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WHEREAS individual pipelines that cross inter-provincial or international borders fall under the regulations of the National Energy Board, which is a quasi-judicial body operating under regulations established by the Parliament of Canada and accountable to the Minister of Natural Resources Canada; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta (AUC) regulates pipelines with the exception of interprovincial pipelines in the Province of Alberta; and
WHEREAS the Nova Gas Transmission Limited pipeline system includes a vast collection system in Alberta in addition to their Trans Canada Pipeline (interprovincial system); and
WHEREAS the National Energy Board of the federal government is being requested to become the regulating agency for Nova Gas Transmission Limited pipeline systems; and
WHEREAS there are variations between the AUC and National Energy Board regulations in such areas as, size of control zone rights-of-ways, potential abandonment liabilities, cultivation depth zones and easement payments; and
WHEREAS the pipeline regulations do not address other issues such as transferring equipment above the control zone of pipeline right of ways; and
WHEREAS under National Energy Board legislation, Alberta landowners rights on property adjoining pipeline rights-of-way, but not included within the pipeline easement, may be restricted; and
WHEREAS under National Energy Board legislation, Alberta landowners may be legally and financially responsible for future reclamation once a pipeline is abandoned as the ownership of the right-of-way may revert to the landowner; and
WHEREAS under National Energy Board legislation, no consideration to Alberta Surface Rights Board decisions regarding annual payments is given, and therefore significant loss of revenue may occur;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Minister of Natural Resources Canada, with assistance from the FCM, to enact legislative/regulatory changes to protect municipalities and landowners by addressing issues such as compensation, rights-of-way, transfers over pipelines and abandonment within the National Energy Board Act for pipelines that are reclassified from provincial to federal regulatory control.
Recently, landowners throughout Alberta have been receiving a call-to-action letter from the Alberta Association of Pipeline Landowners (AAPL). The details of this letter are outlined on their website, available by clicking here. Based on this letter, AAMDC member municipalities are being contacted by concerned ratepayers who are unsure of the magnitude of the situation. In an attempt to clarify the situation, the AAMDC has gathered some information that may be useful in responding to citizen concerns.
The AAPL has distributed approximately 40,000 letters to landowners throughout Alberta. The process that spurred this distribution began in the spring of 2008 when TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. applied to the National Energy Board (NEB) to reclassify 23,500 km of pipeline in Alberta from provincial to federal jurisdiction. The pipelines in question are feeder lines to TransCanada’s pipelines that head to eastern Canada, British Columbia, the United States and the Northwest Territories. For a map of the relevant pipelines, please visit the AAPL website.
Currently, the status quo is that any pipeline crossing an international or provincial border is under the jurisdiction of the NEB. TransCanada already has many pipelines under the NEB, and the application was made on the basis that they can provide their customers with better service if they were dealing with only one regulatory system. In other words, they are seeking to transfer any of their lines within Alberta that feed their main lines already under NEB jurisdiction.
The NEB held a hearing regarding this jurisdictional issue in November 2008. The landowners associations were granted intervener status and made presentations in opposition to the jurisdictional transfer to the NEB. Alberta Energy and the Utilities Consumer Advocate were also interveners at this hearing. A decision by the NEB is expected sometime between mid-February and the end of March.
Based on AAMDC findings, the issues at the centre of the AAPL letter are valid, but hypothetical. For example, the NEB may issue a decision that grants the jurisdictional change but requires all existing agreements with landowners to be honored. This would mean landowners would be covered by the same agreements currently binding them. In addition, if the jurisdictional change is granted, the NEB has dispute resolution processes and resources available should landowner concerns become real issues.
The NEB is a quasi-judicial body that cannot be influenced politically. Since the hearings have been held and the NEB is now making its decision, the AAMDC cannot take action on this specific issue at this time. Future action could not be directed towards NEB decisions based on its quasi-judicial status, except in the form of interventions.
In addition, based on the “what-if” nature of the AAPL concerns, it is difficult to take definitive action against the application. The jurisdictional question is ultimately separate from landowner concerns because there is already a cross-over of jurisdiction on many pipelines in Alberta.
If members are concerned with the content of the federal (NEB) regulatory requirements, the regulations themselves need to be targeted through advocacy efforts separate from the NEB hearing process.
The AAMDC has no current resolutions directly related to this issue.
Energy (including the Alberta Utilities Commission):
Alberta Energy, along with the Government of Alberta, intervened in the recent hearing where the National Energy Board (NEB) considered the request from TransCanada to transfer jurisdiction of their connecting pipelines to the NEB.
The NEB ruled in TransCanada’s favour and the transition process for these lines has been completed with few changes for the landowners. Prior landowner agreements remain in place following the transition with some minor amendents.
We believe that this process has worked for all involved.
Minister of Energy Ron Liepert sent a letter in February 2010 which is attached in ACE for your review. It indicates that we should pursue the issue with the NEB and federal ministries as the best route for advocacy.
At the June 2009 meeting, the AAMDC Board of Directors reviewed two responses received regarding this resolution. The letters were received from the NEB and the Minister of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). Minister Raitt (NRCan Minister at the time) noted that there are other non-legislative improvements that should be given an opportunity to succeed prior to legislative improvements. Likewise, the NEB response outlined recent actions to address AAMDC concerns including the Land Matters Consultation Initiative. The NEB subsequently sent a staff delegation to meet with the AAMDC Board. In February 2010, Alberta Energy Minister Liepert encouraged the association to continue engaging the NEB and NRCan on these issues.
However, Resolution 13-09S specifically requests legislative or regulatory changes, and the AAMDC Board of Directors still has concerns about landowner rights regarding federally-regulated pipelines. As such, this resolution retains an unsatisfactory status, and the AAMDC will continue to advocate on this issue.