Alberta Invokes Sovereignty Act Against Federal Clean Electricity Regulations

The Alberta government has invoked its Sovereignty Act in response to the federal government’s proposed Clean Electricity Regulations (CER). CBC News reports.

This marks the first use of the controversial Sovereignty Act, a law allowing the province to resist federal legislation perceived as contrary to Alberta’s interests. 

The resolution, presented in the Alberta legislature, advises provincial entities to disregard the CER “to the extent legally permissible.” It also contemplates the creation of a Crown corporation to safeguard private electricity providers, possibly engaging in projects like natural gas-fired plants or small-scale nuclear reactors.

The Clean Electricity Regulations, aiming for a net-zero emissions electricity grid by 2035, face resistance from Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, who deems the deadline unrealistic and potentially leading to blackouts and high costs. Smith proposes a Crown corporation as a last-resort generator to assure investors and maintain power grid integrity. The resolution, if passed, may aid Alberta in potential legal battles and urge the federal government to reconsider the 2035 target.

Smith introduced the Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act during her UCP leadership campaign, emphasizing provincial autonomy. The act, passed in October 2022, allows the legislature to reject federal laws deemed detrimental to Alberta’s interests. The recent resolution is expected to pass with the UCP’s majority in the legislature.

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Steven Guilbeault, dismisses Alberta’s move, stating there’s no legal basis and reaffirming the federal government’s commitment to working with stakeholders on the CER. Opposition leader Rachel Notley criticizes the Sovereignty Act as an “illegal stunt” undermining investment certainty and breaching treaty rights. 

Legal experts note concerns, with one professor deeming the resolution premature, and another highlighting potential challenges arising from dismissing federal regulations when planning the electricity system.

Read also:

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