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

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