Today’s announcement of Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline application should set the teeth of every Albertan on edge. I know I was more than a little irritated when I heard the news.
Although there are plenty of American politics involved in this decision, make no mistake: Alberta politics played a major part. The fact is that way back when environmental questions were beginning to take shape, government had an opportunity to do two things right:
1) take aggressive measures to ensure that the environment was and is and will be duly protected and preserved, and
2) effectively market that to the world.
The PC government did neither. The Stelmach Government has squandered Alberta’s reputation by failing to adequately steward the environment through potent, vigorously enforced oil sands regulation. Insult has been added to injury through the arrogant attitude the government has displayed in the face of increasing global public pressure. The prevailing message of “You need what we have so suck it up, Buttercup” has not made us any friends – and guess what? Now it will cost us money.
Token legislation and scattered marketing efforts have done little to hide the reality that the current government has had little will to develop meaningful environmental policy and they don’t much care what the rest of the world has to say about it. We’ve been acting like the world’s crack dealer, with a message akin to “Yeah, trash talk us all you want; you’ll be back for more tomorrow.” Now our number one trading partner is going into detox. Or switching dealers. Whatever the metaphor, the point is our economic future is being impacted through shoddy regulatory approaches and deplorably haughty marketing.
There is movement toward environmental reform in this province. Things have come a long way. We’re not there yet but I see a lot of really good and innovative effort. What a travesty that all that good progress has been so desperately mishandled by our leaders.
If we want the world to use our oil and gas, our environmental regulation needs to meet and exceed global expectations. Our earth deserves protection and stewardship, and so does our reputation. The current government has treasured neither. That shortsighted indifference has cost us an opportunity to expand our market and grow our economy. You’ll pardon me for being a little put out by that.