Our Team and Messages
The members of our interim team, who have taken on the task of turning the Polluter Pay Federation concept into reality by inclusively engaging with negatively affected stakeholders in doing so, are introduced below.
Their main message is simple:
Alberta’s surface owners can keep taxpayers whole, but the key is to first make the landowner whole in accordance with Alberta law, as clarified by the judiciary
Our Messages of Warning and Hope About Massive Unfunded Industry Liabilities
The potential impact of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 is not the only pandemic wave bearing down on the landowners of Alberta and the taxpayers of Canada. We are simply not prepared for the inevitable waves of industry bankruptcy caused by a decade of unprofitable conventional oil and gas production and large scale mismanagement of industry liabilities. The facts are that many companies were insolvent long before the most recent commodity price crash. These companies and others have set no funds aside to cover the “end of life obligations” that all industry members have.
As Federal COVID-19 funding, as well as industry begging for up to $15 Billion in taxpayer funded “liquidity help” has started to indicate, what Steering Committee Members have long known is becoming obvious: The cost burden associated with irresponsible industry and government of Alberta actions will fall to taxpayers unless taxpayers push Alberta’s surface owners into action immediately. Until such time as landowners are financially empowered and sufficiently convinced that they alone have the power and ability to save Alberta’s future from the effects of decades of energy mismanagement, Canadians will inevitably be financially overwhelmed by unfunded industry liabilities at some point in time, perhaps soon.
Call to Action
Our message includes a call to action. We have a workable plan to empower and educate landowners. The plan involves initial, temporary, minimal, financial support from the taxpayer at large. A tiny taxpayer investment now (example $20.00) will pay huge dividends for each taxpayer in the future. See the Membership and Funding Model page of this website for details.
Real property owners, particularly those who own surface rights in Alberta, require a well-funded countervailing lobby and advocacy group to provide balance against the powerful lobbies of industry. In particular, upstream oil and gas industry members successfully lobby government, resulting in abuses of real property rights in various regards (traditionally spending some $50 million/year). The two lobby groups industry members belong to are known as CAPP and EPAC.
The Temporary Steering Committee seeks to take an approach that is fundamentally opposite to the lobbies of the oil and gas industry. Rather than lobbying for favours and circumvention of the rule of law as industry does, the Polluter Pay Federation proposed by the Temporary Steering Committee shall lobby for balanced rights, a return to the rule of law, and strict enforcement of existing laws that reflect the polluter pay principle. New laws are not required in Alberta. Some amendment of existing laws could be helpful, but this is not a priority.
Meet the Interim Team
Incorporation of the non-profit (proposed name Polluter Pay Federation) is being planned by a Temporary Steering Committee, which has openings. We seek in particular representatives of First Nations and municipal governments. All Temporary Steering Committee Members also belong to the Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project Coalition.
The Final Steering Committee will draft the documents required for incorporation and governance of the non-profit corporation. Additional Steering Committee Members who possess the capability to contribute in a real and meaningful way to an organization that seeks to be all-inclusive (excluding only industry interests) are being actively sought.
The current Temporary Steering Committee members (5) are introduced below.
Clearly Alberta’s leading expert on the history of profitability of Alberta’s oil and gas industry and the matter of unfunded industry liabilities, Regan is the founder of Reclaim Alberta and a member of the Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project Coalition (ALDP). Regan is a popular speaker and guest on radio and podcast shows. Like other Committee Members, he has come to realize that the solution for Alberta’s financial woes and full employment lie in a return to the rule of law and a property rights lobby that is equal to that of industry. Regan brings his thoughtfulness, ability to communicate, his extensive research, and a background in political science and journalism to the committee. Regan is passionate about job creation and economic opportunities for Albertans associated with clean up of the messes industry is leaving in its wake.
Tom operates a media/marketing company that tells compelling stories through video & photo. He is scared of what the consequences of a $260+ billion bill passed on to the taxpayers of Alberta will hold for his children. Tom believes that only reason why every Albertan is not in a rage about unfunded oil and gas liabilities is because they have no idea about the trouble we’re all in. “The word needs to be spread, and that is why I am here” says this member of the Temporary Steering Committee. “We have an opportunity to put our oil workers back to work and clean up our province“.
Jim Bulmer, P. Eng
Jim is the newest member of the steering committee. As a businessman and electrical engineer who holds hazardous area patents, he brings board of director and technical experience in the area of public safety, particularly gases in explosive mixtures in air, to the committee. Jim’s entire career has been spent in the electrical distribution and oil and gas industries. Jim is also a farmer and landowner.
Mark stands for a return to the rule of law and restoration of public safety in all oil and gas operations, with special emphasis on urban areas (including illegal and unsafe gas venting). An oil and gas production veteran and landowner, Mark represents himself and surface rights owners before the Alberta Energy Regulator, the Alberta Utilities Commission, the Surface Rights Board, and APEGA to date. He specializes in regulatory compliance and reconsideration of potentially-flawed administrative decisions, including landowner compensation. Mark has intervened in court cases related to surface rights and is currently before the Court of Appeal of Alberta related to a decision of the Alberta Utilities Commission.
I have concluded that it is pointless and misleading to take on the landowners, who call me in desperation, as clients until such time as there is significant administrative law reform. Reform must occur at the Alberta Energy Regulator in particular as well as the Alberta Utilities Commission and the Surface Rights Board to a significantly lesser extent. Ignorance of Alberta energy laws, lack of public safety related to much of Alberta’s upstream oil and gas activities, irresponsible energy development, and under compensation of real property owners, including all of us as the owners of public lands, are massive problems in Alberta. There are solutions to our problems at law. Alberta and its citizens are worth saving. The time has come to to do so before it is too late.
Dwight and his wife own land occupied by a well licensed by a Sequoia company, which is in bankruptcy. In breach of the terms and conditions of the “surface lease”, the lessee company constructed and operated a facility in conjunction with a gas well, which has long been inactive. Like tens of thousands of landowners, Dwight and his wife, who is a nurse, is not being compensated for their actual losses as required by contract and Alberta law. Like thousands of Albertans, the Popowich family waits for the overloaded, underfunded, and backlogged Surface Rights Board to deal with their applications under Section 36 of the Surface Rights Act. Dwight has recently spoken out in CBC news stories. Like other committee members, Dwight is concerned about AIMCO mismanagement of public and pension fund monies.
Vern is a horticulturist and among other things, a greenhouse farmer. He has high voltage power transmission lines on his property, by way of right of entry orders, and is surrounded by oil and gas activity. Vern is a property rights advocate, director of the Action Surface Rights Association, Director of the Alberta Surface Rights Federation, and member of the Warburg Pembina Surface Rights Group. He is well versed in surface rights matters and likes to research court cases. Vern says “I have grave concerns over the undermining of the principle that the landowners are to be made whole for the use of their lands for energy activities, and about oil and gas producers withholding payment of municipal tax“.
The next steps are to focus on Priority Actions recently identified, include more Albertans and Canadians, incorporate the Polluter Pay Federation, conduct a membership drive, elect a board of directors, and hire full time paid staff. See the Foundation Document Links on the title Polluter Pay Federation Page.