Alberta premier says no time for oilsands shutdown talk as she pushes pipelines

A file photo of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
A file photo of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

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.

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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.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain opponents can’t hold Alberta economy hostage: Rachel Notley

After her speech, Notley said it is too early to speculate what tactics the B.C. NDP and Greens could employ to stop the project.

West Coast Environmental Law, however, released a brief Wednesday outlining potential measures, including requiring free, prior and informed consent from First Nations for the project, prohibiting any provincial approvals or permits, and adding further processes and conditions related to matters within provincial jurisdiction.

READ MORE: BC NDP and Greens to push legal challenge of Trans Mountain pipeline

Notley spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 2, where she said he once again assured her that the federal government is committed to moving forward with the pipeline.

The Trans Mountain pipeline has become a wedge issue in NDP politics in Canada, pitting the Alberta and B.C. parties against each other as well as a becoming a lightning rod issue in the federal NDP leadership race.

Notley said the project entirely falls within her party’s values.

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“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.”

READ MORE: B.C. election results put federally approved Trans Mountain pipeline in jeopardy

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.”