STAND­ING UP FOR OIL, GAS

Alta. min­is­ter makes case

Vancouver Sun - - FRONT PAGE - CLAU­DIA CATTANEO Fi­nan­cial Post ccat­ta­neo@na­tion­al­post.com

Fed­eral ef­forts to build greater con­sen­sus on a long-term en­ergy strat­egy for Canada met pro­vin­cial re­al­ity Thurs­day, as Al­berta warned about the dan­gers of “the pen­du­lum swing­ing too far” against oil and gas, and Bri­tish Columbia stuck to its guns in op­pos­ing the pro­posed Trans Moun­tain oil pipe­line while the prov­ince piv­ots to­ward green en­ergy.

In a panel dis­cus­sion at a con­fer­ence con­vened by Jim Carr, the fed­eral nat­u­ral re­sources min­is­ter, Al­berta En­ergy Min­is­ter Marg McCuaig-Boyd urged cau­tion about how a green tran­si­tion is man­aged.

“It’s im­por­tant for us to keep peo­ple work­ing and have a strong econ­omy,” McCuaig-Boyd told the meet­ing. “This is im­por­tant for us be­cause good jobs and eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity un­der­write our abil­ity to tran­si­tion to a low car­bon econ­omy. A strong econ­omy gives us ca­pac­ity to in­vest in re­new­ables, funds green in­fra­struc­ture and funds in­no­va­tion.”

Al­berta’s NDP govern­ment is do­ing its part to help with the en­ergy tran­si­tion by putting a price on car­bon, phas­ing out coal, cap­ping oil­sands emis­sions while still grow­ing pro­duc­tion, said McCuaig-Boyd, one of the few voices at the meet­ing defending Canada’s oil sec­tor and its work­force.

Carr is host­ing a two-day con­ver­sa­tion to “cre­ate a long-term vi­sion for Canada’s en­ergy fu­ture” with heavy in­put from academia, In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, the pub­lic and green ad­vo­cates.

“Look­ing for­ward, it’s im­por­tant to not let the pen­du­lum swing the other way, over­bur­den­ing in­dus­try, cre­at­ing un­cer­tainty,” McCuaig-Boyd said.

Those con­di­tions have re­sulted in a long list of oil and gas projects be­ing can­celled, in­clud­ing Tran­sCanada Corp.’s En­ergy East pipe­line last week af­ter the fed­eral govern­ment ex­panded its re­view to in­clude up­stream and down­stream cli­mate change im­pacts.

McCuaig-Boyd said she re­mains con­fi­dent the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line between Al­berta and the B.C. coast “will be built in good time, which will be very good for Al­berta and for Canada.”

But she also said good reg­u­la­tory re­forms are needed to avoid scar­ing away in­vestors. “We don’t want it to be so over­lapped that what we do in Al­berta is be­ing du­pli­cated fed­er­ally, and then it’s way too long and leaves those peo­ple be­hind.”

Carr said the fed­eral govern­ment con­tin­ues to sup­port Trans Moun­tain, which it ap­proved last year.

“Ninety nine per cent of Cana­dian ex­ports of oil and gas go to the U.S.” he said. “That means we have to ex­pand our ex­port mar­kets, and our most ob­vi­ous ex­pan­sion is to Asia. There is this in­sa­tiable ap­petite for Cana­dian prod­uct.”

But the project is be­fore the Fed­eral Court of Ap­peal in B.C., where the pro­vin­cial govern­ment, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, and Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties are chal­leng­ing its per­mit.

B.C. En­ergy Min­is­ter Michelle Mun­gall said any re­source de­ci­sion needs the con­sent of all First Na­tions, “and as it stands right now with the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line, they don’t have 100 per cent from all First Na­tions who have been im­pacted.”

“First Na­tions in the Lower Main­land have ex­pressed op­po­si­tion to this pipe­line, and so it’s in­cum­bent on the feds to be work­ing with First Na­tions in terms of what their con­cerns are, rather than just bar­relling through,” Mun­gall told re­porters.

She would not say whether full con­sent is re­quired from First Na­tions on the pipe­line route, or through­out B.C., or in the Lower Main­land. “We have ju­rispru­dence on that,” she said. “We have treaty rights on this and we have a lot of le­gal­i­ties on this.”

She said her govern­ment re­mains sup­port­ive of the liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas sec­tor, which she said through ex­ports can help Asian economies re­duce their de­pen­dence on coal and cut car­bon emis­sions.

While two big LNG projects were can­celled since the elec­tion of her NDP govern­ment, Mun­gall blamed the de­ci­sions on low com­mod­ity prices and said the LNG in­dus­try re­mains alive in her prov­ince.

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