Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Alberta ground zero for green battle

Alberta ground zero for green battle
Fight would divide nation, Lougheed says

Janice Tibbetts, with files from Jamie Komarnicki, Calgary Herald, CanWest
News Service

Published: Wednesday, August 15, 2007

CALGARY -- Canada is facing a bitter constitutional clash over the
environment and Alberta's oil industry that will threaten national unity and
eventually end up in the Supreme Court of Canada, former Alberta premier
Peter Lougheed warned Tuesday.

"The issue is there front and centre and coming to a head, in my view,"
Lougheed told a gathering of the Canadian Bar Association.

"In due course, soon in my view, the matter could evolve into a major
constitutional battle."

One one side is the Canadian public, deeply worried about climate change,
putting pressure on the federal government for strong environmental
protection legislation that will lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

On the other side is the province of Alberta, which has constitutional power
over its non-renewable resources, including the oil sands in Fort McMurray,
which have been dubbed "Alberta's Runaway Train" because they are the
fastest-growing source of greenhouse emissions in the country.

"It's a very major matter that threatens Canadian unity," said Lougheed, who
seldom speaks out on public policy matters. While Ottawa, Alberta and the
oil industry have historically clashed, Lougheed predicted that the bubbling
battle "will be 10 times greater than in the past" because the public is
more engaged than ever before.

"I've been worried about this confrontation growing and growing," said
Lougheed. "It's just been boiling with me over the last few weeks."

He predicted that the federal government's proposed clean air legislation,
which aims to curtail emissions but gives a three-year exemption to the oil
industry, will die in the Commons amid a public outcry for stronger
environmental protection.

"Public pressure will force the passage of strong environmental laws -- and
soon," said Lougheed, who works at a Calgary law firm.

Now 79, the elder statesman who led the province from 1971-85 remains an
Alberta icon. He already sounded an alarm last summer over the oil sands,
calling for a slowdown as the industry seeks sustainable solutions to cap
pollution and the strain on the water supply.

He said that production at the oil sands is expected to double over the next
few years.

Lougheed's concern was sparked by a helicopter ride over the oil sands in
June, 2006.

"When you actually see the magnitude of it by helicopter, it just gets you,"
he told reporters. "I was appalled by what was happening there."

Former Reform leader Preston Manning has also raised concern about rapid
development of the oil sands.

In a speech to the bar association Monday, he predicted that the next
political revolution in Alberta will occur when a party is able to harness
"green conservatism" or "blue environmentalism."


Jean Chretien is a wanted man in the West, not the least by a Calgary court.

The 70-year-old former prime minister has joined Calgary-based
PetroKazakhstan Inc. as a special advisor for international relations.
Company CEO Bernard Isautier, who has known Chretien both in political and
energy circles, contacted the former Kaptain Kyoto to help PetroKazakhstan
open doors to new export markets for its oil.

Last month, Chretien became an international energy advisor at Bennett Jones
LLP in Calgary - the same law firm at which his former nemesis on energy
issues, then-Alberta premier Peter Lougheed, has been a partner for years.

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