CAPP seeks to limit public involvement in Alberta energy projects: lobbying records

Documents obtained by The Narwhal reveal numerous recommendations from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to ‘streamline’ the process that allows Albertans to file concerns about proposed energy projects — a move experts say would come ‘at the expense of everyday Albertans’

Orphan well
Daryl Bennett, who was born and raised in Taber, Alta., is frustrated with orphan oil and gas infrastructure in his community. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is seeking to limit or eliminate the ability for people to voice objections to energy projects that may affect them and their land. Photo: Theresa Tayler / The Narwhal

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the self-described voice of the oil and gas industry, has laid out its vision for a “streamlined” public-involvement process in extensive lobbying records obtained by The Narwhal in a freedom of information request.

The lobbying records — obtained after readers of The Narwhal bellied up $643.95 to access them — span more than a year, and show CAPP’s input into key decisions made by the Alberta Energy Regulator.

The documents reveal that CAPP’s vision is one that would “expedite” aspects of public consultation — potentially reducing the opportunities for Albertans to voice objections to energy projects that affect them — and reduce the scope of projects that companies need to seek public input on.

Landowners and affected Albertans receive notice of new oil and gas developments that may directly and adversely affect them — whether it’s an oil or gas well, a pipeline, an oilsands development or another energy project. They can then file what’s known as a statement of concern if they are worried that the project will affect them or the local environment.

The lobbying records make it clear that industry is seeking to speed up or eliminate that process for some projects.

In one document, CAPP and other industry representatives denounced the statement of concern process as the “Achilles heel” of energy project approvals.

In another, CAPP laments that, when it comes to brownfield oilsands projects, “several [regulator] procedures that involve giving notice to the public regarding industry activities are leading to delays, as well as criticism of the industry.” (“Brownfield” refers to land where other industrial activities have previously taken place.)

And so CAPP is lobbying the regulator to “streamline” the process and reduce or eliminate the opportunity for the public to be involved in some cases — that could include shortening the 30-day period that stakeholders can file a statement of concern for some types of projects, or increasing the regulator’s use of discretion in posting public notice at all. MORE

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