News: Ed on an oilsands mission

Published in the May 8th issue of The Edmonton Sun. News

Ed on an oilsands mission

Edmonton Sun

Premier Ed Stelmach is in the U.S capital to convince American legislators they need Alberta oil.

The premier said Friday he’s already met with U.S. senators in an effort to try and improve the image of Alberta’s oilsands.

He said greener policies by the Obama government could distance the U.S> from Alberta oil — and that could be damaging for both sides.

“We have to ensure that U.S legislators are aware of the impact their decisions have on Alberta and Canadian energy suppliers and the impact it might have on American workers,” he said in a conference call from Washington. “We must ensure that all interests in this legislation understand the risks to their economies.”

“Given the serious economic situation, there is mutual benefit to improve quality of life for both sides,” Stelmach said. “(We talked) about the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are available as a result of a good trading relationship with the U.S.”

But Graham Saul, executive director for Climate Action Network Canada, says the premier’s claims of job loss if America turns away from the oilsands is just a means of “scare-mongering.”

“Oil companies and the governments that work for them have always been scaremongers when it comes to the impacts of transitioning away from dirty, polluting activities,” Saul said.

“What we’re seeing is that Canadian governments, whether Stelmach or (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper, are prepared to go overseas and undermine perfectly legitimate climate policies in the interest of protecting oil.”

Stelmach said the trip to the neighbouring nation’s capital was positive and senators seemed very aware of how vital the Canadian oil supply is.

He also found that many U.S. legislators were impressed with Alberta’s carbon capture and storage plan, which the province has invested $2 billion into, as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, Saul says the government is misrepresenting carbon capture and storage.

“It’s part of a broader attempt to convince people (the oilsands) isn’t as much of a problem that it actually is,” he said.

One in 13 jobs in Alberta is related to energy. As of January 2009, there were 91 active oilsands projects in the province.

In 2008, Alberta alone exported 1.5 million barrels of crude oil each day to the United States.

“Alberta’s future is linked to U.S> fortune and our goal is to drive that point home and I believe we achieved it,” Stelmach said.

Prior to Washington, Stelmach was in Chicago, where he promoted Alberta’s bio-industry competitiveness at the BIO International Convention.

He joined Doug Horner, minister of advanced education and technology, as Alberta signed a memorandum of understanding with the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Office of Science and Technology. It will explore collaborative opportunities in health research and innovation.

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