Develop Alberta’s oil sands in an environmentally responsible way. The Provincial Energy Strategy states the Alberta government’s commitment to developing our energy resources in an environmentally responsible way. Through clean energy production and wise energy use, Alberta will remain a global leader. Significant steps have been taken on these fronts through strategies such as Water for Life and the Climate Change Strategy and more can and will be done. Increasing the focus on cumulative effects will help manage and minimize impacts of development. The new regional planning focus of the Land-use Framework will further ensure that the environmental, social, and economic implications for each region are considered. There is an increased focus on oil sands extraction processes to use less energy and water, reduce tailing ponds, and improve land reclamation. Sound policy and legislation will further minimize the risks of development to wildlife and the environment. Strategy one is intended to achieve ecological sustainability in oil sands development while considering impacts on quality of life. Implementation will allow for the further protection of human and ecosystem well-being as well as the modelling of environmental stewardship
Substantial growth in the oil sands industry relies on support for people and communities in Alberta. Fast-paced oil sands development has put pressure on infrastructure and essential services. Although the Government of Alberta has addressed all of the immediate priorities reflected in the report Investing in our Future: Responding to the Rapid Growth of Oil Sands Development, additional focus is required to sustain growth and plan for future development in Fort McMurray and other communities in the oil sands regions. Communities need additional capacity to absorb growth and support the pace of development. As well, all levels of government, local authorities, communities, and industry must work together to address the pressures related to growth. Strategy two further supports the Government of Alberta’s priorities by promoting the development of sustainable, healthy, safe, and vibrant communities through coordinated efforts to build community capacity, invest in social resources, and develop physical infrastructure.
The oil sands present many economic opportunities for Alberta. As outlined in the Provincial Energy Strategy, Alberta’s energy future will only be realized by balancing economic opportunities with environmental, social, and infrastructure challenges. Through this responsible approach, Alberta will optimize oil sands development and the full economic value for all Albertans while also addressing environmental and social needs. Both the Provincial Energy Strategy and The New Royalty Framework recognize that to build a stable and prosperous future, the province must get the best possible economic return on the long-term development of its energy resources. Extending our role along the value chain through upgrading and refining bitumen to transportation fuels and other products will further expand our economy. The Provincial Energy Strategy identifies, as an aspiration goal of the Government of Alberta’s Hydrocarbon Upgrading Task Force, an ultimate portfolio mix of one-third bitumen sales, one-third synthetic crude oil sales, and one-third sales of finished products and petrochemicals. Attracting and retaining a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce is also a key element in sustaining a competitive advantage in our economy and ensuring future prosperity. This approach, along with diversifying our markets and selling more than products, will maximize the value of the resource for Albertans and mitigate potential risks posed by an economic downturn in any one region. Following the direction outlined in the Provincial Energy Strategy, strategy three is intended to actively increase the economic return to Albertans from the oil sands and ensure long-term benefits of development through partnerships, regulations, appropriate royalty structures, and other means.