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WHEREAS many abandoned pipelines in the Province of Alberta remain in the ground for an indefinite period of time and are not reclaimed; andWHEREAS abandoned pipelines that remain in the ground are no longer maintained and are susceptible to degradation over time leading to the possibility of environmental contamination of the property containing the abandoned pipeline; andWHEREAS currently no regulations exist that would obligate the pipeline owner to remove and reclaim an abandoned pipeline; andWHEREAS many municipalities are owners of lands that contain abandoned pipelines either through the tax recovery process or through regular ownership of land; andWHEREAS a pipeline that is considered abandoned is no longer assessable for taxation because it is no longer considered usable regardless of the fact that it remains an existing improvement;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge Alberta Sustainable Resource Development and Alberta Environment to enact legislation that would obligate the owner of an abandoned pipeline to remove and reclaim the pipeline as a part of the abandonment process, thus removing the potential of environmental contamination of land owned by municipalities and individual landowners;FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge Alberta Municipal Affairs and Housing to amend current legislation to include abandoned pipeline as assessable if it remains in the ground.
Currently, there are many kilometres of abandoned pipeline in Alberta that are left in the ground to rot because they are no longer maintained or protected from decaying. Rust inhibitors are removed during the purging process and the pipeline is left in the ground unreclaimed and unprotected from degradation. This can lead to environmental contamination of the land containing the pipeline. This includes water aquifers and groundwater. We are suggesting that the provincial government change legislation to require that the pipeline owner be obligated to remove the pipeline as part of the abandonment process.There is the possibility that the owner of the land containing the abandoned pipeline may be responsible for the removal and reclamation if the company that originally owned the pipeline no longer exists. This would create unreasonable hardship for the landowner, as costs for this type of project would be extremely expensive.In respect to linear taxes, the pipeline becomes non-assessable as soon as it is considered abandoned. It is a concern that municipalities cease to receive taxes even if the improvement is still there. If the pipeline remains assessable, even if abandoned, this may be an incentive for the pipeline owner to remove the pipeline in order to avoid paying for the taxes. This resolution addresses this point by requesting the provincial government to consider that the abandoned pipeline be assessable as long as it stays in the ground.
Resolution 6-06F: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to establish a Stakeholder Committee to identify guidelines regarding abandoned pipelines to maximize surface land use opportunities for future generations.Resolution 11-06S: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC request that in response to the abundance of existing pipelines and the accelerating rate at which wells are being produced, that the Provincial Government in consultation with a committee selected by the AAMDC initiate standards for the routing and monitoring of oil and gas pipelines to maximize surface land use opportunities for future generations.
Regulations to obligate owners of an abandoned pipeline to remove and reclaim the land were discussed at a recent meeting with the Minister of Environment, the Honourable Rob Renner. The Minister acknowledged that abandoned pipelines have the potential for environmental contamination that could result in reclamation expense for landowners, but that a balance needs to be struck to mitigate surface disturbance. The AAMDC will continue to advocate this issue in formal ministerial meeting submissions.