For the first time, Alberta's United Conservative government has invoked its contentious Sovereignty Act in a bid to counter the federal government's proposed Clean Electricity Regulations (CER). Premier Danielle Smith's administration has introduced a resolution in the Alberta legislature, directing provincial entities to disregard the CER upon its enactment, provided it is legally feasible.
The Sovereignty Act and Clean Electricity Regulations
The Sovereignty Act enables Alberta to reject the enforcement of federal laws deemed unfavorable to its interests. The act's implementation comes in response to the proposed CER, which aims to achieve a net-zero electricity grid in Canada by 2035. However, Smith criticizes this objective as unattainable without compromising power reliability and consumer costs.
Mitigating Investment Fears
The resolution suggests the formation of a Crown corporation to alleviate fears of investment in new power projects due to the CER. The corporation could promote energy investments, including those in natural gas and small-scale nuclear plants.
The Legal and Political Landscape
Smith believes that the resolution would strengthen Alberta's stand if the dispute escalates to court proceedings. She also hopes it could persuade the federal government to reconsider the 2035 target and adopt a more realistic 2050 goal. However, federal officials, including Minister of Environment Steven Guilbeault, maintain that Alberta's approach lacks a legal basis. They underscore the ongoing collaborations with provinces and stakeholders for a sustainable future.
Opposition leader Rachel Notley condemns the act as illegal and detrimental to investment, rule of law, and climate change efforts. Legal scholars express skepticism, noting the regulations are not yet enforced and observing potential conflicts with planning for electricity system infrastructure.