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Big Oil-Funded Meeting of Canadian Energy Ministers Ends: Did They Get What They Paid For?

2011/07/20

From CBC.ca:

Canada’s energy ministers ended two days of annual talks Tuesday in the Kananaskis resort in the Alberta Rockies announcing they have agreed to work together on opening up new markets to Canadian crude oil.

They also agreed to work on streamlining the process for approving energy projects.

In a communiqué, the ministers said they also aim to improve energy efficiency, energy information and electricity reliability.

In an admirable show of independence, Ontario’s energy minister refused to support the final communiqué issued, because it referred to the Alberta tar sands as “sustainable and responsible”. It appears that Big Oil money talks but not everybody listened this weekend.  The McGuinty government is responsible for the visionary Green Energy Act that focuses on jumpstarting renewable energy production in this province.  Ontario plans to keep up the focus on energy policy, particularly renewables, at the upcoming Premier’s meeting in B.C:

“For years, if not decades, governments in Ottawa of all political stripes have sought to find ways to transfer Ontario tax dollars into Western Canada to support the oil and gas industry,” said Mr. McGuinty, when asked in Oakville, Ont., about his views on the meeting.

“Well, how about using Canadian tax dollars to support clean energy industry that is taking place, that is developing – we’re at the forefront in North America, we’re creating thousands of jobs, we’re reducing our contribution to climate change. We’re shutting down coal-fired plants.”

Mr. McGuinty said these are “difficult things” to do. “What we’re saying to the feds is, ‘Hey, you want to help support energy superpowers, you’ve got to take a look at the entire country. Take a look at the contribution that each province is making, and I think we’re making a powerful contribution.’ ” Read more at the Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile, First Nations and environmental groups are dismayed at the official support of the energy ministers for the Alberta tar sands, the dirtiest project on earth. Ed Whittingham of the Alberta-based Pembina Institute wrote:

“While the ministers expressed interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy production, their decision to call Canada’s oilsands a ‘sustainable’ source of energy for the world raises serious questions about that goal.

“Non-renewable, high-carbon sources of energy are by their very nature unsustainable. Canada needs to plan for a transition away from depending on exports of such sources, like the oilsands.

“A national energy framework needs to seize the economic opportunities offered by clean energy and achieve Canada’s climate targets. Unfortunately, the documents released today failed to make either addressing climate change or supporting renewable energy a priority.

“Before their next meeting, Canada’s energy ministers need to outline a national energy framework built on meaningful dialogue with citizens. An effective framework must also include a price on greenhouse gas pollution as a central feature.”

Meanwhile, while Canadian policy formally ignores the reality of climate change, the worst drought in half a century continues to kill Somalis by the tens of thousands,  the UN Security Council considers a proposal to form a climate change peacekeeping force, and the ongoing heat wave across much of North America kills at least 13 people in the American heartland.

More links:

Ontario Refuses To Call Alberta’s Oil Sands “Sustainable and Responsible”

Les écologistes pas convaincus

Pembina Reacts To the Outcome of Energy Ministers’ Meeting in Kananaskis

Ontario Tax Dollars Supporting Energy in the West, McGuinty Says

Energy Ministers to Seek New Oil Markets

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 2011/07/21 11:01 am

    At the two day federal provincial energy conference in July, Canada’s energy ministers agreed on the broad strokes of a plan to make Canada a dirty energy superpower. The plan is to squeeze as many petrodollars as they can out of the tar sands which some have described as the most environmentally destructive project on earth. To continue reading go to http://bit.ly/mYuolp

    • Christine permalink*
      2011/07/21 1:41 pm

      Thanks, Matt, great summary – although as I pointed out in my comment, Brad Duguid, Ontario’s energy minister, was at the meeting in Kanasaskis.

  2. 2011/07/21 6:28 pm

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Here is an article from the Edmonton Journal which clearly indicates that the Ontario and BC ministers did not attend. (This was also reitered in a Vancouver Sun article).

    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Ministers+pledge+boost+Canada+energy+exports/5131430/story.html

    However, other sources like the Globe and Mail and CTV support your contention.

    Thanks again!

  3. Christine permalink*
    2011/07/21 9:20 pm

    I can see why the confusion, Matt. It seems that Quebec is now distancing itself from the communique as well – http://bit.ly/qL6dyL

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