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Premier Smith issues statement on rehabilitating orphan wells


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Rehabilitating problematic oil and gas sites: Statement from Premier Smith

Premier Danielle Smith issued the following statement in response to inaccurate claims about the government’s ongoing efforts to rehabilitate Alberta’s oldest and most problematic oil and gas development sites, many of which have flare pits, sumps and other environmental hazards that must be cleaned up promptly:

“Of the approximately 83,000 inactive wells in Alberta, approximately 20,000 were drilled before 1980 and have been inactive for more than 20 years. The number and potential environmental problems posed by these older well sites worsen with time. For example, the number of orphaned wells surged from approximately 705 in 2015 to 5,279 in March 2019, a staggering increase of approximately 648 per cent during that time frame. This failure has led to an environmental hazard for which they provide no realistic solutions to address.

“In response to that failure, the government has introduced regulations mandating oil and gas companies spend a prescribed minimum amount on well site closure and reclamation work. The minimum amount to be spent by industry on this ongoing cleanup work has grown to about $740 million this year and will increase by nine per cent annually in the coming years. This action will fix the orphan well backlog that previous governments failed to address and continue to ignore today.

“In addition, Minister of Energy Peter Guthrie is consulting with landowners, Indigenous groups and industry to design a rehabilitation pilot program to expeditiously clean up these pre-1980 inactive well sites. This consultation process will take several months to complete, after which the cabinet and government caucus will consider the feedback provided and make a final decision on whether and how to proceed with the program.

“The pilot program under consideration would potentially provide a royalty credit on new oil and gas development for energy companies willing to also invest in cleaning up these problematic well sites. The amount spent on cleaning up these sites would have to be over and above the amount these same companies are legally required to spend on regular well site rehabilitation.

“While final decisions have not been made, the total amount of royalty credits proposed to be used for the pilot program is likely to be up to $100 million over three years – after which time, the government would assess the effectiveness of the program and consult again before deciding how best to proceed. It is hoped the pilot program will greatly accelerate the cleanup of the most unpredictable and challenging oil and gas sites in Alberta.

“Bluntly put, these problematic well sites must be promptly and properly cleaned up. The government is designing a pilot for a program that is good for the environment, respects landowners’ rights and the rights of Indigenous groups, and incentivizes industry to simultaneously invest more in both the cleanup of these well sites and new resource development.

“This is the first government to try to find solutions to this problem and we look forward to the results of the consultations.”

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Police looking for these 3 suspects after Super 8 Motel in Innisfail robbed early Monday morning

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Innisfail RCMP investigate robbery

Innisfail Ala. – On May 29, 2023, at approximately 4:10 a.m., the Super 8 motel in Innisfail was the victim of an armed robbery. Three male suspects entered the hotel, two of which had firearms.  Money was demanded from the manager. All three left the motel in a vehicle which is described as:

  • Chevrolet Dura Max truck
  • Sliver
  • Lifted

The suspects are described as:

Suspect #1: Caucasian male, tall and muscular. Wearing jeans and a grey Under Armour hoody. He was carrying a pistol.

Suspect #2: Caucasian male,  short.  Wearing all black. He was carrying a sawed off shotgun

Suspect #3: Caucasian male tall with a chubby belly. He was wearing a grey hoody, jeans and a black ball hat.

If you have information about this incident, please call the Innisfail RCMP at 403-227-3341 or call your local police. If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), by internet, or by SMS (check your local Crime Stoppers for instructions).

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‘Tragic accident’ blamed for recent death of giraffe at Calgary Zoo

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The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo says a “tragic accident” led to the recent death of an adult Masai giraffe. A statement from the zoo says the female giraffe named Emara died May 19 after tangling one of her horns on a cable surrounding her enclosure. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo-Sergei Belskey


The Calgary Zoo says a “tragic accident” led to the recent death of one of its adult Masai giraffes.

A statement from the zoo says a female giraffe named Emara died May 19 after tangling one of her horns in a cable surrounding her enclosure.

The statement says a necropsy revealed Emara fell against the enclosure fence and died almost instantly of a broken neck.

Emara, who had just turned 12, came to Calgary from the San Diego Zoo in 2016.

The statement says she was a treasured member at the zoo and was known for her cautious yet curious personality and gentle nature.

The zoo says it is checking fencing within its African Savannah Yard enclosure to see if changes are needed to better protect the other giraffes and animals that share the space.

Doug Whiteside, interim associate director of animal care and welfare at the zoo, said Emara was in her prime and was in excellent health when she died.

“Major life changes such as this not only affect our people but can affect our animal residents as well,” Whiteside said in the statement Monday.

He said the zoo’s remaining giraffes, Nabo and Moshi, are doing well.

Grief counsellors are being made available to Emara’s caregivers and other zoo staff.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2023.

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