As part of the shift to a cumulative effects management approach, Alberta Environment is transitioning towards outcomes-based authorizations.
Currently, the application process for various approvals and authorizations allows Alberta Environment’s decision makers to manage emissions and prevent adverse effects for individual projects. This system has worked well in many ways; we hope to move beyond this approach and improve our ability to understand the potential opportunities and implications of future development activities at various geographic scales.
Shifting to outcomes-based authorizations is designed to promote the achievement of place-based and issue-specific outcomes, and improve the ability to consider multiple activities on the landscape. It is also expected to generate innovation and stewardship amongst the regulated community, and better enable the management of cumulative impacts.
As part of this approach, applicants will be required to submit information pertaining to the environmental impact of their activity and to demonstrate their ability to contribute to the achievement of established outcomes. In addition, as part of the application process, applicants are required to prepare a Continuous Improvement Plan outlining how they intend to optimize their performance and further reduce their impact over time.
This work is evolutionary and will not result in immediate, untested changes to the approval system. The department is currently prototyping this approach within the industrial sector to assess the associated implications and inform requirements for operational policies and procedures. Additional prototypes with other sectors may be considered in the future.