Energy lobbyist, Ex Encana VP Gerard Protti, appointed as Alberta’s new top energy regulator

Protti named new energy regulator by Darcy Henton, April 3, 2013, Calgary Herald
Gerry Protti, founding president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, has been appointed chairman of Alberta’s new energy regulator. The appointment of former oilfield executive Gerry Protti as board chairman of Alberta’s new one-window energy regulator has drawn mixed reviews, with applause from the oilpatch and jeers from some opposition critics. Energy Minister Ken Hughes said the former Alberta Energy assistant deputy minister and Encana executive was selected from more than 100 applicants and a final shortlist of four to chair the board of the new Alberta Energy Regulator which comes on stream in June. “He has an unusually diverse background of somebody who has served in public service, who understands the challenges of implementing public policy and who has experience in the industry,” Hughes said in an interview Tuesday. He noted Protti was the founding president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and also has training in board governance, which will make him well-suited to take on the leadership of the new entity. The job pays $165,000 base salary plus an additional $13,000 in per diems that can be claimed in the first year and $10,000 in subsequent years of the five-year appointment, Hughes said. While some critics expressed alarm at Protti’s deep connections with the industry, Hughes said his oilpatch experience will be balanced through the appointment of a diverse board of three to five members and a chief executive.

But NDP critic Rachel Notley said she at first suspected the appointment was a late April Fools joke. “Basically the new regulator has an obligation to Albertans to protect our water and our air and land and to ensure that our oil and gas development is sustainable,” she said. “Albertans need to trust that is what happening and that’s not going to happen when we appoint someone as closely tied to industry as Protti.” Liberal Leader Raj Sherman also expressed concerns about Protti’s ties to the oilpatch and lack of a record on environmental issues. “I am concerned that the government has dropped the ball on the environment,” he said.

But Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said she’s convinced Protti is the best person for the job. “I have a measure of confidence that somebody with that background may be able to put forward the kind of massive change to the new single regulator that will take in the interests of the public as well as the interests of industry,” she said. “I think he is the type of person who sees it from both sides.” [Emphasis added]

Energy lobbyist appointed as Alberta’s new top energy regulator by Andrew Nikiforuk, April 2, 2013, The Hook
The Alberta government has appointed the founding president of the Canada’s most powerful oil and gas group as well as an active energy lobbyist to head its new energy regulator. Gerald Protti, a long-time senior executive for Encana from 1995 and 2009, served as the inaugural president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). He is also registered as an active lobbyist for the Energy Policy Institute of Canada. That lobby group, which disgraced senior Harper advisor Bruce Carson helped to set up (Carson served as vice chair), says on its website that it wants to make energy regulations more industry friendly: “Help design regulatory processes that aid, rather than impede, responsible energy development.” (Carson, the 66-year-old former aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was the architect of Tories’ oil sands public relations strategy and will go to trial next summer on influence-peddling charges. He has a history of fraud convictions.) The Redford government appointed Protti, who also has close ties to the Harper government, as industry advisor to the Alberta government on its Regulatory Enhancement Project. That project is still designing a one-stop shop regulatory body for oil and gas that Protti now heads.

Mike Hudema of Greenpeace Canada was at a loss for words to describe the appointment. “You’d think the Alberta government would want to gain credibility with an appointee that had a strong record of public service. But this move does nothing for the province’s credibility. It’s pure conflict of interest.” Added Hudema: “By handing the fox the keys to the hen house, the Redford government has made a mockery of their claims to being a tough regulator. No one outside of Alberta is going to take the founder of the oil industry’s main lobby group seriously as an environmental regulator. It may be a cause for joy in corporate boardrooms, but it is our communities and our environment that will pay the price of this revolving door between government and industry.”

Protti’s appointment may create a political storm in the province.

When then-Premier Ralph Klein tried to appoint another energy insider, former Amoco executive Sherrold Moore, as head of the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (now the Energy Resources Conservation Board) in 1998, public outrage forced the government to back down. It finally appointed Neil McCrank, senior civil servant and lawyer, instead. The appointment is not without precedent. B.C.’s oil and gas regulator, the Oil and Gas Commission, was actually set up by a former oil and gas lobbyist too. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Encana CEO Randy Eresman retires suddenly, News release confirms top executive stepping down after 35 years

Aubrey McClendon Steps Down From Chesapeake

Chesapeake, Encana antitrust case deepens

Encana’s troubles widen with collusion allegations

Failure Investigation Report: Failure of Piping at EnCana Swan Wellsite A5-7-77-14 L W6M by the BC Oil and Gas Commission, February 4, 2010.
The 22 November 2009 failure…was caused by internal erosion of the wall resulting from flowing fracture sand suspended in the gas stream.  Leak detection and emergency isolation at the site did not achieve timely detection of the leak or control of the escaping gas. EnCana’s integrity management program did not effectively mitigate the hazard of internal erosion.

EnCana Corporation facing criminal charges

Suffield Files Reveal Disturbing Story of Environmental Degradation, Non-compliance by Energy Companies and Industry Giant EnCana

Environment minister turns down Cenovus [split from Encana] Energy project over wildlife risk, EnCana Makes First Court Appearance after Being Charged with Violating Canada Wildlife Act

Military guards environment from EnCana

Oil firms ‘negligent’ at Suffield, Wildlife areas damaged by industry: report

EnCana exposed, Damning evidence of environmental damage

EnCana faces California gas price-fixing trial ]

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