Alberta’s left-wing government said President Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a wake-up call to implement policies forcing coal plants and taxing carbon dioxide emissions.
“Our goal is to become one of the world’s most progressive and forward-looking energy producers,” Albertan Premier Rachel Notley, who heads the province’s far-left New Democratic Party, told reporters Sunday. “We are turning the page on the mistaken policies of the past.”
Notley’s government is imposing a $30-per-metric-ton tax on carbon dioxide emissions by 2018, which is estimated to cost the average Albertan household an extra $420 in higher electricity and gasoline prices, according to the Calgary Herald. This amounts to a doubling of the province’s existing carbon tax in just two years.
“Low- and middle-income families will get support to help them make ends meet,” Notley said. “I think that ultimately we’ll be able to manage this in a way that encourages reduced use of high-emission activities, while at the same time ensuring we don’t put an unnecessary burden on families.”
Notley’s plan also puts a 100-megaton cap on greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands production, increased energy efficiency and methane emissions reductions from oil and gas production.
The CO2 plan comes less than three weeks after Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama argued approving the pipeline would have “undercut” the U.S.’ image as a leader in fighting global warming. Notley said Keystone’s rejection is a “kick in the teeth,” and the impetus behind her government’s renewed green agenda.
Keystone XL would have brought 830,000 barrels per day of Albertan oil sands to U.S. refineries along the Gulf Coast. The project was estimated to create thousands of jobs and increase American energy security, but environmentalists derided the project for its alleged impact on global warming.
Environmentalists argued extracting oil sands — a viscous bitumen — was more CO2-intensive, meaning it would cause more global warming than conventional crude oil. Obama embraced this argument when rejecting Keystone.
“Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security,” Obama said in his rejection of the pipeline project.
Notley announced her government’s new global warming policies flanked by representatives of the region’s oil industry. The industry hopes Notley’s “greener” policies will help convince Obama Alberta is doing its best to reduce emissions while producing oil essential for economic growth.
“This plan recognizes a need for a balance between the environment and the economy,” Murray Edwards, chairman of the oil company Canadian Natural Resources, told reporters Sunday. “We will do our part to address climate change while protecting jobs and industry competitiveness.”
But the big loser in this announcement is Alberta’s coal industry. Notley’s policies favor oil and natural gas over coal. Coal-fired power plants will be forced to find a way to produce electricity without emitting any carbon dioxide or shut down operations.
“It’s going to take a lot of money out of the economy,” Robin Campbell, president of the Coal Association of Canada, told The Wall Street Journal. “It was premature to do this before we see what other countries of the world will pledge to do” at the upcoming United Nations summit in Paris.
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