LETHBRIDGE - City Council is underscoring its position on oil and gas drilling within the
On Monday, Council issued the following statement:
"The present situation is that an
oil exploration company has secured mineral rights from Alberta Energy
in an undeveloped area of southwest Lethbridge. The company
has not yet received provincial approval to undertake drilling, but it
is now signalling to us that it is taking the required steps to obtain
that approval from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), formerly the
City Council has made its
position clear on this issue through a formal resolution we unanimously
approved on Nov. 13, 2012, which stated our opposition to oil
and gas drilling and production within city limits. We believe now, as
we did then, that such activity would effectively sterilize developable
urban land and burden the City with additional costs by creating the
need for setbacks to separate wells and underground
pipelines from future neighbourhoods.
We understand that this company
has begun to communicate with groups in and around our community and is
planning an open house for the public in early October.
So, this is an appropriate time for us as City Council to let our
residents know how the City of Lethbridge has been representing their
interests in this situation. At every opportunity, the City has notified
the provincial regulator and company representatives
that we are opposed to any new oil and gas drilling within city limits
for the reasons already mentioned.
Although Council has taken this
formal, public stance, we recognize that, as a municipality, we have no
legal authority to stand in the way if the Alberta Energy
Regulator ultimately grants approval to this or any other company to
drill within our city limits.
The AER has the ability to hold a
public hearing on drilling applications, but it is not required to do
so. Even so, there is no guarantee the City of Lethbridge
would be granted the right to address such a hearing, if one was held.
As a Council, we emphasize that
we are not opposed to oil and gas exploration, generally. Our specific
concern is about the negative impacts for urban municipalities
and their residents if oil and gas drilling is allowed to proceed
inside their boundaries.
Council originally took this
stance on urban drilling because we see it as an ongoing issue in
Alberta. There are already other cases elsewhere in the province
where drilling rights have been sought and awarded within urban