Energy Minister sees high level of intergovernmental cooperation | DrumhellerMail
Last updateTue, 18 Jun 2024 12am

Energy Minister sees high level of intergovernmental cooperation


    Alberta Minister of Energy Rob Liepert said the amount of cooperation in Alberta between different levels of government is very strong.

    He was at Dinosaur Trail Golf and Country Club Wednesday to play at a fun golf tournament as part of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association’s (AUMA) annual off site meeting.  Also at the tournament were Alberta Minister Agriculture and Rural Development, and Drumheller-Stettler MLA Jack Hayden and Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson.
    “The relationships between the municipal levels of government, both urban and rural, and the provincial government has probably never been better than it is today, and I think it is important as ministers we show support for municipally elected officials,” he said.
    He said the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) has built part of that relationship.
    “I am being continually told by officials at the municipal levels that it has been a very important part for municipalities to have a consistent level of funding, and I think that has gone a long way in creating partnerships,” he said.
    President of the AUMA, and Mayor of Breton, Darren Aldous said the Municipal Sustainability Initiative has been a helpful program for communities, however there are still some wrinkles to iron out.
    “It (the MSI) is an unprecedented amount of money for municipalities, when you compare it to other provinces,” he said. “However in some of the details they have taken away some of the grants for community groups and non-profit groups. Now they (the government) is telling community groups to ‘go to your municipalities because they are getting all this MSI money.’ Meanwhile we are putting this MSI money into infrastructure.”
    As Minister of Energy, Liepert feels Alberta is on the right track to see further recovery in the oil and gas field. Earlier this year the government made further changes to the Alberta Royalty Framework to stimulate the sector, and he sees these beginning to make a difference. While oil prices are strong with the development of the oil sands, in the Drumheller area where the sector is more dependent on natural gas, low prices are playing a role in the slow recovery.
    “There are still some real issues in this part of the province,” he said. “A number of incentives we have put in place as part of our fiscal adjustment to the royalty structure in the spring, they are really starting to kick in when it comes to coal bed methane, and I know there is some of that happening here,” he said. “New technology with the right incentives is encouraging drilling. So we are seeing the increases in land sales, we’re seeing higher than anticipated rig activity, real optimism in the industry.”
    While there has been stronger activity in the oil sands, an advertising campaign is threatening the tourism industry in Alberta in protest of developing the oil sands.
    Recently a group called Corporate Ethics International launched a campaign called Rethink Alberta that asks people not to visit Alberta unless the government “halts the expansion of the tar sands, stops spending millions of dollars on public relations campaigns designed to keep the United States addicted to dirty tar sands oil and takes meaningful steps to transition its economy away from dirty tar sands oil to clean energy alternatives.”
    So far, Liepert doesn’t believe the campaign has much traction.
    “I don’t think there has been any noticeable impact in the province because certainly it has been much more of an issue in the province than it has been outside the province and outside the country. However that being said, we have to be sure that we do a better job of communicating, a better job of informing Albertans and non-Albertans about the importance of the oil sands, about the fact there are strict environmental regulations; there is responsible development,” he said.
    “While one particular campaign may not have an impact, significant campaigns lumped together start to chip away at your reputation. On its own, I am not sure if it is having an impact, but cumulatively it will have an impact. You throw enough mud at the wall, some of it will eventually stick.”
    He said the reaction of Albertans to the campaign has been interesting.
“It’s actually made Albertans angry, and I have not seen Albertans react in such a strong way,” he said.

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