Notley focuses on energy sector in AUMA speech, favours at least 1 new pipeline

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was in Calgary Thursday to address municipal leaders across the province.

CALGARY – Premier Rachel Notley was in Calgary Thursday to address municipal leaders from across the province at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) annual convention, warning of tough economic times, but promising provincial support to local communities.

Alberta’s premier also said she wants at least one new “drama-free” pipeline built that will carry the province’s oil to new markets. She told delegates to the AUMA she plans to achieve that through ongoing discussions with British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. It is essential for Alberta, with its reliance on resource revenue, to get access to overseas customers, she said.

Canada’s premiers signed a Canadian Energy Strategy in July to get energy products to global buyers.

“This … strategy will also help … as we address a key challenge facing the energy industry in this province, which is the need to improve our access to new world markets, which means essentially getting at least one new pipeline built to tidewater,” Notley told the association.

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She later told reporters she has never suggested she is opposed to pipelines as a general rule, but has never advocated for the Keystone XL line through the United States, because there was little chance of influencing American decision-makers. It also goes against the NDP’s goal to keep domestic jobs.

“Keystone is about providing massive capacity to get bitumen to a competing refinery hub … a refining hub that competes with any potential development that we could hope for here in Alberta or in Canada.”

WATCH: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks about the challenges Alberta faces in this difficult economy while speaking to the AUMA.

Notley told the packed house her government is focusing on the economy and the economic challenges municipalities are facing.

“Supporting existing oil sands projects, establishing new opportunities in our energy economy, and pioneering advanced technologies — all this requires investment on a large scale. So under our leadership, Alberta’s abundant oil and gas reserves will remain wide open to investment,” said Notley.

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She spent time highlighting the competitive tax regime in Alberta and the fact the province has the lowest level of provincial debt in the country.

She stressed the need for Alberta to “clean up its environmental act,” and touched on the royalty review.

With oil prices currently under US$50 a barrel, the Alberta government has faced criticism for moving forward with a royalty review even though rates wouldn’t be affected until the end of next year.

Notley defended the move in her speech as necessary for the government to collect and save an “appropriate share” of Alberta’s resource wealth.

“The royalty review is about modernizing and updating our system, so it fits our future energy industry instead of its past,” she said.

“This review is about ensuring that as prices recover, we collect and begin to save an appropriate share of our own resource wealth in the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund for the future of our children and our grandchildren.”

Notley expects to have the review completed by the end of the year.

WATCH: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks about the environment and how Alberta needs to find more eco friendly ways or eventually face restrictions imposed upon them.

Notley didn’t provide details on the upcoming October budget, but said key issues will include stabilizing public services since the cuts made to healthcare and education, returning to fiscal stability and prioritizing entrepreneurs in Alberta.

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She said a reinvestment in infrastructure is under consideration as the budget is prepared, and pointed to Alberta’s health, flood and transit systems.

“We are looking carefully for useful, well-thought-out ‘shovel-ready’ initiatives that make sense to green light this fall in the light of economic circumstances,” said Notley. “Then there will be an additional sum that we will be looking at investing in our province’s infrastructure over the course of a five-year capital budget.”

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With files from Global’s Jenna Freeman