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Global: Tar Sands

The “New” Future of Alberta under NDP

By Jason Zheng

For almost 50 years in power, the Progressive Conservative Party (PC) in Alberta, Canada lost their power in the government on May 2015. The leftwing New Democrat Party (NDP) gained 49 seats to take the majority and the Wildrose party gained 16 seats. Alberta’s oil sands are the largest source of U.S. oil imports. This made corporations nervous about the two percentage tax hike to 12% if the party was elected.

Tar sands oil has been a major economic base of Alberta, however the original PC government slashed corporate taxes, cut government jobs and found itself in the red section. Alberta produces about 80% of the oil in Canada and also Canada’s fifth largest oil producer in the world with 4.3 million barrels a day.

The NDP premier-elect, Rachel Notley has different plans for the future of Alberta’s oil sands. Premier Notley agreed to negotiate new climate policies, increase oil and gas royalties, and quit lobbying President Obama about his approval to the Keystone XL pipeline. These actions may put the international relations of Canada and the United States at risk because territorially, these oil grounds belong to the United States.

Notley supports the proposed TransMountain pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia and also the proposed Energy East pipeline to the Atlantic coast. These both projects do not need the U.S. approval, however the oil will end up in at the U.S. refineries anyways. The biggest hit to tar sands oil in Alberta comes from the increase of U.S. oil productions and the low price of oil globally. I

However, those who oppose the Notely’s ideals believe that she would face opposition by the First Nations tribes to the west and liberal Quebecers to the east. James Conca from Forbesstated that it may be an easier approach for Notley to “phase out coal-fired power plants as her initial climate policy change” because coal generates almost half of the Province’s electricity and produces more carbon emissions than tar sands.

Many are to believe that if coal were to be replaced by a combination of natural gas, nuclear and renewable resources, this fit with Canada’s energy goals. Therefore the adjustments of the pipelines is not necessary to secure the economic future for Alberta and all of Canada. 

Energy Production and Climate Change:

Tar Sands Pipelines

by Caitlin Eberly

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