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Why Prentice took on the oil sands

Jim Prentice preaches responsibility regarding the oil sands


 

Why Prentice took on the oil sands It wasn’t quite Daniel in the lions’ den, but it had a whiff of Nixon to China about it. Here was a senior Conservative cabinet minister putting the boots, at least rhetorically, to Alberta’s oil sands.

“It is no secret, and should be no surprise, that the general perception of the oil sands is profoundly negative,” Jim Prentice said the other day. “That is true both within Canada and internationally.” The environment minister was speaking to members of the University of Alberta Calgary schools of public policy and business. Right there in Calgary. The belly of the beast. Well, it was the Palliser Hotel, so it was the fanciest part of the belly of the beast, but still.

In his next sentence, Prentice seemed uncertain where to put either blame for the oil sands’ image or hope for its improvement. “We need to continue the positive work of industry, with investments in environmental technologies that will show the world how environmental responsibility and excellence can be taken to new levels,” he said.

But then: “Absent this kind of Canadian leadership, we will be cast as a global poster child for environmentally unsound resource development. Canadians expect and deserve more than that.”

A bit of a mixed message, then, but in the end it was Angry Jim who tipped the balance. “For those of you who doubt that the government of Canada lacks either the willingness or the authority to protect our national interests as a ‘clean energy superpower,’ think again,” he warned darkly. “We do and we will. And in our efforts we will expect and we will secure the co-operation of those private interests which are developing the oil sands. Consider it a responsibility that accompanies the right to develop these valuable Canadian resources.”

It was unusually strong language coming from Prentice. Indeed it may even wind up meaning something significant. “Nobody should be under the illusion that every single industry won’t be asked to do its part,” a senior government source told me. (Which means everyone should expect that every industry will be asked. These complex constructions can be tricky.) “The oil sands industry is going to have to do their fair share.”

And if anyone can ever be expected to ask the oil sands to do their fair share, it’s an Albertan Conservative prime minister with an Albertan environment minister. The Liberals tried leaning on Alberta oil for national policy ends in the 1980s and it ended badly for them. Whereas Harper would have some credibility at home on the issue.

But the question that remains unanswered because I don’t think the Conservatives know the answer yet is: fair share of what? The only reason to require significant green constraints on the oil sands, which after all contribute only five per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse emissions, is if the Harper government makes a serious effort to reduce emissions anywhere. Here, Prentice was ambiguous at best.
The government “will implement the Copenhagen accord,” he said. But he added a jumbo red-white-and-blue caveat. “We have consistently said from the outset that we must harmonize our climate change strategy with that of our greatest trade partner because of the degree of economic integration between our two countries.” So no action unless the Americans get their act together? Absolutely. “We will only adopt a cap-and-trade regime if the United States signals that it wants to do the same. Our position on harmonization applies equally to regulation. Canada can go down either road—cap and trade or regulation—but we will go down neither road alone.”

This wasn’t a warning to the oil sands so much as a heads-up: the industry’s future will be determined in Washington. Two very different outcomes are possible. Harper will not move against the oil sands, or anything else, on principle alone. If the Obama administration and Congress can’t implement a serious climate change policy, the oil sands will have a carefree future.

But if Obama and Congress do get a meaningful cap-and-trade system running, then neither will Harper spare Alberta industry on principle. There are public relations benefits in seeming to be green. Regional political opportunities, too. The Conservatives have more seats to gain in Quebec and Ontario than in Alberta.

Most importantly, Harper has never believed a Canadian prime minister can legitimately disagree with an American president on something important. He sends Prentice out to attribute this to “the degree of economic integration,” but it’s really just his personal credo. We’re different from the Americans in all sorts of ways that could conceivably affect competitiveness—tax rates, infrastructure spending, health care system design. We could have our own carbon policy, too. Harper won’t hear of it.

Well, he does show some independence. You can reach carbon targets by penalizing emissions or by investing in new technology. The Obama administration is outspending Harper’s government on renewable energy by about 14 to 1. Per capita. Which means if he does ever lower the boom on the oil sands, Harper will have to be that much more punitive. That’s the price of failing to match Obama in action while Harper hopes to match him in inaction.


 

Why Prentice took on the oil sands

  1. It is in Alberta's and the oil sands producer's self-interest to develop bitumen in the lowest cost and most sustainable fashion. That is by using spent nuclear fuel as the heat source to mobilize the resource.

    Tuesday, Suncor Energy announced its quarterly results which were a disappointment to investors. Taking into account the Energy Return on Investment for in situ production of the oil sands is 5.2/1, at current prices roughly $15 worth of energy is used to produce a barrel of bitumen. If Suncor/Petro-Canada had produced the 318,200 bpd it report for its last quarter using the Nuclear Assisted Hydrocarbon Production Method they could have increased their profits by $429,570,000 -almost double what they did make – and would have produced zero CO2 and would not have polluted an ounce of surface water.

    Prime Minister Harper has telegraphed Canada's interest in securing nuclear weapons and bomb materials. Importing the global spent fuel inventory would not only sustainably produce 6 billion barrels of bitumen a year it would eliminate the nuclear threat.

    With the waste problem solved we could also sell CANDUs.

    • It is truly unfortunate that serious plans to convert to a nuclear assisted extraction process were not begun years ago.

      • I agree. Nuclear would have left some easily recoverable natural gas for our children.

      • Reminds me of the old proverb "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now."

        And a nuclear facility in Ft McMurray and another in the Edmonton area could supply all the steam, hydrogen and electricity required for the upgrading and refining steps, leaving the only CO2 emissions to take place at the time of consumption, which generally speaking is not in Alberta.

    • Do you honestly, and I really want to emphasize this, believe that if the 2nd largest Canadian oil company could instantly double its profits on a move like this, that they wouldn't have already jumped at the chance last year? (I know that sounds snarky, but I just want to get the point across.)
      Clearly, something is missing in this equation. Suncor employs a lot of PhDs in engineering, chemistry and the like to look into and develop ideas just like this. My guess is that something doesn't jive, either legislative, logisitically or economically.

      Sounds like a good idea, prima facie, but I feel like the devil's in the details on this one.

      • His plan is to bury spent nuclear fuel in the oil sands formation. Does that answer your question? Never happen.

  2. Since it has been shown conclusively now that AGW is a fraud why should we be worried about this at all?

    • Wow… just… wow

      • I'll bet you could find a lot of people who would make the case that any is too much.

      • Glo-Bull Warming is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated in human history.

    • Comments like yours show why the rest of us have to even more worried about this.

      • Even more worried? Since you no longer drive a car nor heat your house, there's nothing to worry about.

    • Hey Rick you are using oil industry sources to claim "conclusive" evidence.
      I you look at REAL science you will see that warming is progressing dramatically.
      We have cherry blossums in Vancouver for the WINTER Olympics. 10 degrees C.
      But keep driving your SUV – its your right.

      • Cherry blossoms in February in Vancouver isn't new and isn't caused by global warming. It happens regularly. Read some old newspapers.

      • Wow… just… wow

    • "it has been shown conclusively now that AGW is a fraud"

      – not quite, it has been shown conclusively that AGW is not PROVEN and is still just a theory. There are other well-researched theories regarding climate change (not even the eco-zealots call it global warming anymore – well, the truly hopeless still do) that have nothing to do with human activity.

      Consensus is politics, not science.

      • When you write "just a theory" this demonstrates you are scientifically igorant. I hope you are proud. Have you ever heard of the theory of relativity, or the theory of evolution?

        Maybe you should do some reading.

    • I completely agree with you about the AGW-angle. I am all for "cleaning up" the tar sands, but that has nothing to do with CO2 emissions with are completely harmless.

      • AGW might not be as dramatic as they made it sound, but still is a big issue and it does need to be fixed.

        • Claudia & E_M … Please tell us how "global warming" can be fixed.

          I sincerely believe that, if asked in a panic stricken tone, you would stop and sign a petition against any of us using any of these following chemical compounds: Dihydrogen Monoxide, Hydroxylic acid and/or Hydrogen Hydroxide and most particularly if you were told all of those chemical compounds were necessary to and used for oil recovery in and from the tar sands.

          If you said to me … how can we keep the common and dangerous pollutant "estrogen" out of our drinking water or that we have to stop flushing condoms and plastic tampon containers down the toilet, I could agree with you and I would help to fund a campaign to produce change.

          But you don't – You are a religious zealot just like every other zealot whose intellect engages only it's belief circuits.

          Think Kid, Think, Who benefits from that belief system? All of mankind or just a few predators?

          • But you don't – You are a religious zealot just like every other zealot whose intellect engages only it's belief circuits.

            She writes a one line positive optimistic sounding comment, and she gets this diatribe in reply. I think I know of the two who I would label as a zealot: LOser.

          • Mr. Dot …. Global warming is nothing, it's a made up lie by people with ulterior motives who have sucked so many other people into believing the lie … Claudia BELIEVES that GW is a BIG issue and it does need to be fixed! It is time that we communicated the crass stupidity of that belief position. There is no global warming dot … There are real problems with pollution and chemicals and other man created problems which are pushed aside because Al Gore wants to transfer your money into his friging pockets while he lives a lifestyle that would support half the homeless in Calgary.

            Claudia and you seem to think that her comment was positive and optimistic ….. you're full of it. It is NOT a "big issue" that "need to be fixed".

            It's a diversion for people like you … you will have to pay the taxes for it …. you will have no interest or inclination to ask why so many normal children in our schools are being given chemicals to "control" them and the so many of the other real assaults being made upon you and your community by people who care only for profit and not about humanity.

            You are not man or woman enough to use your real name and you hide behind a DOT. Get real, global warming is an attack on your standard of living, nothing more and nothing less.

          • Are you really Tom Cruise in real life?

          • Okay, let's just flesh out your conspiracy theory here. Please just tell me why, exactly, there is this vast conspiracy to prove the existence of anthropogenic global warming. Who gains? If it's just an attack on your standard of living, who is gaining by this? Do you seriously believe the scientists producing the data are benefitting? They all got good marks in school. They could be making far more money working for an oil company or investment bank rather than some university research institute.

  3. While using spent nuclear fuel may make economic sense, it would be the case of winning the battle while losing the war (on public opinion). Canadians (especially in the west) have a dim view of nuclear power and it would not succeed in helping the tar sands image.
    The tar sands are too important for Canada and the USA to shut down. There may be concerns in Washington about the growing wealth in Canada so the growth in tar sand exploitation could be tempered by "environmental concerns".

    • It makes environmental sense as well. The Province needs to do its homework and then present the best option to the public. I suspect Lougheed would have figured it out, but since his day leadership in Alberta has been sorely lacking.

  4. The tar sands and nuclear reactors CANDUs or other are NOT safe. The waste is still poisonous for 40 Billion + years. Depleated Uranium is used in our wars and poison our troops and the soil forever. The poison cloud from its use was detectable in the UK. Cancer rates of returning soldiers has climbed by 10+%. and over all disease rates by 30%. info available at these links: google: depleted uranium. or http://www.grassrootspeace.org
    Also the tar sands have poisoned the ground water in Alberta. Google that too. you silly B.S. artists.

    • Geothermal energy is an indirect result of decaying radioactive material. Where do you think the heat in the earths' core comes from? China's coal fired plants?

    • Frankly Tim, your final statement does little to support the cause of reasoned debate on this topic.

  5. pw, any reason why you haven't posted at Blog Central or redirected from there? I just stumbled upon it myself.

    • It was my day for doing expenses. (Those are never great days.) But our traffic stats show more and more readers are stumbling upon the column on Fridays without my help, which is gratifying.

  6. Prentice is part of the reason the "perception" of the oil fields is bad.
    The "perception" by the world at large was that the globe was warming, that was pure fantasy and so is the "perception" of one of our most environmentally successful operations as bad.
    Check the facts, before the delusional idea that CO2 was a "pollutant" (political not scientific designation) the oil sands by any other measure are one of the best in Canada for environmental revitalization.
    Prentice is way way over paid for someone who shows all the intelligence of your average burger flipper.

    • Ignorant person, the problem is CO2 as a greenhouse gas, way way up in the sky, not down here where people breath. And as an Albertan, I believe the oil sands are filthy and the oil companies are liars and the Conservatives are delusional, believing the lies they keep repeating to each other "Oh it's not happening! (It is) The Arctic ice isn't melting! (It is). The earth is getting cooler (It is not)" etc., etc.

  7. We are also very short sighted when it comes to water. Canada has a very large share of the world's unpoluted fresh water supply. This is our children's future. It's maybe even more valuable long term than oil and gas. The tar sands is already poluting the Athabasca and now you're talking about sticking a nuclear power plant in the middle of this water shed. Great idea. Not!

  8. Just to be correct about how the story has been abused. The footprint of the mineable sand is 0.072% of the Province of Alberta (72/10,000) after 30 years of mining. The CO2 emissions alleged is 4% of Canada's 2% of global (0.04 x 0.02 x 0.02% = 0.000016%). 0.000016 % of 390 parts per million is 0.000016 x 390 = 6 parts per billion. What an enormous optical illusion has been used by environmental lobby groups to run down the reputation of Alberta and Canada. Do they get special tax concessions to allow this slander? Newspapers always show steam columns rising from the upgraders when the temperature is 40 below. The picture is always taken into the sun so the steam looks black; they call that pollution.

    Incidentally only a fraction of the 26% reclamation has been approved because of foot-dragging in the Environment Ministry of Alberta. Reclamation is commercially risky when the bureaucrats are in the thrall of the environmental lobbies.

    • Ha! The link from Artesian brings you to the Friends of Science – Climate Change Denier central, based in Calgary, founded at the Glencoe Club by a bunch of current/ex oil patch geologists. Some of whom apparently can't do basic math.

      But then again, this is just the opinion of one person. One person out of 6.5 billion = .0000000159% give or take a few decimal places.

      • And oil patch geologists are unsuited to comment on the oilsands? Do you assume that everyone that works in the oilpatch does not care about the environment? What about people that work in the auto plants in Ontario that make the cars that create the pollution that contribute to CO2…are they also unqualified? And what about the people that eat the food that is brought to them on trucks that burn the fuel that contributes to CO2…I digress…point being, the oilsands wouldn't be there if consumers didn't buy their product….we're all in this together…

  9. The real genius is that somehow Prentice has apparently convinced everyone that this was a substantive speech. wrt the oil sands, he didn't really say anything, and yet lots of analysts are looking between words, behind punctuation for meaning. He showed up, said nothing with his serious face on … and as Paul noted " it MAY even wind up meaning something significant".

    • This speach by Prentice rings as meaningfully as Clement's speach the other day about how hard the Tories are working these days for the people of Canada.

  10. Instead of creating a pi**ing contest amongst the provinces the sustainable development of Alberta's oil sands using the Nuclear Assisted Hydrocarbon Production method is an economic and environmental win/win for the country.

    Solving the waste problem opens up the CANDU market and creates engineering and construction jobs in Ontario and Quebec. Saskatchewan's uranium sales would benefit from the nuclear renaissance the Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance says isn't coming partly due to the problem of waste. And the patents for the Nuclear Assisted Hydrocarbon Production Method reside in British Columbia.

    Reuters pointed out last week, in an article, ‘Is clean tech China's moon shot?' “The owner of patents, not factories, will win the biggest profits and win the technology race.”

    As the inventor of the Nuclear Hydro Carbon Production Method, the Global Warming Mitigation Method and the Subductive Waste Disposal Method you couldn't prove the latter by me. What are the chances that is part of this country's problem

    • Hey, while having Friday after work drinks with friends at Caille's, Pennylane Calgary, I predicted the oil sands would have nukes within 10 yrs. Even took gentlemen's bets on it. That was about 10 yrs ago. And well before it was ever brought up in any serious way in the oil patch. Don't expect them to move in your direction before exhausting ALL other possibilities and efforts (including the political). Lesser of many evils, from my perspective.

      • Use to hoist a few in the Palliser Friday afternoons myself, bout 30 years ago. I'm not sure why Alberta would want to spend 40 billion to acquire 2 reactors would they could be paid to accept the energy equivalent of 200.

  11. The oilsands account for 0.1% of global anthro GHG emissions. Your math is wonky.

    • Good to know that the oilsands industry should only have to provide 0.1% of global GHG reductions. Any figures on how that industry is making out so far?

  12. Anthropogenic climate change is a crock, however a HUGE per centage of our GDP is based on trade with the US, much of it government tenders….let's connect some dots. Does anyone recall any recent annoucements on how Canada will be treated going forward on that issue? And just for the record, does anyone remember which portfolio Minister Prentice used to hold? I'd say we've got a pretty good bunch of poker players handling the file. Obama just raised on a busted flush and we called.

    • You mean the stimulus package that's mostly spent, and the WTO deal to open our markets that Obama said we'd have to sign from the beginning? We sure moved Obama off that puck,didn't we? Yeah, those guys are good poker players allright…i think they're playing blindman's bluff, not poker.

    • You poor, deluded sod. Believe what you like. I bet you wouldn't have believed Canada would have a $50+ billion deficit 5 years ago, though. Some poker players you've got there.

  13. There are public relations benefits in seeming to be green.

    Indeed . Please keep it this way .

    • Agree, this was PR, also the less they do on this file the better . It is about time that Canadians do a bit of research to see what is really going on. Then maybe we can get money to solve some of the real problem that are being left in the dark.

      Proud Canadian

  14. Hm. I suspect that it won't be too much longer before the provincial government decides to do something about the water issues that are being caused by oil sands development. Just looking at water use in Alberta, this is something that has been seriously concerning local municipal governments across the province so it shouldn't be too much longer before there's a province wide water usage strategy. I can't see how they could put something like that in place without looking at the issues relating to the Athabaska River.

    Now, while this has nothing to do with emissions or reclaimation of the tailings ponds, it'll probably be the first concrete thing that'll happen with regards to the environment and the oil sands, and it'll come just from local pressures and needs.

  15. "This wasn't a warning to the oil sands so much as a heads-up: the industry's future will be determined in Washington. Two very different outcomes are possible. Harper will not move against the oil sands, or anything else, on principle alone. If the Obama administration and Congress can't implement a serious climate change policy, the oil sands will have a carefree future"

    Are there wheels within wheels here PW? A cynic might conclude: " So, if you know what's good for you boys call your friendly Republican senator…wink..wink.

  16. Completely agree with your last para. Global pressure has much improved the situation in BC. Now reponsible eco-types sit down with the suits. It's not perfect, but it is an improvement. The same pressure will change the situation in AB as well, despite the hard feelings. It seems public shaming, loss of face and business is all these guys understand.

  17. Australian flags are apparently now the badge of choice for American backpackers in Europe. Even for some young Canadians, I understand.

    • Bonza! The thought of all those yankees memorizing their, G'day mates and fair dinkums is a hoot…what happens if they get asked on their views of the lbw law?

    • Bonza! The thought of all those yankees memorizing their, G'day mates and fair dinkums is a hoot…what happens if they get asked on their views of the lbw law?

    • Fusion eh! Just turn it over to the oil patch…those boys'll have a pipeline project to the sun up in no time at all.

  18. "The Obama administration is outspending Harper's government on renewable energy by about 14 to 1. Per capita. Which means if he does ever lower the boom on the oil sands, Harper will have to be that much more punitive. That's the price of failing to match Obama in action while Harper hopes to match him in inaction".

    Fine piece of inductive [ i think??] reasoning there Mr Wells. If you're going to sub out your EP it might be a good idea to match move for move…always assuming your policy isn't a cynical cover for as little action as politically possible.

    • Just this year Obama is taking America 1.8 Trillion dollars in the ditch, plus trying to re-finance 2 trillion short term debt, on top of around 15 trillion accumulated Federal US debt, gee I wonder how he's paying for crap that doesn't work anyway? For the record kcm, are you advocating a 180 billion deficit for the Torys? Run that one by Iggy, see if he thinks it is sound finance. The insanity to the south will come to an ugly end I fear, with terrible consequences for our export markets…btw, the Germans are not keen on bailing out Greece (which is in default in all but technicalities) and are talking about pulling the DM out of mothballs based on the promise that german citizens would never be saddled with the PIGs failure to belt tighten, like the germans did.

      • Obama's debt problems are immense. But i like how conservatives have saddled him with the whole blame. Years of neo-con lunacy[ lower taxes, peddle to the metal spending got them there] As for Iggy – he has outlined a strategy of sorts at least, for renewables. You seem to assume none of this stuff will ever pay for itself. I believe Wells is talking about taking steps to not be left behind in ne technologies – arguably we already have. If we aren't careful, we'll become the new Saudis – reduced to putting a spoke in future developments that might undermine their one commodity economy.

  19. "Consider it a responsibility that accompanies the right to develop these valuable Canadian resources.”

    Not bad rhetoric, but Prentice did mean to say "the privilege to develop", which is a licence granted by the people who hold the land in stewardship – you, me and every other Canadian citizen.

    • You'e a little shakey on your constitutional jurisdiction issues sport. Alberta's oil wealth is their own, Minister Prentice is certainly aware of this.

      • Alberta's oil wealth belongs to the people of AB…not just those who extract it…not all of whom are Canadian don't ya know. In a larger sense AB's are Canadian's last time i checked. As is Alberta itself…Canadian.

        • No, peter is describing the actual legal position; each province controls its own natural resources. The prairie provinces did not control their natural resources until 1930, when they each negotiated a transfer. The federal government had kept control of resources including land on the prairies because it was pushing settlement of the prairies as a way of enriching all of Canada (settlers go west and buy manufactured goods from the east).

          So the oil under Alberta belongs to the people of Alberta, not that many of us get an adequate share of the profits when the Conservative governments give it away cheap to foreign oil corps, leaving us with the environmental mess to clean up.

          • Support from an unlikely source! Are you guys too young to remember the NEP? Pretty much wiped Alberta out for about a decade…and that was just the fear of it. But honestly, your argument about the "oil belongs to the people" is ludicrous and could be spoken by Hugo Chavez. All mineral wealth belongs to the people, but it takes entrepeneurs and risk takers and huge capital investment to take an abstract in-the-ground mineral or resourse and turn it into a product that people want and a create a system of distribution to get it to them. Maybe a government could come up with a gun registry type program to achieve this? Wishing the world well is very much different than recognizing the nature of "Human Action" (buy it, read it). What you advocate, while I'm sure well intentioned, has PROVEN to be an utter disaster in every jurisdiction it has ever been attempted in.

          • I'm old enough to remember it, but wasn't affected by it all that much. But I've seen someone crying about how all the oil rigs went south across the border and someone else responding that yes they did and then the rigs went into the garbage because nobody wanted them there either. There was a world wide recession and it was not caused by the NEP.

  20. The tar sands and nuclear reactors CANDUs or other are NOT safe. The waste is still poisonous for 40 Billion + years. Depleated Uranium is used in our wars and poison our troops and the soil forever also the air we breathe. The poison cloud from its use was detectable in the UK. Cancer rates of returning soldiers has climbed by 10+%. and over all disease rates by 30%. info available at these links: google: depleted uranium. http://weshouldallcare.blogspot.com/ or http://www.grassrootspeace.org
    The water in Alberta is also now poisoned too. You PC's just don't get it do you.

  21. Given that the Western Climate Initiative means that very soon, over half of Canadians will be subject to a cap-and-trade system, doesn't that make the federal Tories' insistence on collaboration with Washington moot?

  22. Ric, re: "AGW's a fraud"

    It is most likely a fraud, but that does not matter, for even assuming AGW is the soundest of sound science,

    what Canada does or does not do with its oil sands (or anything else in our economy for that matter) would never, ever have made any impact whatsoever on this supposed "warming."

    We know this based on mathmatical certainty, given two undeniable facts:

    "climate" is worldwide, not confined to borders, and

    Canada's share of the supposed AGW gasses, is so minuscule that whatever we cut (particularily given China, India ect. increased output)

    Would do nothing.

    That Canada should lose a single job, a single dollar over this farce, will be looked back upon by future generations the way we now look back at flat earthers.

    • Unless you're the flat earther?

  23. More about Friends of Science misbehaviour here:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/11/19/friends-of-scie

    "…The ads also highlight the acquiescence of one of Canada's foremost media outlets, Corus Radio, in the spread of palpable misinformation about climate change…"

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/02/in-the-beginnin

    "…For the first time, we can confirm both financial and logistical support from an Albertan oil company, Talisman Energy, along with circumstantial evidence of the early involvement of a second, Imperial Oil (ExxonMobil's Canadian subsidiary)…."

  24. It's still about economics. If customers started avoiding oil sands based oil then it's market value would shrink. If people were to buy into a perception that carbon offsets made the oil sands acceptably cleaner then they would look the other way.
    It's still about perception. Carbon credits do not and never will effect carbon output whether you believe it's evil or not.
    Nuclear is not the answer unless you have a safe long term storage sight for waste and safer way to get it there. Canada does not have such a strategy; at least not a viable one being put to use.
    Fresh water is a distinction from Salt water. Not clean and drinkable. Our true drinking water reserves can't be counted in every source. Some might as well go for industrial use.
    Lastly, after the oil sands gets thumped, our personal habits will be revealed to be the biggest changes of our environment and not a single infant industry. Are you ready for real change?

    • Too bad you sound just like Obama…I think the world is still hoping for his promised change. Boy I sure wish he was leading us off the cliff too…

      • Given the circumstances just what would Bush have done differently, besides cutting taxes…yes that'll work, undermine revenues some more!

  25. Why isn't Canada stepping up with investments in new technology? Batteries, nuclear, wind, solar, etc ??

    • That is a good question. Maybe the answer is: Because the Government of Harper has emasculated itself over the environment

    • That is a good question. Maybe the answer is: Because the Government of Harper has emasculated itself over the environment

    • Why subsidize the competition when the oil sands is a cheap and environmentally sound alter…sigh!

  26. Here we go with the NEP b.s. again. Say Peter, do yourself a favour and watch this Ralph Klein video I put together a couple of years ago. It does get tiring hearing these unsubstantiated claims. Are you too old to remember what really happened? Can you differentiate reality from the spin anymore?

    [youtube Op6XLJCXagk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op6XLJCXagk youtube]

    • Dot, do yourself a favor, talk to some of the thousands who were wiped out financially. Talk to some of the speculators who had cash and were buying houses for a buck plus the mortgage. Reflect on who was president of the US and why interest rates spiked. Recall that Iran's oil was all but taken off the world market. Look at the forex rates, pay close attention to what happened to Mexico and recall the nascent NAFTA negotiations and the original Free Trade with the US. Sheelagh is far better at talking about books than incisive poilitcal interviews,,,was Ralph selling a book in the interview? Putting a happy face on the disaster that was calgary at the time?

      • Peter, do yourself a favour and talk to someone who was hired along with many others in many oil and gas companies a couple of years AFTER the NEP came into effect. Oh wait, you are.

        I can recall doing evaluations on O&G properties where the internal forecast for oil prices extrapolated out to $100/barrel, in 1980's dollars. Everyone was using similar forecasts, joint venture companies, banks, gov'ts (provincial and feds as well). THAT is why there was a huge bubble that burst. NOT the NEP. And there was a world wide recession, btw, the deepest for quite some time before, and since. I don't discount the dfact that there were financial troubles – I sew the layoffs myself around 1986 that continued into the early to mid 90's until world oil prices recovered.

        • Btw, one thing that is markedly different today from the 1980s is that demand for oil and supply is more closely in balance. The OPEC cartel no longer can just open the spigot and flood the market with cheaply produced light crude as it could in the 80s and 90s. Increasing demand from China, India, Brazil etc in combination of production capacity constraints (some adhere to the peak oil theory) has taken OPEC's price manipulation capability away from them. And therefore, the downside of any price runup/collapse as experienced in the 70s/80s is diminished, notwithstanding political uncertainty in key oil producing areas, and speculation.

          • Opec's price fixing capacity has been overtaken by the commodities exchange in Chicago and it is twice as crooked as it ever was under opec, the downward push in oil prices throughout the eighties was greatly influenced by US ambitions to impoverish iran, then being attacked in a proxy US war by Iraq….in fact a good part of the certainty of Saddam's WMD was the fact that Rumsfeld et al had sold them to him.

            BTW supply and demand don't balance, they arrive at an equilibrium based on PRICE.

          • Yeah, ok on the balance thing. But supply was artificially manipulated (as cartels are oft to do). So the equilibrium point was as well.

          • Well, not really. After Iran/Iraq sort of petered out due to mutual exhaustion, the mechanism was in place for the full court press on Saddam as he had suddenly become a threat. Kuwait and other Gulf states began a massive over production to drive the world price down (in Kuwaits case with Iraq's own oil they were stealing with slant drilling on the disputed border) and then began a relentless series of demands for repayment of the money lent to Iraq during hostilities with Iran. In fact this was the EXACT cause of Gulf war 1. Meanwhile the Israelis and the US had set up an arms re-supply delivery system to the former Shah' s US bought military, the profits of which were used to buy dope, which the CIA and its assets dumped into the US urban market to buy guns for the Nicaraguan Contras (and sadly this is all one hundred per cent true and "on the record".)

          • Well, you rare obviously better versed in geopolitics than I am. I checked with a site I have used in the past to highlight two tiered price for oil preceded efforts in Canada by the Republican White House early 70's. The later events more closely follows your recollection. Interesting (and I did btw see that 60 Minutes show where it suggested directional drilling across borders).

            http://www.wtrg.com/prices.htm

  27. Um…I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this, Paul, but I think this week's copy of Macleans will feature a misprint. You see, while the University of Alberta is a venerable institution, the Environment Minister was actually speaking this week at an event hosted by the University of CALGARY's School of Public Policy. C'mon, man. Edmonton got the U of A, and Calgary has the U of C.

    For anyone interested in Prentice's speech, visit http://www.youtube.com/policyschool

    An otherwise good column yet again, nonetheless.

    • I'm really embarrassed about this. I've visited both schools several times. I actually do know the difference, or would have thought I did. Sorry to all concerned.

      • Therefore the poster on the wall of your office that is sometimes visible in the C vs W clips?

      • Therefore the poster on the wall of your office that is sometimes visible in the C vs W clips?

  28. It's not just 'perceptions' of the oil sands that suck; the 'reality' is every bit as bad. This is the dirtiest oil in the world.

    • Well Stan why don,t you go buy your gas from a nice place. Oh let,s say iran or Syria.

  29. Somehow, the fact that Harper's so eager to turn over the publicly owned nuclear biz also seems to be a curious and curious hidden string to this fiasco… Wonder what Big Oil would do if they found some money behind their couch cushions?

  30. If we make developing the oil sands too expensive then companies will just go elsewhere to develop oil. Other countries have much lower environmental standards and large multinational oil companies don't care where they make their money. I have seen it already where big companies are scaling back their oil sands development and going to other world locations that have less environmental regulation. If that happens we all lose. We lose the jobs here and 3rd world countries lose because of the increased pollution in their areas.

    • A lot of the scaling back that you may have witnessed (postponing investment more than likely) in the oil sands developments has a lot to do with out of control costs – principly the labour but also inputs like steel etc. The industry appears to be taking a more measured approach with suspended projects reanounced with dramatically lower capital cost estimates. If the market heats up again to similar levels of projects all trying to build simultaneously, expect costs to inflate accordingly.

      • "The industry appears to be taking a more measured approach with suspended projects reanounced with dramatically lower capital cost estimates. If the market heats up again to similar levels of projects all trying to build simultaneously, expect costs to inflate accordingly."

        This is exactly why the Alberta Tories can be justifiably criticized for mis-management of the economy. By approving oilsands development without reservation, they "created" (through omission of sound economic practices) a boom where the costs of inputs skyrocketed to the point where development was no longer financially sustainable. A better response would have been to allow sequential, rather than concurrent development.

        Admittedly, this may have provided an advantage to those who came later and were able to take advantage of more recent technological innovation, and thus may have provided a disincentive for the first developers of the oilsands. However, the Alberta government was more than generous with their "royalty holidays" which severly reduced royalty payments until development costs had been recovered.

        • I don't disgree.

      • I've always thought that the Alberta Tory's claims to "prudent financial management" were overstated; any party in power at the time would have reaped the financial and political benefits of the boom. It's like saying that Glen Sather was a "great" coach of the early 80's Oilers; any team with Gretzky, Coffey, Kurri, Messier, Anderson, Lowe et al would be expected to do well.

        • They were prudent in the mid to late 90s. They lost it after that time.

          • There was a bumper sticker saying "Please Lord, send us another boom – I promise not to piss it away this time." Unfortunately we had another boom and we let Ralph piss it away.

          • There was a bumper sticker saying "Please Lord, send us another boom – I promise not to piss it away this time." Unfortunately we had another boom and we let Ralph piss it away.

  31. Is it election time yet?

    What about now?

    I'd really like to vote Harper out of office before he does more damage to the environment.

    • You really need to look in the mirror to see who is damaging the environment. Much easier to point fingers and feel good about it than actually doing some yourself.

      As far as an election goes at this point in time we have the leader we need.

      Have a good day and please do some more reading.

      Proud Canadian

  32. "…But polls show that Canadians are tired of watching other countries lead the clean energy economy, and want those clean energy jobs to be created right here. Sooner or later, one of our federal politicians will tap into this mood, and propose policies to pull Canada out of its funk and throw ourselves into leading the next industrial revolution.

    Whoever does that well could ride the sense of relief right into a majority government…"

    http://www.environmentaldefence.ca/pressroom/view

  33. "…A search of Canada's Lobbyists Registry revealed that Environment Minister Jim Prentice met with some nine times as often with lobbyists from the oil, energy and other industry sectors than with environmental interest groups…"

    http://www.hilltimes.com/page/view/prentice-02-01

  34. Meanwhile, this AGW mother-of-all-scams continues to blow apart at every seam, threatening to even take down its priesthood at the IPCC…and I could post umpteen dozen links to prove it.

    What really intrigues me is, why is it that the vast majority of Canada’s MSM, and journalists employed therein, apparently seem to think that there’s no story here? By far for the most part, it’s demonstrated an attitude implying, “Nothing to see here, folks. Now move along…”

    In Britain, the large dailies are finally starting to dig their teeth into this, reporting just today that the MET is now accused of blocking FOI requests regarding AGW. And an investigation into BBC bias toward AGW continues and threatens to get seriously interesting…

    Can anyone in Canada even begin to imagine the CBC coming under investigation for bias? Hell, for anything???

    Frankly, I’m just thankful beyond words to express that it’s not Libs, backed up by Dippers, who are at the helm in Ottawa and setting Canada’s environmental policies right now! What an unmitigated disaster that would be!!!

  35. Wells throws this in offhandedly near the end and it's quite the accusation:
    "Most importantly, Harper has never believed a Canadian prime minister can legitimately disagree with an American president on something important."
    Surely at this week's G7 Canada is taking quite a different take to the USA and europe on bank regulation / banker pay, for instance. I'm curious how Wells backs up this sudden lash-out in his column. Are we still talking about Harper's support of the Iraq war in 2002-3?

  36. WOW you people are so disconnected from your country, from your forests. its sad, really.

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