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Alberta Government Has a Role in Keystone XL Pipeline Rejection

Posted on January 18, 2012 by Richard Einarson

US President Obama’s decision to turn down the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal was a disappointment to many, including the citizens ofAlberta. Pipelines are an integral part of marketing our natural resource and this decision points to problems with the overall process.

The decision is not a surprise except, perhaps to the Governments of Canada and Alberta. TransCanada Corporation even realized the route was wrong eventually and announced a different route right after the deferral announcement by the U.S. Government a few months ago.

Canada’s government seems to be out of touch with the Obama Administration and the Alberta Government is not engaged enough about telling the full story of oil sands importance to continental energy security. This is a wake up call to our provincial government who are no longer in touch with Albertans as well as the Canadian government who no longer understand American politics.

As for the oil sands industry, they have to realize that they must do more than focus on the economics of their leases and markets. They have to learn to be environmental stewards. The environment is not a cost of doing oil sands business. It is integral to the business. The oilsands contain one of the world’s largest oil reserves and with a more stringent regulatory oversight and enforcement process Alberta could improve our environmental conditions while simultaneously expanding our economy.

This week we are reaping the effects of not doing a very good job on oversight and regulation, nor of championing our ability to develop our oilsands in a more responsible and sustainable manner. Because a certain segment of the American population were able to overly influence the discussion regarding responsible development of our energy resources – and the P.C.’s in Alberta did little to respond – we have just witnessed a pipeline project being rejected because of our poor provincial reputation.  Pipelines, when built properly and subjected to third-party inspection are a safe and responsible way of transporting energy.

Currently, too much of the environmental oversight is left to the companies building and running the pipelines. There is a stronger role for government in enforcing and ensuring responsible stewardship of our resources. Energy and the environment are two sides of the same coin and we cannot and should not separate the impact of one from the other. If we don’t recognize, respond and adapt to this reality we will soon start to see that the coin itself – our economy – will be threatened.

Alberta’s energy sector has created immense value for our province and prosperity for our people. This can continue only if our energy sector adapts to keep pace with the demands of a rapidly changing world.

Albertans own the oil sands. The Alberta Party gets this. It’s time for a new, centrist alternative to our current government, one that gets this as well.

The Alberta Party supports the development of a pipeline corridor and a west coast liquid and natural gas facility. This development will allow access to markets for our oil and gas production while also honouring and preserving our unique natural ecosystem.

There are lessons here for the proposed Gateway pipeline too. We need to diversify markets and raise the bar on meeting ecological and social concerns so that we are able to continue to grow our economy in a responsible, sustainable manner for the future.

The Alberta Party has four energy priorities that include building on our strengths in oil and gas while reducing GHG emissions and working to transition to renewable energy. We balance this with a recognition and commitment to environmental priorities that include recognizing our responsibilities for water management, land management, air quality and climate. The Alberta Party energy policy is available here.

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