Stelmach steadfast about new emission rules

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach reacted to Ottawa's new rules targeting the province's hugely profitable oilsands by standing firm on promises to protect the industry.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach reacted to Ottawa's new rules targeting the province's hugely profitable oilsands projects by standing firm on promises to protect the industry.

"My job, my responsibility is to stand up for Albertans, and I will," he said on Monday.

Ottawa unveiled details on Monday of proposed regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by industrial polluters, focusing mainly on oilsands and electricity. Alberta's oilsands are considered the largest single source of Canada's greenhouse gases.

Under the plan, oilsands facilities starting operations in 2012 would have to implement carbon capture and storage. Existing facilities and those that open before the end of 2011 would have to reduce emissions using cleaner fuels.

The rules have yet to be finalized but are expected to come into force at the beginning of 2010.

Stelmach welcomed the carbon capture regulations but wants the federal government to fork over the estimated $2 billion it will cost to set up the required facilities.

The plan would also see the creation of a carbon emissions trading market, including a carbon offset system — an idea Stelmach has long opposed.

He repeated his opposition to both an international and national trading system, saying it would drain money from the province's economy to support other jurisdictions.

"We're not a province that's going to be either buying credits somewhere else or looking at any inter-regional transfer of wealth," he told reporters after speaking at the World Heavy Oil Congress in Edmonton.

The funds, Stelmach said, should stay in Alberta where they can be invested in research.

Constitutional jockeying

Stelmach also said he plans to remind Prime Minister Stephen Harper that resources fall under provincial jurisdiction and that Alberta will be "looking at the Constitution" over the matter.

"The resources are owned by all Albertans. I made that point very clear. I'm sure the prime minister is aware of it. I will be constantly reminding him," Stelmach said.

The regulations announced by Environment Minister John Baird on Monday are aimed at helping the federal government reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent below 2006 levels by 2020.

The rules are part of the government's plan introduced last April to regulate key manufacturers and producers of chemicals, steel and other industrial materials.

Opposition MPs have panned the new measures. Green party Leader Elizabeth May said the capturing techniques are costly and unproven, and the rules won't be in effect for years, allowing the government to delay any sort of action. NDP Leader Jack Layton called the plan "a licence to pollute."

The plan sets out emission reduction targets for various industry sectors. Baird said many industries won't like the regulations, but he said they knew two years ago that changes were on the way.

The regulations also target "dirty" coal-fired power plants, banning the building of such facilities starting in 2012, with new coal power stations required to use carbon capture.