Changes to Indian Oil and Gas Act and Proposed Changes to Indian Oil and Gas Regulations
The Government of Canada, in consultation with the oil and gas producing First Nations, has launched an initiative to amend the Indian Oil and Gas Act, 1974 and Indian Oil and Gas Regulations, 1995. The Indian Oil and Gas Act, 1974 and Indian Oil and Gas Regulations, 1995 are the legislative and regulatory instruments for the Government of Canada to manage oil and gas exploration and development on Indian reserve lands. This regime has remained virtually unchanged for the last 35 years
Consultation on Amendments to the Act
Indian Oil and Gas Canada (IOGC), in cooperation with the Indian Resource Council (IRC), has been exploring ways to modernize the Indian Oil and Gas Act. Initiated in 1999 by the IOGC Co-Management Board, this process has taken a number of years and has involved extensive consultations.
In 2002 and 2003, IOGC held direct consultations with most of the oil and gas producing First Nations and Tribal Councils from 130 First Nations. Almost all of the oil and gas producing First Nations in Alberta and Saskatchewan were represented in these sessions. Information packages were also sent to lessees operating on First Nation lands, as well as to the relevant provincial governmental agencies.
More recently, in May 2008, a symposium for interested First Nations was held to provide information on proposed amendments to the Indian Oil and Gas Act, 1974 and regulations. Subsequently, additional information sessions were held for individual First Nations and Tribal Councils upon request.
Core Areas for Change
Modernizing the Indian Oil and Gas Act, 1974 and its associated regulations is intended to eliminate the existing regulatory gap. Levelling the playing field between off-reserve and on-reserve oil and gas activities will reduce barriers to economic development and will allow the federal government to better fulfill its obligation to manage oil and gas resources on First Nations lands.
The proposed amendments to the Act address the need to manage all aspects of industry operations on First Nation lands. In addition to modernizing dated regulations and providing greater certainty for all stakeholders, the amendments will help to ensure environmental protection of First Nation lands, increase regulatory compliance, and facilitate the collection of royalties and other monetary compensation due.
An Act to amend the Indian Oil and Gas Act was introduced as Bill C-63 in the House of Commons on June 17, 2008 and died on the Order Paper on September 7, 2008 when Parliament dissolved for a general election. It was introduced again as Bill C-5 in the House of Commons on December 3, 2008 but died on the Order Paper when Parliament prorogued on December 4, 2008. It was introduced again on January 28, 2009 as Bill C-5 and received Royal Assent on May 14, 2009.
Although now passed into law, the Indian Oil and Gas Act will not come into force until there are new Indian Oil and Gas Regulations. A joint process is currently underway with oil and gas producing First Nations and the Indian Resource Council to develop the new regulations.
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