In response to the Court of Appeal upholding last year’s Redwater Energy ruling, Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann is calling on the NDP government to ensure the ‘polluter pays’ principle is upheld.
“Now that the courts have clearly signaled an insolvent company’s assets cannot be used primarily for remediation of non-producing wells, it is up to the NDP government to ensure reclamation costs are borne by industry and not Alberta taxpayers,” says Swann.
While abandoned oil and gas wells are a rapidly growing problem, the government is also failing to enforce polluter pays on tailings ponds and oil sands mines.
In his July 2015 report, the Auditor General was highly critical of the Mine Financial Security Program (MFSP) for not ensuring that mines hold sufficient cleanup funds. While the Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips accepted the Auditor General’s recommendations, and promised a MFSP review, subsequent government action on the file has been lacking.
“The province seems to be expecting the federal government to swoop in and help cover the cleanup costs, which should be the industry’s responsibility,” says Swann. “Forward thinking and greater financial security is a must if we are going to ensure that energy producers aren’t saddling Alberta taxpayers with massive liabilities.”