This letter appeared in the Edmonton Journal Thursday, April 10 in response to an op-ed that appeared April 7, written by Joyce Hildebrand of Alberta Wilderness Association, a member of the Suffield Coalition.
Re: "EnCana drilling plans endanger rare Suffield wildlife, group fears: Federal decision would allow 1,275 wells in national wildlife reserve," by Joyce Hildebrand, Looking Ahead, April 7.
For more than three decades, EnCana Corporation has employed responsible environmental practices to produce natural gas in the Suffield area.
We've worked with ranchers and Canada's military to protect the plants and wildlife in this prairie environment. EnCana was a strong supporter of the establishment of the Suffield National Wildlife Area. All groups involved at that time agreed that shared use of the area would continue for all stakeholders, including EnCana.
The extra care taken by EnCana during more than 30 years of operations that have seen hundreds of low-impact shallow gas wells installed at Suffield helped make this designation possible.
EnCana is now seeking regulatory approval to continue developing this natural gas resource to heat Canadians' homes.
Hildebrand's opinion piece may leave readers with the impression that EnCana's operations in the Suffield National Wildlife Area will have a negative impact on habitat, despite a recent environmental impact study indicating otherwise.
As part of our proposed project development, EnCana was asked to undergo the most rigorous form of environmental assessment under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
In doing so, EnCana retained expert, independent consultants knowledgeable about the native prairie ecosystem. These independent environmental and wildlife specialists determined EnCana's project will have an insignificant impact on the wildlife and vegetation of the region. Their conclusions will be tested and addressed at the joint review panel hearing to take place this October.
EnCana wouldn't consider this application to continue operations within the Suffield National Wildlife Area without a thorough environmental assessment and without being confident that our activities will not harm the habitat.
EnCana looks forward to the joint federal-provincial hearing pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, as it will provide us with the opportunity to address concerns from groups such as the Alberta Wilderness Association.