History of the Board:
The Government of Alberta initiated the task of restructuring environmental legislation in Alberta in 1988 by asking the Review Panel on Environmental Law Enforcement to make recommendations to strengthen the enforcement of Alberta's environmental statutes. The initiative resulted in the June 1990 release of a discussion draft of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA), released by the Honourable Ralph Klein, then Minister of Environment. The draft contained several sections establishing "boards of review" (similar to those under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act) to hear appeals on certain specified matters.
In the fall of 1990, the government appointed the Environmental Legislation Review Panel to conduct public meetings throughout the province to gather written and oral submissions. As a result of the public meetings, it came to light that there was a need for a legislative balance between public concerns over environmental impacts associated with industrial development and the concerns of regulated industries. The consultation process identified industry's concerns of unfair treatment by government regulators or being required to meet government regulations that were too stringent. The Panel submitted a report to government in January 1991, confirming support for the establishment of an independent appeal process.
The report was redrafted and introduced in the Legislative Assembly as Bill 53 in June of 1991, changing "boards of review" to "Environmental Appeal Board". In May of 1992, following further public input, the legislation was re-introduced as Bill 23, and it received third reading and Royal Assent on June 26, 1992. On September 1, 1993, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act was proclaimed, creating the Environmental Appeal Board (Board).
In 1995, the scope of the Board's mandate was expanded with the implementation of the Government Organization Act, Schedule 5, section 6, under which the Board can hear appeals of enforcement orders relating to Restricted Development Areas.
The Board's purview was further expanded in January 1999, with the coming into force of the Water Act, which contains a mechanism for appealing water related approvals, licences, preliminary certificates, diversion of water, and enforcement matters, to the Board. It is evident that the quantity, use, and management of water in Alberta are becoming more contentious issues which are influenced by a variety of factors. However, decisions on appropriate usage of Alberta's water supply are within the realm of human influence and, as such, there are differing opinions on what constitutes appropriate use and management of Alberta's water supply. As a result, the number of water related appeals is an increasingly large aspect of the Board's business, a challenge which the Board has met with the same standard of fairness and efficiency with which it has been processing EPEA appeals since 1993.
In April 2007, the Board's powers were further expanded in response to climate change issues under the Climate Change and Emissions Management Act (CCEMA). The Board may now hear appeals under section 42 of the CCEMA regarding compliance orders and administrative penalties. It is expected that as this area of the law continues to develop, the Board will play an important role in ensuring that the approach to environmental stewardship taken under EPEA and the Water Act is extended to climate issues.
In order to reflect the Board's ability to deal with a number of diverse types of appeals, in late 2003, the Board decided to change its name. The Board became the Environmental Appeals Board and in doing so, communicated that it combined appeals under the various pieces of legislation within its mandate. The ability to combine appeals not only increases efficiency and effectiveness, but decreases Board costs.