Session Schedule & Activities
- Fall legislative session extended, will end next week by Thursday, December 14,
- Calgary-Lougheed by-election will be held on Thursday, December 14, 2017.
Government News and Announcements
Fall Sitting Extended
Hon. Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation and Government House Leader announced Wednesday the fall session of the legislature, scheduled to end today would continue into next week. The extension resulted from concern from members of opposition parties about the volume of complex legislation pieces released in the last two weeks and the ability to give them appropriate review in the scheduled time frame.
New Carbon Competiveness Incentives Introduced
Hon. Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Hon. Margaret McCuaig Boyd, Minister of Energy and Hon. Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks announced a $1.4 billion innovation package of Carbon Competitiveness Incentives (CCIs) this week for innovation projects funded through the Climate Leadership Plan. It will replace the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation on January 1, 2018.
The CCIs were created in consultation with industry and will be phased in over three years. The package is comprised of five categories including a $440 million Oil sands Innovation Fund and $400 Green loan guarantee fund to support investment in efficiency and renewable energy measures. Funds for the program are from revenue collected from carbon levies. The government estimates CCIs will reduce emissions by 20 million tonnes by 2020, and 50 million tonnes by 2030 – about the same as total emissions from Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick combined. To read full details of the fund click here.
Carbon Levy Changes for Large Industrial Operations
On Wednesday Hon. Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks announced changes to the Carbon Levy on large industrial facilities that will come into effect on January 1, 2018. The changes announced will replace the older system that was put in place by the PC government. The new system an output-based allocation system that will benchmark each major industry on their emissions and efficient firms will pay less and receive credits, while less efficient will pay more. According to the Minister this incentivized approach will lead to a “race to the top” as companies work to lower their output to ensure they pay less. Additionally, the CCIs announced yesterday will assist firms to invest in innovation and implement efficiency measures to reduce GHG levels.
According to Alberta Environment the changes to the program will lower emissions by 50 million tones by 2030. The program is also being phased in over three years with facilities paying half the levy in 2018, 75 percent in 2019 and the full amount in 2020. By 2020 it is estimated the levy will have a $1.2 billion price tag for industry.
Legislation Introduced to Address Elections and Political Action Committees (PACs)
This week Hon. Christina Gray, Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal introduced Bill 32, An Act to Strengthen and Project Democracy in Alberta which included several measures to encourage people to vote and increase confidence in the electoral system, as well as measures to target “dark money” from PACs. Measures to encourage voting include:
- An additional day of advance voting;
- Allowing voters to vote at any advance poll in their city, rather than being limited to one for their constituency;
- Disabled voters given access to voter-assist terminals;
- Mobile will be added at emergency shelters and support centers; and
- Canadian citizens who move to Alberta will not be subject to six months of residency before they can vote.
The new position of ‘Election Commissioner’ has been created and the commissioner will be appointed on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly. The commissioner will be responsible for investigating any alleged breaches of election legislation and recommend prosecution. The bill also introduces restrictions on government advertising during general election and by-elections.
Finally, the bill introduces limits on the amount of money PACs can spend in the period leading to an election campaign and during the campaign itself. From December 1 prior to an election year until the election is called PACs will face an $150,000 cap in spending, once the writ is dropped they will face another $150,000 cap during the election. Additionally, the bill bans collusion between PACs, political parties, nominated candidates and leadership candidates. In recent months, concern has been raised about the lack of limits on PACs, with the Liberal Party of Alberta introducing its own private members bill, Bill 214, specifically to regulate PACs this fall.
Changes to Hold Companies Accountable for Orphan Wells
Energy Minister, Hon Margaret McCuaig-Boyd announced the government is amending Directive 67, a regulatory tool for the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). The changes will enable the AER to request additional information and review past performance before issuing a license to an oil and gas company. The AER will also have the discretion to reject applications and revoke licenses that have already been granted. This is to prevent companies who have previously abandoned wells from obtaining licenses.
The changes are the result of a decision from the Alberta Court of Appeal that favored secured creditors over environmental cleanup. The Orphan Wells Associations Inventory includes more than 1800 wells in need of reclamation in Alberta.
Alberta Party Leadership Vote Delayed
The Alberta Party has pushed the date for its leadership vote to Tuesday, February 27, 2018 from its original date of Wednesday, February 7, 2018. No candidates have yet declared intention to run in the race. According to the party the date was changed because constituency associations and party members wanted a longer window for the race.
The party also announced the cutoff toe enter the race will be January 15 and approved candidates will be required to pay a $10,000 entry fee, half of which will be refunded for good behavior. Voting will run February 25-27 and the party will be using one member, one vote preferential ballot. Greg Clark, MLA, who stepped down as leader a month ago to trigger the race has said he will announce his intentions following the conclusion of the fall session.
Alberta Weekly Review 12-07-17 Edition