25 Life Cycle Regulators

A life cycle regulator is a regulator who is responsible for regulations over the life of a project from conception to final reclamation. The life cycle concept is relatively new and described as a single entity that will regulate over the entire life span of a project in selected sectors.  Sometimes a life cycle regulator is discussed in terms of “red tape reduction”.

As with any regulator, the authorities of a life cycle regulator must be defined in an Act.

A Canadian federal example of a life-cycle regulator is the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER).  The CER is responsible for everything in an oil and gas development that is either a frontier project (as defined by regulations) or one that crosses borders like a pipeline. The CER does not cover the original impact assessment of large defined projects (Canada Energy Regulator, 2022).

Another federal example of a life cycle regulator is the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).  They regulate all aspects of nuclear power in Canada no matter where the power plant is located.  They also do not cover the original impact assessment of large projects (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, 2022).

A Canadian provincial example of a life cycle regulator is the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) who are responsible for everything in the life cycle of oil and gas and coal development in Alberta.  Their exception is the Duty to Consult which is held by the Alberta Consultation Office (ACO) (Alberta Energy Regulator, n.d.).

Are life cycle regulators the only regulator for a sector?

No. This seems confusing and perhaps even contradictory.  With the authorities set by the Canadian constitution for provinces, and the federal government, it would be almost impossible for an entity or sector to fall strictly under one regulator.

For example in Alberta, oil and gas facilities must still follow regulations enforced by Environment Canada and Climate Change for NPRI, even though there is a life cycle regulator for the Alberta oil and gas sector.

Do life cycle regulators set standards?

It is complicated.  A life cycle regulator will set standards for the sector.  But a life-cycle regulator generally does not set independent ambient standards. In air quality, the ambient air standards are province wide and not sector wide. So, for example there is not an air quality standard for the oil and gas sector and different standards for the rest of industry.  Similarly for soil and water contamination.

The role of the life cycle regulator is to make and enforce regulations that help maintain the provincial or federal standard.  So, for example, the AER has a regulation on methane (Directive 060) (Alberta Energy Regulator, n.d.), that is designed to meet the provincial air quality standards.

Section Conclusion

A life cycle regulator can become the dominant regulator in a sector.  They can influence other sectors, but outside of the defined scope, they have no authority.

It is important to understand when other regulators have jurisdiction even in a sector that has a life cycle regulator.

Learning Questions

  1. Why do we have a national nuclear regulator without provincial equivalents, but provincial and federal oil and gas regulators?


Alberta Consultation Office (ACO). (n.d.). Home page.  Retrieved from https://www.alberta.ca/indigenous-consultations-in-alberta.aspx

Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). (n.d.). Home page. Retrieved from https://www.aer.ca/

Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)  (n.d.) Methane Reduction. retrieved from https://www.aer.ca/

Canada Energy Regulator, (2022) Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.cer-rec.gc.ca/en/about/news-room/fact-sheets/full-lifecycle-pipeline-oversight.html#:~:text=The%20CER%20continues%20to%20regulate%20and%20oversee%20the%20safe%20and,pipelines%20for%20their%20entire%20life.

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. (2022). The CNSC as a Unique Regulator. Retrieved from https://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/


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