Danielle Smith condemns federal environment minister’s emissions cap comments

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith pauses after responding to a question during a news conference after a meeting of western premiers, in Whistler, B.C., on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is blasting federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault over comments he made about capping emissions.

Guilbeault had said because Alberta company Suncor wants to focus more on oil and gas production, it furthers the case for a federal emissions cap.

Smith says Guilbeault’s comments provocatively attack Alberta’s energy sector, which she says is environmentally responsible and ethical.

Guilbeault intends to publish draft regulations this fall to cap emissions from oil and gas production, and then force them downward overtime.

Smith says Alberta won’t implement the emissions cap, nor will it follow Ottawa’s target to have the electricity grid be net-zero by 2035.

The premier says Alberta doesn’t deserve comments that destabilize investment.

“Ottawa has no constitutional authority to regulate in these areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction,” she said in a statement Wednesday.

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“We would strongly suggest the federal government refrain from testing our government’s or Albertans’ resolve in this regard.”

During a conference call earlier this month, Suncor CEO Rich Kruger told investors the company had a “disproportionate” focus on the longer-term energy transition to lower-emitting and renewable fuels.

He said there was a “lack of emphasis on today’s business drivers.”

“Today, we win by creating value through our large integrated asset base underpinned by oilsands,” he said.

Guilbeault told The Canadian Press in a recent interview that Kruger’s comments were “disappointing,” particularly when wildfires have forced “tens of thousands of Canadians” to flee their communities.

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Smith said the province is ready to begin a working group with Ottawa over achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, but that it must be done collaboratively.

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She took aim at Guilbeault for being involved in the China Council for International Co-operation on Environment and Development.

She said this “has him turning a blind eye to China’s environmental record while they add the equivalent of two new coal emissions plants each week.”

Guilbeault had travelled to China earlier this week to discuss collaboration on fighting climate change.

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