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News Release: New restrictions on renewable energy must be applied to oil and gas sector

February 28, 2024

Alberta has announced new restrictions on renewable energy development, including banning development on prime agricultural land, introducing 35-kilometre buffers around protected areas or on “pristine landscapes” as defined by the Alberta government, and there will be a call for reclamation securities for projects.

While fossil fuels are the leading cause of climate emissions and land degradation, these tough restrictions aren’t being applied to oil and gas projects.

“These restrictions should not be applied only to renewable energy developments, they should also apply to the far more harmful oil and gas industry,” says Ruiping Luo, Conservation Specialist with AWA.

Fossil fuels account for over 75 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations, as well as cause extensive air and water pollution. Oil and gas developments are over 15 times more lethal to wildlife than wind and solar power. Alberta needs to transition to renewable energy, to meet Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan, and for environmental and human health.

These new regulations could severely limit new renewable energy development. Until last August, renewable energy was booming in Alberta, with over three-quarters of Canada’s new renewable energy development occurring in the province. The moratorium on renewables, applied suddenly and without consultation, hindered this growth. These new regulations could further damage investor confidence, slowing Alberta’s transition to renewable energy.

There is a need for consistent regulation within the energy sector. Renewable energy should not be developed in sensitive ecosystems, or in areas with high biodiversity. However, these restrictions must be applied fairly across all sectors, including the oil and gas industry.

Oil and gas is allowed on all agricultural classes in Alberta, despite the large land mass required for conventional oil and gas, and the extensive damage to soil and water from contamination. It can take decades to remediate soils that are contaminated by oil and gas, during which the land cannot be used for farming. Decommissioning of oil and gas is also a major concern, with cleanup costs estimated to be as high as $130 billion, while barely any security has been collected. Mandatory security requirements for renewable energy development must also apply to the oil and gas sector.

Farmland is not the only landscape at risk. Many rare and sensitive ecosystems are threatened by development, such as the McClelland Lake Wetland Complex, a patterned fen that took tens of thousands of years to develop, and stores millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide. This area, as well as countless forests and grasslands, provide food and traditional medicines to Indigenous peoples, yet they are not protected from industry. If the goal is for food security, shouldn’t these critical harvest areas also be protected from development?

Alberta is showing blatant favoritism to the oil and gas sector, with these regulations applying only to renewable energy developments, while overlooking the vast destruction caused by fossil fuels. While regulations are needed to direct responsible energy development, these regulations must be applied across all sectors, including the oil and gas industry.

For more information: Ruiping Luo, Conservation specialist (; 403-283-2025)

A PDF of this news release is available here: New restrictions on renewable energy must be applied to oil and gas sector

From a social-psychological point of view, it is the case, as regrettable as it is, that politicians are followers and only after the majority believes in something, do these followers follow.
- Herb Kariel
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