Are exploratory wells tip of iceberg? by Caroline Zentner, January 24, 2014, Lethbridge Herald
Volunteers with No Drilling Lethbridge say Goldenkey Oil’s mineral lease covers far more land than the company has ever let on. They delved into information available on the Alberta Energy website and learned Goldenkey’s lease includes 23 square kilometres within city limits, underneath about 4,000 homes that shelter 10,000 people. The 10 sections include RiverStone, Paradise Canyon and the river valley, part of Varsity Village, Mountain Heights, Sunridge, part of Copperwood and farmland south and west of those subdivisions.
Goldenkey Oil has said it wants to drill three exploratory wells at two locations in west Lethbridge in its quest to find oil. Goldenkey representative David Hill could not be reached Friday. “If these three wells are approved and show productivity, Goldenkey Oil Inc. will be in a position to expand the project and increase the risks to our community with many more wells, associated pipelines, processing and storage facilities,” said Dave McCaffrey, a volunteer with No Drilling, at a news conference Friday. “Stopping this project now is crucial,” said fellow volunteer Laurie Chinn. “The three exploratory wells presented to us by Goldenkey Inc. have the potential to multiply across 23 square kilometres of our city.”
McCaffrey said the group is concerned about a drop in real estate values, future development, land sterilization, westside evacuation, water, air, noise and light pollution, increased truck traffic and transportation of dangerous goods, sour gas and flaring. “This entire time I feel like this company, Goldenkey and their PR person David Hill, has done a really good job of telling us that ‘it’s just three exploratory wells and two sections of land and we’ll do our best, we’re going above and beyond that, if the city requires this land in the future that we will do our best to go.’” She said the fact Goldenkey Oil has the mineral rights to a much larger section of the westside makes this an issue for the whole city.
Four hundred people showed up to a meeting last week where organizers talked about their campaign to knock on the doors of more than 13,000 westside residences. And it’s not just westside residents who have been showing up. People living on the east side of the river have been contacting the organization to offer their help.
The efforts of the group have also been gaining national media attention. “We now have people across Canada that are realizing that this is an issue,” she said.
Chinn would like to see the government renegotiate Goldenkey’s lease, return its $500,000 licence fee and a permanent moratorium on oil and gas drilling within city limits be put in place.
Mayor Chris Spearman said the extent of Goldenkey’s lease was news to him. “To this point Goldenkey has only talked about the three wells that they propose to drill so that really hasn’t been brought to our attention,” he said. “Our concerns remain the same regardless of the area. We just think that drilling activity within our city limits is inappropriate. It really cripples our ability to expand on our urban land. It’s incompatible use with residential and school developments. “We need to get the government of Alberta to tell us what their policy is on urban drilling. It’s been in development for more than two years. I’ve had correspondence with the ministers, the MLAs locally are onside, we just need clarity as a municipality and I think the industry would like clarity as well,” he said.
Meanwhile, No Drilling Lethbridge wants residents to take action. “We are asking people to write to their politicians, to sign our petition, to engage with the Alberta Energy Regulator and to write statements of concern and to speak out and to let the company and the province know that we don’t feel that drilling inside of the municipal boundary is an appropriate activity,” McCaffrey said. No Drilling Lethbridge organizers say the volunteer drive to go door-to-door in west Lethbridge has been a success. They have collected around 3,000 signatures on their petition. They’ve been getting a lot of support for their cause but also finding that many people are only just hearing about Goldenkey’s proposal.
Meanwhile, Wildrose energy critic Jason Hale said the PC government has shown a general disregard for the concerns of Lethbridge city council and residents. The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has the ability to hold a public hearing on drilling applications but it has not done so. “Wildrose believes that before any decision is rendered in this case, the AER must hold a public hearing to allow the community an opportunity to bring forward their concerns,” he said in a news release. Hale said he will urge Energy Minister Diana McQueen to bring the AER to the table with the community and city council and he urges concerned citizens to write to their local MLA and McQueen. [Emphasis added]
Urban oil drilling: Who are we really fighting? by Rena Woss, January 25, 2014, Lethbridge Herald
No reasonable person would ever think to allow one company to poison millions of gallons of fresh water, harm the environment and put an entire community at risk for the sake of the almighty dollar. Such action is beyond the imagination, unethical and corrupt. Yet our government is prepared to allow this scenario to happen right here in Lethbridge. Over 90,000 of us could be put at risk if GoldenKey Oil is issued a licence to drill, frack and flare inside our city limits. This foreign-owned company has already purchased mineral rights to approximately nine square miles of city land, suggesting they are seriously looking to muscle their way in regardless of public concern and outcry.
Many letters have recently been published alerting us to the dangers: health risks, poisonous gases including sour gas (deadly hydrogen sulphide), the smell, air, light and noise pollution, land sterilization, property devaluation and more. We know all too well that where oil and gas go, risk and destruction follow. Government is fully aware yet turns a blind eye; ignores the principals of democracy; seems would rather sell us out than protect us. Even those in the oil and gas industry are speaking out, see their industry as out of control.
Allowing oil drilling in the sun and wind capital of Canada rather than fostering a green economy-based renewable energy and giving our people something to cheer about rather than cringe reveals the mindset of our elected officials who obviously don’t have their priorities straight. They say it takes a village to raise a child. By the same token, it seems that it takes a community to instill a conscience in its government. [Emphasis added]
MUST READ! Proposed drilling in city would put population at risk by Al Barnhill, January 25, 2014, Lethbridge Herald
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Lethbridge residents and council fight proposed sour oil drilling and fracing by Goldenkey Oil. Inc. in city limits and near school includes numerous cross reference links