CALGARY – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley tried to reassure bigwigs in the energy industry Wednesday that her government will strive to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets built despite political opposition in British Columbia.
Speaking at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary, Notley said the Alberta NDP government has little time for conversations that seek to shut down the oilsands and threaten jobs in her province.
“An effective climate plan has to pay attention to working people,” said Notley.
“Families that are out of work and stressed about how the mortgage is going to get paid do not have a heck of a lot of time for climate change action.”
Her comments come as the B.C. NDP, supported by an alliance with the Green party, moves closer to potentially forming government and bringing to a halt Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion project with whatever means it has available.
Both parties have opposed the pipeline over concerns of potential oil spills in the ocean and along the route, as well as the higher environmental footprint of oilsands crude.
Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson, speaking on a panel later in the day, suggested government could enable First Nation investment in the project as a way to help close the indigenous prosperity gap.
“Government has to look at that, they need to look at what they can do to enable those kinds of investments, either through loan guarantees or the sort,” he said.
Anderson said he worked quietly for some time to try and build support for direct indigenous investment, but it never materialized because of capacity constraints.
“I would welcome the opportunity to have some First Nation investment,” said Anderson.
“At the core of it though, for that kind of ownership, for that kind of meaningful investment in resource development, the nations need capacity.”
Anderson’s comments come as the Trans Mountain pipeline grows as a wedge issue in Canadian politics.
The project has pitted the Alberta and B.C. parties against each other, and has become a lightning-rod issue in the federal NDP leadership race.
Notley said she was reassured by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 2 that the federal government remains committed to seeing the project though, while she believes the project entirely falls within her party’s values.
“I believe it is absolutely, fully within the wheelhouse of the NDP to focus on job preservation and job creation, always, as we work on the environment. To do one without the other puts both in peril.”
Notley’s remarks came shortly after Paul Fulton, president of the Canadian division of Norway’s Statoil, said that while there will be growth in demand in the near term, some oil will have to stay in the ground if any climate goals are to be met.
“There is no doubt that there will be stranded assets,” he said. “We will not produce all of the oil and gas that we have discovered today.”
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version based on Notley’s comments said she spoke with Trudeau on Friday. An official with her office she in fact spoke with Trudeau on June 2.