As the smoke clears from the Enbridge Northern Gateway decision, one thing is clear — this pipeline will never be built. Given opposition from the British Columbia government, a litany of First Nation lawsuits, a possible referendum and inevitable protests, Northern Gateway’s demise is already being written despite the federal green light.
Beyond Gateway, the fates of the other major tar sands pipelines are just as uncertain.
A denial of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline looks to be in the works after the U.S. mid-terms. Opposition to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline to southern B.C. is heating up as First Nations are joined in opposition to the project by the mayors of Burnaby and Vancouver. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, opposition to the proposed Energy East pipeline is also growing, particularly in Quebec, where they would need to lay the new pipe.
Rather than putting all of our eggs in the boom-and-bust basket of tar sands expansion, Alberta could capitalize on its tremendous potential to get us off the roller-coaster, out of the carbon doghouse and become a real leader in renewables.
Alberta is one of the sunniest provinces in the entire country. Solar energy has dramatically dropped in price in recent years, making it cost competitive with traditional power in many parts of the world. Tapping into the power of the sun also creates jobs.
Wind is also big. We all know how windy the south of Alberta is, but there’s huge potential throughout the province. Alberta used to lead Canada in wind energy development and has the potential to reclaim that lead once again. Despite numerous hurdles, wind already supplies five per cent of Alberta’s electricity, but has the potential to do a lot more.
According to Natural Resources Canada, Alberta also has some of the best geothermal energy potential in Canada. Tapping into the energy of the intense heat that exists deep underground requires expertise in drilling, of which there is no shortage in our province.
The possibilities for Alberta’s renewable energy growth really are endless.
So I say to the would-be premiers of this great province: With so many people standing up against tar sands pipelines they don’t want, isn’t it time Alberta invests in something they do?