Labour leader urges NEB to stop energy companies from "sending Alberta jobs down the pipeline"



    McGowan accuses Stelmach of being "missing in action" on issue of
    critical importance to Alberta's economic future

    CALGARY, June 7 /CNW/ - If approval is granted to the proposed Keystone
mega-pipeline, literally thousands of potential Alberta jobs in upgraders and
refineries will be lost and Alberta will miss out on an historic opportunity
to build a more diversified economy.
    That was the message delivered today by Alberta Federation of Labour
president Gil McGowan as he testified before the National Energy Board in
Calgary. The NEB is currently considering an application from TransCanada
Pipelines to build a major new pipeline to transport huge volumes of unrefined
bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to upgraders and refineries in the United
States.
    The AFL - along with groups like the Communication Energy Paperworkers
union and the U of A's Parkland Institute - is attempting to stop or delay the
project until policies can be put in place to promote Alberta-based upgrading
and refining of bitumen from the oil sands.
    "Every barrel of bitumen shipped down the Keystone pipeline or other
similar proposed pipelines is a barrel of oil no longer available for
value-added production and job creation here in Alberta," said McGowan.
    McGowan argued that as many as 18,000 jobs could be "shipped down the
pipeline" if Keystone is allowed to proceed. He pointed out that more than a
dozen proposed Alberta upgraders and refineries are on the books - more than
enough to handle projected increases in oil sands production. But he said he's
worried those local projects "may never see the light of day if their
potential feedstock is sent to refineries in places like Illinois, Texas and
Ohio."
    "Why should we settle for the 17 long-term jobs that Keystone would
create at a handful of pipeline pumping stations when we could have 18,000
jobs in upgraders or refineries?" asked McGowan.
    "Why should we sit on the sidelines while big, U.S. controlled integrated
oil companies use our oil to revive their aging refineries in the U.S.
mid-west and on the Gulf Coast - when that oil could be used, instead, to
transform Alberta into North America's newest hub for upgrading and refining?"
    McGowan reserved some of most scathing criticism for the Alberta and
federal governments - who are not appearing at the NEB hearings and who have
not raised any objections to the Keystone proposal.
    "Where are our governments? Who's protecting the public interest? The
failure of our governments to be here and promote Canadian-based, value-added
production and protect Canadian jobs is nothing short of a travesty," said
McGowan.
    "I'm particularly disappointed in Ed Stelmach. During the leadership race
he promised to be a champion for Alberta-based upgrading and refining. But the
silence from his office is deafening. He and his energy minister, Mel Knight,
are missing in action on an issue of critical importance to our province's
economic future."
    McGowan urged the NEB to use the power granted to it under federal
legislation to put the pipeline on hold until a "Canada first" approach to
managing the oil sands is developed.
    "If you follow our advice, a few pipeline and oil companies might face
short-term financial setbacks," said McGowan. "But Albertans, the real owners
of the resource, have little to lose and much to gain."
    McGowan will be available to talk with the media outside the NEB hearing
room after the hearings wrap up today at 1:30 p.m. The hearings are being held
on the 2nd floor, 444-7th Ave SW, Calgary.

    Note: Full transcripts of the hearings can be obtained by calling Kristen
    Higgens, NEB Communications Officer, @ 403-292-4800





For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL, President at (780) 218-9888
(cell)

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