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Oil well cleanup program listed as ‘key objective’ in Alberta’s pre election budget

Alberta’s Prime Minister Daniel Smith’s final budget before the expected spring election strongly supports tax cuts to help energy companies meet their legal cleanup obligations, but voters don’t know how much will be spent on it. I didn’t tell you what

The budget submitted to Congress on Tuesday lists “responsible management” as a key priority for both Alberta Energy and Alberta Environmental and Protected Areas. That phrase is how the United Conservative government now refers to a widely criticized proposal formerly called RStar.

The program is listed as Alberta Energy’s second priority. It commits the ministry to “work with other ministries … to maintain and strengthen a balanced and responsible approach to managing the impacts of resource development activities, including the continued implementation of accountability management activities.” To do.

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The Environmental Department is supposed to “address regeneration and restoration responsibilities through effective accountability management.”

However, Tuesday’s budget does not have funds set aside for the program.

Finance Minister Travis Toews said RStar is still in the planning stages.

“We do not see an Alberta Pension Plan in this budget, we do not see a definitive Alberta Police in this budget, we do not see an RStar program in this budget. None of these policies have been approved. because,” he said. he said on Tuesday. “We are reaching out to all of them and consulting with Alberta.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta budget to be announced on Tuesday'

Alberta budget to be released on Tuesday

Still, support for the program within the government is strong. One of the originators of this idea is currently working in Prime Minister Daniel Smith’s Calgary office.

Smith, who pushed RStar as a business lobbyist before becoming party leader, backed RStar again on Saturday’s radio call show. On that show, Smith also thought about expanding a similar program to cover the environmental responsibility of the municipalities of Medicine Hat, Kalmar and Calgary.

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“We also need programs that encourage us to wipe them out,” she said in Your Province, Your Premier.

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Through meetings with Alberta Energy and stakeholders, a $100 million pilot program was proposed. The department now says no decision will be made until the fall, a few months after Alberta’s vote.

RStar will give the company royalty credits to apply against new oil production to clean up old oilfield sites, which the company is already legally required to do. These credits can also be traded or sold, giving old and disused wells a potential value they can’t get without reprieve from taxpayers.

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Critics say it rewards companies that don’t meet their obligations and punishes those that do. They say it violates the polluter pays principle. Especially when energy companies are making record profits.

It has been widely opposed by economists, local authorities, financial analysts, local government officials, and former members of Smith’s own party.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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