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article imageOp-Ed: Alberta — Alison Redford's high stake Washington game

By Karl Gotthardt     Apr 12, 2013 in Politics
Washington - Alberta Premier Alison Redford made her fourth trip to Washington, D.C. this week in an effort, according to her, to tell Alberta's story on the oilsands and Alberta's environmental record. Her desperate high stakes game is not likely to change minds.
Redford's fourth trip to Washington to lobby for the XL Keystone pipeline is seen as critical to the Canada's economic well being and requires a presidential permit to cross the Canada/US international border. Redford told the Associated Press, in a phone interview, on Wednesday that rejection would be a significant thorn in Canada-US relations.
"It would become something that we would continue to talk about. It would be a continuing issue.
It is not clear how Redford can influence anything in Washington, without a discussion with the president himself, who after all is making the final decision. Thomas Mulcair, leader of Canada's official opposition met with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last month. Pelosi opposes the pipeline and is among the most powerful Democrats in the Obama camp. Redford is not likely to influence her or any other democrats opposed to the pipeline.
According to the Financial Post there is currently a bill before Congress that would remove the presidential permit and put the decison in the hands of pro pipeline senators. While apparently 62 senators support the bill, in the end the bill would have to be signed into law by the president. This seems to be more political grandstanding orchestrated by Republican senators and some red state Democrats.
Down the street, 62 senators, in principle, voted for our favourite project, so onward and upward,” Doer said Tuesday as he stood with Redford at the embassy.
Redford said that Washington is currently engaged with the pipeline issue, thus it was a good time to get Alberta's message out.
Anyone that follows US politics knows that Congress and the president have bigger fish to fry. There is the immigration bill, the sequester, the budget proposals by the president, the senate and the house, gun control and last, but not least the ongoing crisis in North Korea. It is doubtful that anyone but a handful of Republicans with some bipartisan support by democratic senators lose any sleep over the pipeline.
Redford presented her message to the Brooking Institution, which describes itself as a non-partisan think tank, while the media often describes it as liberal.
Redford's touted Alberta's and Canada's environmental record, highlighting Alberta as the first North American jurisdiction that introduced a fee on carbons, environmental monitoring and carbon capture projects.
Redford has touted her province’s $15-tonne tax on carbon for heavy emitters, but her government has also admitted it’s falling far behind on its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
“She’s going to be down there talking about Keystone and about how Alberta is developing its resources responsibly and how we’re a great trading partner,” said Redford spokeswoman Neala Barton.
According to MacLeans
there are a few things to consider about Alberta's set up. As an example Alberta's targets will not guarantee a carbon deduction and the absolute level of emissions. The current Alberta carbon fee, $15 a tonne, permits oil producers to meet targets, while increasing their emissions. The effectiveness of the program is left to the industry. The model permits the industry to purchase emission reductions by others.
This doesn’t mean the system itself can’t lead to absolute reductions — whether it does or not depends on the specific target and how industry reacts. Also, the model offers companies the possibility of buying others’ emissions reductions — now, making sure that such GHG cuts are additional, i.e. would not have happened even without regulation, is tricky, argues the Pembina Institute.
CTV reports that federal Environment Minister Peter Kent took question on the pipeline on Wednesday and was asked by an American reporter if Canada was being outdone by on the debate by environmentalists.
In what has become a common theme by Canada's federal government, Kent replied that the environmental argument is based on a lack of facts and poor science. In fact many conservatives, including Alberta's opposition leader, Danielle Smith, believe that the science has not been settled. It is doubtful that this argument will gain any momentum.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford has wrapped up her visit to Washington to promote the Keystone XL pipeline.
Yesterday, she and federal Environment Minister Peter Kent took questions on the controversial pipeline that would ship crude from the oilsands to the Gulf Coast.
Redford once again touted Alberta carbon tax as the first in North America, but acknowledged that the tax might need to be increased, without giving specifics. There have been stories that the federal government is looking at an increase to $40 a tonne.
Both Redford and Kent maintain that Canada does not have an environmental black eye, but that the American public needs to be educated about Canadian policies. This is an interesting claim in the light of the ongoing criticism by the opposition, especially Thomas Mulcair and Elizabeth May and environmental groups. Canada and Alberta have yet to put forth a convincing statement or policy that supports their claim.
Alison Redford would accomplish more by staying at home to fix education, health care and infrastructure. Her globe trotting is of no benefit to Alberta, but she needs to fix her dispute with post secondary education institutions, doctors, nurses and teachers. Running to Washington leaves others to deal with the difficult question on Alberta's budgetary woes.
The federal government and Alison Redford appear desperate and their visits only convince those already on the side of the pipeline. The battle lines have been drawn and the president is between a rock and a hard place. A decision in favor of the pipeline will leave President Obama with a lot of questions to answer. While unions appear to be in support of the pipeline, environmentalists want it rejected. Which way do you think Obama will go?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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