Albertans Really Want Stronger Greenhouse Gas Rules. So What Gives?

Jennifer Grant, Pembina Institute
Jennifer Grant, Pembina Institute

In the heart of the ever growing and ever burdensome tar sands, the people are yearning for tougher controls on greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new poll.

But don’t expect governments at either the provincial or federal levels to act anytime soon.

More than 76 per cent of Albertans support stronger greenhouse gas regulations for industrial plants in the province, according to a new poll released by the Pembina Institute.

The tar sands industry is expanding rapidly in Alberta but both the Alberta and federal governments have been resisting pressure from environmental groups and even from other governments globally to put a realistic price on carbon as concern about global warming mounts.

Alberta’s existing emissions rules, the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation, are set to expire on September 1 and there has been widespread speculation that Alberta will continue to drag its knuckles on this one. 

According to Pembina, the delays can be attributed “to efforts to achieve consensus among industry stakeholders on the level at which the new standards should be set. With the leadership vote for the Progressive Conservative Party scheduled for September 6, this delay would mean the government risks not having new, stronger regulations in place when the existing rules expire.”

In other words, expect dick all to get done.

More from the institute:

”The most widely discussed “double double” proposal would require companies to pay a $30 per tonne penalty if emissions were not reduced by 24 per cent per unit of production.

Economic analysis shows this proposal is anticipated to add a cost of only five to eight cents per barrel of bitumen produced, once reduced royalties and tax savings are taken into account, for oilsands companies that choose not to reduce their emissions and instead opt to pay the penalty.”

“Waiting for consensus means waiting indefinitely,” said Simon Dyer, Pembina Institute spokesman in the release. “Albertans clearly want their government to make a decision and move forward with stronger greenhouse gas rules for industry.”

This Pembina poll of 802 Albertans was conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance and Pembina. The online survey used Ipsos Reid’s national online household panel between May 15 and 19. They said the poll is accurate by 3.9 percentage points, plus or minus.

Some More Facts

-76 percent of respondents support or strongly support the Government of Alberta requiring stronger emissions performance regulations for industrial facilities.

-Support for stronger requirements is higher among university graduates (83% vs. 75% with some post-secondary, 65% with high school or less) and among those with $60K+ household income (82% vs. 72% among <$60K).

-Just 6% of respondents were either opposed or strongly opposed, and 18% said that they did not know or were unsure of whether they supported or opposed stronger emissions regulations.

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