Federal Environment Minister Guilbeault asks his Alberta counterpart to “fix” the column on reducing emissions

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has written a letter to his Alberta counterpart to correct what he calls mistakes in Jason Nixon’s report recent log column.

Earlier this week, an Alberta newspaper ran an op-ed by Nixon in which he called the new federal plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions “crazy.”

In his letter, sent Friday, Guilbeault says Nixon misread a chart and got his facts wrong.

“I want to correct the record on what this plan does and doesn’t do,” he wrote.

The first sentence of Nixon’s column, published on Saturday, reads: “Alberta won’t accept production cuts in crazy climate plan released by Liberal-NDP coalition.”

He supports this by referring to figures from the federal document. He writes that they prove that the federal plan is an attempt to reduce oil and gas production and economic activity in Alberta, which would destroy the province’s quality of life.

That’s not what the numbers say, writes Guilbeault.

The reductions that Nixon points to instead refer to differences in projected production with and without the emissions reduction plan. The plan actually allows the oil sector to increase production, he said.

“Oil production could increase by about a million barrels a day and emissions would stay in line with Canada’s 2030 40-45% reduction target from 2005. The plan is focused on reducing emissions .

Guilbeault points out that leadership is shared by industry groups such as the Oilsands Pathways Alliance, a coalition of major oil sands producers.

“Informed public debates cannot take place when fundamental facts are entirely misinterpreted by public officials,” he wrote. “I respectfully request that you correct the public record.”

In an emailed statement to CBC on Friday, Nixon doubled down on the content of his column.

“If Minister Guilbeault wants to reverse the production cuts modeled by his insane climate plan…he should scrap it and roll back the oil and gas production caps that masquerade as emissions caps. A cut of production below expected growth is always a reduction,” Nixon said.

He said the Alberta government “will not agree to a plan that infringes on the natural resource guarantees that former premier Peter Lougheed fought to secure for the benefit of all Albertans.”