Wildrose environment critic Joe Anglin talks to Premier Allison Redford and environment minister Diana McQueen
Credits: DEVAN C. TASA/QMI AGENCY
On Wednesday, the province announced plans for the Alberta Energy Regulator they said would expedite project approvals, hike fines for polluters and give landowners more input.
But after reading the legislation, Wildrose utilities critic Joe Anglin said he's concerned about the possibility landowners or industry could be arbitrarily penalized under the plan.
"There's a possible lack of due process ... when you have an official able to issue a penalty like Court of Queen's Bench," said Anglin, MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre.
Anglin said the principle of Bill 2 - to speed the approval of oil, oilsands, natural gas and coal development applications - is a good one.
"It makes sense to streamline, but the devil's in the details," he said.
One of those details that should raise concerns is hiking fines for industrial polluters, said Anglin.
"Are they going to be abused? Are they going to have fines as a cash grab to supplement their budgets?" he said.
Fine revenues go into the government's general revenues, though separate penalties known as creative sentences are often earmarked for conservation or prevention projects, said Alberta Environment spokeswoman Jessica Potter.
"Creative sentencing is to get something good out of the bad," she said.
A spokesman for the Pembina Institute, an environmental organization, said the new regulator could be a positive step, though not enough is known about the process to be certain.