June 20, 2006

Public Engagement – The Case of Coalbed Methane

Calgary, Alberta

The existing conditions for civic deliberation and participation are far from ideal. Political spin and media spectacle edge out honest debate in public life. On issues where collaborative effort is needed, the polarising climate has resulted in a cynical and disengaged citizenry and in shrill shouting matches amongst activists and partisans.

Public engagement offers an alternative, in which citizens engage issues as well as each other, and leaders are given the chance to listen. New ideas emerge, new plans for action are hammered out, and new collaborations are then established.

Coalbed methane (CBM) is an ideal subject for public engagement. CBM is a relatively unexplored fossil fuel in Alberta. Its production is expected to increase rapidly from 150 million cubic feet per day in 2005 to 1.4 billion cubic feet per day by 2010, offering opportunities for economic growth and employment amongst other benefits. However, CBM development raises the possibility of a number of environmental issues including concentrated land use disruptions, disposal of 'waste' water and the risk of methane migration into water supplies and soils. It also raises broader social, political and moral issues.



Doreen Rempel, Community and Regulatory Affairs Coordinator
Quick Silver Resources (formerly MGV Energy)
Calgary, Alberta

Tweeti Blanchett, Rancher, Business Woman
Aztec, New Mexico, USA

Karen Campbell, Staff Counsel and Director of BC
Policy, Pembina Institute and Author
'Coalbed Methane-A Citizen's Guide'
West Coast Environmental Law
Vancouver, BC

Les Stehmeier, Research Scientist
NOVA Chemical
Calgary, Alberta


Michael Ekelund, Board Member

Synergy Alberta, Edmonton Alberta Department of Energy

Dave Brown, Director of the Board
Synergy Alberta