by Morinville News Staff
Both Premier Jason Kenney and NDP Opposition Environment Critic Marlin Schmidt expressed their appreciation for the federal government’s energy stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday morning.
That announcement included up to $1.72 billion, including funding to the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, and the Alberta Orphan Well Association, to clean up orphan and/or inactive oil and gas wells.
Kenney said how Alberta and Canada come through the current economic crisis is mainly dependent on the survival and successful recovery of the energy sector and its 800,000 jobs. He sees Friday’s announcement as an essential first step to support those working in the energy sector.
“The $1 billion partnership to address inactive wells aligns with Alberta’s commitment to ensuring our resources are developed in an environmentally sustainable fashion,” Kenney said. “This funding will immediately save or create thousands of jobs, keeping energy service companies going during these devastating times. It will also help us bring sites back to their original condition, leaving a cleaner environment for future generations. The $200 million loan to the Orphan Well Association will also help these efforts, demonstrating our commitment to producing Canadian energy under the world’s highest environmental standards.”
The Premier acknowledged what he said was a great first step, but went on to say more support is needed to deal with the crisis in Canada’s energy sector.
“Our energy sector is facing its biggest challenge ever, and we need to be sure that industry can access the capital it needs to survive and thrive in future years,” he said.
Kenney said revenue from Alberta’s energy sector helped Canada provide needed support to the banking and auto industries during the global financial crisis a decade ago.
“We will continue to work with the federal government to ensure that the energy sector now gets the support it needs as it faces its own threats from both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Saudi-Russia price war,” Kenney said.
Marlin Schmidt, NDP Environment Critic, said cleaning up oil and gas sites is good news for Alberta’s energy sector workers, landowners, and the environment.
“From day one, we have been advocating for support to cleanup orphan wells. It will put thousands of Albertans back to work while supporting responsible resource development,” Schmidt said, adding the UCP must use this money in a way that ensures polluters still pay for the cleanup of their sites.
“They must also set clear targets and timelines for well cleanup now and into the future. I also hope the UCP will ensure landowners and municipalities are compensated for wells on their land,” Schmidt said.
“While this is good news for our energy sector and landowners, there are still a lot of Albertans and businesses struggling to make ends meet. I wish Premier Kenney and the UCP would step up and provide real leadership to support all Albertans and all sectors of our province instead of constantly relying on the federal government to act first.”