Editor's note: With all the questions and uncertainty about oil and gas sites and infrastructure, we thought it was time to publish this story from January 2017 again. Take note, the AER isn’t the only place you can turn to if you have questions about energy development.
If you’re among the tens of thousands of Albertans who live near oil and gas development, you likely know that sometimes you need help getting to the bottom of things. What you may not know is who to call for that help.
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is an organization Albertans can contact with questions, complaints, or concerns about oil and gas activity. But the AER is not the only organization they can contact—there are a handful of others.
“When you’re talking about oil and gas operations in Alberta, there are lots of puzzle pieces that fit together,” says Jennifer Lough, a former engagement specialist with the AER.
“The good news is that there are numerous resources to help people who are looking for information. However, it can be confusing to know exactly what organizations own which parts of the puzzle.”
The AER oversees all oil and gas, oil sands, and coal development throughout their entire life cycle—from initial exploration, to operation, right through to closure, including reclamation and remediation.
Companies deal with the AER when developing or proposing to develop Alberta’s energy resources; it’s our job to ensure Alberta’s energy resources are developed in ways that don’t place people at risk or harm the air, water, land, or biodiversity.
Part of this work involves responding to questions, concerns, and complaints.
Anyone who has concerns about an application for a proposed project that is being reviewed by the AER can submit a statement of concern (SOC) to the AER. SOCs outline specific concerns about a company’s particular application.
A preapplication concern is a written submission that outlines specific concerns about a particular energy development activity before the AER has received an application. These concerns should be submitted directly to the company, as well as to the AER.
Once development and operational activities have started, a person can submit an operational complaint to the AER that outlines concerns about an operation, site, or facility.
Who else to call?
If the issue involves compensation for land access, loss of use of the land, or damages, a person should contact the Surface Rights Board (SRB). For example, if a company fails to pay its rental payment, then the landowner can apply to the SRB to recover the payment from industry.
Municipalities and counties also play a role in helping resolve concerns. They deal with issues pertaining to road use, such as dust and traffic, and noxious weeds that could damage crops.
Other helpful groups:
- The Farmer’s Advocate, a resource for farmers and ranchers. It provides information on legislation and policy, and it provides advice on rights, responsibilities, negotiations, and requests for compensation.
- Synergy groups include representatives from the community, the government, and the oil and gas industry, and provide an informal platform for conversations.
- The Orphan Well Association, which manages the abandonment and reclamation of oil and gas wells, pipelines, facilities, and associated sites orphaned by companies that are defunct.
Reporting an Emergency?
To report an energy or environmental emergency or complaint, call 1-800-222-6514.
Looking for Information?
For general inquiries, call 1-855-297-8311 toll free, fax 403-297-7336, or email email@example.com.
“What’s great is that the different organizations work closely with one another. Still, it’s important for Albertans to understand what each organization is responsible for so they can navigate the system,” adds Lough. “There are a lot of helpful tools and ways for people to get involved.”
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