The oil sands, coal, and new regulations


in Canada, Economics, Politics, Rants, Science, The environment

'Blackburn' sign

The sheer determination of Canada’s current government to protect the oil sands by undermining Obama’s climate policy is considerable. Most recently, they have been arguing that oil sands extraction operations should be treated in the same way as American coal plants, and thus partially or fully protected from expensive new regulations.

For one thing, an ideal climate policy would drive the rapid replacement of existing coal plants with renewable sources of energy. For another, coal plants that were given free credits in some kind of ‘grandfathering’ system would be pre-existing facilities, built before climate concerns were as acute as they are now. A decent climate policy absolutely needs to prevent the construction of new coal power plants. If someone demonstrates safe, effective, and economical carbon capture and storage, that requirement may relax somewhat but, for the moment, we cannot assume that coal has a place in our next-generation energy mix.

Given the ambitious plans for expansion, the oil sands are much more like new coal plants than like old ones. As such, they should face the same tough rules as new facilities. Special exemptions may serve the short-term interests of some individuals and companies, but allowing the oil sands to develop along their present course is very much against the long-term interests of Canadians.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

coyote February 12, 2009 at 8:06 am

Yes, oh yes.

We so need investors, bankers, managers, @#$^%&!! economists and politicians that can move beyond calculating the relative benefits of anything based solely upon projected next-quarter (or in extreme cases, next-year) profits. Pernicious social and environmental concerns seldom rate at all. The Harvard Business School’s incredibly narrow-and-short-sighted management models have a lot to answer for. Little of it good, unless you’re an irredeemable greed head.

But I rant to choir, I think.

Anon February 12, 2009 at 8:55 am

The disgusting thing is that it is the environment minister who is doing his best to pimp the world’s dirtiest form of oil to the Americans.

. February 12, 2009 at 11:17 am

Obama ‘must act now’ on climate

The planet will be in “huge trouble” unless Barack Obama makes strides in tackling climate change, says a leading scientist.

Prof James McCarthy spoke on the eve of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which he heads.

The US president has just four years to save the planet, said Prof McCarthy.

R.K. February 12, 2009 at 11:25 am

None of this is surprising. By all accounts, it was Trudeau’s National Energy Policy that first drove Harper to start marching under the conservative banner.

They will resist anything that threaten’s Alberta’s oil industry.

. February 12, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Sierra Club Canada presents / présente :
Tar Sands Film Festival / Festival du film sur les sables bitumineux

WHEN: Thursday, February 19, 2009 — 4 – 10pm
WHERE: Alumni Theatre, Jock Turcot University Centre,
85 University St., University of Ottawa
COST: Free admission / L´entrée est gratuite

During President Obama´s visit to Ottawa on February 19,
Sierra Club Canada is presenting the Tar Sands Film Festival
with films about the tar sands and the Mackenzie Gas Project.
Canada is trying to sell dirty tar sands oil as a solution to
U.S. energy needs — our message is “Don’t Buy It!”

Featuring the Ottawa premiere of “One River, Two Shores:
Reflections on the Mackenzie Gas Project,” with film producer
France Benoit from Yellowknife. There will be two screenings
of this film, in English and French.

Other films include “Tar Sands: The Selling of Canada,”
“Water is Life” and “The Dark Side of the Boom:
Canada´s Mordor.”

View the film festival schedule online for more details:

Fort mauvais February 12, 2009 at 8:24 pm
. February 13, 2009 at 10:19 am

Oil-sands plan vague, critics say
Alberta’s strategy to shrink environmental impact has no timelines


February 13, 2009

EDMONTON and CALGARY — Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach billed a long-awaited report on oil-sands development released yesterday as the “road map to the future,” but many are complaining the document is short on specifics and long on vaguely defined goals.

. February 13, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Personal ads we can believe in
“In search of patriotic, busy, Chicago-Hawaiian man, must like basketball and know how to do the fist bump. I saw you on TV. You said ‘Yes we can’ and talked about a clean energy future. Meet me in Canada and we’ll sweep aside the world’s dirtiest oil, the Tar Sands, and make sweet climate change solutions together.”

Canadians: Take Action
Tell Harper and Obama that we need a CLEAN energy future

Americans: Take Action
Tell Obama that triple the emissions of conventional oil is not clean energy

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