Enter Ken Hughes, Alberta’s new energy czar
Policy decisions have come back to haunt past energy ministers
Being the minister of Alberta’s energy department is one of the plum cabinet posts in the province. But with great power comes great responsibility – and the possibility of upsetting a lot of people. It is something Alberta’s newly-minted energy minister, Ken Hughes, will surely find out. With that in mind, Alberta Oil looked back at some policy decisions that haunted energy ministers of recent vintage, and what issue could bite Hughes on the posterior during his tenure.
Reign: May 2012 to present
Policy Waterloo: None (yet)
Hughes is only two months into the job, but there are a few land mines he must avoid stepping on. The future of the government’s support of carbon capture and storage – a key strategy to reduce the province’s growing greenhouse gas emissions, but one that Premier Alison Redford is not keen on – could be a thorn in the side of the new energy minister. So, too, could the government’s performance regarding environmental stewardship of the oil sands. Hughes will have to handle these energy issues, and others, deftly. Or else.
Reign: December 2006 – January 2010
Policy Waterloo: Alberta Royalty Review
This ill-fated 2007 initiative saw a review panel recommend the oil and gas industry pay substantially higher royalty rates. The government rejected many of the recommendations, leaving Knight open to criticism for being too soft on the industry. But it still increased royalties, which angered the oil patch. When it came to the 2007 royalty review, there was lots of pain and no gain, for Knight and the provincial Tories.
Reign: October 2011 – April 2012
Policy Waterloo: The Heartland power line
In October 2011, Morton sent a letter to the Alberta Utilities Commission asking it to scuttle the review of the controversial 500 kilovolt Heartland transmission line. One problem: Premier Alison Redford had told Morton to do no such thing. Landowners in southern Alberta, who claimed the government ran roughshod over their rights to get the line built, weren’t pleased. Morton would lose his Foothills-Rocky View seat in April’s provincial election to the Wildrose Party candidate. Coincidence? We think not.