Creating a North American energy security alliance will require a “delicate rebalancing” of policy, according to Alberta’s energy minister.
Sonya Savage is one of 500 provincial, state and federal legislators and business leaders gathered in Calgary this week for the Pacific Northwest Economic Region Summit (PWNER).
The summit includes representatives from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
“We’re right next door. We’re ready, willing and able to supply and increase supply,” Savage told reporters.
The four-day summit is highlighting several critical cross-border topics, but the creation of a North American Energy Security and Sustainability Framework took centre stage on Monday.
“That security of supply, not just for Canada, but for North America,” PWNER president and Calgary MLA Richard Gotfried told Global News. “How we can move those energy products, how we can generate power, how we can make sure there’s that sustainability and that lack of volatility not just for our consumers but for our businesses.”
The debate over the uninterrupted availability of affordable energy sources has seen a “sea change” due to the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, according to Canada West Foundation president Gary Mar.
It comes as several countries around the world ban imports of Russia-produced oil and gas.
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“I think it has accelerated the debate over North American oil and North American energy security,” Mar said.
Both U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen and Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman addressed energy security at the summit on Monday ahead of a tour of some oil sands facilities later this week.
“My goals are to go and see what’s happening,” Hillman said. “To talk to those who are involved in the projects up there, so that I can go back to the U.S. and talk about what’s happening in Alberta, and talk about the efforts being made and talk about the environmental stewardship of our industry.”
Savage said her hope is the tour will help promote Alberta energy within the Biden administration.
According to Savage, there is a “softening” in the conversation about energy security across North America with the “realization that energy is going to come from somewhere.”
“If we leave it in the ground here, it’s coming out of the ground somewhere else like Russia,” Savage said. “I think we’re getting a stark realization of the need to work closely and better in collaboration across North America.”
She added there is a “desire” for more collaboration on the issue between both countries.
Alberta government officials have lobbied U.S. lawmakers for an increased role for Canadian oil and gas south of the border as a replacement for “conflict oil” from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela.
The province is also setting up offices this summer in Denver, Chicago and Seattle following the installation of former Conservative MP James Rajotte at the Canadian Embassy as Alberta’s U.S. emissary.
Savage said reaching a framework with the U.S. will require a shift in policy that balances climate change targets with energy security.
“It’s a big, looming issue that we have to address climate change,” Savage said.
“If we’re going to address climate change, we’re going to have to address energy security. We can’t do one without the other.”
The PWNER summit continues on Tuesday with discussions on agriculture, transportation and infrastructure.