Should wells be drilled in the city of Lethbridge? Express your views!

By Janet Keeping, Leader

Many people who follow this website will already be aware that an oil and gas company called Goldenkey is planning http://pillsarena.com to drill wells within the boundaries of the City of Lethbridge.

There is a lot of pushback on this from people who live in Lethbridge and organizations based there.  “No Drilling Lethbridge” has a great web site with model letters to be sent to a variety of politicians, regulators and people representing the oil company:  http://www.nodrillinglethbridge.ca/take-action  Lethbridge’s mayor and city council are unanimously opposed to the drilling proposal.

But other people in the province should also express their views on the wells proposed for Lethbridge.  If these wells are approved, a dangerous precedent will be set for the whole province.

Directly below you will see the letter I have sent on behalf of the Green Party of Alberta to the Premier on this matter.  We have also written to the company and to the Alberta Energy Regulator along similar lines  Make your voice heard too!

 

TO:

The Honourable Alison Redford, Premier of Alberta

307 Legislature Bldg 10800 – 97 Avenue

Edmonton, Alberta, T5K 2B6

E-mail: premier@gov.ab.ca

FROM:

Janet Keeping

Leader, Green Party of Alberta

leader@greenpartyofalberta.ca

STATEMENT OF CONCERN RE: GOLDENKEY OIL’S “PENNY PROJECT” in WEST LETHBRIDGE

Goldenkey Oil has provided notification of its intention to drill 3 exploratory wells from 2 surface sites within the municipality of Lethbridge, Alberta, at the following sites:

5-14-8-22 W4M and 16-16-8-22 W4M.

The purpose of this letter is to express the objections of the Green Party of Alberta to these proposed wells and to state our concerns.  The Green Party of Alberta has members from all over the province, including Lethbridge.

We agree with the City of Lethbridge that the restriction imposed by the presence of production facilities and pipelines in this case would impede orderly urban development and could adversely affect property values.

On a more fundamental level, we do not believe that the petroleum industry or any other entity should have the right to impose development on a municipality without regard to its zoning or planning regulations, and that ultimately this principle needs to be reflected in legislation, beginning with a policy of not issuing mineral leases within city boundaries.

We also note that the proposed wells will encounter a sour formation. While we recognize that the formation is not expected to be productive in these wells, it is an additional area of concern, given the proximity of residential areas.

We are strongly of the view that the forthcoming application by Goldenkey to drill these or any further oil or gas wells within the city limits of Lethbridge should not be approved.

Sincerely,

Janet Keeping

 

 

 

 

 

Comments 4

  • I find it very unacceptable that people within the City of Lethbridge find it hard to accept that oil and gas has been produced within the city limits for the last 40 years. My understanding is the company wants to produce the oil and gas within a set period of time, in which they paid a large sum of money to the Province of Alberta to do so. The Province of Alberta was founded on oil and gas activities. There are multiple examples of safe production of oil and gas within municipal city and town boundaries, the SW portion of the City of Edmonton is littered with oil and gas wells, down town Drayton Valley, within the City of Red Deer and the City of Calgary. If operations are considered safe these facilitates pose very little to no danger to the general public. They create jobs, tax revenue for the province spent in education and medicine, most importantly the Government of Alberta leased these rights to oil companies in they should be allowed to exploit for the benefit of all Albertan’s. For a person that gets up every morning and uses oil and natural gas on a daily basis, relatively cheap, is it important for these projects to be properly scrutinized and accepted.

    Just like any other issue in this world, there are lots of people that will oppose almost anything that they don’t fully understand.

    P.S. I find it ironic that these same hypocritical people object to these projects have no issues going down the block from their personal residence and filling their vehicles up with fuel or sending a child down to the store for snacks, from a gas station that contains 10x more explosive material than what these wells would have individually, but would take the food out of the mouths from the people who invest and work on these projects. And then continue to criticize them with their lack of education and knowledge about this industry. The Province of Alberta has been drilling wells for over 50 years, and has had over 500000 wells drilled in this time and to date on the public record there has not been one person from the general public ever harmed or killed due to proximity of these producing wells.

    If these same highly hypocritical people continue to argue against projects like this, I would expect that we can start paying double for our energy costs in the future.

    • Robert, your comment raises a number of issues, too many for me to reply to fully in a brief comment. But here are some of my thoughts on what you have said.
      1. Just because things have gone on in a certain way for a long time — e.g., drilling within city limits — doesn’t mean it is right they continue to go on that way. When Compton applied to drill wells in Calgary a few years ago, there was massive push-back from Calgarians including from people who had worked for decades in the oil and gas industry. Eventually the regulator issued licenses to the company to drill but there were so many conditions put on the licenses which were intended to protect the public in case of blowouts (the wells would have been sour), that the company never went ahead with the wells. That was the right outcome. It was shocking that the drilling proposal ever went as far as it did. So what was OK in Calgary years earlier is no longer OK now. Things change. Attitudes evolve.
      2. I think it was a big mistake for the Department of Energy to have issued the initial license to Goldenkey the company that proposes to drill in Lethbridge. That Albertans’ attitudes are changing has been evident for a while. The Department of Energy is trying to pretend that “same old – same old” is appropriate when it is not.
      3. You refer to “cheap” energy. This is how I see it: the only reason that energy has seemed to be so cheap to date is that the producing companies have been able to avoid paying for many of the impacts caused by their activities, e.g., loss of wildlife habitat, pollution of water sources, fear experienced by those who never know when something catastrophic is going to occur at a site nearby, various atmospheric harmful emissions and now the carbon and other gases that contribute to climate change. The Baytex fiasco in the Peace River region is an example of a company keeping its costs down by failing to capture dangerous emissions with the result that at least three local families were driven off their land. As regulation slowly but surely requires the internalization of those “externalities”, the true cost of energy — a higher one than before — will come to be. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good thing and will encourage conservation, that is, the using of less of the polluting forms of energy, and a shift to cleaner forms, such as solar, wind and geothermal.
      4. With respect, I think you are wrong in assuming that those of us who want to see a much more tightly regulated oil and gas industry and who think that the costs of hydrocarbons have to and should go up are happy about the fact that we still need to use our cars and that we still have few alternatives to consuming oil and gas. I walk and use transit as much as possible but we still own a car and I have to use it from time to time. Do I feel great about having to fill up the tank with the usual fuel? No. But until the city is more densely developed, transit improves and other types of cars and fuels are on the market, the situation is what it is. We are all trapped in the same destructive system. As individuals, we do what we can to resist, but we won’t be fully released from that destructive system without some big, societal changes taking place.
      5. I think the resistance by so many in Lethbridge — including the mayor and the entire city council — is part of the movement trying to force that change. I admire what they are trying to do and hope they are successful in preventing those wells from being drilled. Albertans from across the province should be supporting them in their struggle.

    • Robert, it saddens me to read your letter and realize how much you do not understand about this issue.
      1. Lethbridge does not have the same amount of water as either Edmonton or Calgary who refused drilling within the city limits. Lethbridge does have the Old Man River which is nice and full in the spring, but by the summer, it dwindles down to a weak flow. Fracking uses seven thousand gallons for one well, Where is that water to come from? Also, on water, once the water is used it is highly poisonous to all life and has to be buried deep in dried out oil wells and then capped with cement. Cement ages, cracks and leaks.
      2. Land, once the oil companies are finished with it is of no use to anyone. No one can live there, and nothing grows there for an extremely long time. The land Goldenkey wants to use has already been slated for development, so what are those men who are out of work going to do? And while I’m on the topic, the people who are drilling do not provide added jobs for people here, because they bring most of their workers with them. People with houses in the area will instantly lose the value of their homes once the fracking begins and will never be able to sell them for fair market value, Lethbridge was originally a coal mining city, thus below us there are numerous caves threaded below the city. Fracking under these circumstances would be very dangerous, indeed. It has recently been proved that fracking causes earthquakes. These earthquakes may not be huge, but over time they shake the foundations of the homes and destroy the structure of buildings. When we consider the coal caves and earth quakes we could have a very serious problem that could easily be out of control of the oil companies and others.
      3. Fracking requires numerous chemicals to be used in order to split the rock and release the oil and gas. When the rock cracks, it does not crack in a nice clean line to the well. It cracks in all directions and that same oil and gas is spread throughout the area. At the same time, all those hundreds of chemicals used also get spread out to whatever is in its way.
      4. Fracking is noted to cause many health issues from headaches, nosebleeds, and irritation to eyes, skin, as well as reparatory problems. Recently there was a problem with these very problem that was three km from the well site. Yet, Goldenkey wants to almost frack on top of the local homes. Fracking is also very noisy and easily goes beyond the city bylaws. It is well documented the effects of excessive ongoing noise has on people.
      5. Flaring, the word has come down the line that there is sour gas involved in the Lethbridge operation. It is well know the effects of sour gas on those within its range. However, there is also the issue of flaring. Both the town of Innisfail and Hythe Alberta have experienced problems with flaring which it was found was a direct result of fracking.
      So, Robert, you have said we are ignorant of the reality of oil exploration within the city. We are more than extremely aware and do not want the danger close to us. One last point, I have seen the map of the area Goldenkey is interested in. It covers many homes and includes schools. Perhaps now, you are better educated on our issues with fracking.

  • If my history is correct, Alberta was founded on fur trading and not much unlike Jed Clampett, we struck it rich. The question that stands Is how do we manage this massive resource without destroying what we hold dear, mainly our natural environment but in the case of Lethbridge, our actual habitat.