Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Give Obama Elbow Room on Environment, Saskatchewan Premier Tells Ottawa

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Give Obama Elbow Room on Environment, Saskatchewan Premier Tells Ottawa

Article excerpt

Obama needs elbow room on environment: Wall


OTTAWA - The Harper government needs to bring in long-delayed regulations on the oil and gas industry to burnish Canada's environmental credentials and help win pipeline approvals, says Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

Or maybe not. It depends on which response to the same question one takes from the same Wall scrum with reporters.

Wall joins a chorus of voices, including some in Canada's oil patch, who have suggested regulatory foot-dragging by the Conservative government has not been strategically beneficial for the energy sector.

The popular Saskatchewan premier, considered a potential future federal Conservative leadership contender, stoutly defended Canada's oil and gas export aspirations in a speech to the conservative Manning Centre's annual conference.

"This is a good thing for our country, for yours," said Wall. "We ought to be proud of it. We ought never to be ashamed we have these things the world wants."

But speaking with reporters afterwards, Wall said more emphasis on environmental issues is required to win the needed political and social licence to transport oil to market.

Wall said Ottawa and the provinces have based their arguments in favour of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline on the project's economic merits -- an argument that Wall believes Canada has won.

Yet approval of Alberta-to-Texas pipeline is mired in U.S. domestic politics and awaits a decision from President Barack Obama.

"This is not second-guessing what any of us did," said Wall. "What we now need to do, though, is pivot to the environment."

"I think we all should have been giving the administration in the United States more environmental elbow room in our recent trips to Washington."

Wall's comments were followed at the Manning conference by a speech from Jim Prentice, the CIBC executive who previously served as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's environment minister.

"As conservatives we must believe in and establish and enforce world-class regulatory and monitoring standards," Prentice told the gathering.

He added that "any country's environmental ambition will only ever be as good as the regulations that support it."

The federal Conservatives have said since 2007 that they would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by imposing regulations on industrial sectors. …

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