Implementation of full royalty report even more pressing in light of today's NEB decision to approve

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

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.

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For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL President @ 780.218-9888 (cell)

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