Protti named new energy regulator

By Darcy Henton, Calgary Herald April 3, 2013

EDMONTON — 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.”

With files from James Wood, Calgary Herald

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