Alberta does a selling job on oil sandsCanada
The Toronto Star
Alberta's Premier attempted to shift the agenda of the annual premiers meeting in his province's favour yesterday with a public-relations offensive on Alberta's energy production and environmental credentials.
His campaign came the same day environmental groups assailed Alberta and Saskatchewan as the environmental "laggards" in Canada -- along with the federal government-- for failing to adopt more aggressive climate-change initiatives.
Ed Stelmach unloaded a flashy, comprehensive information package to other premiers and national media about the economic importance of oil-sands production to the economy and what Alberta is doing to reduce its environmental footprint on land, air and water.
The multimedia blitz includes CDs about "Alberta's clean energy future" and "a conversation on oil sands and the environment."
There's also information on the province's $2-billion commitment to carbon capture and storage and its regulations surrounding tailings ponds and water usage in the oil sands, the second-largest proven oil reserves in the world.
"It's an excellent opportunity with all of my provincial colleagues to once again share information," Mr. Stelmach said. "It's all about jobs and it's all about the tax revenue that will flow to the federal government and the provinces."
The province published a $7,000 ad in yesterday's Winnipeg Free Press that encourages Canadians to embrace the oil sands and stresses the Alberta government has regulations to protect land, water and people.
Energy development is not on the official agenda at the Council of the Federation meeting, where finding consensus on sustaining economic growth is the top concern among premiers. Other issues, however, such as the federal census fight and provincial funding for controversial multiple sclerosis trials, are stealing some of the spotlight.
Mr. Stelmach is expected to lead a quick discussion among Canada's 13 provincial and territorial premiers about the economic impact of oil-sands development across the country.
The information package notes oil-sands development is expected to generate more than $307-billion in tax revenue across Canada over the next 25 years.
Mr. Stelmach said he is buoyed by the fact most premiers have been speaking positively about the importance of the oil sands, including Quebec's Jean Charest, who has expressed concerns in the past about the greenhouse gas emissions from the northern Alberta deposits.
Mr. Charest said his comments, while in Copenhagen last December at an international climate change conference, were "spun" by other governments to suggest he was attacking the oil sands.
"Totally false," Mr. Charest said about his purported attacks on the resource and Alberta, adding he wants to see all provinces pull their weight on slashing carbon emissions.
Down the street from the historic Fort Garry Hotel, where the premiers are meeting, the Climate Action Network Canada -- a coalition of environmental groups -- released its list of best and worst provincial moves on climate change.
Alberta and Saskatchewan, they said, are environmental "laggards" and responsible for an increasing proportion of Canada's industrial emissions due to their energy development.
"We're seeing a very similar dynamic in Saskatchewan and Alberta as what we've seen federally," said Dale Marshall with the David Suzuki Foundation.
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