Alberta created it’s first environmentally focused government department in 1971 and it was this department that was responsible for developing pollution prevention legislation over the coming decades. Eventually, in 1992, as a culmination of numerous pieces of legislation including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, among others, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA), came into force, establishing one comprehensive package for environmental management.
The EPEA is focused on supporting and promoting the protection, enhancement and wise use of the environment, balanced with human health, economic growth and prosperity. It also incorporates other legal and environmental principles, including the polluter pays principle.
Today, Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Energy and the Alberta Energy Regulator each play a role in enforcing the duties and goals outlined in the Act and in drafting regulation and policy to help clarify and put these duties into action. For example, Alberta Environment and Parks designs policies that regulate contaminated sites (or sites where a spill of hazardous material has occurred) while the Alberta Energy Regulator issues decisions on approvals for energy development in the province, and Alberta Energy helps fund the Orphan Well Association – a group tasked with cleaning up abandoned oil wells to ensure that no site contamination occurs – and collects oil royalties.
Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) also enforces a number of regulations that regulate hazardous waste and hazardous recyclables. For example, AEP is responsible for ensuring compliance under the Release Reporting Regulation which sets requirements for an owner or operator to fulfill, immediately after any spill involving hazardous materials occurs and the Waste Control Regulation which describes the safe management of hazardous waste including registration, storage and transportation.
The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act is a more comprehensive act than some past versions, yet it is still limited by both its enforcement abilities (there are only so many people working for government departments and there are a lot of environmental issues arising every day) and a slow-moving bureaucratic process.
 Air Policy Sector, “Air Management in Alberta” (January 2009) Government of Alberta at 1 online: https://www.alberta.ca/provincial-air-quality-management.aspx.
 Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, RSA 2000, e- 12, s 2.
 Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, s 2.
 Release Reporting Regulation, Alta Reg 117/1993.
 Waste Control Regulation, Alta Reg 192/1996.
Join our new AlbertaEnviroLaws Facebook group to ask questions, participate in discussions and other online engagement. Please share this widely so that the high school teachers and students in your circles hear about this great new resource for supplemental online learning. AlbertaEnviroLaws Facebook Group