ABA fits into the existing legal framework within which the BC Oil and Gas Commission operates. This legal framework is an environmental protection regime that is embodied in the collection of acts, regulations, standards, practice requirements and management plans that govern the mandate of the BC Oil and Gas Commission.
The legal framework was developed over many years. It is based on a wealth of information and knowledge about the activities on the ground and/or the environmental components. Overall the legal framework is intended to balance scientific knowledge with management risk, while protecting the environment and enabling development.
ABA gives the Commission greater certainty that decisions about oil and gas activity are made within the legal framework and that the effects of oil and gas activity can be managed and mitigated effectively and to lasting effect.
Some of the specific concerns ABA will help address include:
- Clarification of current legal/policy objectives in the Oil and Gas Activities Act (OGAA) and the Environmental Protection and Management Regulation (EPMR), which are both administered by the Commission.
- In conjunction with the cumulative effects program of the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO), the ABA will:
- Address the situation that multiple government agencies permit and authorize different industries and activities that impact the same values on the same land base
- develop common objectives and shared information to minimize or eliminate the accumulation of unintended impacts
- ensure the assessment(s) informs decision-making in a coordinated and consistent manner across the natural resource sector in order to reduce unintended impacts on values
- address the cumulative environmental effects of all natural resource activities and events on a select set of resource values (rather than just oil and gas, for instance).
- The ABA will assist in addressing concerns by
- identifying and making coordinated decisions about significant resource development in northeast British Columbia
- managing the impacts of development on key ecosystem attributes (habitat, water, air, species) to stay within acceptable levels
- managing the impacts of development on the resource values that support the practice of treaty rights.