New Democrats release draft of Alberta’s plan to reform energy rules by The Canadian Press, June 12, 2014, Lethbridge Herald
The Alberta New Democrats have released what they say is a blueprint for how the governing Tories plan to reform energy industry regulations.
The draft paper proposes tailoring environmental requirements to specific risks in different areas.
The document says managing development should rely less on government-set targets and more on groups working together to establish what’s appropriate. [THAT’S SYNERGY – BRAINWASHING to get harmed Albertans to never say “No!” and to instead always chant, no matter how bad the harm, damages or pollution, “WE ARE NOT OPPOSED.”]
The draft suggests that’s a better way to take into account the cumulative effects of many different activities.
The draft says a pilot project on what it calls “play-based regulation” should be in place by September. [Emphasis added]
Each full square = 6 miles x 6 miles. This is a massive area for a synergy-controlled, blanket approval pilot project. Watch it spread across Canada like wildlife.
[Refer to Alberta Plays Catch-up on Frack Front for more on Cal Hill ]
INDUSTRY INSIDERS SETTING THE AGENDA ON FRACKING REGULATIONS: NOTLEY Press Release by the Alberta NDP, June 12, 2014
Today, New Democrat Environment critic Rachel Notley released an internal document obtained by the New Democrats which shows that the new energy regulator and the PCs are only consulting with industry insiders on a pilot project for fracking. Notley is calling on the PCs to ensure that First Nations, environmental groups, as well as all other interested Albertans, are included in the consultation process.
In 2011, the New Democrats released information showing that the government was colluding with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to create a public relations strategy for fracking.
Yesterday, two First Nations announced they were suing the Alberta Energy Regulator, after they had been excluded from hearings on development applications.
“It’s just business-as-usual for this PC government to talk about consulting and about a world-class regulatory regime and then turn around and work secretly with industry to ‘reduce the regulatory burden,’” Notley said. “Albertans are tired of a secretive, old-boys club approach to development in this province. We need a government that puts Albertans first.” [Then, Albertans must prove it, and vote Harper and the PC’s out]
Notley noted that the draft regulations include several troubling elements which would profoundly reduce independent oversight of fracking activity in the province.
Concerns Around Draft Play Based Regulation (PBR)
Process around developing this regulation is fundamentally flawed. When AER legislation was first introduced by Redford government in 2012, those who worried about the exclusion of interested parties from application hearings were assured that extensive consultation would occur on policy prior to the application process commencing. The process around these regulations, and the process for consultation within these regulations both represent a clear example of that promise being broken
Stated Objective is to reduce regulatory oversight of industry (characterized as regulatory burden within the document). (pg. 5)
Proposes moving towards a single application and approval process that covers the entire lifespan of projects throughout the play (one play can cover hundreds of square kilometers). This obviously significantly reduces objective oversight. (pg. 3)
Justifies new play based regulation process by suggesting that it will be completed within context of other land management processes (i.e. water for life and land use planning). However, those other government initiatives are stalled and incomplete throughout most of the province. (i.e. Pilot project site has no completed land use framework and is also the site of endangered caribou herds). (pg. 4)
Delegates the task of consulting with stakeholders on the particular application throughout its lifespan to industry itself. In so doing, removes the objectivity and the integrity of the stakeholder consultation process. (pg. 9, 11)
NDP blasts energy pilot project that would see fracking regulations reduced, Says government plan undermines environmental regime by Marty Klinkenberg, June 12, 2014, Edmonton Journal
Alberta’s NDP is concerned that the provincial government is working with oil and gas executives to reduce regulations related to the controversial process of fracking. [Hasn’t it become obvious around the world, that the only way companies can profit from fracing, is without troublesome negotiations with home and landdowners, regulations, accountability or liability – above or below ground?]
A government document obtained by the NDP shows Alberta’s Energy Regulator is scheduled to meet next week with industry officials to discuss a pilot project that will reduce regulations and streamline the application process for fracking and other forms of unconventional oil and gas development.
The information session on June 17 is meant to brief industry representatives on regulations that will be tested in the Fox Creek area beginning in September. Representatives from Alberta’s Environment and Energy departments will also attend the meeting, the document shows.
“At the same time government is selling itself as being a steward of the environment, it is working behind closed doors to undermine the integrity of our environmental regime,” NDP critic Rachel Notley said Thursday. “It is the type of game-playing you expect from a tired, 40-year-old government that is not going to change.
“Making major changes to regulations that govern fracking shouldn’t be done behind closed doors with a bunch of industry insiders, it should happen in public. Albertans deserve better than this.”
Bob Curran, a spokesman for the Alberta Energy Regulator, said the regulations on trial will apply only to development in the Fox Creek area, site of a geological formation estimated to contain 443 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 61.7 billion barrels of oil.
“Let’s be clear: this is a draft for a pilot, brought about predominantly by landowner concerns that we have heard about for years,” Curran said in an email. “A pilot project, by definition, is designed to test draft regulations.
“We are not changing the regulations, nor are we proposing changes at this time. We are putting together a pilot project. That is all.”
According to the document obtained by the NDP, a final version of the regulations under review is scheduled to be released on June 27.
A recent draft of the pilot project describes it as “the start of a change in the way that the AER regulates the energy sector.” [What else can we expect when the government appoints Encana to Chair the AER, via Mr. Gerard Protti?]
The regulations being tested “are intended to reduce the burden placed on industry” and “manage risks to achieve play-based objectives and Government of Alberta policy outcomes.”
The regulations to be tested propose a single application process that authorizes activities carried out over the lifetime of a project, and tasks approval-holders with reporting requirements. [AKA industry gets to self-regulate]
“Overall the intent (of the approach) is orderly and responsible development,” the draft says.
[Proverb: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions]
Curran said if government decides to implement regulatory changes based on the pilot project, the proposed changes will be made public and an opportunity will be provided for feedback.
Notley believes government has already made up its mind, however. [Ernst agrees w Ms. Notely. Industry demanded blanket approval in 2004. What industry demands under Harper and Alberta, industry gets unless people stop round tabling it, stop synergizing, and loudly yell they are opposed.]
“If the pilot project is successful, it will serve as a template for future development,” she said. “There is no question the rules that will govern this type of thing are already a long way down the road.” [Emphasis added]
Alberta NDP leak draft of government’s proposed fracking rules, Document shows Tories excluding public input, New Democrats say by The Canadian Press, June 12, 2014, CBC News
New Democrats release draft of Alberta’s plan to reform energy rules by Bob Weber, The Canadian Press, June 12, 2014, Calgary Herald
The Alberta New Democrats say a leaked draft of proposed rules for unconventional oil and gas developments such as fracking are an example of how the governing Tories are increasingly excluding the public from having its say.
“This government has completely abandoned its obligation to ensure the interests of all Albertans are represented in the course of deciding what parts of the province are developed and how,” environment critic Rachel Notley said Thursday.
The document, dated May 30, outlines a new way to control energy development and proposes a pilot project that includes ranges of threatened caribou herds.
Bob Curran of the Alberta Energy Regulator said the document is only a plan for a pilot project.
“This is not regulatory change — it is a pilot,” he wrote in an email. [Like the Aberdeen Synergy Pilot Project the EUB worked hard, using many lies and bullying, to try to get Ernst to join in on? That “pilot” was a regulator and oil and gas industry experiment to see how well rural Albertans would synergize: accept being harmed by frac’ing, lose their health and or safe drinking water supply, yet chant: “We are not opposed.”]
“Once the pilot is complete, we will asses it to determine how to proceed. [AKA Review the experiment results to determine what works best to synergize harmed families and deregulate while keeping Albertans busy at years of round tables, creating VOLUNTARY “Best Practices” for their community, while agreeably chanting: “We just need better regulations to make fracing safe. We are not opposed.” Too busy to notice their community getting frac’d to Hell until it’s too late. Too busy to notice the regulator deregulate and government decimate rights.] If we decide to propose regulatory change, we will solicit feedback from all stakeholders.”
Curran said the pilot is based on years of [Synergy Alberta] work and public input. A presentation on the regulator’s website is dated July 2013.
“It’s safe to say that we presented this dozens of times across Alberta,” he said.
If the pilot project becomes the new standard, companies would identify environmental risks in an area and explain how [but not necessarily do it. A perfect example is the industry lie everywhere they frac: “We only frac deep deep, way below your drinking water aquifers.”] they would manage to mitigate or avoid them. “This approach involves identifying risks and managing them to achieve objectives [changing laws to put legal liability onto the property owner and continue fracing no matter what the risks and harms are, while saying and writing they put the accountability on the companies], driving the accountability to those that carry out the activities,” the document says.
The intent is to force [With another pilot synergy project? Companies have been fracing the hell out of communities across Alberta for 14 years!] companies to take into account other activities in an area such as forestry or agriculture. It would also allow the Alberta Energy Regulator to fine-tune requirements to the specifics of one region. The document characterizes the change as one “from activity-by-activity regulation to the regulation of multiple activities across large areas.”
Critics say it’s one approval process for all of a company’s activities in a single region. [Refer below. When the frac experiments started in Alberta, numerous landowners objected to the many harms the regulators were letting companies get away with including violating the Water Act and fracing drinking water aquifers. Companies complained to regulators and government that they were being slowed down by angry landowners, fed up with the endless broken promises and unmitigated cumulative impacts. Companies demanded unhindered access to the land for unconventional oil and gas by way of “blanket approvals” because dealing with the harmed and angry landowners was costing too much time and money. (2005 CERI conference attended by Ernst)]
Most are still being developed, something likely to take years. [AKA Keep concerned and angry Albertans synergized, talking and eating together at round tables and going nowhere, but getting frac’d] The government hopes to have its pilot program running by September.
The plan also relies on industry self-reporting on how well it’s living up to its commitments.
Notley said the so-called play-based regulations are being developed without any public input. Industry received a copy of the proposal June 3. [It’s more likely that industry created the proposal]
She sees it as part of a trend by the government and the regulator to narrow the scope of public input on energy development. “We already are excluding the vast majority of Albertans, and now we’re changing the well-by-well application process and replacing it with, ‘Well, we’re going to drill somewhere between one and 500 wells in this 500-square-kilometre area in the next 20 years. Is that OK with you?'” [Emphasis added]
Alberta Energy Regulator validates Fox Creek whistle-blower’s casing report by Barb Ryan, May 6, 2014
It’s been one month since the anonymous whistle-blower facebook post reported a potential water contamination risk due to an incomplete cement well-casing project. The post appeared, April 4, 2014, on local Fox Creek groups and was shared to friend’s pages.
An Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) spokesperson revealed, today, an investigation was conducted and the whistle-blower’s account of events was a legitimate cause for concern. The AER confirmed, a breach in proper procedure did occur, appropriate remediation action was taken and potential water contamination was averted.
Exactly as the whistle-blower reported, there were no visible signs of cement at the well hole’s surface. The inspector subsequently requested the ‘cement bond log’ which further confirmed the whistle-blower’s observations. The cement was, in fact, 50 m below the surface but, fortunately, above the groundwater table.
Trilogy held accountable.
Trilogy was issued a ‘High Risk Enforcement Action’. High Risk Enforcement Actions are described as “strikes” issued against the company and based on a combination or variety of factors: compliance history, previous reports, sensitivity, breach severity, damage, and / or failure to report. Strikes are cumulative. The more legitimate non-compliance reports filed, the more strikes against a company and the higher the level of enforcement and reporting required of them.
In this case, Trilogy took immediate action; potential damages to land, water and health were averted and the problem was remediated as directed by the inspector.
All enforcement actions are published to the AER website within 120 calendar days of enforcement. The last available report is November 2013. Therefore, this particular incident does not, as yet, appear on the website.
This incident did not follow traditional reporting channels; the investigation was indeed initiated due to the facebook post and the Fox Creek community members who reported the post to the AER. Their spokesperson could not comment on whether there were consequences for the original poster, whether they were protected by a whistle-blower clause, nor if any action was taken by the company against the reporting employee. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Looking Ahead to 2010: Natural Gas Markets in Transition by the National Energy Board, Cat. No. NE23-118/2004E, ISBN 0-662-37107-0, August 2004
There are currently about two dozen pilot projects to develop CBM across the WCSB and some participants noted that about 1,000 CBM wells will be drilled this year, resulting in an expected 100 MMcf/d (2.8 million m3/day) of production. While it is too early to accurately assess this emerging supply source, the Board’s scenarios for CBM supply also indicate about 100 MMcf/d in 2004, consistent with actual production to-date.
To-date, there has been mixed success. In attempting to develop CBM, some projects have experienced fresh or salt water production which presents additional challenges with water disposal and tends to increase costs and impact gas production. Other projects have focused on dry coals that produce gas with no water. Considering the variability of coals, the range of success amongst existing pilot projects, and the very early stage of CBM development in Canada, there is still significant uncertainty surrounding the future of CBM development.
The Horseshoe Canyon play in south-central Alberta was described as an example where developments have been positive. Ultimately, some 50,000 wells may be needed to recover the CBM from this area alone. The drilling risk in CBM development is relatively low due to the widespread deposits of known gas resources and drilling programs typically involve a large number of wells and high drilling density to achieve economies of scale.
Several participants have characterized the exploitation of these resources as a “manufacturing process”. At the same time, some concern was expressed by CBM producers over their ability to obtain timely regulatory approval for the large numbers of wells that may be required to develop CBM. It was suggested that a new regulatory framework may be beneficial, and that regulators could consider a “blanket approach” to approve drilling programs for this type of development. [Emphasis added]
ROUNDTABLE PARTICIPANTS [Do you see any landowner, social justice, health, community or environmental participants? ]
Agrium Inc. Chris Tworek
Alberta Department of Energy Colin Carrigy
Alberta Department of Energy Barry Rodgers
Alberta Energy and Utilities Board Jim Dilay
Association québécoise des utilisateurs industriels d’électricité Luc Boulanger
ATCO Pipelines Bruce McRae
Atlantic Institute for Market Studies Dr. Thomas Tucker
B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines Stirling Bates
B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines Ines Piccinino
BP Canada Energy Company Stan Penchuk
British Columbia Utilities Commission Brian Williston
Calpine Canada David Sterna
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Greg Stringham
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Mark Pinney
Canadian Chemical Producers Association David Goffin
Canadian Electricity Association Hans Konow
Canadian Energy Research Institute Paul Mortensen
Canadian Energy Research Institute Matt Ayres
Canadian Gas Association Bryan Gormley
Cargill Power & Gas Markets Mark Stach
Central Heat Distribution Limited John Barnes
CIBC World Markets Inc. Andrew Potter
Consultant Julie Girvan
Consumers’ Association of Canada – Alberta Chapter James A. Wachowich
Corridor Resources Inc. Norm Miller
Direct Energy Marketing Tony Zaremba
Direct Energy Marketing Ltd. Pascale Duguay
Dofasco Inc. Paul Smith
Domtar Inc. Josée Latreille
Duke Energy Denis Marcoux
Duke Energy Gas Transmission Greg Staple
Duke Energy Gas Transmission Troy Adams
Emera Energy Inc. Ian Johnston
Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. Dave Charleson
Enbridge Gas New Brunswick Rock Marois
Enbridge Gas New Brunswick Shelley Black
Encana Corporation Steve Brink
Encana Corporation Paul Gagné
Energy Probe Tom Adams
EPCOR Fred Shafai
EPCOR Glen Hensbergen
Falconbridge Limited Lauri Gregg
Gaz Métropolitain Inc. Normand Stevenson
Gaz Métropolitain Inc. Johanne Paquin
Hydro-Québec Suzanne Boisclair
Industrial Gas Users Association Peter Fournier
Imperial Oil James Hughes
Inco Limited John LeMay
Industrial Gas Consumers Association of Alberta Norm MacMurchy
Irving Oil Limited Mark Brown
Ispat Sidbec Inc. Jean-Paul Schaack
Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline Management Limited Steve Rankin
Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline Management Limited Ian Leadley
MGV Energy Inc. George Voneiff
Ministère des Ressources naturelles, faune et parcs Ronald Richard
Natural Gas Exchange Inc. Peter Krenkel
Natural Gas Steering Committee Daniel Potts
Natural Resources Canada John Foran
New Brunswick Department of Energy Jean Finn
New Brunswick Department of Energy Jim Knight
NB Power Michael Bourque
NB Power Rick McGivney
NB Power Bill Marshall
New Brunswick Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities John Lawton
New Brunswick Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities Doug Goss
Noranda Inc. Denis Coté
Norsk Hydro Canada Michel Brouillette
Nova Chemicals (Canada ) Ltd. Mike Elliott
Nova Scotia Department of Energy Bill O’Halloran
Nova Scotia Power Inc. Angela Trenholm
Ontario Energy Association Bernard Jones
Ontario Energy Board Mark Garner
Ontario Energy Board Hima Desai
Ontario Ministry of Energy Dr. Bryne Purchase
Ontario Power Generation Paul J. Burke
Régie de l’énergie Robert Meunier
Shell Canada Limited Larry Marks
Tembec Inc. Paul Dottori
Terasen Gas Inc. Doug Stout
TransAlta Corporation Will Bridge
TransCanada Pipelines Limited Hank Petranik
TransCanada Pipelines Limited Bill Langford
Union Gas Limited Steve Baker
Union Gas Limited Mark Isherwood
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. Dave Humber
WPS Energy Services, Inc. Claude Morneault
Energy tensions on rise conference told, Speakers warn land conflicts need resolution by Mark Lowey, April 11, 2005, Bussinessedge.ca
The oil and gas industry could lose its public ‘licence’ to operate in Alberta unless the escalating conflict between the sector and other land users is resolved, experts say. [Isn’t that what Dr. John Cherry recently said? His warning is a decade too late. Industry lost their social licence to operate in 2004. Thus why Synergy Alberta’s brainwashing and round tables was incorporated in 2006. Synergy and her disciples (one is the Pembina Institute) have been chasing and trying to trick Ernst into Synergy to control her voice for 11 years now.]
Unprecedented industry activity, an expanding population and growing environmental and social concerns have created a storm of confrontation over land use that threatens the very resource fuelling Alberta’s economy, speakers told last week’s Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) conference held in Calgary.
“If this (situation) continues to escalate and polarize, it’s going to be hard to put things back together again,” said Doug Bruchet, CERI senior vice-president of environmental-energy research.
CERI organized the conference after its interviews with officials at more than 60 oil and gas exploration and production companies revealed that gaining access to the land base to develop the resource has become their No. 1 concern, Bruchet said in an interview.
Some company officials say getting onto the land has become so difficult in some areas, “they are just walking away from the resource,” he said.
“If you can’t access the land, then you can’t harvest the resource,” Bruchet said. “It has direct implications for employment, investment activity and use of the land.”
The oil and gas industry, which made a capital investment of $31 billion in Canada last year, is the country’s largest private-sector investor, says David Pryce, vice-president, Western Canada operations for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
The industry supports a half-million jobs – including one out of every six in Alberta – and it generated about $18 billion in payments for governments last year, Pryce noted.
One thing driving the increasing conflict in Alberta is that most of the oil and gas in the geological basin underlying the province has been discovered, conference speakers said.
This means companies are using strong investment in the industry to step up production of known conventional oil and gas deposits, or to expand into unconventional oil and gas such as coalbed methane (CBM) and the oilsands.
Given Alberta’s burgeoning population and more people moving onto rural acreages, the industry is continually bumping up against property owners either in rural areas or near cities and towns, Pryce said.
Ensuring good relations with other land users and the industry’s continued access to the land base “is a potentially serious issue and we need to get in front of it,” he said.
“We need to make sure that the (land-use) policies are relevant to the changing nature of the business and the changing nature of the use of the landscape,” Pryce added.
Bill Sutherland, chief commissioner for Strathcona County east of Edmonton, said in a keynote talk that there is “tension, conflict and uncertainty around land issues.”
In Strathcona County – Alberta’s third-largest municipality – the perceived or actual threats that residents feel from oil and gas development, coupled with feeling powerless to do anything about it, are turning people against the industry like never before, he said.
In addition, Albertans who face ever-climbing energy bills and can’t afford post-secondary education for their kids are becoming cynical about the oft-touted “Alberta Advantage” gained by oil and gas wealth, Sutherland said. “People are increasingly asking: ‘What benefit?’ ” There is no co-ordination of land use between municipalities and provincial oil and gas regulators such as the Energy and Utilities Board (EUB), he said.
Jessica Ernst, who owns an environmental consulting firm and is also a landowner near Rosebud, northeast of Calgary, says the rush to pump as much oil and gas out of the ground as possible threatens to tear apart rural communities.
“I’m afraid violence will begin, tempers will flare, small communities will begin separating and having a lot of violence within communities,” she said, adding the pace of development is so intense that “nobody really has a chance to find solutions.”
Michael Bruni, executive manager of the EUB’s energy team, told the conference that the regulator is the “centre of a storm” of conflicting demands by industry, government departments, landowners and others. [Enter the incredibly evil brainwashing tool by the EUB and industry: Synergy Alberta. Incorporated in 2006, in direct response to the increasing development, harms and escalating tensions. Instead of regulating and enforcing the many non-compliances, the regulators and government deregulated as fast as possible, stripped property owners of their rights, and brainwashed communities and the courageous voices willing to speak out into “round table” chats and meals with their abusers (industry and regulators), wasting time and exhausting concerned citizens by creating designer voluntary “best practices” together, while, companies frac’d communities and aquifers in secret, “best practices” ignored and be damned.]
There are now more than 1,600 energy companies operating in Alberta, compared with just 70 in the 1970s, he noted.
From 1913 to 1970, the oil and gas industry drilled about 37,000 wells in the province. Last year alone, the EUB licensed 21,600 wells and a further increase is expected this year. In the oilsands, the Alberta government has set a target to more than double production to 2.6 million barrels per day (b/d) by 2015 from current production of just over one million b/d.
New development of CBM – natural gas trapped within coal seams – is also coming on strong, said Michael Gatens, Canadian Society for Unconventional Gas chairman. More than 3,500 CBM wells are expected to be drilled in Alberta this year, with production of the gas doubling by year’s end to 300 million cu. ft. per day from the current 150 million cu. ft., he said.
The potential for CBM development is enormous, with estimates of as much as 75 trillion cu. ft. of recoverable gas in Western Canada, Gatens said. But if industry is going to be able to access the land to develop the resource, engaging with other stakeholders and sharing information openly and honestly “is critical,” Gatens added.
That is not happening now, said Calgary journalist, Governor-General’s Award-winning author and rural landowner Andrew Nikiforuk.
“As a landowner, I’m not happy and most landowners I talk to aren’t happy,” said Nikiforuk, who owns a quarter-section in the Porcupine Hills in southwest Alberta and publishes the Land Advocate newsletter. [Emphasis added]
Slides from Ernst presentation “I will not synergize, gag or settle” in Courtenay, BC, May 24, 2014