3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T6J 1A4
October 17, 1994
Attached for your information is a copy of the official "Notice of Hearing" regarding the up-coming hearing on the Unocal sour gas plant which has been constructed adjacent to the proposed Lubicon reserve. Needless to say conducting a hearing to consider approval of a plant already built is both ominous and logically backwards but that's the way things work in Alberta -- especially for Indians in the way of powerful multi-national resource exploitation companies.
It now appears that the ERCB is prepared to entertain interventions from individuals and organizations from outside the Lubicon territory but will not likely grant them formal intervenor status. What this means for practical purposes is that the ERCB will allow others to make submissions but won't pay intervenor costs for such outsiders. (The company proposing the project is normally required to pay intervenor costs for those with formal intervenor status and some of those seeking intervenor status have indicated that they will be seeking to have their costs covered by Unocal. The Lubicons don't object to others seeking intervenor status and funding, although realistically the prospects for people from outside the area obtaining intervenor costs don't appear to be very good, but the Lubicons themselves have no intention of seeking intervenor costs since in their view doing so would constitute a tacit recognition of the legitimacy of the process, the right of a provincial so-called regulatory agency to approve projects in the unceded Lubicon territory and consequently Alberta Provincial Government jurisdiction over unceded Lubicon territory.)
Concerned people and organizations are urged to initially seek to make an intervention to the hearing under their own name. A sample application for intervenor status made to the ERCB by the Taiga Rescue Network is attached for your information.
If denied the right to make an independent intervention people and/or organizations with relevant information to bring before the hearing are invited to present that information as a part of an overall Lubicon intervention. Similarly people and/or organizations wishing to make submissions but who will be unable to attend the hearing in Edmonton are invited to prepare written briefs which can be included in an overall Lubicon submission.
The Lubicon intervention will be very broad in nature and include:
Lastly -- just so there's no confusion in anybody's mind about how things work in Alberta -- Provincial Energy Minister Pat Black recently announced that the ERCB is about to be merged with the Alberta Public Utilities Board to form the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board. The man touted to head the new board is named Sherrold Moore.
Mr. Moore retired last year as senior vice-president of Amoco Canada Petroleum Company Ltd and he remains on the Amoco Board of Directors. Amoco Canada Petroleum Company Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of a multi-national oil company headquartered in Chicago called Amoco Corporation.
In 1982 Amoco Canada was responsible for the biggest sour gas well blow-out in Alberta history. It is currently seeking to drill an exploratory sour gas well into an ecologically sensitive area in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains called Whaleback Ridge.
The Whaleback country has been classed "critical wildlife habitat" under Provincial land-use policy. However Amoco under the direction of Mr. Moore and his associates calculates that there's a 38 per cent chance of finding 1.2 trillion cubic feet of sour gas under Whaleback Ridge worth about $2.5 billion in current prices.
Amoco's application to the ERCB to drill the exploratory sour gas well at Whaleback Ridge was so "technically deficient" that not even a sympathetic ERCB was prepared to face the public uproar which would have predictably followed ERCB approval -- not a compliment for the company where Mr. Moore serves in a senior capacity. Among other deficiencies the Amoco plan for the exploratory sour gas well at Whaleback Ridge failed to provide clear contingency plans in the event of another blow-out of lethal sour gas.
The ERCB therefore denied the Amoco application but invited Amoco to re-apply with additional "documentation" showing that the proposed exploratory sour gas well at environmentally sensitive Whaleback Ridge won't result in a "net loss of critical wildlife habitat" and that the proposed well site would be the least environmentally damaging site to drill the proposed well. Little consideration seems to have been given to what will happen to "critical wildlife habitat" at Whaleback Ridge if the proposed Amoco "exploratory well" finds the huge multi-billion dollar sour gas field which Amoco expects to find. Presumably Amoco won't be content just having their curiosity satisfied about the existence of the huge multi-billion dollar sour gas field and then be prepared to walk away from Whaleback Ridge having drilled only one "exploratory well".
Oil industry insiders expect that Mr. Moore will be in charge of the new Provincial regulatory agency when Amoco re-applies to drill the exploratory well at Whaleback Ridge. They say if that happens Mr. Moore will have to absent himself from consideration from any re-application by Amoco to drill in the Whaleback. Not to worry. Like current ERCB officials the new Provincial so-called regulatory agency will undoubtedly be replete with people having an industry background similar to Mr. Moore.
Getting around the mentality of people with a background like Mr. Moore is a little tougher. While his experience in the oil business and Conservative Party politics in Alberta is well known and unquestioned, Mr. Moore seems singularly ill-equipped to appreciate the distress felt by aboriginal people with a potentially lethal sour gas processing plant built adjacent to their planned reserve.
Attachment #1: ERCB Notice of Hearing
NOTICE OF HEARING
PROCEEDING NO. 941508
UNOCAL CANADA MANAGEMENT LIMITED
APPLICATION NO. 940704
ALBERTA POWER LIMITED
TAKE NOTICE that the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) will hold a public hearing in the 12th Floor Hearing Room at the offices of the Alberta Public Utilities Board, 10055 - 106 Street in Edmonton, Alberta, on Tuesday, 8 November 1994, commencing at the hour of 9:00 a.m., for the purposes of hearing representations respecting:
PROCEEDING NO. 941508 - UNOCAL CANADA MANAGEMENT LIMITED (Unocal)
The proceeding is in regard to a sour gas processing project developed by Unocal in the Slave Field. The gas processing plant is located in Legal Subdivision 9 of Section 15, Township 84, Range 14, West of the 5th Meridian. The plant is designed to process 943 thousand cubic metres per day of raw gas from which 858 thousand cubic metres of sales gas would be produced. The emission rate of sulphur to the atmosphere from the plant's flare stack would not exceed 0.64 tonnes per day.
Copies of the gas plant application and information and particulars filed in support thereof may be obtained from Unocal (Attention: Mr. Howard Boyle), 150 - 6 Avenue SW, Box 1180, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2K9.
APPLICATION NO. 940704 - ALBERTA POWER LIMITED (Alberta Power)
Alberta Power has applied for approval to construct and operate a 144-kV substation in the Slave Field at Legal Subdivision 8 of Section 10, Township 84, Range 14, West of the 5th Meridian. The proposed substation would be connected to a 144-kV transmission line which runs adjacent to the proposed substation site. Alberta Power has indicated that the facilities are required to supply the electric power requirements of Unocal and other customers in the area.
Copies of this application and information and particulars filed in support thereof may be obtained by interested persons from the applicant, Alberta Power (Attention: Mr. Jim Crinklaw), 10035 - 105 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 2V6.
In accordance with the Board's Rules of Practice, copies of which may be obtained from any office of the Board, any person intending to appear at this hearing and speak to either project shall file on or before 2 November 194, seven copies of their submission with the undersigned at the address set out below, and one copy with Unocal and one copy with Alberta Power at their respective addresses noted above.
DATED at Calgary, Alberta on 11 October 1994.
ENERGY RESOURCES CONSERVATION BOARD
Michael J. Bruni, General Counsel
640 - 5 Avenue SW
Attachment #2: October 14, 1994, letter from the Taiga Rescue Network to the Energy Resources Conservation Board
Dear Mr. Semchuck:
APPLICATION NO 931256
UNOCAL GAS PROCESSING PLANT
LITTLE BUFFALO, ALBERTA
This letter constitutes a formal application for the Taiga Rescue Network to intervene in the above noted hearing scheduled for November 8 in Edmonton.
The Taiga Rescue Network consists of more than 130 organizations in 30 nations. Our common interest is in resource development in the taiga or boreal forest. The Lubicon Cree are a member organization of that Taiga Rescue Network. Participating organizations contribute research and other information to a common understanding of these issues.
Our intervention will focus on the following impacts and effects of sour gas developments: ecosystem effects, human health effects and livestock effects. We wish to present evidence and to cross examine other presenters. Please keep us advised of any information that can be made available with regard to a pre-hearing or detailed scheduling of the hearing itself.
International Reference Group (Canada)
cc: Chief Bernard Ominayak