Brian Jean, Alberta’s new Minister of Energy and Minerals, has been given clear directives by Premier Danielle Smith to support the further development of the province’s energy resources. In a mandate letter released on July 10, Jean was tasked with developing and implementing an “investment incentive program” for various technologies, including carbon capture, utilization and storage, ammonia, helium, lithium, liquefied natural gas, geothermal, and mineral development.
Premier Smith emphasized the importance of defending Alberta’s energy interests against federal overreach and establishing strategic alliances with other provinces to address energy-related issues. With Alberta owning the largest oil and gas deposits in the free world, the direction in which the province develops its energy resources will have a significant impact on global emissions reductions and energy security.
One of Jean’s responsibilities is to review the findings of a panel on Alberta Energy Futures and recommend which strategies should be implemented to strengthen Alberta’s global competitiveness in both conventional and emerging energy sectors. This includes promoting industry and provincial partnerships with indigenous communities and reviewing policies to achieve the province’s goal of increased natural resource production and carbon neutrality by 2050.
The mandate letter also called for increased investment in emissions-reduction technologies and energy export, as well as the promotion of small and micro modular reactor technologies for use in oil sands operations and petrochemical production. Jean was instructed to collaborate with the ministers of justice and environment to ensure the Canadian Energy Centre effectively informs Canadians about the importance of the energy industry and highlights Alberta’s world-class environmental standards.
In addition to these priorities, Jean was asked to design a job-attracting strategy that targets young Albertans aged 16 to 24 and adults transitioning careers. The aim is to raise awareness of skilled trades and professions through education, apprenticeships, and training programs.
Alongside Brian Jean, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz received her mandate letter on July 10. Her responsibilities encompass accelerating technological advances to reduce emissions and protect the province’s land, air, and water.
Premier Smith acknowledged Alberta as the most responsible energy producer and exporter on Earth, with substantial investments in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources. Schulz was tasked with working with the federal government, First Nations, and industry to implement an accelerated strategy for oil sands mine water management and tailings pond reclamation.
Importantly, Jean and Schulz will collaborate to implement an emissions reduction and energy development plan. Schulz is also expected to review the province’s water management strategy to increase water availability while maintaining high standards of conservation and treatment. Additionally, she will analyze Alberta’s carbon sink capacity and establish new protocols for carbon credit development and trading.
Other directives included promoting Alberta’s regulatory and cumulative effects management systems for climate and environmental policies, as well as developing a circular economy for plastics development and recycling. Premier Smith’s vision is for Alberta to be recognized as a North American center of excellence for plastics diversion and recycling.
While many of Schulz’s responsibilities parallel those of Jean, such as defending Alberta’s interests and creating job-attracting strategies, their collaborative efforts will contribute to the sustainable development of Alberta’s energy resources and a cleaner environment for future generations.