McMillan urges silent majority to speak up – CAPP head appeals to consumers
26 Nov 2014
McMillan urges silent majority to speak up
CAPP head appeals to consumers
TORONTO — The new head of Canada’s powerful oil and gas association wants to mobilize the silent majority of energy consumers to speak on its behalf as the industry looks to counter environmental groups’ campaigns against major pipeline projects.
“I want to convert you from being an energy consumer and endorser to becoming an energy advocate and energy citizen,” Tim McMillan, who took over last month as president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, told a business audience in Toronto Wednesday.
In interview, he added, “the industry has a role of explaining itself, but it is most powerful if someone within the community the industry operates in puts their hand up unprompted.”
The former minister of energy in Saskatchewan took on the role as the industry’s spokesperson in October at a time major oil pipeline projects are facing significant hurdles as some groups demands more action on greenhouse gas emissions, while provinces demand greater environmental scrutiny.
McMillan admits he is an “unconventional” choice for the CAPP role, but believes his experience as a cattle rancher who ran an oilfield services firm gives him firsthand experience of how resource extraction and the environment can coexist.
“I come to this new role not from Alberta or as a geologist or petroleum engineer, but as a Canadian who grew up surrounded by the energy industry and has seen first hand how it operates and how it can transform, in a positive way, one’s community and province.”
Born and raised on his family’s farmhouse east of Lloydminster, the 41-yearold said he “roped and rode horses half the time and worked on the oilfield the other half. Half my hockey teams’ moms and dads were ranchers and the other worked in the oilfield.”
The industry needs to highlight more about its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint and the fact the industry pays carbon taxes or levies in Alberta and British Columbia, McMillan said.
Still, Canada, as a signatory of the Copenhagen Accord, is set to miss its greenhouse gas emissions target by 2020, primarily due to the oil and gas industry’s rising production. This week, Quebec and Ontario stipulated impact of GHGs as one of their seven conditions on TransCanada Corp.’s Alberta-to-New Brunswick Energy East pipeline project.
“At first blush, Quebec and Ontario are (talking about) ideas they have largely put forward over the last year,” McMillan said, sidestepping a question of rising municipal and provincial scrutiny.
“We can produce oilsands with 28 per cent less greenhouse gas emission per barrel than years ago and there are technologies that are being worked on today that will continue to reduce that. But we can’t take the foot off the gas.”
McMillan is confident the market will respond to the challenges of stalled pipelines, but warns “we need to be mindful of getting our products to market.”
While he claims attitudes toward oilsands development have improved significantly over the past three years, the industry has often seen its supporters retreat into the shadows as new projects are announced.