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Alberta works to green up oil sector

Minister says economic growth on oil can't move forward without environment in mind.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Alberta works to green up oil sector
Alberta forms advisory panel to monitor oil sands developments with the environment in mind. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

EDMONTON, Alberta, July 14 (UPI) -- After allowing energy companies early entry into a royalty scheme, Alberta's government said it formed an advisory panel to address sector emissions.

Alberta this week said energy companies could opt in early to a royalty program that sets a flat rate until companies recover costs. Following the advice it said it received from industry and environmental leaders, the provincial government said it established an advisory group for oil sands in an effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

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The group will be tasked with advancing economic options for oil and gas while at the same time working to serve as a steward for the environment.

"The simple fact is Alberta can't let its emissions grow without limit, but we can grow our economy and our market by showing leadership, including reducing our carbon output per barrel," Alberta Minister for Energy Margaret McCuaig-Boyd said in a statement.

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Taking a long view to address industry challenges in the coming decades, the members of the panel serve two-year terms and deliver progress reports biannually. Tzeporah Berman, an environmental studies professor who chairs the group, said the panel would work to steer environmental issues that align with federal efforts.

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"This is a pivotal moment for Alberta and Canada as we chart a pathway to address cumulative impacts in the oil sands, implement new climate plans and develop a strong low carbon economy," Berman said.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is seen as an advocate for a low-carbon economy, as is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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Most of Canadian oil sector activity is based in Alberta, a province that in the past has defended its environmental record against criticism of its carbon-intensive type of production. The U.S. government denied a permit to build the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta in part because of environmental concerns.

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