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Tuesday, September 22 2020 @ 05:00 MDT

Harper between a rock and a hard place?

Jason ramblingA perusal of the news over the past few days has the Tories scrambling to be the new saviors of the environment. I think this article on the American desire to increase tar sand production may cause the wheels to fall of the Conservative attempt to look greener. It's a double whammy with both the oil industry and the Bush government pushing for more oil-sand production, up to 5 times the current level. This could hurt both the federal and provincial Tories if it's not played carefully by both.

The federal Tories have the most to lose. In order for production to increase, environmental regulation must be "streamlined", read reduced. This at a time when the Tories are busy trying to re-brand themselves as green. So if there is any movement on the environment by the Tories, be sure there will be huge exemptions for the oil and gas industry. Also be sure that they will try to slip the exemptions in under the radar so that they can get the most electoral bang outside of Alberta. It will be difficult for them to not do this as both their model, the Bush government and their biggest supporters in Alberta, the oil industry are wanting to increase production. With these conditions, the Tories won't be able to resist giving huge environmental exemptions to the industry. This makes it even harder for them to combat greenhouse gases as a fivefold increase in production will equal a fivefold increase in greenhouse gas. Any reduction as a nation will then have to come on the backs of other industry and on average Canadians. More than likely the Harper Conservatives will simply ignore any targets for emissions so that their friends and supporters can make a fast buck selling oil to the Americans. So Stephen has to make an ugly decision, fast buck for friends or votes outside of Alberta.

Ed Stelmach, the newly anointed premier of Alberta, also has a tricky situation with the oil industry/American demand. There already aren't enough people in the province to handle the current level of economic activity, let alone a fivefold increase at one of the province's major employers. This isn't to mention that the city of Ft. McMurray has nowhere to put the people that would be required. This means that if the Alberta government approves the increase, and history shows that the Alberta Tories loath to say no to the oil industry, thousands more workers will be needed in Ft. McMurray where there currently isn't space to house the workers that are there. This doesn't even take into consideration the infrastructure that is needed to support those workers and the infrastructure needed to mine, process and ship the oil. Unless workers can be found and billions of dollars spent on infrastructure, the increase in production will be an economic and social disaster. Either way, the city of Ft. McMurray, which has petitioned the provincial government to put a moratorium on oil sand development, is going to feel even more ignored. Labour shortages in the rest of the province will get even worse and there will be calls for the provincial government to do something about the problem they allowed. The provincial Tories will likely let the development happen, then ignore the consequences in the hope that the Alberta voter will continue to blindly vote for them. This may cause the usually complacent Alberta voter to actually vote for someone else. Time will tell.

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Harper between a rock and a hard place?
Authored by: Anonymous onSaturday, January 20 2007 @ 01:04 MST
Just to fill in a piece or two, on the drive into work yesterday, I heard an oil patch rep. on CBC whining about how they didn't like any kind of "controls" on their activities.

In the same breath that they talked about their "environmental" initiatives, this clown also made some blithe statement about how environment considerations are only done if a "profit" can be made on it.

And Harper wants to "crank up production"? Jeepers, in a few years, the oilsands region of Alberta is going to wind up being a mess bigger than the Sydney Tar Ponds