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In the Alberta government’s climate change/carbon tax/phase out coal/renewable energy debate, I have never seen an objective analysis of how Alberta could meet its lower greenhouse gas (GHG) goals as cheaply as possible with the least possible damage to the province economy.

We know the New Democrats’ end goal. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed Canada to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by one-third, from 2013’s 726 Mt (million tonnes) to 523 Mt by 2030. So must Premier Rachel Notley do the same, reducing Alberta’s GHG emissions by approximately a third from 2013’s 267 Mt to 193 Mt by 2030.

We know however, that this New Democrat government is in love with renewables, regards coal as the face of evil, dislikes oil, and only grudgingly puts up with natural gas.

But the question to be asked – the logical, rational question – is this: What combination of coal, natural gas, oil, renewables and conservation would reduce provincial GHG emissions by one-third … at the most cost-effective price?

Would an all-natural-gas electricity generation system – low-cost natural gas completely replacing coal – meet Alberta’s carbon reduction goals? At what cost, especially to the taxpayer?

Would a combination of the province’s state-of-the-art coal plants (being phased out by provincial decree) and added natural gas generation still meet carbon reduction goals? At what cost?

If cleaned-up coal and natural gas generation does not meet GHG reduction goals, would a combination of renewables (wind, solar, hydro, run-of-river, biomass), coal and natural gas do the trick? At what cost? What about nuclear?

If only the exponential growth of renewables can meet Alberta’s GHG reduction goals, as this government fervently believes, what’s the cost?

On the oil and gas production side, can GHG emissions be significantly reduced through new extraction and processing technologies? At what cost?

At refineries, petrochemical plants and other industries, can carbon capture and storage dramatically lower the carbon count? At what price?

Having a realistic picture of the most cost-effective way of dropping emissions by a third, you’d think would be an absolute must.

This NDP government, however, appears fixated on renewables and has little interest in finding a least-cost solution for carbon reduction.

If we had a realistic picture, would we still need a carbon tax … and a complete ban on future coal-burning … the cheapest fuel around?

In Saskatchewan, Premier Brad Wall is mapping out a radically different climate-change program then is the case here in Alberta.

Not for Wall a carbon tax – an imposition, he says, that would harm Saskatchewan and its citizens “in trade-exposed, carbon-intensive industries that are especially vulnerable.”

Wall proposes that $2.65 billion earmarked by Ottawa for third-world emission-reduction aid be kept in Canada, the money diverted for emission-reduction research benefiting Canada’s carbon-intensive industries, renewables and nuclear.

Wall’s proposal is political posturing and won’t happen. But he is saying what so many Albertans want to hear from Notley, that the oil, gas and coal industries are vitally important to Alberta. “We will defend our economy,” said Wall in a recent speech, “(an economy) that pays for the quality of life we want for all Saskatchewan people and we will fight for our interest.”

Premier Notley’s disinterest in our oil, gas and coal industries is deafening, and is reflected in the latest survey released by Lethbridge College’s Citizen Society Research Labs. The Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta currently commands 38.4 per cent voter support, Wildrose is at 25.7 per cent, and the governing NDs third at 19.7 per cent.

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Regarding last week’s Hicks on Biz column in the Edmonton Sun entitled Rogers Place helping Edmonton take back the night: I sincerely apologize for using most inappropriate words and inadvertently offending many in the downtown community.

It’s not about “normal” people taking back the night by attending Rogers Place events, not about a them-versus-us mentality.

What I was trying to get at was the Jane Jacobs’ notion that having way more “eyes on the street” deters petty criminal activity by a very small segment of the downtown street community.

My choice of words was, to be blunt, terrible. I should have known better, especially since I’ve long been involved and have headed up charitable causes such as Adopt-A-Teen, the ATCO/Sun Christmas Charity Auction and Catholic Social Services, all directly or indirectly serving the downtown street community.

I’ve made mistakes before and I’ll make mistakes again. It comes with the opinion territory. In this case, I do ask your forgiveness. God still has me under construction.