Canada needs to have credible data to defend itself from international criticism of its energy and environmental policy, says a former federal environment minister.
CALGARY: Canada needs to have credible data to defend itself from international criticism of its energy and environmental policy, says a former federal environment minister.
Jim Prentice, who left politics last fall, says the country hasn’t presented enough information to get to what he calls “first base” in the game of public opinion.
“Neither industry nor the governments of Canada or Alberta can defend themselves in the absence of credible, science-based data that substantiates the fact we are protecting the environment,” Prentice said in a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
“As a country we have not had data of that quality.”
“The world is calling upon Canada to improve its environmental performance vis-a-vis the oils ands.’’
Prentice, now a vice-chair at CIBC, is optimistic that the ongoing creation of a world-class monitoring system for the oil sands will allow the industry to get out in front of its critics and set tougher targets and benchmarks with respect to the impact on water, air and land. He said that would provide the data to prove success.
“I think it’s extremely important. I’ve been on the international stage defending our national interests and I know you have to have credible scientific data. If you don’t, you can’t get to first base and so nothing is more important,’’ he said.
Environmental groups and some US politicians have been critical of the oil sands, saying it produces “dirty oil’’ that requires huge amounts of energy to extract. International critics have called on Canada to improve its environmental performance.
Prentice said he doesn’t think a massive spill from an oil pipeline in northern Alberta will further harm Canada’s reputation.
He says the Rainbow pipeline, which spilled 4.5 million litres of crude last month, was contained quickly and highlights how well the Canadian oil and gas industry deals with these kind of problems.
Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert will once again attempt to promote the province as a leading source of secure energy in a mission to New York and Washington, DC, next week.
He is a keynote speaker at the Raymond James Energy Conference and will address 140 financial and business leaders from across the US. In partnership with the Canadian Consulate in New York, he will also speak at a breakfast about the critical role of Canada’s oil sands in continental energy security.
“Canada exports approximately 1.4 million barrels of oil a day to the United States, much of it from the Alberta oil sands,” Liepert said.
“It’s important our best customer knows about the technological advancements that are making oil sands extraction increasingly efficient and sustainable.”
© The Canadian Press