New Environment Minister To Fight Federal ‘Overreach,’ Focus On Cleantech

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Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz speaking at the Global Energy Show.

To Alberta’s new environment and protected areas minister, her role not only follows the conventional definition, but it includes a layer that comes with the province’s unique position.

During a speech at the 2023 Global Energy Show at the BMO Centre in Calgary, Rebecca Schulz said she will stand up for the resource development sector.

“My job is protecting and stewarding the resources that make Alberta such an amazing place for both this generation and the next. This, of course, means protecting our lands, air and water,” she told the audience.

“But in a province like ours, where the economy and our livelihoods are sustained by the natural resources that we as a province are blessed with, it means defending and protecting the sustainable development of these resources for generations to come.

“It means, above all, I will defend this province against a federal government that continually seeks to attack the way that many Albertans make their living and support their families.”

Schulz said this is the very backbone of how to grow the Alberta economy and keep the province moving forward.

“Specifically, that means fighting back against the federal government’s overreach and unrealistic plan to put a cap on our oil and natural gas industry and continually make life unaffordable for us by telling us how we can power and heat our homes,” Schulz explained.  

“I know Albertans are committed to defending our province against this — this is something I have heard time and time again throughout the last couple of months on the campaign.”

She said she’ll be looking for support from Albertans over the next few months in anticipation of the next moves by the federal government.

Schulz said she will “look for the support of leaders in this room and leaders on this panel, like Alex and Gurpreet, who I have come to know, to continue to develop our resources in a sustainable and innovative way, that we are known for and that we can be proud of.”

Cenovus Energy Inc. executive chair of the board Alex Pourbaix, and Enserva president and CEO Gurpreet Lail participated in a panel that followed the minister’s talk.

“Innovation is nothing new to the people in this room or the energy sector at large,” she added. “Innovation has helped Alberta become what it is, a major energy powerhouse.

“It has also helped our province pave the way on climate and emissions reductions, said Schulz, building a reputation for world-class technological expertise, as well as being a responsible, reliable and secure energy producer.

“Moving forward, that will not change. Alberta will continue to develop our natural resources without compromising energy security, reliability, and affordability, and still reduce our overall emissions,” she continued.

The approach will involve leveraging practical technologies and solutions. Schulz referenced the province’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development plan rolled out this spring.

“It is a made in Alberta plan that is based on reality, not unachievable targets set to random timelines,” she said.

“Instead, we will create the right conditions for industry and business to invest in emissions reduction technologies and sustainable energy development while reinforcing and enhancing our long and strong reputation for responsible energy production and cutting emissions.

“This won’t be easy, and it will take all of us. Achieving these goals means working in partnership with industry, other governments, and other partners. And it requires leveraging our existing infrastructure expertise, ingenuity and ability to support reductions beyond our borders.”

Cleantech matters  

Schulz said this balance incorporates Indigenous leadership, industrial carbon pricing and emissions trading, along with clean technology, including carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS).

“We will continue to invest in clean technology through our industrial pricing framework,” said Schulz.  

“Our economic imperatives, energy affordability and sustainable resource development are not either/or discussions,” she added. “We have a generational opportunity right now to diversify and grow Alberta’s economy. My colleagues and I will remain focused on leveraging clean technology and innovation …”

This will be done while making sure there is sustainable energy development, affordability, reliability and safety for “Albertans, Canadians, and the world now and into our future," said the Calgary-Shaw MLA.

Schulz held up methane as proof the province is on the right track, cutting emissions at a pace that she calls “way ahead of schedule.”

The province committed to reducing methane emissions by 45 per cent from 2014 levels by 2025 and reached about 44 per cent reductions relative to the baseline timeframe in 2021.

“We are focusing on reducing emissions while removing barriers and building on the practical innovations that are already underway,” Schulz said.

This idea also relates to CCUS, she said.

“Alberta is already a global leader and will remain a global leader for years to come. We have committed more than $1.8 billion into CCUS projects …

“We will continue to support CCUS uptake through policy, through partnerships, and commitments we made in our emissions reduction and energy development plan.”

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