Since 2007, we tried to have a water contamination issue addressed by government. We wrote to every Environment Minister, Energy Minister and Premier since then. There were no actions taken to protect us from further impact. Instead, energy companies were allowed to drill, fracture and co-mingle gas zones, making identification of the source near impossible.
We were told we had no standing to object to future ongoing drilling even with proven deep gas showing up in our water. Our case was closed in 2014, leaving us to deal with it.
Our letters of concern have always been responded to first, by the Liberal party, then NDP and several weeks later by the Minister of Energy representing the Premier. Does that not tell you who really runs this province?
We received no response from the Wildrose party, yet they garnered the most rural seats
in the last election? That says a lot about their loyalty to their electorate.
Can it get more ridiculous? Sadly, yes it can. April 9, we attended a public meeting in Trochu hosted by Alberta Surface Rights Group, a landowner group that works to protect rights, particularly in dealing with oil and gas development on the land. The reason for this meeting was to inform the public of some recent Surface Rights Board (SRB) decisions which they believe have breached the Act. This Act was established in the 1930s to balance energy development and protect landowner rights. Lawyer, Keith Wilson, explained that oil companies can gain access to land, even when the landowner is not in favour,
through a Right of Entry Order granted by the government. To balance this taking, landowners were promised the right to be made “whole” or compensated by the company, or failing that, by the government, for leasing of their land. With low oil prices some energy companies are declaring bankruptcy and calling on protection under the federal Bankruptcy Act to not pay landowners. In the past, the government would make payment and seek restitution from the company. Not today!
One case involved an elderly couple who have not been paid for three years, total bill amounting to over $100,000.
Without the energy company present at the hearing to provide any defense, the SRB decided in favour of the oil company over the landowners. No payment required! This would be like the hockey team that doesn’t show up to play being given the win. Have we now entered the world of bullies or just referees with a different set of rules? These are legal agreements being violated.
This government has been protecting the energy industry and has failed the people of this province.
Why would we support a government, which endorses the abuse of innocent people? Premier Prentice promised in his pre-electioneering that he would restore landowner rights removed in Bill 12. Isn’t this just the opposite? Does he say one thing, but do another? The people of this province deserve to be protected from huge corporations, not to be their creditors and be left with their mess. It is time to change political thinking and put power back into the hands of the people. The PCs have failed and its time to tell them so.