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CALGARY HERALD: Outfitter wants Albertans to be heard

Thurday 28 June 2007

For southern Alberta outfitter Mike Judd, this story is about more than just one proposed sour gas well.

Shell Canada wants to drill the exploratory well near Mount Bacchus, southwest of Pincher Creek, in the Rockies’ Eastern Slopes.

Judd objects to the project and has a right to have his voice heard because he lives near the proposed site — land owned by the province.

But the 56-year-old dog sledder contends any Albertan should be legally allowed to tell Alberta’s energy regulator what he or she thinks.

“This is an area of superb natural beauty. This is land that belongs to all Albertans,” Judd said Wednesday at a media conference at McDougall Centre in downtown Calgary.

“We feel the voice of the people as a whole should be listened to, especially on development on public land.”

This argument will be tested at an expected Alberta Energy and Utilities Board hearing on Shell’s proposed well.

A Calgarian has applied for status to intervene in the case, asking to have his objections considered. Similar attempts by landowners and environmental groups in the past have been rejected.

EUB spokesman Bob Curran said it would be a logistical nightmare if every Albertan was allowed legal standing in oil and gas applications.

“You have to somehow establish grounds, otherwise we could have thousands of interveners around the province,” he said.

“The process becomes completely unwieldy if anyone from the public can intervene on public lands.”

The process grants only landowners living next to Crown land or businesses that use the land the right to have their objections considered, if they can show the project could adversely affect them.

Alberta Energy spokesman Jason Chance said the provincial government does not plan to alter this aspect of the EUB, although other changes have been announced for the fall.

Checks and balances are built into the regulatory system to protect the public and the environment, Chance added.

But the Alberta Liberals believe that system is being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of industrial development. They and several landowner groups renewed their call Wednesday for a moratorium on new industrial development in the environmentally sensitive Eastern Slopes.

Calgary Liberal MLA David Swann said a plan mapping out how much development is sustainable in the region should be created before more activity is allowed. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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