The following is the third question posed to the three candidates for leadership of the Green Party of Alberta in the lead up to the September 22nd vote by members to decide the leadership:
The following are current GPA policies on oil sands development and pipeline:
“The Green Party of Alberta would place a moratorium on development of additional tar sands projects until the impacts of existing and approved projects on the environment, infrastructure and society are assessed and an overall development policy is created.”
“The Green Party of Alberta supports the idea that we should live within our existing pipeline means and thus opposes the approval and construction or expansion of any pipeline the purpose of which is to transport bitumen production from Alberta.”
Do you think these policies are appropriate? If not, how would you like to see GPA policy in these areas changed?
The answers from the three candidates are given below in the order in which they were received. A strict 150 word limit was imposed.
The moratorium aims to slow down resource extraction, and thoughtfully envision a better future for Alberta based on sustainability, accountability, and responsibility for our environment. Decision-making in this province focuses on one steadfast belief: “We need pipelines to get our product to market”. This assumes that pipelines are the ONLY viable, affordable option to transport oil. Let’s challenge that myth!
Dr. Ian Gates is patenting a pipeline-free solution to getting Alberta’s oil reserves to market in a cheap, sustainable manner while reducing the environmental risk of oil transportation. Self-sealing bitumen pellets, with a liquid core and super-viscous skin, can float on water if spilled; the pellets can be safely collected and removed. They can be produced right at the wellhead, same energy used as to dilute bitumen for traditional shipping. “Pipelines are finite and go to finite spots. Railcars go to virtually every port on every coast.”
This is an urgent issue — now more than ever. I recognize the oilsands industry’s environmental impacts, its contribution to climate change, and various social license concerns. I also recognize its importance to the Alberta and Canadian economies, and its desire to sell bitumen to world markets. To do this, it needs to reach seaports.
Industrial projects MUST respect Indigenous, community and environmental concerns. Safety must be top of mind. With transport options, this clearly suggests shipping pelletized bitumen as a much safer mode than pipelines or conventional rail transport.
Alberta should be maximizing the value-added on our resources: we should increase our upgrading and refining capacity before increasing our exports of raw bitumen. And we urgently need to increase the move toward renewables.
The Green Party is often seen as anti-development or anti-industry; safe, socially just options can be good for the economy, the environment and society.
The energy industry is foundational to our economy and culture as Albertans. Our province benefits from oil production in many ways. Thousands of jobs and millions in royalties are very important and those involved with the Green Party must keep this in mind.
Pressure to increase production comes from corporate interests that actively cause doubt about science and confusion in the public concerning our environment. Over the past couple decades, the oil industry was given governance of Alberta. Constant urgency to build pipelines comes from outside the province and we have been right to question these proposals.
The Green Party of Alberta can lead in reclaiming energy sovereignty. By creating an Alberta Renewable Energy Company and reviving the Alberta Energy Company, the province would gain back public trust. We have to become smart responsible owners again. Then we can go slow, get our fair share and save for the future.
For more information on the candidates: