"The Canadian economy is based in large part on the abundance of our natural resources," Harper said. "We need to develop those resources to maintain our economic strength. We must develop those resources so we can meet the challenges of what still remains a very fragile global economy.
"But we also have a duty to ourselves and to future generations to develop those resources in a way that is responsible and respects the environment."
Fifteen projects will test the feasibility of various technologies, and 40 will be research and development projects aimed at bringing ideas to the testing stage. Energy efficiency, bioenergy, transportation, clean energy, unconventional oil and gas are some of the research areas.
The companies getting the funding are spread across seven provinces and two territories. The cash comes from the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative program from the 2011 budget.
Harper made the $82 million announcement after touring CO2 Solutions Inc. in Quebec City with Industry Minister Christian Paradis and Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney.
The company, one of the recipients of the funding, specializes in developing technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions, particularly from large sources of it such as power plants. The new funding will be dedicated to a project researching more efficient ways of capturing carbon dioxide from Alberta's oilsands.
Harper said carbon capture is a practical and responsible way of developing the oilsands.
Canada is still awaiting a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from the United States. The proposed pipeline would carry crude oil from Alberta through Nebraska so it can get to the Gulf Coast refineries. Environmentalists are opposed to greater development of the oilsands because of the impact they say carbon dioxide emissions have on the environment.
Harper and his government have been lobbying hard to get approval from President Barack Obama's administration for the pipeline.
Glenn Kelly, chief executive of CO2 Solutions, said using carbon capture technology in the oilsands will not only be good for the environment, but for the public relations campaign on the pro-Keystone side.
"Adoption of carbon capture technologies, such as CO2 Solutions', in the oilsands will definitely have a positive impact on our country's environmental performance and also on the perception of oilsands bitumen in Canada, here in Quebec and also internationally," he said at the news conference with Harper.
"This will help guarantee much needed pipeline access to export markets and will allow producers and Canada to obtain the full value of our resources."