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Alberta

Premier Smith introduces Alberta Sovereignty Act to battle Ottawa in net-zero battle

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“We are left with no choice but to create a shield to protect Albertans from Ottawa’s dangerous and unconstitutional electricity regulations”

Defending Alberta from brownouts, blackouts and soaring costs

Premier Danielle Smith has introduced an Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act resolution to protect Alberta from the federal government’s proposed net-zero electricity grid regulations to ensure Albertans have access to reliable and affordable power when and where they need it.

Alberta’s government will not put Albertans and their businesses at risk of freezing in the dark at -30 C due to the federal government’s proposed unaffordable, unreliable and unconstitutional Clean Electricity Regulations (CERs).

The federal government has been clear it is unwilling to align its electricity regulations with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan as the province works to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Instead, the federal government has continued to indicate it will move ahead with its plan to implement unrealistic requirements for a net-zero electricity grid by 2035, regardless of the costs and risks to Albertans.

To protect Albertans from future brownouts, blackouts and soaring costs, Alberta’s government has introduced the first Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act resolution. This resolution asks the legislative assembly of Alberta for approval to take strong, effective action over the coming months and years to counteract the harms and risks to Albertans posed by the federal CERs.

“We have tried to work with Ottawa to align their emissions-reduction efforts with our provincial plan to achieve a carbon-neutral power grid by 2050. Unfortunately, after months of meetings, they continue to reject this opportunity and remain committed to an absurdly unrealistic and unattainable goal of a net-zero power grid by 2035. We are left with no choice but to create a shield to protect Albertans from Ottawa’s dangerous and unconstitutional electricity regulations. They may be willing to expose Albertans to high costs, blackouts and brownouts, but we are not, and we will continue to ensure Albertans are protected from these destructive and unconstitutional federal policies.”

Danielle Smith, Premier

The CERs propose unrealistic rules with Criminal Code violations to achieve net-zero electricity by 2035. Alberta’s grid needs more baseload power from natural gas, but these regulations have created uncertainty and are driving away investment. This threatens the reliability and economic well-being of Alberta’s homes and businesses.

Alberta does not have enough applications for new natural gas power plants to provide the substantial new generation of power the province needs, primarily due to the investor uncertainty caused by the federal government’s extreme policies.

“The courts are on our side, science and logic are on our side, the Constitution is on our side – electricity generation is the jurisdiction of the provinces, not the federal government. It is our responsibility to provide safe, reliable and affordable electricity to all Albertans without interference from Ottawa. This is what we are doing and will continue to do.”

Nathan Neudorf, Minister of Affordability and Utilities

“The federal regulations will hurt grid reliability for families and businesses while sending costs soaring. Everything we have seen from Ottawa suggests they simply don’t care how these rules will hurt Albertans. We will not put families at risk of rationing power during the coldest days of the year.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas

If passed, the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act resolution will help protect Alberta’s electricity grid and ensure that homes and businesses across the province can access reliable, affordable power for decades to come.

The resolution asks Alberta’s cabinet to order all provincial entities not to recognize the constitutional validity of, enforce, nor cooperate in the implementation of the CERs in any manner, to the extent legally permissible. This order would not apply to private companies or individuals. The resolution also asks Alberta’s government to work with the Alberta Electric System Operator, Alberta Utilities Commission and others to implement various reforms to Alberta’s electrical system to ensure grid affordability and reliability.

In addition, the resolution instructs the government to work with industry, regulators and other groups to study the feasibility of establishing a provincial Crown corporation for the purpose of bringing and maintaining more reliable and affordable electricity onto the grid in the event that private generators find it too risky to do so under the CERs.

This Alberta Crown corporation would be a provincial entity and would not recognize the CERs as constitutionally valid. If needed, the Crown corporation would work with industry and other stakeholders to bring on needed electricity onto the grid, either through building new generation or purchasing existing generation assets (i.e. natural gas power plants) that private industry would otherwise not build or shut down due to the uncertainty and penalties established by the CERs. It could also be used as a means of assisting and partnering with industry to de-risk investments in nuclear power and other emerging green generation if needed.

Alberta must be prepared should the CERs lead to divestment in natural gas generation and power plants being turned off in 2035. This initiative would be an important first step towards protecting Albertans’ continued access to reliable and affordable electricity should this occur.

The resolution also urges the government to use all legal means necessary to oppose the federal electricity regulation, including legal challenges.

Quick facts

  • According to the Constitution of Canada, legislating and regulating the development of electricity explicitly falls within the jurisdiction of the province (Section 92A (1) (c)).
  • Alberta has reduced electricity emissions by 53 per cent since 2005.
  • Analysis by the Alberta Electric System Operator determined that Alberta would face disproportionate risk and costs, compared with other provinces, as a result of the federal electricity regulations.
  • Alberta’s grid had seven alerts during colder months in 2022 and had three alerts in summer 2023, underscoring the importance of having sufficient stable baseload power sources like gas, hydro and nuclear available year-round. Alberta must continue to rely on a diverse mix of intermittent and baseload options to prevent future brownouts and blackouts and maintain a reliable grid.
  • The Public Policy Forum previously indicated that the cost of the federal electricity approach could be more than $1 trillion and as high as $1.7 trillion.

Related information

Alberta

TDF funds defence of the “Coutts Three”

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The “Coutts Three,” Marco Van Huigenbos, Alex Van Herk and George Janzen

News release from The Democracy Fund

A jury trial is expected to proceed after pretrial applications.

LETHBRIDGE: The Democracy Fund (TDF) is funding the defence of three men charged with mischief in Lethbridge, Alberta. The men, known as the “Coutts Three,” are Marco Van Huigenbos, Alex Van Herk and George Janzen. All three are alleged to have been leaders of the 17-day trucker protest against COVID-19 restrictions that shut down the Coutts border in February 2022.

The matter is expected to proceed to a jury trial after pretrial applications are heard over the next few days. Jury trials are only available for serious criminal matters where the accused faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment or more.

The men should not be confused with the “Coutts Four,” who were among the twelve persons arrested in connection to an RCMP raid that resulted in the seizure of weapons and the end of the protest. According to Van Huigenbos, the message of the Coutts protesters “had been lost” following the arrests and the border blockade was voluntarily dismantled.

Donations for the three men can be made on this page.

About The Democracy Fund:

Founded in 2021, The Democracy Fund (TDF) is a Canadian charity dedicated to constitutional rights, advancing education and relieving poverty. TDF promotes constitutional rights through litigation and public education. TDF supports an access to justice initiative for Canadians whose civil liberties have been infringed by government lockdowns and other public policy responses to the pandemic.

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Alberta

Taking wildfire operations to new heights

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Drone and helicopter testing being performed by Alberta Wildfire personnel. Photo Credit: Alberta Wildfire

Budget 2024 enables Alberta to make use of leading-edge technologies to prevent and respond to wildfires.

As Alberta heads into wildfire season, many areas of the province are experiencing heightened wildfire risk. Alberta’s government continues to prioritize new technologies and tactics that will enhance front-line response and suppression efforts.

Budget 2024 will invest an additional $151 million over the next three years for wildfire preparedness, prevention, response and mitigation. This additional funding will enhance wildland firefighting capacity with increased wildfire resources such as personnel, aircraft, drones, artificial intelligence (AI) and night-vision technology.

“Alberta’s government is well prepared for the 2024 wildfire season. We have emerging technologies that will enable us to better protect forests and communities while continuing to prioritize proactive measures that build wildfire resilience throughout the province.”

Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry and Parks

Aerial operations are integral to firefighting efforts and increased funding will enable the province to add two additional long-term helicopter contracts, two new air tanker contracts and additional drones for aerial wildfire surveillance. Budget 2024 will also support the renewal of 130 helicopter contracts by April 1.

“We live in a time where we have access to incredible technologies and last year, we recognized some great successes from various firefighting technology pilot programs. I can say with confidence that the additional night-vision equipped helicopters and drones will make a big difference in our wildfire mitigation and response efforts this year.”

Bernie Schmitte, executive director, Alberta Wildfire

Alberta Wildfire will continue to explore, research and test new developments in wildfire prevention, mitigation, smoke detection and suppression to assess how innovative technologies can support a rapid response and help extinguish wildfires. Wildfire management best practices are always evolving, and Alberta’s government is working to stay ahead of the curve.

For future wildfire seasons, the government is exploring options to potentially expand the province’s air tanker fleet and pilot more emerging firefighting technologies.

Quick facts

  • Night-vision goggles amplify light 60,000 times and allow helicopter pilots to work overnight and conduct activities like bucketing operations.
  • Wildfire suppression efforts are more likely to be successful at night, as temperatures are usually lower, humidity is typically higher and wildfires are less active.
  • Alberta has been successfully using an AI wildfire occurrence prediction system since 2022 to identify areas where wildfires are likely to occur.
  • Budget 2024 also includes hiring 100 new firefighters, which will result in five additional 20-person crews.
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