Climate Leadership Plan is Justified

By Estefania Cortes-Vargas, MLA for Strathcona-Sherwood Park

Since our government announced it just over a year ago, we have been confident that the Climate Leadership Plan would help Alberta gain greater access to tidewater for our oil. Our conviction was justified.

Over the past year, discussions with school boards, municipalities, farmers, chambers of commerce, not-forprofit organizations and Albertans have occurred around the Climate Leadership Plan. As many Albertans know, the conversation around climate and the economy have largely been polarizing, resulting in a standstill for many years. This has resulted in a haphazard approach that did not addresses the concerns on both sides, but which our government believes the best way to move forward is to change this.

Our government has proven that you don’t have to choose between jobs and the environment. We can do both. We are doing both.

We do not have to choose between being environmentally responsible and having a strong energy-based economy. We do, however, need to lead respectful conversations with people on every side of the debate and come up with solutions that move Alberta forward. This has been the approach our government has taken since being elected into office. It was the leadership of Premier Rachel Notley and the Climate Leadership Plan that was recognized by the prime minister and industry leaders when the two pipelines were approved.

These pipeline expansions will create investment and good jobs for Albertans, and in the long-term, will help our oil and gas industry get better prices for their products. It’s great news for Alberta. And it’s especially great news for the people of Strathcona-Sherwood Park. Home to Alberta‘s Industrial Heartland, the Kinder Morgan pipeline project is a boon to the region, as it is expected to create more than 40,000 jobs over the next two decades. It will also pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy over the same time span.

By breaking Alberta‘s land lock and getting a pipeline to tidewater, Alberta‘s world class energy producers can now get a world-class price for their products by selling to new markets. Our government has proven that you don’t have to choose between jobs and the environment. We can do both. We are doing both. The failure of previous federal and provincial governments to take climate change seriously was a dead-end for Alberta families and our economy. We are choosing a different path, and our plan is getting results.

Another way our government is getting results is through the Petrochemical Diversification Program. It was announced just this week that operations positions would be created once the facility is up and running. Construction is expected to start in 2017, and the plant would be open in 2021.

We care about the future of our province and we care about every person in it. We are working hard to move this province forward and ensure all Albertans have good, mortgage-paying jobs. Working families shouldn’t have to choose between making a decent living versus protecting the environment for our kids and future generations, and now they don’t have to.

Estefania Cortes-Vargas is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Strathcona-Sherwood Park Constituency. If you have any comments or questions concerning this column or other provincial government issues, please contact Estefania at her constituency office located at #19 - 99 Wye Rd., Sherwood Park, T8B 1M1. Telephone: 780-416-2492 or e-mail: strathcona.sherwoodpark@assembly.

First published in the Sherwood Park News, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016