Assistant Professor, University of Calgary Faculty of Law & Haskayne School of Business

Kristen van de Biezenbos

Interviewer: James Coleman
Interview Date: July, 2019
Keywords: Social License, NIMBY

Social License & Fossil Fuels

by Kristen van de Biezenbos

“The term ‘social license’ is used to mean so many things that it basically means nothing now. … Social license should refer only to community buy-in [for projects]–that the community is sharing benefits in some way.

“In neither Canada or the United States do local communities have the power to veto a project [that has been] approved by a higher level of government. … And I don’t argue that there should be. …  To me social license to operate is an important check on the lack of power local communities have [to stop projects]. … As an energy company you may have a lot of people to talk to, but that is something energy companies actually do.”

“In some cases for linear projects like electricity transmission lines or pipelines it’s these more affluent communities or indigenous groups who are protesting, whereas other communities are saying ‘we want this.’ … That’s just the nature of linear projects. …”

“Benefit sharing is important.  If you are asking a community to put up with negative impacts, you should ask is there a way to share the benefits.”

Kristen van de Biezenbos is an assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s School of Law and Haskayne School of Business. Her research explores energy law and its local impacts, especially the problems of externalized costs and regulatory gaps.

To learn more about Kristen van de Biezenbos, please visit her home page: HERE