The Environmental Studies Research Funds (ESRF) is a research program which sponsors environmental and social studies. It is designed to assist in the decision-making process related to oil and gas exploration and development on Canada's frontier lands. The ESRF program, initiated in 1983, receives its legislative mandate through the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (CPRA), which was proclaimed in February 1987. As well the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act provide legislative direction. The funding for the ESRF is provided through levies on frontier lands paid by interested holders such as the oil and gas companies. The ESRF is directed by a joint government/industry/public Management Board and is administered by a small secretariat which resides in the Office of Energy Research and Development, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.
Structure and Operation of the Funds
The purpose of the ESRF is to finance environmental and social studies pertaining to the manner in which and to the terms and conditions under which petroleum exploration, development, and production activities on frontier lands should be conducted. Frontier lands, defined as those areas where Canada has the right to dispose of or exploit the natural resources, are situated in the offshore areas of Canada's East and West Coasts and the areas north of 60 degrees. Environment is interpreted in the broadest possible sense and extends from the physical environment and biological environment issues to socio-economic issues.
The ESRF is directed by a 12-member Management Board which has representation from the federal government (4), the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (1), the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (1), the oil and gas industry (4), and the general public (2). The ESRF is administered by a small secretariat within Natural Resources Canada.
The ESRF Management Board takes a hands-on approach to the conduct of the business of the ESRF. On behalf of the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Management Board sets research priority areas and submits annually the ESRF budget for the Ministerâ€™s approval. The ESRF provides a forum for industry and government to develop a common knowledge base and to jointly selects research priorities that address the needs of both groups and avoids a repetition of effort and expense.