New West Partnership Includes CAPP Lobbyists in Fracking Policy Development

The British Columbia Ministry of Energy was designated a “lead agency” in a backroom collaboration with Alberta and Saskatchewan to address water concerns for the province’s rapidly expanding shale gas industry. The New West Partnership, an undisclosed collaboration between Canada's three western provinces to expedite shale gas extraction, has held four secret meetings since July 2011 to discuss water issues related to fracking, according to a leaked briefing note, released today by the BC Tap Water Alliance (BCTWA).

The leaked document, including an attached directive, outlines the group’s strategies to streamline gas production across the West while minimizing public and stakeholder involvement. The partnership project, which is aimed to design streamlined policy regarding gas extraction including the controversial technique fracking, is also posed to curtail public concern with “proactive” public relations campaigns that will respond to the “ill-informed campaigns” of environmental NGOs, public media and local communities. 

The Project Charter outlines the New West Partnership’s intentions to manage public opinion with ‘consistent messages’ regarding environmental concerns which are “potentially problematic” for shale gas development. Despite the group’s pretense to stakeholder transparency and “enhanced communication,” the only external body consulted so far is Canada’s largest oil and gas lobby, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). According to the BCTWA press release, the internal meetings held by provincial regulators and government officials included three unregistered lobbyists representing CAPP, prompting a complaint from the Alberta Federation of Labour.  
After receiving a copy of the leaked documents the Alberta Federation of Labour filed an official complaint with Alberta’s Ethics Commissioner citing a “possible contravention of the Lobbyist Act.” Although CAPP is a registered lobby body, the Federation conceded, none of the present lobbyists were registered to lobby on behalf of CAPP. The in-house meetings, where government officials hosted government and public relations consultants from Encana Corporation, Canadian Natural Resources Limited and Shell Canada, caused some disquiet for the Federation, causing them to state: “it is our belief that the public interest has been undermined in this case.”
Shale gas extraction and fracking, although occurring at accelerating rates across the three provinces, have escaped much of the public approval process. In British Columbia especially, calls for an independent investigation into the process have gone largely unheeded. Similar demands in Alberta pose no exception.
“The leaked documents from Alberta are fundamentally disturbing, and challenge the core principles of our democracy” says BCTWA coordinator Will Koop. “The elected leaders and executive energy administrators of western Canada are caving into the petroleum industry, and are excluding public stakeholders from the fracking table.”
“If CAPP gets its way, not only will the public suffer from an ill-natured public relations scheme thrust upon it by its own government, but it will have to fund it as well.”
In an interview with DeSmogBlog, Koop went on to say, “I know from experience that the government has been ignoring our calls, calls from other groups, and from independent MLAs to investigate the process. This document and the information that is being leaked is going to help the public understand where the politics are going.”
Part of the problem, says Koop, is that shale gas development tends to occur in remote areas. “I think in part the lack of public engagement has to do with where the fracking is occurring - its quite far removed from where the general public lives and there hasn't been enough critical coverage in the media over a period of a number of years to deal with these concerns.”
“British Columbia is kind of being captured by the politics of Alberta and the issue of fracking hasn't really gotten the proper attention, evaluation and analysis by British Columbians.” The government agencies in BC, continues Koop, are keeping their distance from the issue. The Ministry of Forests, he says, has not completed a thorough analysis of the lands being used and sold through the leasing process run by the BC Oil and Gas Commission.  And the Commission itself is dropping the ball. “What we need is a comprehensive evaluation of what is going on and it isn't there. The Oil and Gas Commission is not doing it and they are the ones with the mandate to do so.”
The 2011 BC Oil and Gas Conference, slated to begin tomorrow, is meant to be hosted in the spirit of “Communities Leading Change,” yet the lack of community participation to date suggests that unconventional gas development is meant to occur with or without public consent. Like other jurisdictions, Canada’s western provinces need to find the community voice necessary to join the discussion and to ensure that more than just industry lobbyists are at the table.


So what does fracturing do? Well just take a look at some of the historical pictures of oilfields where the derricks were built nearly side by side. Fracturing did away with that. It allowed them to tap the gas and/or oil from a large surrounding area. That eliminated the need for many of these wells to be drilled. Fact is that somewhere around 90% of all wells are fractured. Otherwise they would drill every few hundred feet and drilling sights would cover the whole formation. Fracturing is a much cleaner way to do it. Also the cost of oil and gas would be 20 times or more. As for the US we have the technology to break out of our dependence of fossil fuels but we need money to do it. If we continue to send our money over to terrorist Middle East countries then we don’t have the money to subsidize clean energy. Here in the US the citizens have the right to control the minerals. But they sold them and are now having a fit about the companies taking what they have rightfully purchased. As for the people down here they can stop this very simple. Just buy back all the mineral rights they sold.  As for them being misleading that is part of the game. Did the car dealer tell you how much money he would make if he sold you that car? Did he tell you what is actually cost to manufacture the car. Do you realize that the energy companies made it possible for you to post this article?

Energy is so cheap it’s wasted. For example I just went for a 6 hour car ride to get out of town for a few days. Dinner cost me more than the gas did. I drive a small car but on the way I see no end of RVs and trucks and boats burning up cheap energy mostly for fun.

Our energy consumption is way out of whack.

It’s a complex problem because the economy needs to keep itself above water. I don’t pretend to have the answers but we sure do enjoy burning oil.

“Otherwise they would drill every few hundred feet and drilling sights would cover the whole formation. Fracturing is a much cleaner way to do it. “

Much cleaner way? More like more profitable way for the fossil fuel companies to do it. They certainly don’t have to be concerned with any environmental regulations, as they are largely exempt from them.

So the taxpayer & landowners pick up the tab for their mess, while they keep the profit.

“Also the cost of oil and gas would be 20 times or more.”

So it’s obviously not a self sufficient profitable business that would survive on the free market if subsidies were removed & scrutiny was applied to their practices.

“But they sold them and are now having a fit about the companies taking what they have rightfully purchased.”

It’s not as simple as that. The water table is shared by many. Pollution can drift far from the point of origin.

“Do you realize that the energy companies made it possible for you to post this article?”

Whale oil heated homes & provided lighting. Does that mean we should stay indebted to them forever & continue to use their product until it is all gone?


Well that sounds like a brilliant idea we just stop using petroleum completely and just start using whales for fuel! Check this before you go to far with that idea.

“Well that sounds like a brilliant idea we just stop using petroleum completely and just start using whales for fuel!”

Troy, don’t build strawmen, that’s not what i said at all. I’m pointing out that just because fossil fuels power our computers, lights & heating in our homes, doesn’t somehow mean we are indebted to them for the life of that fuel source.

My house incidentally is powered mostly by the sun.


Everybody’s house is powered by the sun. Some of us just use long term solar energy stored by plants from the distant past. Kinda makes you feel warm all over.

Yes……but the difference is, with fossil fuels, they are burnt here on earth & the exhaust is trapped inside the atmosphere of our planet. How dumb is that? What are we still Neanderthals or something? It’s like watching a smoker… burn stuff & WANT the emissions to go into your body?!

Whereas solar is capturing the energy of a celestial body that is doing what it does. The sun leaves no exhaust within our dome.


Wonder how much we will be hearing from the new propaganda kid on the block, the

“Ethical Oil Institute”.

Where’s my name impersonating mate that works for the Alberta tar sands ?


I don’t know if you are posting on behalf of Canada or the US but in the US people own the mineral rights to their land. I speak only for the people in the US. If they don’t it is because they sold them for money. I have to think to myself how greedy of these people? They sold the rights to their minerals so these polluting villains could come and pollute it. Or they bought the land at a cheep discounted price and somebody else kept the rights to let them come pollute it. So if you own the majority of the mineral rights in the “drilling unit” you live in you can control whether they drill on you or not, This all becomes a legal issue that differs from state to state but it all comes out that the people had the power but sold it because they wanted the money, what greed they had!

As for the energy companies I do agree that the government should not subsidize a company that, 1. Has been established for many year and has continuously had large profit margins. 2. Is not taking steps proven, sustainable, and successful steps toward clean energy. Other than getting government subsidies I cannot fault the energy companies for the way they do business. When you look at the fact that just drilling a well even before they fracture it will cost somewhere between 3 and 20 million dollars and there is always a risk that it fails completely. And many do fail! Basically if you want to make money you must risk money. It all comes down to the basics of American Free Enterprise. One of the things that any mineral rights owners in the US can do is to participate in the well. However be aware that if that well fails then you have to pay the cost of that well. If you borrowed that 20 mil then wow! If it comes in then you win. Before you do that you better have good business administration skills and a great deal of drilling and production knowledge. Main idea is that they are taking a risk but they have to have enough volume to absorb the losses so they will try to get rights as cheep as possible. That is just business. You have the right to drill your own wells. Or just buy back them rights you sold for money and stop the drilling. If all the people that wanted to stop the drilling would just pitch in a few thousand they could stop all this in its tracks!

Troy, in Australia here , everyone owns only the first few feet of soil under their property. The crown is able to grant access to mineral rights or exploration to private companies.

If the landowner wants to negotiate a deal with the miners, then that’s their prerogative. If they don’t want exploration carried out on their land….too bad, the crown legislates that exploration can take place with or without their blessing.