Alberta has appointed an expert panel to advise it on aspects of its Climate Leadership Plan that touch on the tar sands/oil sands.
Climate and energy advocate Tzeporah Berman, Melody Lepine of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, and Dave Collyer, former president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, will serve as co-chairs of the 15-member Oil Sands Advisory Group (OSAG).
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The group will also advise the province on “a pathway to 2050, including responding to federal and other initiatives that may affect the oil sands after 2030,” according to a government release.
“The advisory group will help our government address central issues on this key Alberta job creator and economic driver,” said Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips. That mandate will include “how to establish and sustain Alberta’s climate leadership among energy-producing jurisdictions; how to better steward our air, land and water; and how to take advantage of current and future market opportunities while meeting the needs of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.”
“This is a pivotal moment for Alberta and Canada as we chart a pathway to address cumulative impacts in the oilsands, implement new climate plans, and develop a strong low-carbon economy,” said Berman. ““I look forward to co-chairing the OSAG, ensuring that the wisdom of all communities is reflected in our advice and that Indigenous knowledge and values are meaningfully included,” added Lepine.
Collyer said the “diversity of this group and its problem-solving focus on emissions leadership, local environmental performance, and innovation will help de-escalate conflict and contribute to the ongoing success of this important industry.”
CBC’s coverage of the appointments picked up on a recent media interview in London, in which Berman compared a visit to the tar sands/oil sands to Mordor, a “dark, scorched land of suffering” from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
“As far as the eye can see, mines and huge open pits are being pumped out into areas the size of lakes,” Berman told Climate Home. “If you spend more than a couple hours walking around in the tarsands, your eyes start to run and your skin starts to hurt.”
The opposition Wild Rose Party seized on those comments to criticize Berman’s appointment, but Phillips countered that “after years of failure, the Opposition still thinks that denying science, ignoring climate change, and insulting people is somehow going to accomplish something.”
Berman said she regretted using “words and tone from my past campaigning” that “don’t reflect the opportunity I have today to be part of helping advise on the critical questions of how Alberta will operate under [an emissions] limit, innovate, better protect its environment, and determine the infrastructure needs of its future production.”
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