Monday, May 23, 2011

Harper Conservatives ‘hypocrites’ on oilsands: Alberta

This fascinating article from the Calgary Herald poses an interesting range of opinion. First the Obama administration is beginning to pressure the Harper Conservatives on the oilsands - even beginning to wonder whether a moratorium on new development might be in order. Apparently, this is prompting the Harper government to threaten to implement regulations for the oilsands unless the Alberta PCs implement something first.

For the Alberta PCs, this is a menacing threat - Stelmach will not tolerate Ottawa (remember Harper and most of his cabinet are actually from Alberta) interfering with their tarsand operations. Besides, they claim they are confident that Alberta is already providing world class oversight and monitoring on this amazing resource. And beyond that, the Harper Government (TM) is not doing enough to help Alberta with its world-class PR campaign - including lobbying offices in Washington DC and beyond - to sell the world on the tar sands development.

On top of all this, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is complaining that the Stelmach PC government is already ruining their ability to make money in the province and unless this improves, they might leave and ruin Alberta's economy.

Let's take a reality check here....

The tar sands are out of control. Their ongoing development contributes more GreenHouseGas emissions than many industrialized countries and in terms of energy balance, they are a very poor choice as an energy source (yielding only 3 barrels of oil for every barrel of oil equivalent invested). In spite of passionate claims to the contrary - Alberta's monitoring and regulation programs have been proven to be woefully inadequate. From Harper's conservatives to Stelmach's PCs, there is far more tax payer money being spent in a PR campaign (for more information on this, just review the Bruce Carson scandal) promoting the unregulated exploitation of this resource than there is on monitoring, regulation or enforcement. Not only that, Alberta is giving royalty holidays on projects until their capital investment is paid off - so companies are operating essentially risk-free - and even when royalties are collected, they are based on bitumen prices which are about half of the world oil prices. American companies and American workers are benefiting from the upgrading jobs and world oil prices. The failure of the Alberta PC government to collect the fair share of profits for the people of Alberta is one of the biggest reasons that the Alberta government can't afford to pay for health care or infrastructure development. If you don't want to take my word for it, just compare the royalties collected by the Norwegian government to what Alberta collects.

Even PC founder and former Alberta Premiere Peter Lougheed is on record in calling for a moratorium on future developments.

Let's get real here. The Alberta government, under pressure from CAPP, and with help from the Harper Conservatives are stealing from the people of Alberta and from the Canadian people. All we are getting are a few good paying jobs and environmental destruction of the boreal forests at a rate that has never been duplicated in human history.

And if you think that multi-national oil companies are going to stick around to clean up their mess when the most profitable oil sand mining areas are depleted - why don't you take a quick look at the history of the Sydney tar ponds.

Harper Conservatives ‘hypocrites’ on oilsands: Alberta

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Peak Oil: A Chance to Change the World | Common Dreams

I might be accused of being a pessimist - or perhaps being overly critical - and this might be a fair accusation. Nevertheless, I find myself incredibly frustrated by the actions of some of my colleagues in the oil and gas industry. Exxon-Mobil is probably the easiest example to criticize. For one thing, they are the biggest and the best at what they do. Among my complaints, they have made the largest investments in funding pseudo science to refute global warming - much like the big tobacco lobby of a few decades ago. They have also used their money and influence to overturn Canada's environmental safeguards that would have slowed down their tar sand mining operations and even to attack Alberta's provincial government for requesting slightly higher royalty payments.

OK - in fairness, I guess corporations exist to maximize profits and these pseudo-persons, from a legal perspective, are not encumbered by conscience. From this perspective, Exxon is just doing its' job.

That being said, I find it sad to hear that their current CEO is being invited as an inspirational speaker at university commencements.

And this alternative commencement address - given a few minutes after Exxon's heart-warming words - offers some small beacons of hope for an alternative future ahead.

Peak Oil: A Chance to Change the World | Common Dreams

Monday, May 9, 2011

80% renewable energy possible by 2050: U.N. - World - CBC News

In a world facing the challenges of declining oil and gas reserves coupled with climate change, it will take massive investments in renewable energy and infrastructure to make significant changes. Fortunately, there are countries interested in creating an alternative and sustainable future.

Unfortunately, Canada is continuing to subsidize the oil and gas industry rather than take a leadership role in this critical move towards sustainability. This leaves us with the least energy efficient economy in the industrialized world at a time when energy prices are moving towards record levels.

Will we ever have the necessary motivation for political change?

80% renewable energy possible by 2050: U.N. - World - CBC News

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Canadian Economy will soon suffer from Harper's out-of-touch energy policies

Stephen Harper claims to be "business friendly" - his critics might even call him "corporation friendly". This is generally observed in terms of his government's plans to reduce corporate taxes while burdening consumers with unpopular HST programs and decreasing public services like health care because there isn't enough money to fund them. Harper justifies this by saying that these corporation friendly actions are needed to insure that companies will invest in Canada and create jobs which will grow the economy.

However, it is important to note that a Harper government isn't friendly to corporations that seek to develop important new economic sectors. Even when these companies would provide many quality jobs and even reduce our economic dependence on declining (and increasingly expensive) supplies of fossil fuel.

When it comes to carbon taxes or cap and trade systems to benefit the environment, the Harper conservatives claim these measures would ruin the economy and threaten countless jobs. Economic analysis shows that this economic slow-down is caused because the carbon management systems simulate high oil prices - and this causes the economy to shift away from fossil fuel usage. Fortunately, government raises money with these systems that is typically used to fund alternative energy systems, public transit etc. This new industry and transportation development creates new jobs that ultimately grow the economy. For a good example of this, just look at Denmark.

Harper's extreme loyalty and complete allegiance to the oil and gas industry leaves Canada completely vulnerable to high oil prices - which are inevitable as oil production slows on a global level. Lagging behind the rest of the world on renewable energy and environmental protection will ultimately handicap Canada's economy far more than any carbon management regulations.

Green energy sector not cheering Tory majority - The Globe and Mail

Their man has a majority; now oil patch wants elbow room - The Globe and Mail