(The article below was a collaboration between Melissa Talbot and MLA Mark Smith.)
While the world demands energy and Alberta can provide the most environmentally responsible energy in the world, activists like Dr. David Suzuki believe that the only responsible option is to keep our energy resources trapped in the ground.
The fact that our economy and the quality of life for Canadians are placed in jeopardy by this worldview does not appear to faze many environmental activists like Dr. Suzuki. The fact that shutting down the oil industry in Alberta and denying pipeline access to the B.C. coast will actually increase carbon emissions worldwide, appears to be irrelevant to these ec-warriors.
Denying Asia access to our energy reserves means that Asia must continue to burn coal to generate electricity and, for many, burn wood and cow dung in order to cook and heat their homes. All of these other energy sources produce far more pollution and carbon than would occur if we sold them our natural gas. Keeping Alberta out of international energy markets will actually contribute to the increase of the carbon footprint, globally.
The energy industry in the world has changed in the last 10 years. Canadians must make a paradigm shift and realize that the United States, the primary customer of our energy exports, no longer needs our oil and natural gas. The United States is now a net exporter of energy and trying to sell ours into an already glutted US market is adversely affecting the price we get for our resources. We must be able to export our energy assets to the rest of the world and have them realize that there is an Alberta Advantage.
It is because of our geography we can export our energy resources to Asia at half the cost of the United States. Every time the US exports to Asia, they do so with a smaller profit margin and leave a larger carbon footprint. Existing pipelines such as Enbridge, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain, and TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone, help to funnel Alberta’s resources to those around the world in the most environmentally and cost efficient ways.
Land locking our fossil fuels is stifling increased investment in Alberta oil and gas energy projects, ultimately, affecting employment and wealth creation in our province and across Canada. Just as it is imperative that we meet and mitigate the environmental concerns associated with energy projects, it is also imperative that Albertan’s reap the reward of the good paying jobs from these undertakings.
It is critical that our government create an economic foundation that allows us to take care of each other. We must work toward creating a province and nation where all people can earn their success and where government empowers rather than restrains their creativity. This will result in a vibrant future for our children, allowing them to dream big and create a prosperous, environmentally responsible, just and fair society.