearer, more effective, more efficient, and more consistent regulations and guidance documents where appropriate. Where should I send my application? Is there a central location or regional offices?
Applications will come into a central mailbox and will be distributed appropriately. Application processing will occur provincially.

Q: What are the application requirements for the AER? Will there be any changes?
A: Applicants are expected to address all current application requirements under the various Acts that are relevant to what is being applied for. Existing directives and guidelines that outline application requirements should continue to be used to as a guide for energy statute application content. The ESRD Guide to Content still applies to EPEA applications submitted to the AER. Links will be provided on the AER website.

No immediate changes are being made to application requirements; however, the AER recognizes that there is currently some overlap between the application requirements. The AER will work with ESRD and other agencies toward clearer, more effective, more efficient, and more consistent application requirements where appropriate.

Q: What will the application process at the AER be for EPEA and the Water Act?
A: A process has been developed for EPEA and the Water Act and will come into effect on March 29, 2014. The process is similar to the current process that is used in the ESRD; it has been modified to align with AER requirements. The AER will coordinate with the Government of Alberta and federal departments when necessary.

Q: What parts of the application do we submit to the AER and to ESRD when our application also contains an EIA? A: Environmental Impact Assessment's (EIA) will continue to be submitted to and assessed by the ESRD. Applicants should submit the full application including both the application and EIA content to both ESRD and the AER for review. AER and ESRD will work together to process the application.

Q: Will EIAs become the jurisdiction of the AER?
A: At this time, EIAs remain within the authority of the Government of Alberta.

Q: Is the AER committing to specific review timelines?
A: The time it takes for the AER to review an application depends on a number of factors including complexity, completeness, and availability of resources. The AER is working to identify efficiencies in processing applications.

Q: Who will write approval conditions and issue approvals for EPEA?
A: The AER is authorized to make decisions on applications for EPEA approvals for energy development under EPEA. This includes both identification of approval conditions and issuance of approvals.

Q: How will Codes of Practice (CoP) be managed?
A: Codes of practice related to energy development will be managed by the AER in accordance with existing requirements.

Q: When is public notice of an application issued and where can it be found?
A: Public notice under REDA will be issued upon receipt of application and posted on the AER website. In some situations additional notice may be completed.

Q: How will statements of concern be managed?
A: Detailed information about expressing your concerns and the filing of statements of concern can be found within the EnerFAQ on the AER website http://www.aer.ca/about-aer/enerfaqs/enerfaqs-expressing-your-concerns        

Q: How will applications be transitioned from the ESRD to the AER?
A: ESRD will continue to accept applications and submissions until March 28, 2014. As of March 29 all energy related applications and submissions will be transferred to the AER. Between March 26 and March 27 there will be a systems "blackout" period where no EPEA or WA entries can be made. ESRD and AER mailboxes will remain active. Further information regarding applications to the AER will be outlined on the AER website.

Q: What do I do if I have a submission deadline that falls within the "blackout" period?
A: Although many of the electronic systems (e.g., EMS, ERKS, WATERS) will be offline during the transition "blackout" period, industry submission deadlines will not be impacted because the normal mail boxes will still be operating to receive and hold submissions.

Q: If I have an open application that is already under review will it be transferred to the AER?
A: Energy related applications that have not received a decision by March 28, 2014 will be transitioned to the AER. These applications are considered "in-flight" and will continue to be processed by the AER using AER processes. If the statement of concern period has not ended for a specified enactment, statements of concern can continue to be sent to the AER.

Q: Who should I contact about an existing open application?
A: All applications will be assigned to a coordinator. The AER is currently recruiting into those positions. The AER has developed a process to coordinate the transfer of applications from ESRD to the AER. Following proclamation, industry proponents will be notified as to which coordinator has been assigned to their project.

Q: Will there be similar access to information such as exists on the ESRD website?
A: The ESRD website will continue to exist following proclamation. The AER website has additional content and links that are relevant to the energy industry. The AER website will contain links for related information to the ESRD website.

Q: Will the AER own systems currently being used by ESRD?
A: Systems access will be business as usual for industry. ESRD will continue to own its systems (WATERS, EDS, etc.); however, many of the existing systems will be available for use by AER staff to perform its regulatory functions.

Q: What would typically be deemed downstream facilities that have existing EPEA approvals through ESRD.Would reporting go through the AER?
A: The Responsible Energy Development Act identifies what energy resource activities fall under AER authority. Only facilities under AER authority would report through the AER.

Q: Will the AER be harmonizing the CoP and EAP application/notification forms?
A: In the interest of continuous improvement, the AER will work with ESRD and other agencies toward clearer, more effective, more efficient, and more consistent approaches to managing water bodies and other issues, where appropriate. ESRD is the lead for such initiatives.

Q: Will the AER be making the CoP maps available in electronic form to be used in commercial GIS software?
A: Maps will be available in whatever format they were previously available from ESRD, with the exception of paper. Paper maps will be available in pdf electronic format.

Q: Will the AER continue to interpret the Water Act and how it applies to wetlands in the same manner as the ESRD? Will wetlands continue to be addressed under the CoP as Class D water bodies? Will the AER require compensation payments for impacts to wetlands in the Green Area? Can you please confirm the requirements for Class I wetlands in the White Area?
A: The Water Act applies to all water bodies. The Interim Wetland Policy currently in place applies only to the White Area, and specifically excludes peatlands. The 2013 province-wide Wetland Policy will be implemented in the White Area in August 2014 and in the Green Area in August 2015. The details of this implementation are currently being worked out, including compensation procedures. In the interest of continuous improvement, the AER will work with ESRD and other agencies toward clearer, more effective, more efficient, and more consistent approaches to managing water bodies and other issues, where appropriate.

Q: Can you please provide an update on the progress and implementation of the wetland functional assessment process?
A: The Interim Wetland Policy currently in place applies only to the White Area. The 2013 province-wide Wetland Policy will be implemented in the White Area in August 2014 and in the Green Area in August 2015. The details of this implementation are currently being worked out, including the wetland functional assessment process. In the interest of continuous improvement, the AER will work with ESRD and other agencies toward clearer, more effective, more efficient, and more consistent approaches to managing water bodies and other issues, where appropriate.

Q: How can an industry-funded regulator, also regulate the environment?
A:The AER exercises the authority of an official under EPEA and the Water Act. The AER, like ESRD, is required to comply with the legislation, policy and guidelines that relate to EPEA and the Water Act.