What We Believe
The Alberta Liberal Opposition believes the preservation of our environment is an inherently worthwhile goal. The government has a responsibility to protect our natural environment from the negative effects of human activity by ensuring the appropriate environmental safeguards are in place. But we also recognize that sustainable resource development contributes to our prosperity. Alberta needs to be productive without sacrificing its clean air, water and earth.
Reducing pollution by encouraging responsible industry and supporting greener alternatives – including phasing out coal-fired electricity generation – goes hand-in-hand with ensuring polluters pay and are required to clean up any spills or other contamination.
Overall, it is important to us to leave a strong environmental legacy for our children and grandchildren so we can all enjoy Alberta’s natural beauty.
Climate Leadership Plan
The Alberta Liberal Opposition accepts the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is a major contributor to global climate change.
Carbon pricing is one of the most effective way to control emissions by shifting the cost of pollution onto the producer. Individuals, businesses and communities are then free to take whatever steps they deem necessary to reduce their emissions and avoid additional costs. This also helps educate the public about the impact of their daily activities.
However, the NDP government’s climate action legislation suffers from irredeemable flaws, which forced us to vote against it. The government has failed to properly inform Albertans about the true economic impact of the plan, and it lacks vital accountability mechanisms such as legislative oversight and performance measures and targets. In addition, the NDP government has been unacceptably vague about how the money raised from the carbon levy will be spent.
A successful carbon pricing plan is accountable and revenue neutral, returning the revenue raised to the general public through reductions in personal and business taxes. We support action against climate change, but, as with any government action, it must be conducted in a way that is transparent and accountable to Albertans.
The Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains, in addition to containing some of the most diverse plant and animal species in Alberta, are the source of water for hundreds of thousands of Albertans. As such, careful management of this area is vital.
Although recent strides have been made on this file, there is still much work to do. The Alberta Liberal Opposition joins numerous environmental groups, including the Alberta Wilderness Association and the Oldman Watershed Council, in calling for strict regulations to mitigate the effects of human activity that have already caused so much damage. Specifically, we are calling for reduced logging operations in the area so as to preserve the forest’s vital functions in collecting, storing, and filtering water.
Oil Well Recovery
The sudden and prolonged drop in fossil fuel prices has led to a major restructuring of the oil and gas industry, with many smaller companies forced to declare bankruptcy in the face of collapsing revenues. As profitable wells are sold to pay their creditors, they are left with non-producing wells that need to be capped and reclaimed so the land can be repurposed for other use. More and more wells are now being orphaned as companies are unable to reclaim them.
This growth in the number of orphaned wells has been exacerbated by the 2015 Alberta Queen’s Bench ruling on the Redwater Energy Corporation, which gave precedence to an oil company’s creditors over its obligation to pay for well reclamation. This dramatically reduced the Alberta Energy Regulator’s (AER) ability to enforce the polluter-pays principle, leaving the financial and environmental costs of remediation to the general public.
Although Alberta’s oil and gas companies are required to contribute to the Orphan Well Association (OWA) to pay for well reclamation, the fund is being overwhelmed. Even doubling the OWA’s budget in 2015-16 failed to slow the rising number, and at the end of September 2016 almost 1,600 wells still had yet to be reclaimed.
Each abandoned well poses an environmental hazard that cannot be ignored, and the Alberta Liberal Opposition is pressing for immediate government action to address this escalating issue.
Solutions for Tomorrow
Some of the environmental policies that the Alberta Liberal Opposition will champion in the legislature include:
- Designating all surface and groundwater as a public good, to be managed in the public interest, and regulated accordingly.
- Enhancing independent monitoring measures and imposing tougher penalties for polluters.
- Establishing the Office of the Environmental Commissioner as an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.
- Supporting and funding continuing research at the Experimental Lakes Area.
- Protecting the habitats and migration patterns of endangered and at risk species.
- Ensuring appropriate environmental safeguards are in place surrounding oil extraction to support getting Alberta’s energy products to new markets.