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Alberta helped stop Maryland climate bill: Premier Stelmach

The Alberta government helped block global warming legislation in the state of Maryland, according to Premier Ed Stelmach.

But the actual author of that legislation isn't so sure.

In early 2009, then-House of Delegates representative Roger Manno introduced a clean energy law designed to show state leadership on climate change.

That bill, known as the Oil Sands Responsibility Act, would have prohibited state agencies from purchasing high-carbon fuel derived from places such as Alberta's oil sands.

Maryland imports virtually no oil sands energy. The bill in a certain sense was symbolic, Manno told the Tyee -- a chance for policymakers to learn more about the industry's contribution to global warming.

Gary Mar, Alberta's U.S. representative, travelled to Maryland to voice his province's opposition.

"With respect to the state of Maryland, [Mar] worked very diligently with the Legislature there to remove its anti oil sands bill," Premier Ed Stelmach told the provincial legislature in April 2009.

Manno disagreed. He said policymakers were concerned the bill would be hard to implement because suppliers often sell fuel blended from many different sources.

"I don't remember the Albertans or oil companies having any big influence," Manno told the Tyee.

Mar's Maryland excursion was only one of many attempts to influence climate-concerned American policymakers. He's met with dozens of political leaders and industry reps since being appointed to lead Alberta's Washington Office in 2007.

Mar has also advocated against climate change laws being proposed in states across the eastern and midwestern U.S., the Tyee reported Thursday.

Last year, the Washington office cost Albertan taxpayers $1.22 million. Premier Stelmach believed in 2009 the province was getting good value for its money.

"We have a revenue stream of approximately $40 billion at stake," he told the provincial legislature. "We're going to have to put a full-court press on the United States, including all the governors, all of the public administration that we're dealing with."

Mar's office did not respond to requests for an interview.

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.

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