Calgary Herald

Notley goes to D.C. for first time as premier


In what is almost a rite of passage for Alberta premiers, Rachel Notley will head to Washington, D.C. next week in her first official visit to the United States capital since taking office.

And while the Keystone XL pipeline — a preoccupat­ion of her Tory predecesso­rs — is no longer on the agenda, a big part of the NDP premier’s task will centre on defending Alberta’s environmen­tal reputation.

The official itinerary and cost of the trip won’t be released until meetings are finalized next week, but Notley will leave Wednesday and return Friday, said her press secretary, Cheryl Oates.

Oates said the mission will be focused on economic diversific­ation and the government’s ambitious climate leadership plan, which includes a carbon tax incoming in 2017, an accelerate­d phase-out of coal-fired electricit­y and a cap on oilsands emissions.

“We feel like we’ve made incredible strides and that plan we put forward erases any doubt about our environmen­tal record,” she said.

“That said, not everyone knows the details of that plan and so it’s important for us to get out there and talk about it.”

PC premiers such as Alison Redford and Jim Prentice used their D.C. visits to tout Alberta’s carbon levy on large emitters — which is being doubled by the NDP — as they lobbied for Keystone.

That project won’t be on the table this time, however.

Keystone is intended to ship Alberta oilsands crude to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico but it aroused major opposition from American environmen­talists because of the significan­t carbon emissions related to oilsands production.

The NDP government opposed the pipeline because they believed it would detract from upgrading opportunit­ies in the province.

Last fall, President Barack Obama announced he would not issue a permit for the pipeline, though its proponent, Calgarybas­ed TransCanad­a Corp., has said it may bring the project forward again under a new administra­tion.

David Manning, Alberta’s representa­tive to Washington under Redford, said Notley is a “great messenger” for the idea of reconcilin­g environmen­tal action with a vibrant resource economy and should find a receptive audience in many Washington circles.

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