Pipelines, climate change on the agenda as Harper, Notley meet in Calgary

Climate change, pipelines and flood mitigation were on the agenda Monday as Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Stephen Harper had their first formal meeting.

CALGARY — Climate change, pipelines and flood mitigation were on the agenda Monday as Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Stephen Harper had their first formal meeting.

If there was tension between the NDP premier and the Conservative prime minister, neither let on. In a photo opportunity before the meeting, Notley asked Harper about how his Stampede had been so far and the two tipped their cowboy hats for the cameras.

After the meeting, Notley said it wasn’t her impression that recent Alberta efforts to toughen the rules for large carbon emitters were a “huge irritant” for Harper.

“I think it’s fair to say he acknowledged that some of the numbers that we put out had been floating around within the oil and gas boardrooms for a while,” she said.

Last month, the Alberta government said it would require facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 to reduce their carbon intensity by 20 per cent in 2017, versus 12 per cent currently.

For emissions that go above that threshold, the price of carbon is doubling to $30 a tonne in 2017. The province has also appointed University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach to lead a panel that will help develop a broader climate change strategy.

Notley said they also talked about TransCanada Corp.’s (TSX:TRP) Energy East pipeline to the East Coast and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion to the Vancouver area — two proposals she supports.

On Trans Mountain, she said there was some discussion about what Ottawa can do to boost spill recovery efforts in the Lower Mainland.

Notley has been less keen on TransCanada’s long-delayed cross-border Keystone XL proposal and Enbridge Inc.’s (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, B.C.

More than two years after floods hit much of southern Alberta, the two also delved into disaster relief and ways to mitigate similar events.

The money now available is “not a very large pot” at $200 million and the province has put in requests for $600 million, said Notley.

“So we know that there’s some fairly major pressures for the flood mitigation projects here in Calgary and we also know that at the end of the day we save money by putting those mitigation efforts in place.”

An emailed summary from the Prime Minister’s Office said Harper and Notley “committed to working together on matters of interest to Albertans and all Canadians, with a focus on jobs, the economy, and long-term prosperity.”

“They discussed the importance of maintaining a strong and growing energy sector and the respective roles of the federal government and the provinces on meeting Canada’s 2030 climate targets. Prime Minister Harper also highlighted the importance of the Canadian resource sector to the economy and the government’s ongoing commitment to responsible development, market diversification, trade expansion and skills training.”

Earlier Monday, Notley had her first turn as head pancake flipper at the annual premier’s Stampede breakfast in downtown Calgary.

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