By Trevor Busch
Southern Alberta Newspapers
The federal government’s new regulatory framework for capping emissions in the oil and gas sector is simply another slap in the face to one of Alberta’s key industries, argues Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter.
“This is just one more thing that the federal government is doing without consultation with Alberta or Saskatchewan, or the provinces that are going to be affected by it. Consultation is absolutely necessary. This is going to be affecting us. And when they don’t consult, what does that say about our Confederation and about how they feel about Alberta? I think that it shows their complete disdain for Alberta. I don’t want to use inflammatory terms, but that is the only thing I can think of when they first of all, don’t consult with us, and then go to an international event (COP28) to make the announcement. So most people – I don’t care which side of the spectrum you’re on – if you’re Albertan, or from Saskatchewan, I don’t see how you can be pleased with these guys doing this.”
Released last month, the feds contend a national cap-and-trade system will set emissions limits without restricting production, a proposition Hunter believes is not feasible.
“Show me how you can do that,” questioned Hunter. “The reality is that even their numbers show that it’s going to be a production cap. So for them to say that, I don’t know how they’re rationalizing it, because their internal documents show that there’s going to be a production cap, they’re going to restrict to 1.2 million barrels a day. This is the sort of thing where they can say one thing, but even their own data shows that it’s going to equate to a production cap.”
The framework proposes to cap 2030 emissions at 35-38 per cent below 2019 levels in order to reach the government’s goal of reducing emissions in the oil and gas sector to net zero by 2050. Currently, Canada’s oil and gas sector is responsible for 28 per cent of total emissions. Forthcoming draft regulations are expected to be released in mid-2024.
Those affected will include liquefied natural gas producers, conventional and offshore oil, oil sands producers and natural gas processors.
Hunter pointed out what he believes a production cap will mean in terms of Alberta’s industry.
“When you have a production cap – remember that Alberta and Canada as a whole have benefited greatly from our resource development, especially in oil and gas. And this has benefited in terms of our ability to build hospitals, schools, roads, every kind of infrastructure you can imagine, it’s been built out because we have royalties that we receive from these non-renewable resources. So when you’ve put a cap on that, and reduce the amount that we’re actually able to produce here, that’s going to affect our bottom line, the government and our ability to be able to perform and provide those services to Albertans. So that’s something that Albertans need to remember. I certainly think people in Canada need to recognize that as well, when the rest of Canada is looking like they’re going to be going into a recession, and Alberta is going to be growing. And in terms of their numbers, we’re certainly helping the rest of Canada in terms of a strong economy.”
Hunter reserved some ire for Steven Guilbeault, and was critical of how the framework announcement was originally made in Dubai.
“And so I just don’t understand why they’re doing it. Well, I do understand – Steven Guilbeault (federal environment minister) is certainly one of those types of environmentalists that are not ‘reasonable’ environmentalists. I consider myself a reasonable environmentalist, I believe in protecting our green spaces and protecting our planet for our future children and grandchildren. But Guilbeault is the type of person that when he was there (COP28) he was actually arguing to completely take away oil and gas. He said, ‘We want to move away from that’.”
The world will continue to need oil and gas in the future, argues Hunter, who advocated for a more measured approach to emissions from the federal government.
“Now think about that kind of radicalism. Environmental radicalism – take away oil and gas – what would we do, where would we be? Where would these countries, like emerging markets and Third World countries, be if we take away oil and gas? That is their cheapest and most effective way of being able to provide electricity, heat, and their economy to keep it going in terms of mobility. And we know that, and yet they’re talking about taking away, when we’ve already shown that we can do carbon capture and storage, that we can actually take out the carbon and store it. So I just don’t understand. What’s the big push?”