Thursday, September 27, 2007

Oil Exec Calls Royalty Review Chair "A Lumberjack"

I see from the Front Page of the Edmonton Journal and Gary Lamphier’s continued excellent business coverage on the RRR the Hunter Panel on Royalty Review is not going to stay out of the fray. Some of them made the rounds to some media people yesterday and are ready, willing and able to actively explain their processes, findings and continue to clarify the issues and their recommendations. Good for them.

There are some oil company executives who are now becoming insulting and calling names like some school yard bully. One such person recently appeared on a radio show saying Bill Hunter, the Chair of the Panel and former president of Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries was a “lumberjack” and suggesting he didn’t know the energy industry.

I have worked in both industries and I can tell you one thing though. If the oil and gas industry took a similar responsible stewardship view of their obligations to the citizens as owners of the natural resources as does the forest industry, the energy industry would not be in the public relations and political jam they are in now over rents and royalties.

The Edmonton Journal Headlines today says it all about the tactics being used by some – clearly not all of the oil patch leadership. Bill Hunter the Review Chair says “We’re Not a Bunch of Morons” is the front page of today’s Edmonton Journal. The inside story headline states the Panel position “Industry Argument ‘Distorts Picture.’”

These reactions from some of the industry “leaders” remind me of some “practical” advice from one of my professors in Law School. He said “If the law is against you argue the facts. If the facts are against you, argue the law. If both the facts and law are against you, then call the other side names.” Let’s hope the players keep this pubic consideration about this very important matter to all Albertans at a professional level and in a civil manner – even where we disagree.

This complex issue of providing for responsible, sustainable and optimal development of our oil sands is one of the most important economic, environmental, social AND POLITICAL decisions facing Alberta.

The record shows the development of the oil sands has not been well planned by our political level, not well regulated by our regulatory agencies and not well administrated by our bureaucracy. The impacts and implications of this decision will be felt for a long time to come.

This resource belongs to all citizens of Alberta and we need to be sure we, and industry and government are all clear about that. As Albertans we need all the various parties to work together but the ultimate decision is ours. Let your MLA know what you think responsible development and sustainable stewardship of your oils sands means. I will soon post on some of my ideas and those of others I have spoken with on the subject.