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NEWS RELEASE · 29th March 2010
M. of Energy, Mines & Petrol.
Bill 8, the Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Statutes Amendment Act, 2010, was introduced in the legislature today. The proposed act will provide greater certainty for industry, improve environmental protection and make dispute resolution more balanced and effective for landowners and industry, said Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

"The changes proposed in this bill reflect a considerable amount of dialogue with local stakeholders, and this is a positive step forward toward a more balanced approach between industry and the affected landowners in the region," said Lekstrom.

The act includes amendments to the Oil and Gas Activities Act and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act.

Amendments to the Oil and Gas Activities Act increase the regulatory powers of the Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) and enhance government's ability to protect the environment from potential impacts of natural gas and petroleum development:

* The OGC will have expanded powers to use money from the Orphan Site Reclamation Fund to clean up sites where no oil and gas owner can be held accountable.

* The OGC will have a broader authority to collect fees and levies that support it in regulating the industry.

* The Province will have the authority to set environmental objectives for the OGC to incorporate into their permitting decisions.

* Amendments regarding approvals for pipeline crossings of roads will better accommodate community interests and government transportation objectives.

Amendments to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act will support landowners in resolving conflicts with industry, making the dispute resolution process more balanced and effective:

* The Mediation and Arbitration Board will be renamed the Surface Rights Board, to clarify the board's purpose.

* Landowners will now have the right to request mediation in surface access disputes.

* Neighbours and tenants will now have the right to request mediation for claims related to damage caused by an oil and gas activity.

* The board will have authority to deal with disputes over the operation of a surface lease.

* The board will have expanded authority to award costs.

"Through the Northeast Energy and Mines Advisory Committee, we consulted with landowners, industry and stakeholders in the northeast," said Lekstrom. "We listened, and we have made changes that will result in a more effective process for resolving disputes, one that equally balances the rights of landowners and industry."