Alberta Landowners Dig in Against the Stelmach Government - For Thousands of Alberta Landowners a Landmark Alberta Surface Rights Decision Would Be Negated

    CALGARY, Jan. 22 /CNW/ - A growing number of landowners from across the
province are digging in against the Stelmach government and its tacit support
of a pending application by TransCanada/Nova. Nova has applied to the National
Energy Board to have 23,500 kilometers of various-sized gas pipelines in the
province shifted away from the regulatory jurisdiction of Alberta, into the
hands of Ottawa-based regulators.
    "Thousands of Alberta farmers would be affected by the change," says Jim
Ness, president of the Alberta Association of Pipeline Landowners. "Yet
neither TransCanada/Nova, nor the Alberta government, have undertaken to
directly notify individual landowners that such a change is even possible -
let alone about to happen."
    Ness said that under the Ottawa-based rules that are being called for,
thousands of Alberta farmers will lose eligibility to receive ongoing annual
payments in certain cases, meaning a landmark decision that was recently
rendered by the Alberta Surface Rights Board, will no longer apply. Landowners
will also have to ask for permission before they drive farm equipment across
easements and over pipelines that are buried on their own land, or else carry
financial and legal liability for damage to buried lines, no matter how old
the lines might be or how long they have been in the ground. Farmers will need
to ask permission to cultivate deeper than 11.8 inches. And the existing
Alberta provision that guarantees a farmer can recover legal costs if he gets
in a dispute with a pipeline company will be eliminated.
    Ness pointed out that the way farmers will be dealt with if they violate
a regulation, even unknowingly, will also change. Under Alberta-based rules,
the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine. Under Ottawa-based rules, landowners
would be subject to fines of up to $1,000,000, plus imprisonment for five
    To demonstrate to landowners that the Provincial Energy Minister and
Premier have deliberately ignored repeated appeals from landowner
representatives to be heard on this issue, starting this week, 40,000 letters
will start arriving in farmers' mailboxes. The letters explain how landowners
will be affected, and point to the fact that the Stelmach government has
refused to say a single word in the defense of landowners. At the same time, a
targeted, province-wide radio advertising campaign will be launched. Sponsored
by the Alberta Association of Pipeline Landowners and the Canadian Association
of Energy Producing Landowner Associations, the letter campaign and radio ads
encourage landowners to contact their MLAs, to insist that landowners and
their representative groups have opportunity to more directly participate in
decisions that affect them.

For further information:

For further information: Jim Ness - President, Alberta Association of
Pipeline Landowners, (403) 577-2265; Dave Core - Trustee, Alberta Association
of Pipeline Landowners, President, CAEPLA, (403) 992-4124

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