Friday, June 27, 2008

Alberta: less popular in Washington than Venezuela

An interesting piece in the National Post today about how Albertan tar sands producers (and their American allies) have been surprised by the rise of a well-organized opposition to tar sands oil in the US, most recently at a conference of mayors. And worried they should be, because of the structure of the Albertan oil industry: the pipelines only lead south. There is no realistic alternative to exporting to the US in the short-term, so if tar sands oil gets shut out of the US market it would be the death knell for the tar sands. The idea of exporting to China or India is fantasy at the moment, for the very simple reason that there are no pipelines leading to the Pacific coast with the kind of volume that they would need.

There's something else I've been meaning to write about for a while, and it's this: according to Jim Hansen and others, we can avoid the worst impact of global warming if we a) immediately implement a moratorium on new coal, b) phase-out existing coal as rapdily as possible, and c) do not use unconventional fossil fuels. Basically, if we limit ourselves to conventional oil and gas, we cannot emit enough CO2 to doom ourselves. That means, as a matter of climate security, the tar sands need to be shut down.

I've seen no party leader in Canada express this simple fact: the tar sands need to be ended, and soon. At the very least, we need a moratorium on new projects and a hiring freeze in the tar sands. (An end to the breakneck development would also be good for Alberta, btw.) But that time is coming, and soon.

1 comment:

Mark Francis said...

The tar sands will never be shut down. Alberta would separate first. The US will just require either CO2 reductions in Canada to compensate, or will tariff us.

The rest of Canada will have to subsidize those tar sands emissions with extra CO2 reductions.

Yes, I used the word SUBSIDIZE.

Ironic, really.

This emerging conflict will be solved by a cap-and-trade system, which all parties, including the Liberals, have planned. The Liberals' tax shifting policy will prepare us for cap-and-trade by encouraging industry to reduce emissions.

The Democrats are pursuing cap-and-trade as well. Obama winning will likely make it a reality.