Personal relationship derails hearing for southern Alberta sour gas project

Personal relationship derails hearing for southern Alberta sour gas project by Kelly Cryderman and Deborah Tetley, February 20, 2009, Calgary Herald
In an unprecedented move, the province’s energy regulator announced Thursday it has suspended an ongoing energy application hearing due to a “personal” relationship between a Petro-Canada representative and an agency employee. “We’ve never had to take steps of this nature,” said Bob Curran, a spokesman for the Energy Resources Conservation Board. “We just want to ensure that the integrity of the process hasn’t been compromised in any way.”

The reasons for the delay shocked and infuriated stakeholders in the Longview area. “My clients and I are simply surprised,” said lawyer Stan Carscallen, who represents a group of ranchers and landowners who are opposed to the drilling. “We had no inkling any such thing was going on.” Similarly, the lawyer who represents the Stony Nakoda Nations said his clients were stunned and disappointed, given the time, money and energy that has gone into the month-long process. “We vigorously object to any semblance of (bias),” Oliver MacLaren said. “This is all a bit of a shock.” The board has been holding public hearings since Nov. 12 on Petro-Canada’s controversial proposal to drill 11 sour gas wells and build a pipeline in the Eastern Slopes west of Longview. “This has been an involved process so these shenanigans must have been pretty shady or swarmy to call things to a halt,” said 72-year-old rancher Harvey Gardner, who is opposed to the Sullivan Field project. … Curran said it is not unheard of to see relationships between board staff members and companies with applications before the board. [Emphasis added]

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