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Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has written a letter to his Alberta counterpart to correct what he calls errors in Jason Nixon’s recent newspaper column.

Earlier this week, an Alberta newspaper published an op-ed by Nixon in which he called the new federal plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions “insane.”

In his letter, sent Friday, Guilbeault says Nixon misread a graph and got his facts wrong.

“I want to correct the record on what this plan does and does not do,” he writes.

The first sentence of Nixon’s column, published Saturday, read “Alberta will not accept production cuts in the insane climate plan released by the Liberal-NDP coalition.”

He backs that up with reference to numbers pulled from the federal document. He writes they prove the federal plan is an attempt to reduce oil and gas production and economic activity in Alberta that would destroy the province’s quality of life.

That’s not what the numbers say, wrote Guilbeault.

The reductions Nixon points to refer instead to the differences in projected production with and without the emissions reduction plan. The plan actually allows the oil patch to increase output, he said.

“Oil production could grow by about one million barrels per day and emissions would remain aligned with Canada’s 2030 goal of 40 to 45 per cent reductions relative to 2005. The plan is focused on cutting the emissions.”

Guilbeault points out the direction is shared by industry groups such as the oil sands Pathways Alliance, a coalition of major oil sands producers.

“Informed public debates cannot happen when fundamental facts are entirely mischaracterized by public officials,” he wrote. “I respectfully request that you please correct the public record.”

Nixon stood by his comments Friday.

“A production cut below projected growth is still a cut,” he said in an e-mail through his spokesman, calling the emissions caps a “masquerade.”

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