By MorinvilleNews.com Staff
Fort McMurray – The Wildrose Alliance unveiled its environmental policy Thursday, vowing, if elected, to scrap the Progressive Conservatives $2 billion Carbon Capture and Storage initiative, a program the Wildrose regards as wasteful and expensive. Instead, the party advocates using Alberta natural gas and propane for the province’s electricity and transportation needs.
The Wildrose would accomplish this by leveling the royalties between coal and natural gas and by providing tax incentives for increased use of natural gas and propane powered vehicles.
“We want to see a natural gas strategy,” party leader Danielle Smith said during a four-minute video on the party’s environmental policy. “We think this is the way you get a triple win. Not only would we be able to support our local industry, but we’d also be able to reduce overall emissions, and with natural gas prices being as low as they are, we’d also be able to save consumers a little bit of money.”
The Wildrose wants to focus on three areas important to Albertans: clean air, clean land and clean water. Smith said many Albertans are frustrated by the perception people have of Alberta based on images they have seen of oil sands mining in Fort McMurray.
“We know this is not the whole Alberta story,” Smith said, adding Albertans are an outdoor people who value their mountain parks and farmland. “We know you can have a healthy economy and you can have a healthy environment.”
With respect to clean land, Smith said people need to stop looking at delaying projects and start looking at reclaiming industrial land to its natural state as quickly as possible after development. The party leader said the Wildrose Alliance would use a one-window policy whereby developers could get all environmental approvals quickly, enabling them to begin and finish their projects sooner so that recovery would happen quicker.
When it comes to water, Smith said Northern and Southern Alberta have different issues; however, it is important to work with developers to minimize the amount of fresh water they are using to develop energy sources.
The party leader also believes one of the oil sands least desirable attributes can be remedied.
“I think we can eliminate tailing ponds,” Smith said, noting she believed the technology was available to do so. “We need to be able to set high bars and then support industry as they work to reduce the amount of tailing ponds they develop, and ultimately eliminate them.”