STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Stelmach goes to bat for dirty oil

Posted by mhudema on June 26, 2008

Thu, June 26, 2008
Stelmach will go to bat for our oil in U.S.
By JEREMY LOOME, LEGISLATURE BUREAU

It’s in the middle of the mountains and two national parks, which suggests Jackson, Wyo., is a great place to talk environment.

It’s also a potential spot for Premier Ed Stelmach to pick up some allies, starting Sunday, as he meets with 15 Western U.S. governors during their annual get-together.

He’ll need them as his PR campaign continues against U.S. environmental opposition to the province’s so-called “dirty” oilsands.

While the trip has been scheduled for months, it also comes just days after a spokesman for Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama suggested future U.S. use of oil from Alberta’s oilsands is an “open question.”

Stelmach said he “will take every opportunity I can get to tell Alberta’s story and emphasize that we are a safe, secure and growing source of energy for the U.S.”

Alberta isn’t getting the credit it is due for developing environmental policy and controls, the premier will tell the governors.

“I want to reassure Americans that Alberta does not develop our resources at the expense of the environment,” he said.

He has some history on his side; the key western states already have a year-old partnership in place to increase electrical generation in the region, some of which is expected to rely on coal-fired electrical plants, which have also been criticized despite advancements in so-called clean coal technology

Stelmach called it “an ideal opportunity to sit down and talk about opportunities and ideas together.”

The premier isn’t just dealing with federal-level intervention. U.S. mayors at a delegation on Monday passed a resolution to avoid buying municipal oil supplies from “dirty” oil suppliers, singling out Canada’s contribution to greenhouse gas production.

That’s despite the fact that by the time it reaches that level of consumer, they will likely never be able to tell it apart from oil from elsewhere, critics have noted, and the fact that Alberta has other countries it can sell the oil to.

And it’s not as if Obama’s attack was a definitive position, noted Stelmach spokesman Tom Olson. Obama’s position is based on whether technology advances enough to mitigate the carbon-producing nature of oilsands extraction.

“That’s exactly the approach that Alberta is already taking in our commitment to carbon capture and storage as playing a major role,” he said.

“But clearly, there will be an awful lot of representatives there from western states and there is clearly a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there about what’s going on in Alberta.”

The environmental lobby Greenpeace, which supports an immediate moratorium on new oilsands developments, called the focus on future development of carbon capture “unfortunate.”

The government is “putting all their eggs in the carbon capture basket, and it’s a basket that just has so many holes in it,” said spokesman Mike Hudema.

Liberal critic Bridget Pastoor, the Lethbridge East MLA, said she hopes Stelmach will “show some leadership, and make it clear that his government is willing to do more to protect the environment in Alberta than a $25-million ‘greenwashing.'”

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