A letter from Alberta

Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank jpg, SP

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For more than 70 years, Strathcona County has pioneered responsible energy development. We have over $45 billion in investments from world-class companies that directly employ over 7,000 people and indirectly employ 25,000.

To get here took risk, borne of the desire to make a living and contribute to society. It is important to remember that our energy and petrochemical products are essential to every Canadian’s standard of living and quality of life.

Our energy is needed, literally and figuratively, to power the economy. Although renewable energy sources are becoming more affordable, the reality is that sun and wind provide less than 10 per cent of the world’s needs. Alberta’s Energy Diversification Advisory Committee acknowledged these technologies will not be able to fulfill the global demand for energy anytime soon. Traditional energy sources will be needed for a long time.

At the same time, global demand for petrochemical products is rising. Alberta is critical to Canadians’ lives. Our outputs are fundamental to creating thousands of products from computer chips to building materials to life-saving drugs.

Moreover, there is a consensus the earth has warmed in the last century, and human activity is one of the causes. This is why it is important for people to understand our development is responsible.

You may not hear it from our critics but a carbon capture initiative in Strathcona County secured four million tonnes of CO2 this spring alone, preventing it from releasing into the atmosphere. The project stored the most CO2 of any facility in the world — equivalent to taking one million cars off the road in a year.

These days, we are often left to feel second class by being singled out with a ban on the export of our energy products from the northwest coast of our own country. Industry is subject to uncertain federal regulation, grinding pipeline projects to a near-stop. Foreign interests promote their own, less environmentally-friendly energy. Meanwhile, billions of investment dollars are chased away from Canada.

From the environmentalists’ point of view, you may also feel second rate; like no one is listening and like you are screaming into the wind. Conservation is imperative.

Producing and exporting oil from Western Canada requires it to travel is half the distance to Asian markets than our competitors on the Gulf Coast which is a sizable reduction in the world’s carbon footprint. Our labour, human rights, and environmental standards adhere to some of the highest standards worldwide and far surpass those of our competitors. If one is pro-environment, Western Canada should be the preferred supplier.

I believe Albertans contribute more to our country than we take. Each of our citizens contributed over $5,000 to the rest of Canada last year. It is for these reasons I continue to advocate for the petrochemical industry to our provincial and national circles. We are partnering with other communities to bring our unified voice forward and work with the province to obtain results for both our residents and Canadians.

We need a healthy economy to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves, and we also need a healthy planet. The alternative to a practical deal brings all of us down. Yes, protests can continue to become more militant. But regular Canadians who need to feed their families will demand more development, so long as it is responsible — and federal jurisdiction over pipelines can be asserted by using subsection 92(10) of the Constitution Act, 1867 (works for the advantage of Canada). Hard-edged positions will be costly in terms of disunity, less conservation, and reduced economic advancement.

Elements of an agreement (and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to) that would benefit all stakeholders include:

  • streamline regulation and pipeline approvals;
  • end the tanker ban;
  • a percentage of taxes collected on traditional energy exports off new pipelines get paid directly into a fund that provincial governments (where the pipelines cross) can access to invest in conservation-minded technology; and,
  • municipalities and First Nations where pipelines cross receive a tax assessment (many currently receive no benefit)

Going forward, inspired leadership that reflects and supports the lives of hard-working citizens is needed more than ever. It is imperative for Canadian politicians to focus on base values and interests including freedom, fairness, security, conservation, and income. The stakes are too great to do otherwise. The great middle class across our country is being negatively impacted.

Westerners and Albertans were gifted by the exemplary leadership of Peter Lougheed. Our identity of independence, self-reliance, and exceptionalism crystallized under his governance. And from Rutherford to Klein to Notley, our leaders have never stood for second-best, and neither should anyone in this country.

This column was written by Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank. The views expressed are his own and are not expressed on behalf of council. You can follow Mayor Frank on Twitter @RodFrank12 or on Facebook at Rod Frank on LinkedIn @rfrank.ca. He can be reached at 780-464-8000 or rod.frank@strathcona.ca.