Implementation of full royalty report even more pressing in light of today's NEB decision to approve "bitumen highway" to U.S., says union leader

    Without safeguards, Keystone pipeline will "act as a spigot draining
    thousands of potential value-added jobs out of Alberta," says McGowan

    EDMONTON, Sept. 20 /CNW/ - If Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach was looking for
another good reason to implement all of the recommendations put forward by his
government's blue-ribbon Royalty Review panel, the National Energy Board (NEB)
has given it to him.
    In a ruling handed down late this afternoon at its Calgary headquarters,
the NEB gave the green light to a controversial mega-pipeline that will ship
more than 600,000 barrels of raw bitumen each day from Alberta to upgraders
and refineries in the American mid-west.
    For the past year, two labour organizations - the Alberta Federation of
Labour (AFL) and the Communication, Energy, Paperworkers (CEP) union - have
led the fight to stop the pipeline on the grounds it will ship literally
thousands of high-quality upgrader and refinery jobs down the pipeline along
with the bitumen.
    "The bottom line is that every barrel of raw bitumen shipped to upgraders
and refineries in the U.S. is a barrel of bitumen that's not available for
Alberta-based upgrading or job creation," says McGowan.
    "In effect, the NEB is allowing the creation of a 'bitumen superhighway'
that will take Alberta resources to refineries in the States. That may be
great news for the Americans, but it's bad news for anyone who believes, as we
do, that Albertans should be more than 'hewers of wood and drawers of water'."
    In a letter sent to Premier Stelmach shortly after the NEB decision was
announced, McGowan argued that the NEB decision makes full implementation of
the royalty panel's recommendations more crucial than ever.
    "Without safeguards like the proposed upgrader royalty credit, the
Keystone pipeline and others like it will act as a spigot draining thousands
of potential high-paying, value-added jobs from Alberta," wrote McGowan.
    McGowan says that "more aggressive action" - like regulation or even
government ownership of projects - may be necessary to promote a "more
vigourous Alberta-based downstream petroleum industry." But he said an
upgrader royalty credit is the bare minimum of what should be done to keep
jobs and value-added production in the province.
    McGowan will be one of several Alberta union leaders appearing at a NDP
news conference at the Legislature tomorrow morning to discuss the implication
of the NEB decision. The news conference is scheduled to take play in the
press gallery media room at 10:30 a.m.

For further information:

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

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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