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PCs block Wildrose efforts to protect landowners and promote industry growth

EDMONTON, AB (November 21, 2012): The PC government has blocked efforts by the Wildrose Official Opposition to provide amendments to Bill 2, the Responsible Energy Act, to protect the rights of landowners, balance economic development with environmental stewardship, and streamline regulatory approval steps so the process is timely and predictable for industry.

The bill has been criticized by land use and industry experts, academics, lawyers and other key stakeholders as a “colossal gaffe by the Alberta government,” and as, “sloppy legal drafting and bad policy insofar as it strips the most affected by energy projects of their legal right.” “We had a chance to make this law work for Albertans and have productive solutions to get it done through additional amendments, but this government once again has failed to listen to the concerns of landowners and industry groups in Alberta,” Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said.  “This is sloppy law making and is a piece of legislation that may result in widespread backlash to this government.”  The Wildrose has offered amendments that seek to respect landowners and balance those rights with the need to protect the environment and promote industry growth.   Among the amendments rejected by the PC majority and supported by the Wildrose include: 

  • An amendment that would restore the basic right of Albertans to be notified and have a hearing if they would be directly affected by an energy development project
  • An amendment that would legislate a standard timeline for applications to ensure red tape is actually reduced
  • An amendment to restore the ability of landowners to appeal to the Environmental Appeal Board when damages to land and the environment were not corrected or compensated for
  • Prohibiting the Energy Minister from being able to demand any personal information he desires (such as medical and school records)
  • An amendment that would mandate the new regulator to uphold property rights
  • An amendment that would have mandated the new regulator to have representation from individuals with expertise in energy industry, landowner rights and environmental conservation
  • An amendment to re-insert the concern for the “public interest” after the term was removed from the legislation 

“All landowners are asking for is some respect and for their rights and voice to be acknowledged, but this bill in its current state falls short,” Wildrose Energy Critic Jason Hale said.  “Landowners, our environment and our industry deserve legislation that balances these rights instead of squashing them, but this government failed pitifully to do this in Bill 2.”