AER Taking Baby Steps

Ecojustice recently reported on the Alberta Energy Regulator (“AER”) and the lack of action it has taken following a lot of hype when it was first introduced.

Well, one step does not a regulator make, but the AER has just shown some teeth in laying environmental charges against Plains Midstream Canada ULC.

The charges stem from a pipeline incident that occurred on June 7, 2012, and resulted in 2,900 barrels (461,000 litres) of sour crude oil being released from the company’s Rangeland pipeline into the Red Deer River near Sundre, Alberta.

Specifically:

“The charges include a federal charge under the Fisheries Act and a provincial charge for failing to report a release of crude oil from a pipeline as required under Alberta law.

“The provincial environmental charge stems from an Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) investigation that found the company failed to report the release as required within Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA).”

What will come of these charges? Does this baby step signal more to come from the AER, or will AER action only sporadically occur in the wake of pressure from organizations such as Ecojustice? Time will tell. For now, I for one am glad to see some teeth being shown.

By James Early