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Alberta and feds reach deal on methane emissions

Methane’s environmental impact is 25 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.

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The province of Alberta announced Tuesday afternoon they have reached a preliminary deal with Ottawa on methane emissions from businesses.

A preliminary equivalency agreement with the federal government is a major step toward providing Alberta’s oil and gas industry a single set of strong rules to reduce methane emissions and protect the environment,” the Alberta government said in a release.

“Without this agreement, federal rules would remain in effect in the province indefinitely, meaning producers would need to adhere to two sets of overlapping methane reduction rules. Now, the process to stand down federal regulations in Alberta can begin, allowing the province to build on an already excellent history of reducing emissions utilizing local expertise.”

Methane’s environmental impact is 25 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. In 2014, the baseline year to measure reductions, an estimated 31.4 megatonnes carbon dioxide equivalent of methane was emitted from Alberta’s upstream oil and gas sector, the province said.

The Alberta approach is expected to reduce methane emissions by 45 per cent from 2014 levels by 2025.

The province and feds have been negotiating for years over methane emissions. The agreement means Alberta’ will achieve the same emissions reductions as the federal regulation by 2025.

The province said it is expected to exceed the reductions of the federal regulation by 2030.

“The flexibility and innovation allowed in Alberta’s regulatory framework means industry can achieve emissions reductions in a more cost-effective manner and with more certainty around the regulatory process,” a government release said.

Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon was thrilled a deal has been reached.

“This agreement represents further proof that environmental and economic outcomes go hand in hand. It is a further testament to Alberta’s strong tradition of regulatory excellence and another successful example of the province retaining our own jurisdiction over our regulatory processes. Our large industries have consistently demonstrated that emissions reduction can be achieved through innovation and we will continue to support this approach,” said Nixon in a statement.

Energy Minister Sonya Savage said: “As we make plans for economic recovery and set a course for our province’s future prosperity, it is critical for industry to have the regulatory certainty needed to operate and further invest in Alberta. This preliminary agreement will give Alberta the ability to achieve methane emission reductions through one of the strongest regulatory systems in the world.”

The agreement was also welcomed by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

“The preliminary agreement is good news for Alberta’s oil and natural gas producers. It will reduce the administrative burden on companies and give them a single framework for tackling methane emissions when the agreement is finalized. Our country has some of the most stringent regulatory standards for methane emissions and our upstream oil and natural gas industry remains committed to achieving the federal methane emissions reduction targets.”,” said Tim McMillan, president and CEO of CAPP.

The preliminary agreement will require a legislated review process and approval by federal cabinet. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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EXCLUSIVE: Edmonton looks to set up race-based criteria for business subsidies

The Edmonton proposal said “30 per cent of funding goes to business owners who self-identify as a member of a marginal community” in one of the streams.

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The City of Edmonton is looking at a cash program to help businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic – with nearly a third of the cash set aside exclusively for businesses own by minorities.

The idea was discussed at an Edmonton City Council committee meeting Thursday afternoon and will be debated by the full council on Monday.

The Economic Recovery Grant Policy says businesses are eligible for grants if they meet one of nine categories including if “it demonstrates benefits to members of communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”

The Economic Recovery Grant will provide financial support for local businesses through two streams: the City Stream and the Business Association Stream.”

In documents obtained exclusively by the Western Standard, the Edmonton proposal said “30 per cent of funding goes to business owners who self-identify as a member of a marginal community” in one of the streams.

Edmonton city council document

In the other stream “30 per cent of funding goes to projects or programs that directly target businesses that are members of marginalized groups.”

Edmonton Ward 3 Coun. Jon Dziadyk said the proposal gives him some concerns.

“The merits of a quota system can be debated. I only hope this added criterion does not impede the immediate dispersal for businesses poised to best assist in the economic recovery effort that all Edmontonians are facing,” Dziadyk said.

On May 11, 2020, Edmonton City Council approved the redirection of $5.295 million to fund a COVID-19 business relief program.

Under the first grant stream, businesses could apply for matching funds in the range of $1,000 to $25,000 to help them change their services or product delivery to follow COVID-19 guidelines, the CBC said.

Under the second grant stream, a business could apply for $10,000 to $75,000 to put toward a long-term development activity that aligns with the program criteria.

It’s believed this phase of the program would run throughout 2021 and account for the remaining 60 per cent of the available grant money.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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First-time drunk drivers in Alberta won’t be charged criminally

Instead, under a measure designed to clear up thousands of hours of court time, the drivers will face steeper fines and restrictions in a process the government says will take no longer than 30 days.

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Alberta drivers arrested for the first time for drunk driving will not be charged criminally, under new laws unveiled by the Alberta government Thursday.

Instead, under a measure designed to clear up thousands of hours of court time, the drivers will face steeper fines and restrictions in a process the government says will take no longer than 30 days.

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said Thursday the legislation would see a first-time impaired driver fined $1,000 and banned from driving for over a year unless they have an ignition interlock installed in their vehicle.

Drivers can appeal the decision, with the entire process scheduled to take no more than 30 days.

Schweitzer said repeat offenders and those who cause bodily harm or death will still face criminal charges.

“By removing these matters from the court system, we will save thousands of hours of police and court time per year, ensuring Alberta’s prosecutors and courts are able focus on the most serious justice matters and more police are patrolling the streets,” the government said in a release.

“This bill would introduce a new Immediate Roadside Sanction program in late 2020 that would keep our roads safer by providing serious, immediate and escalating consequences for all impaired drivers – a system that has been proven to significantly reduce impaired driving and especially impaired driving fatalities in other jurisdictions.”

The government said new zero-tolerance consequences for novice drivers and commercial drivers will also be introduced, as will new fines, longer vehicle seizures, mandatory education and lengthy periods of ignition interlock. 

“The new impaired driving administrative model is based on changes made in British Columbia, which has seen their rates of impaired driving incidents drop by 36 per cent from 2011 to 2018 and the number of impaired driving fatalities fall by 54 per cent from 2010 to 2018,” said the government.

“We have heard loud and clear from Albertans that they are frustrated with seeing cases dropped because of the court backlog we inherited from the previous government. This legislation proposes smart administrative changes that will ensure our courts and police can keep our communities safe by focusing on serious and violent crime,” said Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer.

Alberta police chiefs welcomed the move.

“This announcement is good news for policing and the justice system as a whole. With court time being used more appropriately, we will have increased capacity to begin repairing the damage caused by impaired driving and follow other successful models in reducing traffic collisions that cause serious injury or death. An expedient, simplified traffic system also means officers are granted more time in our communities to focus on reducing crime and victimization,” said Dale McFee, chief of the Edmonton Police Service, and president, of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police

Anti-drunk driving advocates also welcomed the proposed changes.

“MADD Canada welcomes these new laws and sanctions. These streamlined administrative options for certain offenders have proven very effective at reducing impaired driving and saving lives in other provinces. They will do the same in Alberta. We thank the Government of Alberta for its leadership and ongoing efforts to prevent impaired driving,” said Andrew Murie, chief executive officer, of MADD Canada.

The UCP government is also setting up a new system to deal with traffic tickets.

“If passed, Bill 21 would also create an administrative process for dealing with non-criminal traffic offences. The new online system would be introduced in late 2021 and would be easier and quicker for Albertans to navigate,” the government said.

“These tickets, currently dealt with by the courts, will be handled online by administrative adjudicators – removing almost two million tickets from the courts. This system will be easier to use and Albertans will have their matters dealt with in 30 days, not months or years after the fact to ensure impaired drivers are off the roads as soon as possible.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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EXCLUSIVE: Calgary councillor worried city cops may bring home ‘rage’ and cause unreported domestic disputes

“There’s some sick rage there. I would bet it goes home with them and the outcome goes largely unreported,” Druh Farrell tweeted.

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Calgary councillor Druh Farrell has called into question the home lives of city police officers, saying rage from their duties likely comes home with them and results in unreported domestic disputes.

“After watching multiple videos of the horrendous police violence against POC (people of colour), I can’t help wondering about domestic abuse within law enforcement families. There’s some sick rage there. I would bet it goes home with them and the outcome goes largely unreported,” Farrell tweeted at the height of rioting in the U.S. over the death of George Floyd.

The tweet drew an angry response from people in the police community.

“It’s an absolutely stupid thing to say and I’m so disappointed,” said former Const. Mike McNamara, who served with the Calgary Police Service for 25 years.

“If she wasn’t referring to CPS members, I wish she would have said that… it’s very inflammatory to all the hard working, decent, respectful policemen out there.”

Al Koenig, a 30-year veteran and longtime head of the Calgary Police Association was equally outraged.

“Using a tragedy in another country to disparage police families in Calgary is despicable as well as ironic, given the continual gong show that has become City Council,” said the now retired former officer.

” Perhaps some focus on her own job would be a better use of resources.”

In a series of tweets following her original, Farrell credited the work CPS has done with minority groups.

“Calgary has also moved to a community policing model, building partnerships with other agencies to strengthen relationships with diverse and marginalized communities. That doesn’t mean they’re perfect. Thankfully they’re aware of the issues and are working to address them,” she tweeted.

“That doesn’t mean members of the public shouldn’t feel free to criticize their police service. That’s the sign of a healthy democracy.”

Floyd – an African American – was killed last week after a white police officer knelt on his neck while arrested him in Minneapolis.

Since then there has been eight nights of rioting across the U.S. that has resulted in deaths, thousands of arrests and billions of dollars in damage.

Four of the police officers involved in the Floyd death have been charged.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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