Feb 27 2007
Alberta is spending $396 million into oil sands production hub Fort McMurray to relieve social ills caused by the breakneck pace of development.
That’s just poor strategic planning. Alberta is already debt free and making money hand over fist from its energy sector. It’s citizens have some of the highest wages and lowest tax regime in the country.
But the goose that laid the golden egg is also the source of huge environmental damage. The amount of water waste alone that is necessary to extract oil from the oil sands is already in the process of turning Alberta into a desert. Very soon, Alberta could have a lot more in common with Saudi Arabia than just it’s main export product.
If anything, development needs to slow down, not triple (as the oil companies have planned).
But slowing it down requires no government intervention of the kind that turned Liberal into a dirty word in the oil patch. All government needs to do is lay off and let market factors determine production. If the market can’t sustain itself at its current levels, then it will have to slow down – or at least force the oil companies to pony up for social services and environmental protections, instead of forcing taxpayers to cover their unsustainable practices.