Feb 27 2007

Alberta pouring tax dollars down an oil well

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.

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One response so far

One Response to “Alberta pouring tax dollars down an oil well”

  1. on 27 Feb 2007 at 6:09 am

    I think the money, over three years, is for medical clinics, affordable housing, sewage and water treatment, etc. It is just that it is more infrastructure fudning than is usually allocated per capita to try to catch up with the fast growth. The marketplace, investers and private companies invest in the oilsands operations companies. Alberta passed a law that they are not in the business of being in business but they are responsible for providing civic services. Police, ambulance, etc. are all feeling the pinch as well. So I think ithis is a very good idea. Remember, many of the workers there do not pay taxes there. They stay in camps and live and pay taxes in many other parts of the country.
    So many of the users of services do not pay taxes to pay for them.

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