This is from the Globe and Mail.
This is a rather astonishing headline until it becomes clear from the article that Stelmach's actions show the opposite. No doubt he is trying to appeal to environmentalists who oppose him. Stelmach refuses to say whether he has changed his mind on letting market forces determine Oilsands development.
Taft accuses Stelmach of not having a plan. This is a bit strange after Stelmach in the same article outlines his plan such as it is: reduction of emissions by 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2050. Surely Taft should have criticised that rather than complain that Stelmach had none.
Environment trumps economy, Stelmach says
Alberta Tory leader trumpets emissions targets but falls short of calling for controls on oil-and-gas developments
DAWN WALTON AND KATHERINE O'NEILL
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
February 26, 2008 at 5:24 AM EST
CALGARY, EDMONTON — Alberta Progressive Conservative Leader Ed Stelmach has been steadfast about not putting the brakes on oil sands development, but in a surprising about-face in the midst of a provincial election campaign, he suggested yesterday that environmental policy may trump economics.
"Environment takes precedence over the economy," Mr. Stelmach told reporters in Calgary, responding to questions about future expansion in the oil sands north of Fort McMurray.
Still, he warned that government should not step in to "control the economy" and rustled up the image of the still-not-forgotten national energy program implemented by Pierre Trudeau's federal Liberal government in 1980, which drove up interest rates and drove out investment.
"We're not going back to those dark days," said Mr. Stelmach, reiterating his party's environmental plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 14 per cent from 2005 levels by 2050. "Our plan is achievable. It's realistic. It's fiscally responsible."
With voting day set for next Monday, Mr. Stelmach is facing an emboldened opposition and polls predicting a slimmed-down majority for the Tories. His pro-industry stand on environmental protection is widely viewed as his Achilles heel.
His latest comments came in response to a report that some of Canada's biggest oil producers want to see a partial moratorium placed on oil sands development in an apparent effort to preserve conservation land, as first reported in The Globe and Mail.
Husky Energy Ltd., Petro-Canada Corp. and Suncor Inc. were among the big players in the oil patch who signed a letter submitted to the provincial government last month that asked Alberta to halt land lease sales until 2011 in three areas - one of which, Mr. Stelmach pointed out, doesn't even have oil sands underneath it.
Slowing development would also ease pressure on energy companies struggling through a labour shortage and protect their interests from new competition.
The oil and gas industry did not unanimously sign the letter, which was presented on behalf of the Cumulative Environmental Management Association, whose members include representatives from government, the energy sector and native bands.
Yesterday, Mr. Stelmach said the province is still waiting for environmental reports on air, water and soil quality before making a decision about how to proceed with leases. He also said he is waiting on a final vote among the association's 46 members slated for June.
But that vote applies to an overall land-management framework for the region. The moratorium on leases as proposed by the oil companies could be addressed at any time, a source said, but the government risks losing income from land leases.
"We've yet to receive a response from the Alberta government," association spokesman Corey Hobbs said yesterday. "We eagerly anticipate it."
Greenpeace said yesterday a partial moratorium doesn't go far enough and called for no new approvals in "one of the dirtiest and largest industrial projects on the planet."
At the same time, the treaty chiefs in the Athabasca region have passed a unanimous resolution that calls for no new oil sands approvals until they have accepted watershed and resource management plans.
Since the day Mr. Stelmach held his first news conference in 2006, after being named Leader of the governing Tories, he has said he had no plans to slow down oil sands growth, preferring to let the market decide the pace of development.
Yesterday, he wouldn't directly answer questions about whether he has changed that view and instead criticized the opposition parties for wanting to impose "Kyoto-style emissions controls" on the energy sector and increase the province's share of royalties, which could scare away investment. Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft said Mr. Stelmach is "out of touch" on the issue.
"The right thing to do is say that Alberta needs a plan," he told reporters in Edmonton.
It's ridiculous, he added, that Mr. Stelmach keeps invoking the memory of a former prime minister on the campaign trail.
"Pierre Trudeau was elected 40 years ago - Ed, get over it," Mr. Taft said.