Jim Prentice: Many meetings

The minister of the environment grants an interview to Policy Options magazine (link launches a .pdf). I was curious to see what he was saying about this “continental solution” to energy and environmental matters that we hear so much about from… well, from Jim Prentice. I actually don’t hear much about it from the Americans, with whom we share a continent but not, as far as I can tell, a policy on energy and the environment. Or even a desire to have a common Can-Am policy on energy and the environment.

Anyway, here’s the minister on cross-border relations. His comments come in two separate parts of the interview. First he’s asked about clean technologies, and he points out there are meetings on clean technologies:

I think it’s useful to come back to the Clean Energy Dialogue that President Obama and Prime Minister Harper agreed on. The President made his first international trip here. Three working groups were set up under the Clean Energy Dialogue, and the first of those deals with clean engine technologies and research. So on a scale that has never actually been achieved previously, we will be working together with the United States on these working groups, and one of them is very specifically focused on new technologies.

Then he is asked about greenhouse-gas reduction protocols and he says there are meetings on that too:

I’m under no illusions about how complex this is. And continentally, in particular, we’re working very closely with the Obama administration. I spent a lot of time with their climate change negotiator, Todd Stern. In the major economics forum, I sit at the table for all of those meetings. We’ve spent a lot of time with Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, Carol Browner, the President’s adviser on climate change and energy security, and others, including congressional leaders. So it’s coming together, but it is complex. And you know, I would point out that the Waxman-Markey Bill — I read in the Washington Post —is considered by many to be the most complex legislation that has ever been introduced into the House in the United States. The Bill is 1,000 pages long. It has over 100 amendments. There are eight subcommittees that have jurisdiction over its contents. And it’s been winding its way through the US system for months now. This is very complicated stuff, very heavy going. And there’s a need to pay a lot of attention to detail, or we will damage our industrial competitiveness, with no offsetting benefits to the environment.

So while he’s meeting Todd Stern, Lisa Jackson, Carol Browner and others, the Waxman-Markey bill passed the House, and you know, it’s a funny thing: I checked the Congressional Record, and during the Waxman-Markey debate nobody mentioned a continental policy on energy and the environment.

What’s most striking about Prentice’s remarks is how — no, not process-obsessed they are, not quite, because process obsession implies a certain level of disquiet and nervousness. There’s none of that here. The minister seems perfectly process-content. He sits at the table for all of those meetings. And when they pass a bill without mentioning him or the rest of us, he gets to read about it in the Washington Post. So everything’s tickety-boo.

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