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Speaker: Dr. Ian Urquhart, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta
(CLICK HERE for Ian's Biography)

How much change and what types of change has Premier Notley’s government delivered so far in its first term of office? This question animates this year’s Green Paper. The paper opens by examining the Alberta political economy and the policy legacies the New Democratic Party government inherited from over forty years of Progressive Conservative rule. It details the 2015 NDP election platform before exploring the extent to which the New Democrats have changed the orientation of public policy in Alberta. Particular attention will be paid here to the issues of energy and environment. The paper concludes by considering some of the more important challenges the government faces as it heads into the next provincial election.  

Speaker: Dean Stanford Blade, University of Alberta
( CLICK HERE for Stan's Biography)

Speaker: Honourable Shannon Phillips, Minister of Alberta Environment and Parks
( CLICK HERE for Minister Phillips' Biography)

The Minister will briefly address the following key topics:
- Carbon credits
- The orphan well program
- Coal fired plants and closure
- Reclamation liability for oil and gas & oilsands
- Reclamation abandonment & wellsite closure timelines for non-producing wells
- Greenhouse gas and oilsands

Speaker: Graham Thomson, Political Affairs Columnist, Edmonton Journal
( CLICK HERE for Graham's Biography)

Alberta’s NDP government has got many things right on the environment but things keep going wrong with the economy. The two don’t cancel each other out. Far from it. Albertans might like a flourishing environment but we like a flourishing economy even better. The two are on a collision course for the 2019 provincial election. And that campaign has already started.

Speaker: David Burdek, Assistant Deputy Minister, Intergovernmental Relations, Trade and Environment, Agriculture and Forestry
( CLICK HERE for Dave's Biography)

As Alberta’s agriculture and agri-food sector evolves, new challenges and opportunities are arising. Whereas industry plays the lead role in facing those challenges and opportunities head on, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will continue to play a number of crucial roles both in enabling industry to achieve its potentials and in safeguarding and promoting public objectives. The presentation will highlight some of the strategies and actions the Ministry undertakes today and in the future on both fronts.  

Speaker: Kathleen Monk, Senior Strategic Communications and Campaign Strategist, Earnscliffe
( CLICK HERE for Kathleen's Biography)

The 2015 Alberta election was historic, sweeping out a 44 year Progressive Conservative dynasty. Now, with the 2019 provincial election quickly approaching and entirely new political players and political parties on the horizon, Kathleen Monk explains the NDP approach to agricultural and environmental issues in the province.

Speaker: Dr. Ted Morton, University of Calgary
( CLICK HERE for Ted's Biography)

Since the collapse of oil prices in 2014, conservation and stewardship issues have fallen off the policy agenda of Alberta governments. The collapse of government revenues from oil and gas royalties has meant growing budget deficits and debt. Struggling to fund higher priority programs in social services, health and education, governments have had little time or money for land and water policies. This has been compounded by the NDP government’s focus on climate change and prioritization of carbon reduction policies and the dismantling of the Department of Sustainable Resources Development (SRD). Responsibility for forestry, parks, grazing leases, and fish and wildlife, are now divided between three different departments. The new lead ministry—Environment—has been pre-occupied with implementing Premier Notley’s Climate Leadership policies. As Alberta’s economy recovers and we move into the next decade, it’s time to rescue stewardship and conservation from being political orphans. Based on my six years of experience as a PC cabinet minister from 2006-2012, these are my recommended policy priorities for Alberta’s next decade.
• Reconstitute the Department of Sustainable Resources Development and unify policy responsibility for forestry, parks, grazing leases, and fish and wildlife.
• The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) five-year review is scheduled for 2019. Use this review to address new and old challenges.
• Build on the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (ALSA), don’t repeal it. If there are property rights issues that need resolution, fix them. In a growing Alberta, we need both.
• Prioritize protection of Eastern Slopes watersheds-- the source of 75% of Alberta’s water.
• The new Castle Wilderness Provincial Park should be maintained and possibly expanded.
• Funding for wetland conservation on both private and public lands should be increased, both as a flood-prevention factor and for enhanced water quality and biodiversity.
• Provide compensation to private landowners that provide enhanced environmental goods and services (EGS).
• Resurrect pilot projects that allow private landowners to charge fees for recreational/hunting access.
• Supplement funding for the preceding policy recommendations by adopting the Saskatchewan model for surface disturbance payments on public grazing leases. This could generate a multi-million dollar/year revenue stream.
• Keep these funds in rural Alberta to help pay for wetland restoration and other EGS provided by private landowners.
• Explore funding expansion of irrigation with new, small-scale hydro-electric facilities, as a preferable alternative to more expensive/less reliable wind-power.
• Directional drilling and multi-stage fracking are placing unprecedented new demands on our fresh water supplies. AER’s new “play-based” regulation (PBR) and regulations for shallow aquifers and “flow-back” water must be implemented and enforced.
• Enforce Alberta’s “polluter pays” principle for bankrupt energy companies: ensure that a company’s liabilities for cleaning up abandoned wells takes priority over all other creditors. 

Speaker: Gerard Protti, Chair of the Alberta Energy Regulator
( CLICK HERE for Gerry's Biography)

The economic and social environment of Canada and other nations has transformed significantly over the last three decades. Most of the infrastructure for today’s society was constructed in a “benefit of the doubt” world. This is a world where one believes the word of individuals, companies, regulators, governments, even though you are not sure that what the person or organisation is saying is true. Sadly, in many ways that world rarely exists now. Today we all live in a “prove it to me” world whose conventions govern our interactions through personal, business and social interactions.

These developments have significant implications for individual, corporate, governmental and societal behaviour. It also has significant implications for how regulators must transform their governance, operations and adjudicative functions to gain trust and credibility. In this talk, Gerry Protti will outline the characteristics of regulatory excellence in a “prove it to me” world. He will use specific examples and case studies from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), North America’s largest hydrocarbon regulator. Mr. Protti will have just completed his five year term as the founding Chair of the AER.

For regulators, the journey is toward excellence while the world around them changes in fundamental ways due to technology, societal expectations and government policy initiatives. There are historical examples of regulatory failure, a couple of which will be outlined to underscore the importance of effective and efficient regulation in today’s society.

Regulatory excellence has many faces depending upon the perspective but it requires definition and a clear plan to seek it. The talk will address some of the key touchstones of an excellent regulator including strategic priorities and plans, performance targets and measures, effective governance structures, superior risk identification, assessment and mitigation capabilities, transparency and efficient operations and processes.

While the emphasis will be on energy regulation and the journey and experiences of the Alberta Energy Regulator, the principles being espoused have broad applicability over all forms of regulation from transport and health and safety to food and financial markets. The talk will conclude with several recommendations to help regulators and governments accelerate their own journey toward regulatory excellence.

Speaker: Leo de Bever, Chairman, Nauticol Energy
( CLICK HERE for Leo's Biography)

Technological change in key Alberta sectors is accelerating faster than our response to that change. Adapting is assumed to be costly, and pressure to reduce emissions and conserve water are just adding to that burden.

However, instead of costing money, many solutions create value including borrowing from other industries, concentrating on real as opposed to financial engineering, adapting production to changing markets, co-locating activities that now occupy separate silos, reducing scale of production, and by acting quickly.

Speaker: Rick Anderson, Executive Director, Synergy Alberta
( CLICK HERE for Rick's Biography)

After 20 some-odd years of managing the integration of oil and gas activities into agricultural operations, I’ve developed some fairly strong opinions on where government support for farmers and ranchers facing these issues could be improved upon.

Oil and gas activity has a major impact on our agricultural landscape and seems to be second only to the weather for being outside of our control. Rights, regulations, and requirements cover the basic processes, but the nuances in which we actually manage our agricultural landscapes are influenced by much more than these.

Basic negotiation for mitigation and/or compensation of impending impacts is often hampered by a lack of understanding or ability to forecast those impacts, and here is where the land manager is typically left hanging. Alberta Energy, Alberta Environment and Parks, and the Alberta Energy Regulator are seen as the main players, even though agriculture is often the main focus of the land being impacted.

While these departments can provide the landowner with a sense of what the actual activities might be, they seem to fall far short on providing any idea of what the implications of those activities might be. Traditionally, even our Agriculture department shies away from addressing this issue. The Farmer’s Advocate Office can provide high-level information and advice, but again is not in a position to address the operational nuances – What will this do to rotation cycles? What can I expect for impacts on grazing patterns? What about increased third-party access to my property? And how do I even go about figuring out what it is I might need to figure out so I can even ask the right questions?

In this presentation I would like to stimulate some serious thinking on ways our governments can provide support for filling this gap in knowledge and understanding for the landowners and agricultural producers in our province. I believe that agrologists and environmental scientists could (and should) be better utilized to play a significantly larger role in supporting the agricultural producers in managing oil and gas activity impacts, well beyond (and before) their traditional role of being relegated primarily to reclamation and remediation issues.

Speaker: Grant Sprague, Q.C.,Associate Counsel, Miller Thomson Law
( CLICK HERE for Grant's Biography)
Platforms are being created by all political parties – however your expertise, concerns and experience are often not included in them. How can you shape the agenda? And why is your role significant? My experience has been on the receiving end of platforms.

Speaker: Keith Wilson, Wilson Law Office
(CLICK HERE for Keith's Biography)

For over a century, government and the energy industry have maintained a social contract with landowners: Allow oil wells and pipelines onto your land, and the government and energy industry will ensure that you are made whole, suffer no harm, and are protected.

Lagging government policies and the economic downturn combined with a controversial court ruling (the Redwater case), have left landowners with the burdens of the wells on their lands but without compensation, unpaid property taxes, lingering contamination, loss of ability to use their land for financing, and feeling abandoned by both government and industry. On top of all of this, the problems are getting bigger. Alberta has no timelines for the cleanup of old inactive wells. The C.D. Howe Institute estimates that there are now over 155,000 inactive wells and Albertans may face an $8 Billion cleanup bill if the rules don’t change.

Government and industry action is required especially if government and industry seek to promote Alberta’s oil and gas as being produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

Speaker: Arnold Janz, Land Scientist, Alberta Environment and Parks
( CLICK HERE for Arnold's Biography)
Alberta’s land conservation and reclamation program has been in place for more than 5 decades and has undergone frequent modifications through a number of legislative, policy and regulatory adjustments. The objective of Alberta’s land reclamation program for most industrial sectors has and continues to be the protection of private and public land quality against degradation, and the return of physical, chemical and biological characteristics to pre-disturbance equivalency. Where return to pre-disturbance equivalency is not immediately evident after reclamation, natural recovery is generally assumed. Science-based evidence is needed to inform Albertans that legislated outcomes and public expectations are assured and that the program is working as intended. As part of Alberta Environment and Parks mandate to monitor environmental conditions we have analyzed field conditions at 75 reclaimed/certified well sites to assess pre-disturbance equivalency. The results of our analyses will be published and shared with Albertans.