Tag Archives: tar sands

Oil baths, for everyone!

The Alberta Government announced yesterday that they would be now encouraging companies that work to extract bitumen from Northern Alberta’s “Energy Beaches” to pay their royalty fee’s in kind, as in physical barrels of oil.

This is then to be used to sell to new, Alberta owned and operated refineries which will turn that black sludge into black oil…. and then realistically ship it to the United States for their use.

A Globe and Mail article  stated “..it began a process that, by 2012, will see it sell up to 75,000 barrels a day of that bitumen to a provincial firm for upgrading.”

It seems the new royalty scheme will only apply to certain companies, companies like Encana which do not own and operate their own in-province refinery.

Excellent news for the recently announced Premier’s Council for Economic Strategy, who can now cross the first to-do item off their list.

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Alberta wants to spend like it’s 1994

Newspapers across the province carried the story that is making cowboy boots shake across the province, the Alberta government is looking at 90’s styled spending cuts. (See Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun and the Calgary Herald). As every other province and our federal government looks to increase spending to help its citizens survive the looming recession, Alberta remains the sole government institution to be warning its citizens of spending cuts. The reference to the not-so-long ago 90’s does little to quell fears in Albertans as memories of cuts to education, health care and infrastructure were done ” to help escape deficits and pay off a $23-billion debt.”

While the Alberta Government may have passed legislation to make it illegal to run a deficit budget, the Alberta Government must also realize, somewhere in that sea of blue, that cutting crucial services, services Albertans have been working hard to maintain and improve in order to preserve our almighty debt free budget isn’t the answer Albertans are looking for today.

Our dependence on one commodity and our government’s insistence to continue to pander to foreign companies and useless green initiatives (such as $2 billion on a carbon capture and storage initiative that has been proven to be ineffectual against tar sands pollutants…) has us in this pickle and the proposed solution to getting us out is no better then dumping the aforementioned pickle into a really hot deep fryer.

The 90’s saw major cut backs to Education which led to many of the problems with high tuition and deferred maintenance that Alberta post-secondary institutions have today. Just take one look at UofC’s crumbling residences or the fact the Alberta still has one of the highest tuition rates in the country. Couple these very real and fiscally difficult situations with the constant complaints (from both the Government and Albertans) of Alberta having to support so called “have not provinces” and how Ontario and Quebec is eating up all our oil money. Well, we thoroughly enjoyed our moment in the sun and now that oil is trading at $40.00 a barrel versus $80.00 a barrel we are once again burying our heads in the proverbial sand.

Instead of cutting spending and harkening to the doom and gloom days of the 90’s, as a province we should be looking to change HOW and WHAT we spend our tax dollars on. Incentives to multi billion dollar buisnesses to expolit our land and poison our rivers and billions of dollars to create technology that is deemed useless in neutralizing our enviromental impact just isn’t going to fly when Albertan’s are going to have to pay out of pocket for basic medical expenses again and Alberta education will see further cuts in efforts to save money.

In the words of well respected University of Lethbridge political scientist Peter McCormick, “He’s completely out in left field. No one else is remotely making these kinds of noises.”

Ed Stelmach, I have only one question for you: Do you really belive that the mistakes of the past will be the saviour of the future?

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So, I guess Alberta now knows what it feels like to be Toronto…

In a recent CBC news story, “secret” government documents were discovered, outlining some of the disastrous effects the tar sands would have on Canada’s overall CO2 emissions and the research being done to prevent the projected emission spike.

16% of total CO2 emissions by 2020 will be from the tar sands alone and the current plan of CCS (carbon capturing sequestration) has been projected by the aforementioned gov’t doc to only being able to capture a small portion as the majority of the emissions given off by the tar sands “aren’t pure enough”. The full document goes further to outline the prohibitive costs of CCS; which I suppose was not a problem for Alberta, until the recession that is; as well as other roadblocks in implementing this in Alberta for the use of the tar sands.

This comes quick on the heels of Stelmach’s $1.8 billion  royalty forgiveness package, which gives oil companies a nice little break on oil royalties in order to keep tar sands production at a steady rate. Funny enough, 1.8 billion is the same number of litres a day that the toxic tailing ponds grow due to oil sands production.

It does beg the question that if Stelmach is so hell bent on continuing tar sands production, what exactly does he plan on doing to ensure that this man made natural disaster doesn’t bring Canada even further away from reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As we have already blown most developed country’s out of the water with our increased emission rates and shown how effective it is to NOT follow Kyoto emission standards it only seems fitting to continue to destroy Alberta’s lands, poison its people and make life that much worse for all Canadians.

As our heritage fund losses money in investments and post secondary funding gets cut, as hospital waiting lines see no shrinkage and there is still a shortage of rural doctors; our government is spending $2.5 billion to fund research towards CCS technology which will do very little to stop the CO2 emissions from the tar sands. A commodity that takes 10 barrels of water for every 1 barrel of oil when there are reservations in this province that don’t even have access to clean drinking water (most often found by the Athabasca river due to the leaching of toxins from the tailing ponds…).

Clearly, this investment really is what is best for Alberta.

So, I guess the $1.8 billion dollar question is: is this all we pay our taxes for?

Credit: Mike Soron for his insightful and thought provoking post.

For more information on the tar sands:





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