Harris Sokoloff will lead civic engagement for a Penn program assisting energy regulators in Canada

November 21, 2014 — Harris Sokoloff will be part of a team from Penn helping craft models of performance for the regulators overseeing energy development in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

Sokoloff, Director of the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, will lead a community dialogue process to help the recently established Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) become a “best-in-class regulator.” The AER has a mandate to ensure “the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle.”  According to the AER’s website, “this includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.”

The AER chose the Penn Program on Regulation, which is led by University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Cary Coglianese, after a competitive, international selection process.

For his part, Sokoloff will work with experts from the Law School and other Penn partners involved to educate citizens on potential options for regulatory performance measurement.  Only if regulators listen to different stakeholders’ views, Sokoloff said, can they develop regulatory performance measures that best fit public values and concerns.

“With an issue like energy regulation — to do it well — it’s important to have a good sense of what tradeoffs the public is and isn’t willing to make and support,” Sokoloff said.

In this case, the public includes a diverse array of stakeholders, including local landowners, residents, corporations, government officials, environmental groups, and First Nations and other aboriginal entities.

“We need to get the people who have a stake in what’s going to happen into a room, get them talking, and help them find common ground that can support ‘best-in-class regulation’,” Sokoloff said.

The project will include some opportunities for online input, but Sokoloff will head to Alberta this spring as part of a multi-session community engagement process. 

The Penn Project for Civic Engagement is part of Penn GSE’s Penn Center for Educational Leadership. Sokoloff and the project have helped Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission work with city residents before selecting a new superintendent, New Jersey communities recovering from Superstorm Sandy, and school districts in the Philadelphia-area prioritize difficult budget decisions.

You can read more about the Penn Project on Regulation’s upcoming work in Alberta here.