Alberta’s belated ‘Green Shift’ – by Gillian Steward (Toronto Star – April 9, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Province desperate to win U.S. approval for Keystone bitumen pipeline.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford will be in Washington this week trying to convince legislators and other decision-makers that the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline should get the green light despite a well-organized and liberally funded campaign in the U.S to stop it.

This will be Redford’s fourth trip in 18 months, a sign of just how desperate the Alberta government is to get this project approved so diluted bitumen from the oilsands can be delivered to refineries on the U.S. gulf coast.

Not surprising then that on the eve of this trip word leaked out that government and oil industry representatives were discussing an increase in Alberta’s carbon emission taxes that would see them more than double. The move is obviously designed to prove to pipeline opponents in the U.S. that Alberta is serious about reducing greenhouse gases associated with the production of bitumen and their impact on climate change.

At this point it’s all talk, but certainly timely talk given Redford’s upcoming visit to the U.S. It also signals that perhaps the Alberta government and the oil industry are finally recognizing that their view of the world outside the province’s borders has to change if they want to get the tarry bitumen to market.

Both the Alberta and federal governments often dismiss environmentalists as obsessed fanatics who simply want to stop all economic development, particularly if it involves oil.

They seem sure that their “reasoned” view of the world will prevail and that environmentalism, the push to arrest climate change, and the trend toward renewable energy are just fads that will soon disappear.

So much so, that in March the Alberta government paid $30,000 for a half-page ad that ran in the New York Times and was designed to boost support for the Keystone XL Pipeline. The headline read: “Keystone XL: The Choice of Reason.” Not difficult to figure out that in the government’s view everyone who opposes the pipeline is unreasonable or irrational.

“Certainly the Sunday Times is a critically important audience to speak to, and I think Alberta has a good track record, a very good story to tell, and it’s important that we’re out there telling that story at this very critical time,” said a spokesman for the premier.

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