In politics, as in baseball, you have to hit the pitches you know are coming. And credit where it’s due: Danielle Smith has been waiting on the federal government’s draft clean electricity regulations ever since she was elected in May, and she didn’t get cheated on her swing. “We are simply not going to achieve these 2035 targets and we’re not going to pretend they’re achievable,” she told the Calgary Sun’s Rick Bell.

Smith suggested the proposed federal regulations were “unconstitutional,” while Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz described them as “irresponsible and unrealistic” in her own comments. Never mind, for the moment, that they don’t ban the use of natural gas or prevent companies from building new natural gas-fired power plants, as Smith and her proxies have claimed repeatedly. In Smith’s Alberta, even the idea of trying to meet an ambitious climate change target is a bridge too far.

It’s the political equivalent of that old Simpsons meme: Her government has tried nothing and it’s all out of ideas. But this “can’t-do” attitude is a jarring departure from the story Albertans like to tell people, both about their energy sector and the province’s core values. In this story, Albertans are pragmatic problem-solvers who can rise to any challenge, one that’s often validated by their ability to “get the oil out of the sand,” as so many political speeches have said in the past. As such, the goal of getting the carbon out of the barrel — or, in this case, the megawatt-hour — shouldn’t be so immediately disqualifying.

That’s especially true when working towards the federal government’s net-zero target would actually help create jobs and attract clean energy investment, which used to be the priority of Conservative governments like Smith’s. But her government’s recent moratorium on new wind and solar developments — one that caught the companies building them completely off-guard — makes it clear the UCP’s top priority is preserving the status quo, no matter the cost to the long-term interests of Albertans.

Smith’s act of intergenerational political vandalism will probably work, too, at least in the near term. The instability created by her government’s energy moratorium will almost certainly be felt for years, as Alberta’s reputation with international investors suffers and wind and solar energy project developers look elsewhere for their next opportunity. By deliberately poisoning the well of renewable energy in Alberta, Smith is trying to turn an already difficult job into an impossible one.

The draft regulations are far from perfect, especially when it comes to the way it treats Alberta’s unique electricity grid. Unlike the rest of the country, Alberta’s deregulated electricity market relies on the private sector for the construction and operation of generating capacity. That means the carve-out for so-called peaker plants that would allow them to operate for 450 hours a year doesn’t make economic sense, given that it’s less than five per cent of an average gas plant’s annual operations. “I don’t see merchants in Alberta sitting idle for 5%,” University of Calgary economics professor Blake Shaffer tweeted.

Shaffer also highlighted the inclusion of so-called “net-to-grid cogeneration” (surplus electricity generated by oilsands plants) and shorter than expected end-of-life provisions (which allow plants built in 2015 and beyond to operate unabated for 20 years after they were commissioned, albeit, with a theoretically rising carbon price attached to their output) as provisions that weren’t particularly friendly to Alberta’s interests. And the need for an expanded intertie with neighbouring provinces like British Columbia, one that would allow Alberta to backstop its wind and solar with that province’s firm hydro assets, now becomes all the more urgent.

These are all negotiable points — they’re draft regulations, after all. But that requires the Alberta government to actually be interested in negotiating on matters of substance rather than merely grandstanding on principle. “To achieve the massive transformation requires an all-of-govt approach, working in sync with industry,” Shaffer tweeted. “The recent moratorium on wind & solar suggests no such behaviour is in the works; instead AB appears to be swimming against the tide.”

Whether Smith wants to admit it or not, that tide is only going to get stronger. Alberta’s hostility towards the federal government’s decarbonization efforts will cost it in terms of its international reputation (hello, negative Guardian story), its ability to attract talent and capital, and its appeal to young people who might be considering it as a potential home. It has already cost jobs and investment in its renewable energy sector, and it will almost certainly deter other investments in related areas of the cleantech economy. Even the oil and gas industry, which theoretically needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions if it wants to remain economically viable over the longer term, may come to rue this decision.

In Alberta, it used to be "skate to where the puck is going." Under Danielle Smith, it's "don't bother lacing up your skates at all." Why her "can't-do" attitude on climate and electricity is bound to backfire. @maxfawcett writes for @NatObserver

But these are problems for tomorrow’s Albertans. Indeed, if there’s one enduring lesson from Alberta’s political past, it’s that you can write cheques on the backs of future generations without paying a price for them. It’s why the savings in the Heritage Fund are a tiny fraction of what it could be. It’s why as much as $260 billion in environmental liabilities have been allowed to pile up without a real plan to actually clean them up. And it’s why Smith can pretend the federal government’s clean electricity regulations are an attack on Alberta’s future instead of an invitation to make it better.

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The move towards use of renewable energy sources (wind, solar & hydroelectric) around the world clearly represents an attack on Alberta. It is time for the UCP to bolster the Alberta "war room" so it can investigate and identify all the nefarious groups trying to handicap Alberta's oil and gas industry. After all, the only jobs of consequence are in oil and gas and no one, least of all Albertans, should be forced to consider change for the silly little matter of global warming.

sarcasm at it's very best.

does anyone else think Smith has been tasked with being an asshole as her job ? good lightening rod for enemies of oil to focus on and her reward for this is already on the books of big oil, who lets face it is her actual boss. ( as well as her previous boss)
please just stop writing about alberta!! we know they are oil assholes. erase them from commentary and STOP GIVING THEM AIR TO GLOAT OVER THEIR ASSHOLENESS. Ive come to think they love the attention like any jerk. starve them of political attention and focus your energy on the people working on actual sane stuff.

watch what happens then….

Hahaha! I think she's seen as an interim asshole, cheerleader for the boys working behind the scenes like her gatekeeper Rob Anderson, a lawyer from Brigham Young University, one of the authors of the "Free Alberta" strategy and the "Sovereignty Act," one of the "best policy minds working in Alberta today" according to Smith. Right. Convoy guy too of course, with the usual suite of stupidity attached to that....
And her chief of staff is this guy....
Winners all. Only in Alberduh.
But take heart; they're not taken seriously anywhere that matters, and in that battle with the federal government that they hinge everything on they can't win. And as climate change lends their basic denialism a tinge of insanity, well that's what I'm wondering. What happens when a government is so unprecedentedly and grossly incompetent? Something surely....

Do better Alberta. Elect someone not owned by fossil fuel interests.

The political decline in Alberta started decades ago. The economic decline is fresh, and is just starting its descent.

Why do Alberta Conservatives hate the free market so much?
I mean, I know why I'm not keen on them, but right wingers are supposed to like them, right? Seems after all they're only good if the right people are making money.

Smith like a less practical leader of the Chinese Communist Party.
Deng Xiaoping: "I don't care if the cat is black or white (ie communist or capitalist), so long as it catches mice."
Danielle Smith: "I don't care if the cat is black or white, so long as it stops mice from being caught!"

"Why do Alberta Conservatives hate the free market so much?"

Because they are not conservatives. They are something else, another animal altogether.

Traditional economic conservatives respect independence, innovation, wise financial management and conservation. AB's leadership lost all of those attributes decades ago when they succumbed to the puppet masters in the oil industry and have been dutifully doing their bidding ever since with every twitch of the strings.

One day there will be a reckoning, but it's the people who will suffer, most of all the working class folks who allowed themselves to be convinced that anger is strength and calm planning and truthtelling is weakness. By comparison the politicos have always had a comfy retirement to look forward to on the people's dime after their stint in government where the hard work of thinking was done for them by industry personnel who don't give a flying fig about the people who actually own the resources they profit so much on.

I have to take issue with the notion that I keep hearing over the past few years that this current bunch of right wing crazies aren't REAL conservatives. Since that sort of purist judgment sounds more like what religious people often say about their fellow believers, what does THAT tell you for starters? That conservatism has become more of a cult than just another political party and fair contender in our democracy.
Their standard facade has typically been that of heroic men standing stiffly at attention, proud keepers of "tradition" like decorated military commanders of past wars or the Pope or some such. Seems they just liked the uniform though since they've been taking serious runs at all our democratic institutions for years now.
So clearly what motivates them is indeed traditional, if tawdry--- a sheer, unalloyed greed for money and power. Yesterday's men.

"...conservatism has become more of a cult than just another political party and fair contender in our democracy." Just look at the cult being run by the repugs in the failed state to the south of us. Now, partly thanks to the influence of an Amurican oil people on Alberta, we have our own mini-Tr* right here in Canada's province of fossils.

Danielle Smith works for the oil and gas industry, not for Albertans. She was the industry plant to look after their interests, regardless of the cost to the economy and climate change. Once the oil and gas finish raping and pillaging Alberta, they will be gone in a flash and leave the clean-up bill for Alberta to deal with and wallow in the tailing ponds left behind.

Alberta had been this shining star, this city on a hill of renewables, because of Ralph Klein's conservative notion that anybody should be able to build a generator and demand a hook-up to the grid so they could sell, no approvals required.

That caused Alberta to put in more renewables than anybody for a few years - more wind than BC, SK, MB combined. And it was all being driven by the free market, so how could a Conservative complain about that?

They always find a way.

Regardless of whether you think the elimination of fossil fuels is or is not necessary, commenters here might consider Alberta’s reluctance to conform to Ottawa’s dictates as a matter of freedom. Canada spends millions of dollars to help Ukraine separate from Russia. Kiev is 755 km from Moscow. Edmonton is 2837 km from Ottawa.
Honestly, we just want you people to leave us alone. If you don’t like fossil fuels, then shut down the auto plants in Ontario and the aircraft factories in Quebec. Further, stop the bunker C fuel burning freighters navigating the St. Lawrence – especially the ones carrying conflict oil from foreign dictatorships. While you’re at it, close the valve on your gas meter. Are you feeling superior because you enjoy the benefits of hydroelectricity? Please dismantle the habitat destroying dams from which you selfishly benefit.
Perhaps you’re a fossil fuel hating Albertan that lives in Calgary or Edmonton. Fine, just put the windmills and solar panels near your home – not in rural areas “’cause nobody lives there anyway”. People that live in rural areas care about their communities just as much as urban Albertans. And if renewables (ie. Unreliables) are such a fabulous idea, then please don’t ask others to subsidize your choice of energy. Trust me – if you pay for your own mistakes, you’ll make fewer of them. Oh, and another thing: If you live in Alberta and you’re anti fossil fuel, then you’re pro blackout.
By the way, rural Albertans aren’t alone in their desire to protect their landscapes (not to mention the bird population) from renewable energy projects. Here’s a fast-growing database of communities that have also rejected unreliables:
Like the Chinese, the Germans, the Japanese and others, Albertans like fossil fuels, and have signaled their intent to keep burning them by choosing Danielle Smith as Premier - regardless of what you may think. Is she perfect? No, but at least she doesn’t wear blackface. Instead of criticizing Albertans’ political choices, please reflect on your own. I’m talking to you, voters in every province and territory except Alberta and Saskatchewan.
It has been said that “The best tax is one that someone else pays”. A corollary to the foregoing is that “The best virtue to signal is one that costs others but does not cost you”. I’m tired of idealogues who signal their climate virtues in ways that only cost others.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper dipped into his Conservative government's eco fund to help Alberta on the climate change front offering hundreds of millions of dollars.

“ Marlo Reynolds, executive director of the Pembina Institute, considered to be one of Canada's more moderate environmental groups, said while developing captured technology is a good first step, it doesn't mean Canadians should be paying for it.

"If shareholders invest in dirty companies, the shareholders need to bare the cost of the pollution. So we don't support a lot of public money going into carbon capture and sequestration," Reynolds told CTV Calgary.”