Conservatives hopeful new Alberta premier will consider major pipeline projects
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, May 24, 2015 10:26AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 24, 2015 3:12PM EDT
The Conservative government is hopeful Alberta's newly-elected NDP government will entertain major pipeline projects, despite Premier-Designate Rachel Notley's hesitant language toward some energy projects.
Speaking on CTV's Question Period, Industry Minister James Moore cautioned against concerns that Notley's government may stand in the way of building pipelines.
"To be fair to Premier-Elect Notley, I think that's perhaps a little bit too harsh. I think there's going to be a learning curve in the next little while in the development of a partnership between the federal government and the new government in the province of Alberta.
"I know she hasn't closed the door, for example, on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline. Rhetorically, some tough language has been used, but we will see."
During her campaign, Notley said she would not lobby for TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline or Enbridge's Northern Gateway project. Rather, she said she would focus on TransCanada's Energy East pipeline and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, both of which would carry Alberta crude to the East and West coasts of Canada respectively.
Moore said he is still hopeful that Notley will consider the Keystone pipeline, especially given the "demand" and "need" for energy resources across North America.
"It's not a question of if, it's a question of when," Moore said of Keystone.
After 43 years of Progressive Conservative reign in Alberta, Notley's NDP won a sweeping majority earlier this month. The win shocked the energy sector, having an immediate effect on stocks the day after the election. Even though Notley has promised to work with the energy industry, business leaders are concerned about a potential review of Alberta's oil royalty regime.
Moore hopeful for Petronas LNG project
Moore also said he is hopeful plans to build a $36-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on British Columbia’s northwest coast will continue to move forward, despite opposition from a local First Nations group.
Malaysian energy giant Petronas signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the B.C. government on the project Wednesday. The MOU comes a week after B.C.'s Lax Kw'alaams band rejected -- for a third time in a row -- a $1.15-billion deal that would have given consent for the Pacific Northwest LNG project. The band has concerns about the project's effects on the environment and their land rights.
"They're (Petronas) engaging with coastal First Nations to get their consent and to get their comfort for the kind of (terminal) design they have in mind, which would protect coastal waters, protect fish habitat, protect also some of the cultural sensitivities that the Lax Kw'alaams have raised as concerns," said Moore. "Hopefully this can be mitigated and we can move forward."
Speaking with CTV's Question Period last week, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said the Lax Kw'alaams is firm in its opposition to the project as it stands.
"The message is clear. The aboriginal title and rights interest and everything they represent to the first nations people in British Columbia are not for sale," said Phillip.
Moore said the project proposal is "very challenging" and still requires a lot of work with First Nations. He said the project will face the same scrutiny from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency as other projects have to ensure it strikes the right balance between economic and environmental interests.
According to the B.C. government, Petronas’s investment in the pipeline project will be 10 times larger than the current largest private investment ever made in the province. To date, 28 First Nations have signed onto the project, with seven more groups still in negotiations.