Hon. Jim Prentice, Vice Chairman of CIBC, says Canada's interests are best served by a continued open and free energy marketplace
HALIFAX, April 30, 2013 /CNW/ - CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM) - Canada must continue to fight for a North American energy marketplace that is free of national and sub-national impediments, says the Honorable Jim Prentice, Senior Executive Vice-President and Vice Chairman of CIBC.
Speaking to the Maritimes Energy Association in Halifax, Mr. Prentice said that the unprecedented evolution of the North American energy marketplace in the last five years has made energy independence a reality - a reality that will have a lasting and positive influence on both the prosperity and the security of North America.
But he told his audience that the rapid increase in U.S. domestic oil production means that the American need for Canadian energy is declining. "What we cannot afford to do as Canadians is to take our energy relationship with the U.S. for granted," said Mr. Prentice.
"That means being vigilant in watching for and resisting impediments to its function and health. In particular, we must resist the emergence of sub-national standards that threaten to infringe on both the spirit and the letter of our free trade agreements. We must stand against American interests who seek policy outcomes that would game against Canadian energy producers.
"And so it is incumbent on us as Canadians to remind them of their commitment to a free and open energy marketplace - and of the benefits that this market has brought and will continue to bring. Interventions by government, while well meaning, are nevertheless potentially damaging and counter-productive."
He noted that Canada has the potential to develop 25,000 MW of hydroelectricity over the next 25 years, including more than 3,000 MW from the Lower Churchill Project. Lower Churchill would create more than 16,000 person years of employment in Atlantic Canada and deliver sufficient power not only to meet the needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador but also for export through the Maritime Link to Nova Scotia and other jurisdictions.
Protecting the ability for Lower Churchill and other hydroelectricity projects to have free market access to U.S. jurisdictions is in both countries interests said Mr. Prentice. "If we work together and clear away the growing number of irritants, we can produce a cleaner energy system - with Canadian hydro serving as a storehouse of North American energy, available as needed at the flick of a switch.
"A greater reliance on Canadian hydro would also position the North American continent to secure not only an economic but also an environmental advantage - achieving meaningful emission reductions even as our prosperity continues to grow, and enabling our continent to achieve the benefits of a low-carbon future ahead of other jurisdictions. It is therefore essential that Canada strive to ensure the U.S. marketplace remains open to our hydro exports."
Mr. Prentice believes that it is important that the Canadian and U.S. federal governments establish working groups with real teeth that would set bi-national policies and agreements that advance our shared competitive advantage. He would also like to see the elimination of "discordant regulations that, in the end, will aid in advancing the prosperity of neither country".
"Canada must respond to the continent's new energy reality by pursuing its own geopolitical interests as one of the world's largest energy suppliers," said Mr. Prentice. "We can press for a continued, open continental market while at the same time moving with purpose to meet the current and future needs of our existing and potential customers.
"If we play our cards right, there will be profound opportunities for Atlantic Canada and for our country as a whole."
A copy of Mr. Prentice's speech is available at: http://files.newswire.ca/256/PrenticeSpeech.pdf
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