Protecting creeks and streams along the Eastern Slopes
Tripling the funding to Cows and Fish will help protect creeks and streams on the Eastern Slopes.
Environment and Parks is providing the Cows and Fish program with $1 million in 2021-22 to support projects and initiatives that protect creeks and streams along Alberta’s Eastern Slopes. This grant funding is part of the common-sense conservation plan that recognizes the efforts of civil society in Alberta’s environmental stewardship.
“Our headwaters are an important source of drinking water for many communities downstream and provide a habitat for many species. Cows and Fish has a long history of working with communities, landowners and stakeholders to deliver projects that improve watershed health at a local scale. Alberta’s government is proud to partner with Cows and Fish to ensure more watershed protection projects can go ahead for Albertans and our environment.”
“We are very pleased the government recognizes the value of riparian areas for protecting our headwaters, providing water security, protecting critical habitat and enhancing resiliency from drought and flooding. This is an important opportunity to expand on our work fostering riparian stewardship and improving landscape health in the Eastern Slopes to allow for sustainable recreation, agriculture and other uses, for all Albertans, now and into the future.”
“Bragg Creek Trails is very pleased to be working with Cows and Fish on a collaborative watershed restoration project for the West Bragg Creek watershed. With their support, we have been able to assess the health of the riparian and rangeland areas in this vital watershed. Together we developed a comprehensive suite of recommendations that includes restoration plans and grazing management changes that we are excited to start implementing this summer.”
“Clearwater County is pleased to partner with Cows and Fish on projects that help improve water quality and establish healthy riparian areas. The Cows and Fish Eastern Slopes program provides valuable incentives to local farmers and ranchers, allowing them to implement best management practices, benefiting the health of our watersheds locally and regionally.”
Investments in watershed health, particularly in areas near headwaters, help improve water quality and flood and drought resilience.
Cows and Fish is a non-profit organization that works with landowners and partners on projects that enhance watershed health through improved understanding and better management of riparian areas.
Government grants with matching funding from other sources have helped Cows and Fish deliver a number of important projects to improve watershed health. Program highlights from the past year include:
- Implementation of riparian management projects with ranchers and farmers in areas ranging from Vermilion to Grande Prairie to west of Nanton.
- Riparian area restoration and bioengineering projects at more than 10 sites in the Eastern Slopes.
- Riparian health inventory and assessment reporting on 170 sites.
- A number of riparian management courses, many of which were delivered through partnerships with organizations such as the Agroforestry and Woodlot Extension Society.
Cows and Fish also receives a $310,000 annual operational base grant from Environment and Parks.
AER: Invitation for Feedback on Directives 055 and 058
We are seeking feedback on new editions of Directive 055: Storage Requirements for the Upstream Petroleum Industry and Directive 058: Oilfield Waste Management Requirements for the Upstream Petroleum Industry. These directives were updated to incorporate the storage of large volumes of water such as produced water, water-based flowback, and oilfield landfill leachate in storage devices for reuse in hydraulic fracturing. In addition, the directives were revised to provide greater clarity and to remove redundant and outdated requirements.
Directive 055 now includes technical requirements for engineered containment ponds and bladders with structural frames, and expanded requirements for aboveground synthetically lined walled storage systems.
Directive 058 now includes storage of water for reuse in hydraulic fracturing as a waste storage activity.
Several ancillary documents were also consolidated in the directives, including addendums, interim directives, informational letters, reports, and bulletins.
To provide feedback on the proposed revisions to the directives, complete the comment form available on the Directive 055 and Directive 058 webpages. Send feedback by email to [email protected] or by mail to the Alberta Energy Regulator, Attention: Regulatory Enhancement, Suite 1000, 250 – 5 Street SW, Calgary, Alberta T2P 0R4. Feedback will be accepted through Sunday, July 25. All feedback received will be reviewed and may be used in finalizing the directives.
Personal information provided with comments will be collected, used, and disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The AER may use the personal contact information you provide for follow-up communication related to your feedback.
This opportunity to provide feedback on the directives builds on our engagement with indigenous peoples, industry, municipalities, environmental nongovernmental organizations, landowners, and others during the initial development of the updates to the directives.
The draft editions of the directives are available on our website, www.aer.ca > Regulating Development > Rules and Directives > Directives. For more information, contact our Customer Contact Centre by phone at 403-297-8311 (1-855-297-8311 toll free) or by email at [email protected].
AER: Invitation for Feedback on Proposed New Licensee Life-Cycle Management Directive
We are seeking feedback on the proposed new Directive XXX: Licensee Life-Cycle Management. This directive supports the Government of Alberta (GoA)’s new Liability Management Framework and is enabled by rule changes announced in our Bulletin 2020-26. More information on our various liability management programs is available on our website, aer.ca > Regulating Development > Project Closure > Liability Management Programs and Processes.
Directive XXX: Licensee Life-Cycle Management
Every energy resource development project has a life cycle consisting of four stages: initiate, construct, operate, and close; liabilities need to be managed throughout. This directive
- introduces a holistic assessment of a licensee’s capabilities and performance across the energy development life cycle, which will be supported by the licensee capability assessment (LCA) system;
- introduces the Licensee Management Program, which outlines how licensee management will occur across the energy development life cycle;
- introduces the Inventory Reduction Program, which sets mandatory closure spend targets for closure activities and spends by licensees (2022 industry mandatory targets were announced in Bulletin 2021‑23);
- updates application requirements related to the licence transfer process; and
- describes security collection under the directive.
Directive 006 Changes
Changes will be made to Directive 006 in phases as we transition away from the Licensee Liability Rating Program and implement the programs outlined in the new directive. In this first phase, requirements around licence transfer applications will be moved from Directive 006 to the new directive, once finalized. Subsequent phases will include additional changes to Directive 006 and other AER directives related to liability management (e.g., Directive 001, Directive 011, Directive 024, Directive 068, and Directive 075) to align with the new Liability Management Framework.
To provide feedback on the proposed new directive, complete the comment form available on the directive’s webpage. Feedback or questions on the directive should be sent by email to [email protected]. Feedback will be accepted through Sunday, July 25. All feedback received will be reviewed and may be used in finalizing the directive. All of the comments provided through this consultation will form part of the public record and, at the discretion of the AER, any comment received may also be attributed to the specific individuals providing it. Personal information provided with comments will be collected, used, and disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The AER may use the personal contact information you provide for follow-up communication related to your feedback.
The proposed new directive is available on the AER website, www.aer.ca.
Government of Canada releases Policy Statement on future thermal coal mining projects and project expansions
The best available science and economic analysis calls for countries around the world to address the global challenge that is climate change, and to fully seize the economic opportunities that it presents. For the good of the planet’s health, the world is moving off thermal coal for energy production, and Canada is leading the way.
Burning thermal coal, the fuel that powered an industrial revolution in a previous century, is the single largest contributor to climate change and a major source of toxic pollution that harms human health. Since co-founding the Powering Past Coal Alliance in 2017 with the United Kingdom and introducing regulations to accelerate the phase-out of conventional coal-fired electricity, Canada has helped set the pace for domestic and international action in addressing this source of greenhouse gas emissions. Last month Canada, alongside other G7 countries, stressed the need to immediately end international investments in thermal coal power generation projects that emit carbon pollution.
As G7 world leaders gather in the U.K. to combat global challenges, including climate change, and as the next step in Canada’s commitment to addressing harmful GHG emissions from coal, the Honorable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, today announced the Government of Canada’s public policy statement on new thermal coal mining or expansion projects. The statement indicates that the Government considers that these projects are likely to cause unacceptable environmental effects within federal jurisdiction and are not aligned with Canada’s domestic and international climate change commitments. Accordingly, this position will inform federal decision making on thermal coal mining projects.
Today’s policy announcement provides clarity and regulatory certainty for industry, investors and Canadians. It represents another critical step in our shared path to a cleaner and more prosperous future, and places Canada among the first G7 countries to adopt such a policy.
In parallel to today’s announcement, Minister Wilkinson informed Coalspur Mines Ltd. that the policy announced today applies to the consideration of its proposed thermal coal mine expansions at the Vista Coal Mine near Hinton, Alberta.
Canada’s abundant natural resources give this country a competitive advantage we have always used to support jobs and prosperity. In the global race to carbon-neutral economies by 2050, Canada continues to build on its long-term competitive advantage by focusing on environmental sustainability and clean growth while supporting workers and communities.
That is why, for example, Canada’s strengthened climate plan—A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy—committed $964 million over four years to advance smart renewable energy and grid modernization projects to enable the clean grid and jobs of the future. And that is why, to mitigate the impacts of the domestic phase out of coal-fired electricity, Budgets 2018 and 2019 provided $185 million for skills development, economic diversification, and infrastructure to support coal workers and communities.
The evidence is clear: the continued mining and use of thermal coal for energy production in the world runs counter to what is needed to effectively combat climate change and seize the economic opportunities that it presents. It is in this context that the Government has announced this policy today and will continue to work with Canadians to deliver strong climate action.
In 2018 the federal Government introduced regulations to phase-out conventional coal-fired electricity across Canada by 2030.
Limiting GHG emissions associated with conventional coal-fired electricity will protect the air we breathe, eliminate 12.8 million tonnes of carbon pollution from our atmosphere in 2030, and help Canada avoid an estimated 260 premature deaths, 40,000 asthma episodes and 190,000 days of breathing difficulty.
Aided by the Powering Past Coal Alliance, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries have closed over one third of their total coal power capacity through retirement commitments and phase-out policies.
In 2019, Export Development Canada committed to no new financing for coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines or dedicated thermal coal-related infrastructure. This May, all G7 countries also agreed to take concrete steps towards an end to government investment for unabated international thermal coal power generation projects by the end of 2021.
Canada’s electricity grid is over 80% emissions-free—one of the cleanest in the world—and is on track to meet its goal of having 90% non-emitting electricity generation by 2030.
In October 2020, the Canada Infrastructure Bank committed to invest $2.5 billion in clean power projects over the next 3 years.
In Canada’s strengthened climate plan of December 2020, a Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, Canada committed $964 million over four years to advance smart renewable energy and grid modernization projects to enable the clean grid of the future. This includes support to increase renewable power generation capacity such as wind and solar, and the deployment of grid modernization technologies such as power storage.
Alberta’s Auditor General scolds Alberta over mine cleanup fund, how province handles polluted sites
(Source: Canadian Press) Alberta’s auditor general is criticizing the government for failing to fix problems pointed out six years ago in a program that’s supposed to guarantee coal and oilsands mines clean up after themselves.
Doug Wylie says there’s so much confusion over who’s responsible for the government’s owncontaminated sites that there’s no stable funding to ensure that an abandoned coal mine in northern Alberta stays safe.
“There is an impact beyond accounting and process issues,” Wylie said in a briefing before his report was tabled in the legislature Thursday. “This impacts sites and it impacts people within the province.”
Among other issues, Wylie’s latest report revisits the Mine Financial Security Program first audited in 2015. It also looks at how the government handles contaminated sites for which it is responsible.
Wylie found the government hasn’t answered concerns about how company payments into the security fund are calculated. He found five ways in which it still allows companies to overstate their assets, underestimate the effects of oil price declines and delay payments.
“After six years of analysis, the department has not decided if and how the calculation should change,” the report says.
The government currently holds $1.5 billion in security on mining liabilities of $31.5 billion, says the report.
It also says there are problems with how the government handles contaminated sites when it can’t find the responsible party or when a site doesn’t fall within the purview of the Orphan Well Fund or any other management group. The government says there are 2,600 such sites with an environmental liability of $248 million.
Too often cleanup gets shuffled between Alberta Environment and Parks and the Alberta Energy Regulator, Wylie writes.
In the case of the old Smoky River coal mine near Grande Cache, the regulator stepped in on an emergency basis in 2018 to prevent the failure of a selenium-poisoned tailings pond. Alberta Environment told the regulator the work would be funded through the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Fund, then folded the fund back into general revenue, which left the regulator on the hook.
The same funding issue is preventing the regulator from fixing sinkholes caused by old coal mines in southern Alberta.
The report says the government has no risk assessment for its sites or analysis of their status. It doesn’t have individual cost estimates for cleanup or for keeping sites safe into the future.
For those reasons, Alberta’s estimates of its own environmental liabilities are suspect, said assistant auditor Eric Leonty.
“It could be more, as more information is available and it’s determined that the government is responsible for more sites,” he said.
In an emailed response, Alberta Environment spokesman Paul Hamnett said consultations on reforming the mine security program are to be held this summer.
“The review will ensure appropriate funds are being collected over the life of the project to cover reclamation liabilities and ensure continuous program improvement, including feedback from the (auditor),” he said.
The department is reviewing its contaminated sites to collect the information Wylie found lacking, he added.
“Alberta Environment and Parks and the Alberta Energy Regulator are working on a long-term solution that will bring clarity over the responsibility and funding for those sites.”
Critics suggested any changes to the security program are unlikely to address its problems.
University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski pointed out the government has already eased payments for the oilsands in response to last summer’s oil price collapse.
“At essentially every turn, the (program) is designed to favour oilsands operators over taxpayers,” he wrote. “Given the (United Conservative Party’s) track record … there is absolutely no reason to think or hope that they will address this problem meaningfully in the upcoming review.”
Regan Boychuk of the Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project said the problem is simple: the fund needs to collect more money.
“Billions of dollars should already be in the bank from these highly profitable companies,” he said.
“The only thing that’s going to clean up the oilsands is the revenue from producing that bitumen. We can either save the money for that cleanup while that money is still coming out of the ground, or we can wait until they’re done producing.”
Saskatchewan mulls new regulations to prevent oil wells from being ‘orphaned’
(Source: The Star Phoenix) Saskatchewan’s provincial government is pitching new regulations to manage the growing financial risk posed by orphaned oil wells.
The government says new rules would strengthen an already-strong regime that ensures taxpayers aren’t on the hook for a private company’s mess, but others see it as a sign the province is trying to mitigate environmental liabilities amid the booms and busts of the industry.
“This is a perpetual question of whether or not the orphan well funds are big enough,” said University of Saskatchewan resource law professor Heather Heavin.
“And if they were bigger and we put a bit more pressure on the industry, could we clean things up faster?”
Oil wells are “orphaned” when the corporations that own them become insolvent, meaning there is no one to cap, abandon and remediate the environment around the site.
The province pays for this by collecting a levy from oil and gas operators. Companies with more liabilities than assets are also required to pay a deposit to the province, which is used as a backstop to remediate the site and cap the well if the company goes belly-up.
“It’s no different than say a gas station that had leaky underground gas tanks or they’ve got asbestos in the walls or something and they’re suddenly bankrupt,” Heavin said. “There is no one to go after to clean this up.”
Those insolvencies can be frequent. As of April 30, there were 493 orphan wells in Saskatchewan requiring abandonment, meaning they had not yet been capped and sealed. A ministry official said that number had declined to 466 as of May.
Of the original 493, 413 were from a single company — Bow River Energy Ltd., which was placed into receivership in October.
A provincial analysis suggests the growing industry liability has outpaced assets since the boom days of 2009.
“Orphan levies may also increase over time where the security deposit payments, together with the residual asset value, are insufficient to cover the abandonment and reclamation costs for orphaned wells and facilities,” reads the 2019-20 Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Orphan Fund annual report.
Minister of Energy and Environment Bronwyn Eyre said oil companies — never the taxpayer — are on the hook for abandonment.
“The inventory of orphan wells is manageable and very much lower than our neighbours in Alberta,” Eyre said.
However, the government is also considering two new regulations to further ‘de-risk’ the sector.
One would require companies to pay a set amount to remediate the land around inactive wells.
Lex Ewen, CEO of Edge Liability Risk Management,said that’s good policy, since it creates jobs and pushes companies to get rid of those liabilities. There were about 9,000 inactive wells in the province when he started his job in 2014; now there are 40,000, he noted.
Ewen is less keen on a second regulation that might require companies with fewer assets to pay even more security when they buy inactive wells from other firms.
That proportional risk transfer model, which closely resembles a similar policy in Alberta, disadvantages smaller companies that might want to buy inactive wells off larger competitors and make them productive, he said.
“Historically, Saskatchewan’s oil and gas industry has been built by smaller operators finding opportunities to build out and develop more resources by taking it over from larger companies that … don’t have the ability to be nimble and identify some of these upside opportunities.”
Ewen said big firms have an advantage because the formula the province uses to calculate assets and liabilities does not factor in debt. He said the size of deposits ends up “killing deals” for little companies that are relatively healthy financially.
“It doesn’t actually reflect the true financial ability of a company,” Ewen said.
Ministry spokesperson Jill Stroeder confirmed that is the case, adding that the ministry is looking at models that may incorporate debt alongside the existing security program.
She said the government “is willing to work with the parties involved to assist in the transfer process to ensure business transactions can successfully continue and so that the enhanced model protects taxpayers from environmental liabilities.”
The provincial government has collected feedback from the industry on both proposed policies is now reviewing it.
The province has recently touted a large investment from the federal government to clean up inactive wells, which Eyre said was an economic stimulus and not the taxpayer picking up industry’s bill.
“For us, the federal money — obviously paid for by federal taxpayers — we considered it a major goal with that funding to get the service sector back to work,” Eyre said.
The first year of that program resulted in $184 million going to more than 500 Saskatchewan companies to work on inactive oil and gas sites, according to a provincial release.
Heavin said it all leads to the central question of whether the government can continue to make oil profitable while removing the risk for taxpayers.
“That’s the biggest question: Do we have the revenue streams appropriate or high enough to actually fund the liabilities moving forward?”
Lake Mead drops to a record low amid drought
(Source: LA Times) Lake Mead, a key reservoir on the Colorado River, has dipped to a record low level in the latest evidence of drought’s grip on the region.
The surface elevation of the lake along the Nevada-Arizona border dipped to 1,071.56 feet at 11 p.m. Wednesday. That level was last recorded in July 2016 and is 18.5 feet lower than one year ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. It’s the lowest level since Lake Mead was filled in the 1930s.
“We’re expecting the reservoir to keep declining until November. Then it should start to rebound,” said Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patti Aaron.
The water level affects the recreation industry at one of the largest artificial reservoirs in the country and the efficiency of hydropower-generation at Hoover Dam.
It won’t be used to determine next year’s water deliveries to California, Arizona and Nevada until August, when the Bureau of Reclamation issues an official projection. Already, the agency has said it expects to make its first-ever shortage declaration prompting cuts in Arizona and Nevada.
“People are certainly concerned,” Aaron said. “You look at the reservoir and it’s concerning.”
Lake Mead levels ebb and flow throughout the year depending on weather patterns and how much water is consumed or evaporates. Officials project that the lake will fall to 1,064 feet before rebounding in November, when agricultural needs decrease, Aaron said.
States, water districts and tribes have propped up Lake Mead over the years through various agreements to keep it from falling to a point where it could not deliver water downstream.
The Colorado River supplies 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming as well as a $5-billion-a-year agricultural industry.
Upcoming ESAA Webinar: More Alberta Birds with Brian and Joe
June 17th, 11 AM
Team Registration is SOLD OUT – Hole Sponsorships Availalble
Thank you everyone for the amazing support! The response has been once again overwhelming.
The following sponsorship items are still available:
- 5 Hole Sponsorships – $750
- Team Registrations – Sold Out
- Individual Registrations – Sold Out
The ESAA Golf Tournament/Brian Winters Memorial is back. The 2021 Tournament will take place on July 21st. If the covid situation changes a back up date of August 25th has been secured.
The 2021 tournament will be a little different and will not feature group meals for the safety of all of the golfers. Each golfer will receive a breakfast burrito and coffee upon arrival, coupons for a hot dog and beer at lunch and a snack box at the completion of their round of golf for the drive home.
Upcoming AER OneStop Record of Site Condition Training Sessions
In July 2021, the AER will be releasing the Record of Site Condition (RoSC) Form into the OneStop platform. This means that all RoSCs and associated professional reports must then be submitted through OneStop*.
There are training sessions available in which we will explain the changes and demonstrate how to submit information and reports using OneStop.
The training page is available on the AER website under “News and Announcements”, or using this link: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/
Any questions may be directed to [email protected]
* The exception to this is submissions that are required under an Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA) approval for mining operations, which will continue to be submitted to the AER via email.
Come Meet the Federal Procurement Ombudsman!
You are invited to a virtual town hall meeting with the Procurement Ombudsman
The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO) is hosting 4 town hall meetings to:
- provide information on the Office’s services to businesses
- hear from you about your concerns and experiences in doing business with the federal government
You can attend 1 of the following 4 sessions. Please note that the same information will be provided at all 4 sessions. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided during the English sessions and Langue des signes du Québec (LSQ) interpretation will be provided during the French sessions.
- Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2021
- Online Platform: Zoom
- Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET
- Language: French
- Date: Thursday, June 24, 2021
- Online Platform: Zoom
- Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET
- Language: English
- Date: Wednesday, August 18, 2021
- Online Platform: Zoom
- Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET
- Language: French
- Date: Thursday, August 19, 2021
- Online Platform: Zoom
- Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET
- Language: English
Please register for the session of your choice via . Note that spaces are limited for these free sessions.
OPO’s mission is to promote fairness, openness and transparency in federal procurement. We assist businesses by answering inquiries and investigating complaints about federal procurement, and offering both formal and informal dispute resolution services.
Can’t make it? Simply take a few minutes to.
ESAA Job Board
Check out the new improved ESAA Job Board. Members can post ads for free.
- Intermediate Reclamation/Remediation Specialist – NorthWind Land Resources
- Environmental Geologist, Hydrogeologist, Engineer or Scientist –
- Environmental Engineer, Scientist, Geologist or Hydrogeologist – 5 to 10 Years Experience –
- Environmental Scientist, Engineer, Geologist or Hydrogeologist – 10 to 15 Years Experience –
- Intermediate to Senior Biophysical Specialist/Terrestrial Ecologist – NorthWind Land Resources
- Intermediate/Senior Wildlife Biologist –
- Junior Data Entry Consultant –
- Intermediate Hydrogeologist –
- CAD Technician –
- Junior Environmental Consultant –
- Intermediate Environmental Consultant –
- Graduate Environmental Scientist / Engineer / Technologist – Worley (Advisian)
- Archaeology Permit Holder –
- Archaeology Field Director –
- Assistant Project Manager – Archaeology –
- Senior Environmental Remediation Technologist –
- Intermediate Environmental Scientist – NorthWind Land Resources
- Project Manager / Business Development – Delta Remediation
- Environmental Geoscientist – Terex Environmental Group
- Jr. Environmental Scientist
- Junior Environmental Professional-
- Senior Environmental Scientist- Reporting Lead
- Business Development Representative –
- Contract Remediation and Reclamation Professionals – Trace Associates