Canada's environmental record on energy needs to be sold to Americans, say two influential Western premiers, not job creation and the economic boost that would come with the flow of Alberta oil through a controversial pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford met Wednesday with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall in Edmonton, where they hashed out a strategy to persuade U.S. lawmakers and the White House that the $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline should be approved.
Ms. Redford, who penned an article in USA Today this week on the topic, just returned from her latest trip to Washington, D.C., aimed at drumming up support. Mr. Wall heads there next week.
"The message from Canada needs to be about more than the jobs that Keystone represents to the United States," Mr. Wall told reporters. "It needs to be more than the fiscal impact it can have on states where the Keystone will pass through. It really needs to be about the record we have in Canada. And, it's a record we ought to be proud of. It's imperfect … but it's a solid one.
"And in many respects," he added, "it's a better record than you'd find south of the border in a particular state or with their federal government."
The Keystone pipeline would take crude from Northern Alberta oil sands and carry it south to U.S. refineries at a rate of about 800,000 barrels a day. A decision on the proposal, however, has been delayed. At the same time, the Obama administration has been moving toward energy independence and talking about putting a lid on greenhouse-gas emissions.
High-profile anti-Keystone protests, such as one recently in the U.S. capital, have further galvanized the movement against approval of the project, which has in turn sent a parade of Canadian politicians in recent days to Washington. Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger was just there to talk up hydroelectric generation as an export to the U.S., which could help wind and solar projects. He was accompanied by Gary Doer, Canada's ambassador to the United States, who has also been busy selling Canadian energy as clean, reliable and secure.
Ms. Redford said she plans to visit Washington again soon – which would make it her fourth trip.
"This is a message that matters," she told reporters, "This is certainly the time to talk about it. And I think it's important to be part of the current conversation."
Ms. Redford, who told Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week of the results of her meetings, also said Canada is no longer in "quid pro quo negotiations" with the U.S., which needs to be convinced of our environmental efforts.
"I said this to the Prime Minister," she explained, "that we seriously have a conversation with the United States about the fact that we are one of the only jurisdictions … to introduce a price on carbon. That's where the conversation has to go now."
Alberta has been collecting a carbon tax from the largest emitters – about $317-million in the past six years – and about $180-million has been pumped into 49 clean-technology projects, according to the province.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and his deputy minister, Serge Dupont, will also visit the U.S. next week to build bridges on the energy file.
Mr. Wall, who said the "dirty Canadian oil" charge lobbed at the oil sands hurts energy producers nationwide, insisted Ottawa could be doing more to state Canada's environmental case.
"We should have been doing more," said Mr. Wall, who plans to promote clean-coal technology. "I think everyone is stepping it up a little bit."