PO BLOG

What is CAEPLA?

Published in January, 2019

Landowners want in on energy sector opportunities

By Dave Core

The Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations, CAEPLA, is Canada’s leading national grassroots property rights organization.

Landowner-driven, CAEPLA advocates on behalf of farmers, ranchers and other rural landowners to promote property rights. We also represent directly affected landowner groups in negotiations for mutually beneficial business agreements on linear projects with pipeline and power line companies. In addition, we hear regularly these days from a growing number of urban residents concerned with family farms, acreages and other projects as development encroaches on them.

We are pro-development and, like all of you, we believe protection of family, business and land values comes first. We believe that if those values are respected, then local pipeline safety and environmental issues are also addressed as a consequence. This, in turn, will help rebuild public confidence in the safety of the energy transport sector.

Since our early beginnings, CAEPLA and our founding landowner directors have attended many regulatory hearings and negotiated many precedent-setting win-win contractual agreements for landowners and pipeline companies on projects across Canada, from coast to coast. A few well-known major projects are the Enbridge Southern Lights, Alberta Clipper, Line 3 Replacement projects and the TransCanada Keystone, Keystone XL and Groundbirch pipelines in Western Canada. We’ve worked on pipeline and power projects in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick.

CAEPLA exists to advocate for the interests of landowners and believes that a greater respect for property rights is the best way to address pressing issues such as safety and environmental stewardship.

On behalf of landowners like you across the country, CAEPLA and our member associations have actively done research on pipeline issues for more than 20 years and at great cost — millions of dollars, in fact.

Our organizations have hired engineering and legal experts to produce evidence on how pipelines impact landowners from a safety and environmental perspective. That research has included pipeline loading and crossing issues, corrosion, abandonment, stress corrosion cracking, decommissioning, construction practices, depth of cover, thickness of pipe, crop loss, historical contamination and remediation, abandonment funding, biosecurity protocols, soil admixing and remediation, responses to NEB LMCI, legislative change … and the list goes on and on. This research and study have been done to solve the sorts of problems you, the pipeline landowner, have brought to our attention day after day for almost a quarter century now.

More and more, today’s property owners are thinking like business people. The question asked repeatedly is why should our businesses, when imposed upon by a pipeline, be exempt from contract law and the courts that every other business in this country enjoy?

And more and more, the conclusion seems to be that the regulatory regime, its administrative law, its issuing of Right of Entry orders, is the problem.

Right of Entry distorts and disrupts the natural relationship between landowners and industry, between tenant and landlord, if you will, between prospective business partners.

Right of Entry orders also signal to the public that agreements are not exactly voluntary, and that industry is not acting in good faith and can’t be trusted.

Today, we are also witnessing the alienation of the public from the regulator, with trust in the National Energy Board (NEB) at an all-time low. Regulators are seen either as serving industry or government, or as being too remote or slow moving to address issues in a meaningful way.

Worse yet, many now see the regulatory regime succumbing to the wishes — if not yet outright capture — of interests who would be happy to suspend our prosperous energy resource economy altogether — and it will be farmers and ranchers and others who have invested their lives in the land who suffer first.

We need to depoliticize and “debureaucratize” the process. We need to liberalize the system to provide landowners and industry the freedom to negotiate win-win business agreements on a level playing field.

Indeed, we are already seeing industry lean toward this way of thinking. Pipeline companies are beginning to realize that in order to secure the “social license” they need to win approval for their projects, they must engage directly and constructively with landowners and the public.

As an example of this new thinking, and how landowners and pipeline companies can work together like the participants and prospective partners in any other industry would, we can point to our recent dealings with Enbridge.

That company has recently agreed to work with CAEPLA to produce much-needed research on the pressing issues of pipeline decommissioning and corrosion.

Another benefit of the common ground we have found with Enbridge is the creation of a precedent-setting settlement agreement on the Line 3 Replacement from Hardisty, Alta., across Saskatchewan to Gretna, Man., along with a farmer-drafted clubroot biosecurity protocol, sure to become the industry standard across Canada.

We believe Enbridge’s new working relationship with CAEPLA demonstrates a newfound respect for landowners’ property rights and environmental stewardship, and signals a sincere commitment to safer pipelines. This is a trend that CAEPLA’s member pipeline landowners are ready to embrace. We believe it will result in safer, more environmentally friendly pipelines.

Yet, many challenges remain. Important landowner issues still need to be addressed. But we are committed to working on these issues incrementally, one by one, to achieve win-win business agreements.

A tag line I use to sign off emails I send on behalf of CAEPLA is “Landowners Want In.” What this means is landowners want in on the opportunities presented by a prosperous energy transport sector. We are confident we can achieve this, with the support of conscientious landowners like you. 

Dave Core is founding president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowners Associations.  Dave has been active in the pipeline landowners movement for nearly three decades.  His family farms near Sarnia, Ontario, and he has run a number of businesses since graduating from agricultural college.