Environmental Reporting Suspended in Alberta Due to COVID-19


By the McLennan Ross Energy, Environmental & Regulatory Team

On March 31, 2020, the Minister of Environment and Parks issued Ministerial Order 17/2020, which suspends certain environmental information reporting requirements in Alberta, with the exception of reporting requirements applicable to drinking water (the “Order”). See Order here.

Authority to Issue the Order

The Order was issued under the authority of section 52.1(3) of the Public Health Act, which provides the Minister with power to make an order, without consultation, to suspend or modify the application or operation of all or part of an enactment if the Minister is satisfied that the application or operation of all or part of the enactment is not in the public interest.

The Order identifies the “hardship of having to comply with routine reporting requirements pursuant to the terms and conditions of approvals, registrations, licenses and dispositions” during the COVID-19 public health emergency as to why the suspension is needed.

Scope of the Order

The operation of three pieces of legislation are modified to the extent necessary to give effect to the suspension of the following:
  1. Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act – all requirements to report information pursuant to provisions in approvals and registrations;
  2. Water Act – all requirements to report information pursuant to the terms and conditions for licences or approvals; and
  3. Public Lands Act – all disposition requirements to submit returns or reports are suspended.
All information must still be recorded and retained, and made available upon request by Environment and Parks, or in the case of energy activities, the Alberta Energy Regulator.

The Order does not suspend reporting requirements pertaining to drinking water facilities.

Termination of the Order

The Order lapses on August 14, 2020, unless it is continued earlier by the Minister or the Lieutenant Governor in Council under the provisions of the Public Health Act.

The Order may also be terminated earlier under the provisions of the Public Health Act if the underlying public health emergency order in Alberta is terminated, or if the Minster of Environment and Parks is satisfied that the Order is no longer in the public interest.

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