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Written by Submitted

How many times have landowners heard the mantra, “there’s no proven evidence to suggest that fracking affects well water formations.”  “There’s no proven evidence that abandoned gas wells and pipelines adversely affect livestock herds.”
It’s a hard balance in Alberta.  The seduction of oil and gas money has created a love-hate relationship between landowners and oil companies.
The newly acclaimed Responsible Energy Development Act puts an inordinate amount of power in a single Regulator leaving landowners with a sense of fore bearing about the future.
Guest speaker Anthony Swift at the Alberta Surface Rights Federation special meeting in Camrose on June 17, 2013, encouraged the crowd to not give up the fight.  He argues the most powerful player in the debate is the public, when they become engaged.
Given the number and extent of recent pipeline spills, he believes the public can apply pressure to make a better system of regulatory standards and enforcement.  Swift argued that the system will not change until the industry-friendly regulators and governments are pushed.
Social media has been one of the most effective ways for people to come together against powerful people and governments.  We need look no farther than Egypt, Turkey, Libya to know that people banded together have power.
And it’s not just landowners who have concerns.  Many young urban Albertans are starting to wonder what the future will hold for them if the high pace of development and disregard for environment continues.
A group of students from the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus in Camrose, have started a website albertavoices.ca. Raj Rathnavalu and Hans Asfeldt attended the Surface Rights meeting to talk about how their web page tells ordinary stories from ordinary Albertans about situations they have faced in interacting with the arrogance of the energy industry in Alberta. Currently on the site there are eight such stories. The more stories that are complied with pictures, the more powerful landowner’s will become.
The Alberta Surface Rights Federation has also been an effective body disseminating information to landowners and representing a collective voice to government.
The federal and provincial governments and the oil industry ignored Greenpeace and the International community at their peril.  Alberta is now fighting an uphill battle to sell and transport its oil sand production.  It will also be at their peril if they continue to ignore its citizen’s concerns about balancing economic growth with environmental and property rights.
The majority of Albertans want to co-exist with the energy industry.  They know the importance of energy development for their economic well-being. But they are also wise enough to realize that once industry has scooped up all the resources, they will be gone and Albertans will be left.
Planning for tomorrow, today, let’s be assured that there will be something good left for all those grandchildren and great-grandchildren coming behind.

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