Assuring one of the most powerful legislators in the United States that Alberta's oil sands are being developed responsibly will be the main focus of a meeting between Alberta premier Ed Stelmach and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi this week.
"Our goal there is to appeal to her sense of reason, to communicate very clearly that we continue to be focused on environmental improvement in developing the oil sands," Mr. Stelmach said Tuesday. "Environment is the first and most important issue."
The meeting, one of a series set up by U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, will take place Wednesday.
Ms. Pelosi will also meet with environmental groups and aboriginal communities.
A spokesman for the Pembina Institute said it plans to tell Ms. Pelosi that Alberta has to improve how it plans and monitors the developments. Marlo Reynolds, who will be at the meeting, said Alberta and Canada are developing the resource without considering how it will affect efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr. Stelmach said he also plans to remind Ms. Pelosi that Canada is now the largest supplier of energy into the U.S. market. Most of that oil comes from the oil sands.
He said he'll also remind her of the jobs and investment that depend on developing the resource.
Although Alberta officials have met many times before with prominent American politicians, including former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney, this will be the first time they've met with Ms. Pelosi. Alberta maintains an office in the U.S. capital to help get its message out on the province's energy industry.
"We have got to talk about what we've accomplished on the environment," said Mr. Stelmach.
Also on Tuesday, a scientific paper was published suggested that bird mortality in the tailings ponds for the oil sands is about 30 times higher than government and industry figures say.
It's the latest in a series of reports that come to radically different conclusions than the government about the environmental impact of the industry.
Premiers Brad Wall of Saskatchewan and Jean Charest of Quebec have also been invited to meet with Ms. Pelosi.