Alberta Legislation Would Redefine Minerals and Pits

The Alberta, Canada, government has proposed legislation that would redefine “minerals” and “pits,” allowing about 500 sand projects to proceed without having to submit environmental impact assessments, according to the Edmonton Journal.

Bill 31, the Environmental Protection Statutes Amendment Act, would clarify existing laws so that silica sand, extracted mostly for hydraulic fracturing oil operations, is not considered a mineral.

Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon said in a news release that the bill will provide “clarity and consistency” for the industry while still maintaining stringent environmental protection regulations.

“Job creators should not need interpreters to understand legislation and regulatory laws. That’s why the government is taking action to ensure that sand and gravel operators have clear definitions that are accurate in legislation. Environment and Parks has had an effective and environmentally sound regulatory system in place for more than 15 years to review and approve projects,” he said in the release.

Before the Court of Appeal decision, all projects removing sand, gravel, clay or marl were regulated as pits under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. The new legislation would revert back to the previous rules.

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