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An Open Letter to the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board

Alberta Wilderness Association

June 26, 2006

Neil McCrank
Chairman
Alberta Energy and Utilities Board

Dear Mr. McCrank:

We, the undersigned, are extremely dismayed by the lack of responsibility that the Energy and Utility Board (EUB) displayed with Decision 2006-052. After hearing the concerns of 150 ranchers and landowners in Chain Lakes, you did what we hoped you wouldn't, and ignored the concerns of Albertans thus permitting another well in one of the province's most historic landscapes. You simply disregarded Board policies that call for public debate and environmental planning. And in so doing, you have gone against your own mandate and defied the expressed interests of all Albertans. In short, it was business as usual with the Board.

We, however, worked within your regulatory system and did everything that you asked. When we raised concerns about the piecemeal fragmentation of critical watersheds in the Eastern Slopes by oil and gas companies, you told us to form groups. And so we did: The Pekisko Group, The Livingstone Landowners Group, The South Porcupine Hills Stewardship Association. Then you told us to hold information meetings. We took your advice, held meetings, and hundreds of concerned landowners attended. We talked about water, native grasses and the future of the West. Then you encouraged us to talk to oil and gas companies and again we listened. We even sat down with them and discussed best practices.

But when Compton Petroleum Corporation proposed an 880 well gas project in the Porcupine Hills over 110 sections of the least drilled landscape in the province, we asked the Board for help. You said, don't worry, "The eastern slopes are special." We consulted your guidelines and then respectfully asked you to comply with your 1993 Eastern Slopes policy (IL 93-9). It called for public consultation; area development plans; environmental assessments and no piecemeal fragmentation.

But then you told ranchers, municipalities and conservationists that they weren't directly or adversely affected. In fact you informed families that had lived on the land for three generations that they had "no standing" simply because they didn't live 300 metres from the first exploratory well. We contested your narrow definitions and forced a one-day public hearing in Chain Lakes on April 11, 2006.

But Decision 2006-052 rubber stamped another well and ignored our concerns. As a result, the Pekisko Group, the Livingstone Landowners Group, the South Porcupine Hills Stewardship Association and the Alberta Wilderness Association will advise their membership and supporters of the following truths:

First, the regulatory system in this province has become irreparable and no longer supports the interests of ordinary Albertans or the rights of surface owners.

Second, the EUB refuses to uphold its own guidelines that clearly mandate the protection of the Eastern Slopes which, among other goods, provide and safeguard water for a good part of the Canadian prairie and in particular the cities of Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Saskatoon.

Third, that the current policy of liquidating oil and gas resources as quickly as possible is destroying rural communities; wildlife; hunting and hiking; tourism and historic landscapes along the Cowboy Trail. Together the Board and the government are erasing Alberta's single greatest brand: its land and heritage.

We repeat: the regulatory system as represented by the EUB is broken, and it now threatens the future of Alberta's water, land, and traditional economies.

The government and the regulator can no longer sit by and do nothing while unplanned and uncontrolled industrial activity threatens our watersheds and rural communities.

What are you going to do to fix this mess?

Signed

Pekisko Group
Livingstone Landowner's Group
South Porcupine Hills Steward Association
Alberta Wilderness Association

For more information, please contact:
Nigel Douglas, AWA Conservation Specialist
Vivian Pharis, AWA Board of Directors
Phone: (403) 283-2025
Email: awa [dot] nd [at] shaw [dot] ca

Posted June 29, 2006 by russ

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