Alberta says Ottawa must consult it on climate pact

A truck drives down a street at Syncrude's oil tar sands operation near Fort McMurray, Alberta in this May 23, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Todd Korol/Files

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Alberta’s government has moderated demands for a direct role in negotiations between Canada and the United States on climate change but it wants the federal government to consult with the provinces before reaching any deal, Alberta’s energy minister said on Tuesday.

“Before they (Ottawa) get to that point ... all provinces need to have a clear understanding of what it is the federal government is going to put forward internationally,” Energy Minister Mel Knight told reporters at a conference in Calgary, “At the end of the day we’ll be responsible to pay the bill.”

Knight said Alberta concedes that the federal government should have sole responsibility for negotiating international agreements, though any check on emissions could affect oil sands projects in northern Alberta and coal-fired electricity plants in the province.

When a pact with the United States was first mulled last year, the province said it was necessary for it to be at the table to ensure its petroleum and electricity industries didn’t face restrictions that would disrupt investment.

Alberta produces most of Canada’s oil and natural gas and itself is one of the largest oil exporters to the United States due to rising output from its oil sands, the largest crude reserves outside the Middle East. However producing oil from the oil sands emits more carbon dioxide than producing oil from conventional sources.

Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Peter Galloway